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how to build a concrete shed base

How to Build a Concrete Shed Base

When setting up a new shed, knowing how to build a concrete shed base is crucial for ensuring stability and longevity. At Homestead Supplier, we've honed this process to a fine art.  

In this article, we'll walk you through the essential steps, from selecting the perfect spot in your yard to the final touches that will make your shed stand the test of time. We'll cover how to plan your base, the tools and materials you'll need, and provide a detailed, step-by-step guide to constructing your base with precision.

Whether you're considering alternative materials or troubleshooting common issues, we've got insights that will pave the way to a successful project. Let's get started on this practical path to building a robust foundation for your shed. 

What this article covers:

Planning Your Shed Base

Selecting The Right Location

Choose a level, well-drained area for your shed base to avoid water accumulation and ensure easy access. After building our fair share of shed bases, we've found that locations that collect water can lead to structural problems and are best avoided.  

build concrete shed base

If you're just starting your shed-building journey and are wondering how long does it take to build a shed, it's good to note that starting off with a good location will save you time in the long run.

Understanding Shed Base Dimensions

The base should exceed the footprint of your shed by at least 4 inches on all sides. This extra space is necessary to accommodate any minor adjustments and to support the structure effectively.

Tools And Materials Needed For A Concrete Shed Base

Before beginning your project, ensure you have the following tools and materials ready:

  • Concrete mixer for homogenous mix
  • Trowel for spreading concrete
  • Spirit level to ensure an even base
  • Measuring tape for accurate dimensions
  • Shovel for mixing and moving materials
  • Rake for leveling and spreading
  • Timber for creating the formwork
  • Hammer and nails for constructing the formwork
  • Saw for cutting timber to the correct size
  • Wheelbarrow for transporting concrete
  • Concrete (ready-mix or the ingredients for making your own mix)
  • Rebar or mesh for reinforcement
  • Protective gloves for safety
  • Safety glasses for eye protection
  • Stakes to secure the formwork
  • String line to outline the area
  • Plastic sheeting to cure the concrete
  • Compactor or tamper for the sub-base

Step-by-Step Guide to Building a Concrete Shed Base

Now, let's get to the fun part – building!

Step 1: Preparing The Site

Begin by marking out the area where your shed base will be. Remove any sod, plants, and debris. Level the ground using a shovel and rake. For larger areas, consider renting a sod cutter to save time and effort.

Once the ground is bare, compact the soil to create a firm foundation. In our experience, this step is vital to prevent the concrete from cracking as the ground settles.

Step 2: Creating A Level Foundation

With the site cleared, it's time to ensure the ground is perfectly level. Use a spirit level and a long, straight board to check the surface. High spots can be shaved down with a shovel, and low spots can be filled with compacted soil or gravel.

build a shed base concrete

Achieving a level foundation is critical; an uneven base can lead to structural issues in the shed.

Step 3: Forming The Concrete Base

Construct a formwork frame from timber to contain the concrete. The frame should be built to the size of the shed base plus the additional 4 inches on all sides.

Ensure the corners are square using the 3-4-5 method (measure 3 feet on one side, 4 feet on the adjacent side, and the diagonal between these points should be 5 feet). Secure the frame with stakes and check that it is level.

Step 4: Mixing And Pouring The Concrete

If you're mixing your own concrete, follow the manufacturer's instructions to get the correct mix of cement, sand, gravel, and water.

A concrete mixer is ideal for ensuring a consistent mix. Pour the concrete into the formwork, spreading it evenly. Use a screed board in a sawing motion over the formwork to level the concrete. Then, use a float to smooth the surface and eliminate any air pockets.

how do i make a concrete base for a shed

For those opting for a dry cement mix, ensure you mix it thoroughly according to the package directions before adding water. The consistency should be uniform and thick enough to hold its shape without being overly wet.

Step 5: Finishing Touches For Durability And Aesthetics

Once the concrete is leveled, let it begin to set slightly. Then, smooth the surface with a trowel for a fine finish.

For added traction, you can brush the surface lightly with a broom. Edge the concrete with an edging tool to create a professional-looking finish and to help prevent the edges from chipping.

Cover the new concrete with plastic sheeting to help it cure slowly, which will increase its strength. Keep the concrete moist by spraying it with water for at least a week before building on it.

Alternative Shed Base Solutions

If concrete doesn't suit your needs or preferences, there are alternative methods for creating a shed base that can be just as effective.

How to Build A Shed Base With Paving Slabs

Paving slabs offer a versatile and often aesthetically pleasing option for shed bases. Simply follow these steps:

  • Measure the area for your shed to determine the size of the base needed.
  • Excavate the site to a depth of approximately 6 inches to accommodate the base materials.
  • Fill the excavated area with a layer of hardcore (crushed stone or gravel) for stability.
  • Compact the hardcore layer thoroughly to create a solid foundation.

dry cement mix shed base

  • Spread a layer of sand over the hardcore to create a level and adjustable bed for the slabs.
  • Prepare a mixture of sand and cement, using a ratio of 6 parts sand to 1 part cement.
  • Apply the sand and cement mixture to the area where you will lay the paving slabs, creating a bed for the slabs.
  • Place the paving slabs onto the mixture, leaving a small gap between each slab for the jointing material.
  • Tap each slab down with a rubber mallet to ensure it is level and sits evenly with the adjacent slabs.
  • Check the level of each slab with a spirit level, adjusting as necessary to ensure all slabs are flat and even.
  • Fill the gaps between the slabs with the remaining sand and cement mixture to secure the slabs in place.

Pros And Cons Of A Paved Shed Base

Paving slabs have the advantage of being relatively easy to install and adjust. They can also be removed or replaced individually if they become damaged.

However, they may not offer the same level of strength and permanence as a concrete base, especially for larger sheds. Paving slabs also require a well-prepared and compacted sub-base to prevent movement and subsidence over time.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

Even the best-laid plans can go awry, but don't worry, we've got you covered. Here are some common problems and solutions: 

Dealing With Uneven Ground

Uneven ground can undermine the stability of your shed base. Level the area meticulously by removing or adding soil as needed. For significant unevenness, consider using a self-leveling compound or adjustable supports to achieve a flat surface.

how to build a shed base with paving slabs

Knowing how to do this will not only help you with building a shed base but also with how to build a ramp for a shed on uneven ground.

Ensuring A Level Base

The longevity of your shed heavily depends on a level base. Dedicate ample time to this stage, using a spirit level to check the evenness from multiple points. Adjust the base material until you achieve a completely level surface 

Moisture And Water Drainage Considerations

Proper drainage is essential to prevent water accumulation, which can lead to structural damage. Ensure the surrounding area slopes away from the base, and consider installing a French drain or using gravel around the perimeter to enhance drainage.

Conclusion

Constructing a concrete shed base is a critical step in ensuring the stability and durability of your outdoor structure. By carefully selecting the right location, ensuring the base is level, and using quality materials, you set the stage for a shed that will stand strong for years to come.

And remember, if you need supplies or advice, Homestead Supplier is here to help. Visit our website for shed kits and more.

If you want to learn more, why not check out these articles below:

Previous article Best Sheds
Next article How Long Does It Take to Build a Shed?

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