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Garage floor

 
Posts: 18
Location: Northern NY, Zone 4a
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I have a garage with a sand/rocky floor. It's not very good to work in as the floor is not even, it's soft enough to lose nuts, bolts and small tools in the sand and there are enough larger rocks protruding that it's impossible to get comfortable if I had to lay in the sand. We live in northern New York where we have freezing and thawing.

I want to put in a stabilized earthen floor (approx. 12x30) that would be able to withstand jacking a vehicle without damage. I will be laying down 6 mil poly prior to installing the mix. We have many different soil mixtures on our property, but I would say an average mixture is 65 percent sand, 30 percent clay and 5 percent silt.

I'm not sure is mineral content of the water makes a difference,  but we have a hardness of about 220.

We are fortunate to have equipment for doing this work. Backhoe, small dump truck, plate tamper, welders, large mixer, etc.

What mixture soil to Portland cement would be appropriate?

I believe I need to reinforce the floor with mesh or rod. Which is preferred?
 
pollinator
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Location: Ozarks
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I don't think you're ever going to be able to jack up a vehicle on anything but concrete or a heavy duty wood floor which of course would have to be a building sitting up on a foundation or piers.

Do a web search for soilcrete to find mix ratio for it. Some soils work better than others of course. Sounds like you sand level might be a little high. It's possible to lay a heavy board under a jack but that can be done on soil too.

I was going to do a heavy floor. I had 4 big oak logs, two for the walls to sit on, two to sit under the floor about where the wheels would be on a vehicle, 6 foot or so. My property has a slight grade and when I got the logs all leveled up, the high end was 2 foot off the ground with the low end being 6 inches. My ramp to get a vehicle in would have had to be 20 foot long. Then of course a non-running vehicle would have to be pushed or pulled up that ramp. I pulled the two middle logs out and for now, still have a dirt floor. Originally the walls were sitting on 6 huge rocks and it still is. The logs are still under the walls and will stay. I need to fill in with more rocks to fill in between that 6 that I have under it now, mortar them and then bring in a bunch of gravel to level the floor. I've decided to build the real shop elsewhere in a level spot and this building will turn into a barn. It's only 20x24.

I should have done a bunch of earthworks before putting the shop/barn there but I didn't have the equipment and couldn't afford to hire it out or rent something. I needed a place to put my tools out of the rain and while it's not super dry since it's not closed in yet, it's been working.

When I build the real shop, I'm going to get used materials from the chicken houses they continue to rebuild around here. They're clearspan buildings 32-40 foot wide. I'll probably do a 32x40 foot building.

I'm a fabricator/mechanic and need a good place to work. I'll be putting in a lift too. Getting too old to crawl under them. Getting too old to drag a floor jack around in the dirt too.
 
master pollinator
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I make a lot of my own concrete, and while a 4 bag mix is considered average, a 3 bag mix is considered weak, because my gravel pit has a bit of loam to it, I go with a 6 bag mix.

A six bag mix (or 3 or 4) is just the number of bags Portland cement in a given cubic yard. Assuming you want to go with an Earthcrete Mix depth of six inches, a 12 x 30 foot floor would take 40 bags of Portland cement (pure Portland cement in 94 pound bags, and not "premixed" bags that have gravel already mixed in).

To make life a bit easier for you, rather than use a cement mixer that would require a lot of shoveling, you can try mixing up your earthcrete with a rototiller. What you do is, add soil to make sure the garage floor is somewhat level and smooth, the spread out your 40 bags of cement over the floor. Then take a rototiller set to till at 6 inches, and rototill the earth and cement together, making as many passes as you need to so that it is thoroughly mixed up.

Then add your water, using the rototiller again to mix the earth and Portland cement, now with water. You will want to work an area first, and then work out, probably using a helper to spray the water with the garden hose as you rototill.

Then you just trowel it to the finish that you want, smooth or with a broom finish.

I would think with 6 bags of Portland cement per cubic yard, you would have plenty of strength to jack up a car.

Assuming again, that because your building is narrow and long, your car is going to travel in the same tire tracks every time you drive in, if a test earthcrete patch did not prove to be strong enough, you could do as John suggests, and take some logs, or 4x4 beams, or even 2x4's laid on edge and nailed together to make runners for you to drive on. You would not have to do the whole floor just where the wheels (and thus jacks) would go, probably (2) strips 18 inches wide? You could then pour your floor over that.
 
Anthony Friot
Posts: 18
Location: Northern NY, Zone 4a
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I must think about this again. I was thinking I could just take half of a three-walled building (currently 24' W x 20' D), lengthen one bay and create a workable floor. Communicating with someone with experience can save a lot of work that may not give results as I had planned. As I see here, my plan probably would not work as I thought. I must rethink what I want to do.

Thinking
Thinking
...
Still thinking
...

Hmmm.

At 6 bags/yd my cost would be $100/yd. For little more I can have concrete delivered (Provided I order 4 yd) and I have no work other than a bit of shoveling and screeding/troweling. I would not have to be concerned about being strong enough to support a jacked up vehicle.

This building's long-term purpose is not a garage for automobiles or heavy equipment, merely storage smaller equipment like the cement mixer, welders, UTV and motorcycles. I had intended to use this for working on my trucks, car and motorcycles until I finished our house which would leave half of the barn empty as the straw for the house would be removed and our household goods would be in the house. This would leave me with a 24' x 24' space to create my garage. I plan to add 16' to the front to allow me to put my hand tools, air compressor, tire changer and tire balance machine at the rear. So, with a final dimension of 24' x 40' and a 6' floor, I have a bit under 18 yd of hardened material I need. At 6 bags\yd @ 16.20\bag x 18 = 1749.60 and I have to pick up and handle the materials. 18 yd 4000# ready mix delivered is 2281 (127\yd). I have had a broken back and pelvis. I know how I would feel moving 108 bags of portland as well as the earth materials to make my floor. I have a loader and rototiller to make the job easier, but I cannot say that I could justify saving $530. If I were younger and wasn't injured, I would have relished in the thought of pouring an earthcrete floor (if I knew it would withstand jacking a vehicle on) myself. But not knowing that it would hold a vehicle, I certainly would not expect the floor to hold a loader or backhoe.

This is information you didn't have to work with before, but I gave you all information that was relevant to what I was planning to do (though temporary) and you did more than I had asked by providing insight that I hadn't thought of.

I thank you.

I think I will screen some soil to remove larger rocks and stones. Fill and level the floor of the smaller building in it's entirety to eliminate the "fluffy" sand and give a "solid" surface of earth. I do have some iron wood trees that I can mill to lay down on the ground to support any heavy vehicle that I move into the building and to support the jack anywhere that I may desire to place it. This should do as I require and for as long as I am alive.
 
Posts: 776
Location: Bendigo , Australia
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Anthony, I am with Travis.
I have tired dirt, rock, broken material shed floors for working on.
I can tell you nothing beats concrete and it would take about 3 hours to do the tasks, with ready mix.
I found when batching my own I could not make it fast enough to have good joints between the batchs.
Ready mix would take about 20 mins to lay as one continuous slab.
I found the cost of ready mix compared with [ c.w.] mixing my own was not much different because the small bags of portland cement cost a lot c.w. bulk cement used by batching plants.
Something else to think about.
 
Anthony Friot
Posts: 18
Location: Northern NY, Zone 4a
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I understand  what you are saying about the ready mix. This is a temporary garage to do work on equipment that requires us to get out of the weather. It will be a storage shed afterward. We cannot justify the expense of a concrete floor for storage of equipment. 5 yard of ready mix at $127\yd is $635. Earthcrete is still $500. The money is better spent on our house and greenhouse.

After we are finished with our house and greenhouse, we will focus on the garage which is in a different building. Until then, we are content with working on a compacted earth and wood floor.

Thank you,
Tony
 
John C Daley
Posts: 776
Location: Bendigo , Australia
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OK, I misunderstood the temporaryness of the floor.
I used a number of large wooden blocks to hold the vehicle in the air. spread around to hlep stability and wide enough not to sink into the rocks. I found these slabs at building sites etc.
8-12 inches wide x upto 3 feet long and smaller for stacking up.
That idea may help.
 
Anthony Friot
Posts: 18
Location: Northern NY, Zone 4a
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It is difficult to know how detailed to get when talking a project. So many factors are involved that all aspects cannot be reasonably included in a forum post. Also, when post get too much information, the point of the post can get lost in the information overload.

I don't want people to get too involved in one of my posts that they spend all of their time reading or replying to a single post when time most likely will be better used reading and learning from other's experiences or broadcasting their own encounters. That is where I would hope situation and practical knowledge meet to enlighten us all.
 
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