Free Buying Guide & Advice about Sheds & Summerhouses Floors
The floor of your new garden shed or summerhouse is vital to the longevity of your new building so it's vital that it is made from suitable materials so that it will last the life of your shed. If the floor rots, which many do when cheap and inappropriate materials are used, then your shed or summerhouse will become pretty useless at doing its job.
Warning Signs About Unsuitable Floors
The garden shed floor needs to be made from solid timber T&G (tongue and grooved) boards to ensure the longest life but you will find that many garden sheds, and not just the 'cheap and nasty' one don't use solid timber. In a bid to keep the costs down they turn to chipboard, OSB (oriental strand board), wafer board, sterling board or cheap plywood. The problems with these materials is that they are made from wood waste effectively just glued together. Chipboard is made from wood chips and OSB, wafer and sterling boards are made from wood shavings. Using these waste materials the boards are compressed into flat boards with glue and then are used for the floors on many sheds.
These types of boards are a great use of waste resources and are ideal for 'flat packed' kitchens and the like. Because this type of use is indoors then there is not normally any problem. Outside is a 'different kettle of fish'. Quite often the shed floor sits on a damp concrete base or just on earth (not recommended at all) and the damp gets into these boards. You will then find over time that the chipboard starts to disintegrate or the OSB board (etc) starts to swell and fall to pieces. Not good! The worse thing is that you can't replace a floor very easily.
These shed manufacturers know the pitfalls of using these materials but because they are cheap they still use them hoping that the floor will never get wet. However they are not very transparent about this as they often describe the floors as being made from 'sheet materials' which give the impression this is a plus - it's not! If you are buying a shed with 'shed material' always ask what the floor is made from. Having said that there are a few boards which are suitable for outdoor use such as 'v313 grade moisture resistant particular boards'. Being specially designed for use in a wet environment are ideal for outdoor buildings but these are quite expensive and would normally only be found on top quality buildings such as these.
What Type of Floors Should You Go For
The ideal material for garden shed and summerhouse floors is solid timber. Ideally T&G boards so the boards slot together which makes the floor stronger and stops draughts coming up through the floor. This type of board would normally have a smooth finish which makes it ideal for use where children are concerned. Sawn close butted boards made from solid timber would also be suitable - the downsides being that in the summer these boards will shrink slightly leaving gaps (these would normally close up in the winter) and it's possible to get a few splinters from them.
How Thick Should the Garden Shed Floor be?
As a minimum you need to aim for 16mm (12mm or ½" finished thickness) as this will provide a good strong floor which will take most normal domestic loads. On many heavy duty workshops you often find the standard thickness is 18mm (¾") but this is not normally needed for every day use, although it does feel good. Some companies offer even thicker floors as an option so if you have special needs then it's always worth asking. Some shed floors are only about 10mm thick (about 3/8 of inch) which is about the size of a normal pencil. To show how weak that is take a pencil and try to break it - you will find it breaks very easily in your hands. Try to imagine your weight on it and that will put things into perspective.
Check The Number of Floor Joists on the Floor
The floor boards sit on top of floor joists and it's the floor joists which sit onto your base. Again you need to be wary of cheaper sheds as they often use less floor joists in their bid to cut costs. And this is not always apparent. Check before buying how many floor joist there will be and what size gaps will be in between them. Ideally the spacing on the floor joists should be 16 inches or less. Many shed manufacturers have gaps up to 24 inches which is far too much.
Another thing to look out for is the size of the floor joists. Ideally ensure these are at least 2" x 2" (47x47mm) as these will support the floor boards superbly. This size will also span small hollows in the base and still remain quite solid. On some sheds they use 1" x 1" (25x25mm) floor joists which is pretty much a waste of time. Check whether the floor joists are pressure treated against rotting as many aren't. This again is 'spoiling the ship (or shed) for a happorth of tar'. And that is because the floor joists are in constant contact with the ground and will get wet on a regular basis so it's vital they are protected - and not with just a cheap water based treatment.
Are The Shed Floors Supplied Ready Assembled?
Surprisingly, and to me, some shed firms deliver the floors in pieces (floor joists and planks of wood) and you have to build them yourself. Whilst it make sense in some instances there is no excuse on smaller sheds. This is just another area where the cheap shed makers are trying to cut costs. So always check beforehand if you are not having the shed erected by the shed company.