“Does a shed require a foundation?” many clients inquire. However, once that issue is resolved, a frequently requested follow-up question is, “Which is the better shed foundation: gravel or concrete?”
Gravel and concrete foundations have some general features in common. The foundational material is placed on the perimeter of the floor slab, which holds the shed’s walls in place. While either option serves its purpose well, each has advantages and disadvantages.
Here are the differences between using gravel and concrete for the shed base:
For Shed Foundation
The concrete foundation is popular as it is easy to install and is long-lasting. However, it’s not a cheap choice and can be time-consuming to finish.
In contrast, gravel foundation is cheaper than concrete and is readily available. Additionally, you can collect gravel from your backyard or the river bed. Although it is more affordable, it is not very durable and may require frequent repairs.
For Better Drainage
A concrete foundation isn’t as effective in absorbing moisture. During seasons of severe rainfall, this limitation may worsen water runoff problems. Concrete also prevents the bottom of the shed from drying out as quickly.
In contrast, a gravel base acts as a sponge, wicking away water that would otherwise collect at the bottom of the shed. This makes it the better option, regardless of the season.
For Better Leveling
Although the installation process of the two materials is similar, they differ concerning leveling. Gravel foundation can be level with just one layer. However, in the case of a concrete foundation, you will have to install a concrete screed, which you can then level by using a screed board, typically made of wood.
For Heavy Loads
If the purpose of your shed is to hold heavy equipment, concrete may be a better option. This is mainly due to its higher load-bearing capacity. On the other hand, gravel is vulnerable to cracks and breaks when carrying heavy loads, which may eventually lead to the shifting of the shed.
Gravel can be installed easily by a person doing the job for the first time. This allows homeowners to have more leeway to make mistakes for a DIY project.
The installation process of concrete is not something that can be done in a day. This can be an issue if you’re making a DIY shed on your lawn. Even a professional will have to spend a few hours installing the concrete foundation.
For Vehicle Support
As you have already noticed, a concrete foundation is strong. This is why it is a better choice for vehicles than gravel foundation. On the other hand, gravel tends to sink beneath the weight of heavier vehicles. Of course, such heavy vehicles may also drop a concrete foundation; however, this will not happen as quickly as gravel.
Gravel is relatively cheap. It is readily available at any construction site nearby. On the other hand, a concrete foundation is comparatively expensive.
The concrete foundation is durable and recommended if you need to load the shed with heavy equipment. The base of the gravel foundation is more porous and can absorb rainwater. However, it is not insulated, so the bottom of the shed tends to dry out faster.
The best solution may be to use a mixture of concrete and gravel, where the concrete foundation is used only for the shed’s perimeter, while gravel is used as a drainage base. This is because concrete is not as porous as gravel, so it doesn’t absorb water.
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