Basement question?

Hi all,

I bought an old house that has 3 basements. One is a nice dry slab floor, where the washer/dryer rests, the heating system etc... This is off limits for any kind of shop per the spousal unit.

Now, I also have two dirt floor spaces, one about 25'x 20' x 7' and a smaller one about 10' x 10' x 6'.

I know the bigger one is best to build a small shop in, but what do I need to do here? We are on a ledge, so bedrock is only about 3' down, but is a bit uneven in places. Also, much of the old foundation brick remains, so either it is removed, or used in the project.

If I go right down to the ledge, what kind of treatment do I need to do before pouring a floor and setting up shop. Should I even pour a floor, or use the old foundation bricks right on top of the rock, with a concrete filler ???

I know some of you have pretty amazing basement shops built in tough locations, so any help on this will be appreciated. I have a contractor or two coming in the next few days to suss it up, but will greatly appreciate any comments.

Best to all,


Reply to
Fred Fowler III
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I'm no expert, but I poured a shitty little floor in a shitty little room over the dirt--maybe 3-4" slab. I dug out 1-2 cubic yards myself, and it was *backbreaking*, esp. given how I had to haul the stuff out, box by box. In your case, you have massive amounts of material to remove, but you also have a contractor. But it would be great to remove it, in both rooms--nice high ceilings, then. In nice spaces!! In the bigger space, giving yourself an 8' ceiling would be 500 cu ft of dirt, or almost 20 cu yds!! Etc. If you can deal w/ a 7' ceiling, you could pour right on the dirt. But you'd probably need a thicker slab of 'crete on dirt than if you went down to bedrock. If you removed all the dirt, I would leave the brick. I think the real enemy is moisture. The question is, if you went down to the brick, how much moisture exists w/ bedrock? Certainly less than w/ dirt, but proly still some. But, I think you'd want concrete just for leveling/smoothness, which would then automatically take care of the moisture problem. Then you would need a minimally thick layer of concrete, proly 2-4". But you could also take advantage of this and put in some drainage/floor heat as well. The new thing is radiant heat right in floor (tubing w/ hot water--or even electric), which can be done in a variety of ways. What I would do is pour a 2-4" floor, and lay a removable "perforated" wood floor on 2x4's on top of the 'crete, w/ whatever heating method between the 'crete and the wood. This way you get max. heat transfer, and in the summer, still get a cooling effect from the concrete. And, the heating system is now accessible for repairs. Assuming you're up north. If you buried the tubing in the 'crete itself, you could also put in a floor drain. Or, if you forego floor heating, at least put a drain in the center, w/ a mild pitch. I used old electric 220V baseboard heating, operating at 110V. Used more of them, got softer, more uniform heat, not so tough on the wires. You could also just bring if forced air from the house, whether or not the rest of the house uses forced air. I managed to get forced air A/C into my shop!!! You got a great space there! You can also post to alt.home.repairs.

---------------------------- Mr. P.V.'d formerly Droll Troll "Fred Fowler III" wrote in message news:

Reply to

I'd excavate enough so you have a MINIMUM of 7-6" ceiling when you are done. 8' to 9' is much better. If you have a ledge somewhere below, I'd do some test digs and see where it is, usually it is not anywhere near level. You need to decide if you want to have dirt/gravel under all of it or go deal with the ledge.

My preference would be to dig it down somewhat, leave the dirt covering the ledge, add 6" of small gravel or even sand. Put down a 6 mil poly vapor barrier, 3-4" of high strenth concrete and POWER TROWEL to get a smooth floor. The higher strength concrete will give you a nicer finish. I'd remove and dispose of the brick, it just doesn't add anything to the project. If you plan on some big equipment, add another inch to the concrete depth.

Adding a floor drain with a 1" slope to the drain is nice. Add perimeter drain tile if seepage is a problem. The worst case is that you may have to slope the room from the center to the walls and add a perimeter drain to keep things dry.

If the building is old, it is unlikely that you have a clear span. Replace the old wood posts while you have the chance. I'd replace any wood beam at the same time. If you don't replace the posts, at least make sure that the wood is up on concrete plnyth blocks at least 2" above floor level. A steel beam may serve double duty as a hoist rail if you plan ahead.

You didn't mention it but clear access to the space is vital. Picture a

15"x48" lathe coming in at a minumum. Or 20' pieces of steel. If you have a contractor coming in, moving dirt is not a huge deal. I'd like to see a minimum of a 3' steel door with a gentle ramp for access. A 4' door or a double 3' doors is even better. Don't forget a drain at the bottom of the ramp! I keep thinking about doing a small race car with tube frame so plan ahead with what kind of projects you want to do.

Plan on plenty of power. 100 amp 240 service is a good starting point, go up from there. Plan on plenty of circuits. 2 or 3 240 circuits, 2or 3

120 circuits, and the lights at a minimum. Plan on plenty of light. 1 watt of florescent light per square foot is the minimum, 2 watts per foot is much better.

Food for thought.

Fred Fowler III wrote:

Reply to

If you go with a brick floor you're going to have a tough time sweeping up swarf. Rolling heavy machinery into place will also be very difficult and may even break the mortar holding the bricks together.

I think the best surface for a shop floor is one that is as smooth as possible. Also, one that is sealed to prevent spilled oil, etc. from being absorbed by the floor is preferred.

Smooth-finished cement that has been painted seems like the best solution. A light-colored paint (without fancy flecks or patterns of other colors) will make it easier to find small items that fall on the floor.

Reply to
Artemia Salina

If you go down to the ledge, you will be almost 3' under the old brick foundation. Which means that that foundation will have to *dug under* and additional foundation poured *under* it!! Not an average job (meaning not cheap).

Also, the ledge is not going to be anywhere near flat, so you can go down to its highest point, but you will not be pouring your floor right on it.

I would go down only to the bottom of the current foundation and pour the floor there. The extra height would be just too costly _for me_, but YMMV.


Reply to
Bob Engelhardt

"If I go right down to the ledge, what kind of treatment do I need to do before pouring a floor and setting up shop. Should I even pour a floor, or use the old foundation bricks right on top of the rock, with a concrete filler ???"

One of the nicest toolroom floors I worked on was made of hardwood blocks. Im not sure of the thickness, but it was extreemly solid. It sure saved alot of problems when an expensive piece of tooling was dropped & the part just needed dusting off. I dont know how they built it, but it was alot nicer to stand on than concrete.

Reply to

This sounds similar to what I have heard some old warehouses or factories had for floors. Imagine a hardwood floor, but instead of running the boards the normal way, you are looking at the end grain of thousands of blocks. I have heard that they were about 3 inches thick. It may not be hardwood, but how about cutting 3 inch long sections of 2x4 and giving it a try. As I understand it, they were not nailed or secured to each other at all, just wedged into a "frame" that rand around the walls. The advantage to this is that if a section of floor were to be damaged, the block could be removed and a new one driven in.

-- Joe

-- Joseph M. Krzeszewski Mechanical Engineering and stuff Jack of All Trades, Master of None... Yet

Reply to

Pour concrete in both rooms!!!

If you need to excavate I think they rent small conveyers.

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I did my apprenticeship in a workshop with wooden blocks on the floor, and I've always missed it since we moved from that site, the new shop having a concrete floor with rubber matting, a pain in arse as well as the feet. Our blocks were about 4 1/2 inch cubes of hardwood, end grain up, set about 3/8 inch apart and the gaps filled with pitch. You could stand on it all day with out getting sore feet ( or maybe it was that I was 16 !!!) . The shavings would bite into the wood when you stood on them with little chance of slipping. Wherever we needed to put a machine, we put a concrete footing in that finished level with the top of the wood floor.

We didn't have any problems with moisture, but the site was well drained, not sure how well it would work in a basement. Repairs were easy when replacing the odd rotten block. I'm planning on using this type of floor in my new workshop around the machine tools, but over the top of a concrete slab and its moisture barrier.


Reply to
john johnson

If youre poring concrete lay down a vapor bairer .

Reply to

On Sat, 23 Oct 2004 11:25:00 -0400, Fred Fowler III scribed:

Thanks for all the answers/suggestions guys... Was out of town for a few days, so sorry for the late reply.

Now to decide what to do!



Reply to
Fred Fowler III

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