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Thread: Wood floor for pole barn?

  1. #1

    Wood floor for pole barn?

    I am getting ready to start a renovation on an old metal pole horse barn in southern California. 37 x 53. Currently it has a dirt floor inside. Instead of a concrete slab, I was considering building a wood floor foundation. (Foam Insulation covered in sand or gravel with PT sleepers or something like that) This is something I can do myself and will make running plumbing lines easier etc. Plus I think it will be considerably less expensive.

    I have read some threads about this but am unsure as to vapor barriors, insulating, pest control, layout etc. Any other concerns I should be aware of?

    Any comments or suggestions, positives and negatives as to why or why not go this route would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Forest Grove, OR
    I would get some quotes before making that assumption. A simple non-structural floor slab pour is pretty cheap in most places, especially if you form it up and provide the reinforcement.

  3. #3
    Josiah, thanks for the reply. I am going to get the estimates for the slab as well.

    I have some existing walls in the building I want to keep where they are. Can you pour the slab around them? Also how thick of a slab should I be looking at, 4 inches?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Forest Grove, OR
    What are you planning to use the barn for? 4" would be minimum for general shop use. If you plan any sorts of heavy equipment or lifts then go thicker.

    If the existing walls can stand up to having concrete poured around them and are treated to be able to resist direct concrete burial, then sure. You can also just form around them and leave an air gap.

  5. #5
    cool. Actually turning it into a rec room of sorts so no heavy equip. Place for the band to practice. Going to add a bathroom. Basically turning existing Horse stalls into rooms and framing in some new ones!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    The Hartland of Michigan
    Might want to consider removing several inches of the dirt, to get rid of urine and feces that has soaked in.
    Never, under any circumstances, combine a laxative and sleeping pill, on the same night

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Fredericksburg, TX
    Talk to the concrete people, but I would suggest using an expansion material around outside of slab against building with a seal grove for some elastomeric (spelling?) material to seal the gap for slab expansion/contraction. Southern CA should not have any but check about frost depth for getting slab supported below the frost level or run chance of having some frost heaving and cracking of slab. I think that a 37 x 53' slab will also require some internal expansion joints or control crack joints. My concrete experience is limited and from discusssing (and cussing at) with civil engineers on projects.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Lubbock Texas
    True concrete may be cheaper but a wood floor , even plywood, is sure nice.
    No PHD, but I have a GED and my DD 214

  9. #9
    I built a 40x60 steel bldg with concrete floors. I went directly to the concrete guy for the floor and he subcontracted the digging and also the finishing. I didn't know it but the finishing sub told me if he knew concrete had fiber in, he would not have put the mesh in. BUT, no cracks after three years, and I have some heavy equipment, plus once in awhile store my boat -25' - during hurricanes.So, if concrete, check on the fiber!

  10. Built 100's of post frame building-----Free advice is worth what you pay for it------With that in mind here is my recipe for concrete floors------compact all dirt----rent a hand compactor----layer of #8 stone note river or pea gravel is a pain to level-----2 to 4 inches thick of Styrofoam 4 feet wide around the whole perimeter and also if you have heated interior rooms. Cover with plastic----5 inches thick of 5000psi concrete with fibermesh-------local codes may require wire mesh. Note local concrete mix guy and myself do not think wire is worth anything.-- Remember to put under concrete a few plastic 4 inch plastic elbows for water, electrical, and what ever to bring into building----example generator hookup or outside water hose. Air compressor lines do poorly under concrete ( had about 800 feet of 3 inch in my plant that could not be reached by above ground piping---what a huge water headache from condensation )

    I almost always used sawed joints for expansions---should be done within 24 hours of finishing----love Rust-o-elm concrete floor paint tan or grey colors. ------Now the important item-----all vehicle ramps-----4 feet wide X 12 inches thick with 5/8 rebar on rebar chairs every 12 inches north and south, all rebar should be tied together.. In other words lots of rebar , with rebar going into slab about 18 inches. This locks the ramp to the pad. Remember the moment of impact is the ramp NOT the pad. Just like the airport the area where the numbers are the runway there is very very very thick. A plane and a vehicle want to push the concrete like a ribbon Now if you are going to have heavy equipment on the floor and you can prior plan it---form it out of 2x8 treated lumber rebar it, run a plastic pipe/conduit for future electrical ----the separation of the pad from slab will reduce vibrations. Do not allow the concrete guy to sell you 3000# mix----5000# mix is cheap and labor is the same, and strength is superb for the upgrade cost.

    Oh well I ramble on and on.


  11. #11
    I paid to have my 6" thick (ok, 8" in most spots) poured and finished. That is some seriously hard work, too. Cost me $200/cubic yard in-place and finshed, and it was worth every_single_penny after watching them do it.

    For what it's worth, I also looked at a wood floor, too, but the town nixed it on me. They didn't want a building that can potentially be used as a garage with any flammable materials potentially under vehicles that often leak more flammable materials. Actually makes fair sense.

    At any rate, before the idea got nixed, I had deisgned a floor with 6x6 PT timbers set at 2' sppacings and sunk flush with a compacted gravel base and then it would have had 4x6 PT timbers lagged down to the 6x6's. It wasn't a cheap floor, but it was a few hundred dollars cheaper than the heavy concrete floor.

  12. Before I talked about concrete floor-- Forgot all about the wood floor--If you are in Eastern Virginia------Invite you to see my wood floor addition 64X32X16 high which I added to a existing barn from 1945. The barn had a wood floor so I just matched it. The section which matched the barn is 32 X32 X12 Also used a treated wood foundation rather than blocks. The crawl space is 4 plus feet. All I did was to install sona tubes with 6x6 inbedded
    steel brackets. Then installed the 6x6 uprights in the brackets and put a normal joist system with two layers of 3/4 osb. Also have a post frame building approx 100 X 440 X 16 with concrete floors from minimum of 5" to 12" inches in sections. BTW----normal residential floors are 40 pounds live load. I designed the barn addition for 250 # live load per square foot.


    PS: add to concrete floor- above--make the area around the posts 2 foot semi circle about 8 inches thick to resist cracking during building movement.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Bloomington, IL
    Herb, wish you were my neighbor bro. I could sure learn a lot from you. Cheers my friend - I envy your building and floor knowledge!
    Glad its my shop I am responsible for - I only have to make me happy.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Western New York
    Great advise, I am an old concrete cowboy myself. One thing I might add, If you are "Cold Jointing" the ramp to the floor I would advise a putting a "Keyway" in, rods are good, "Keyway" is good, Rods & Keyway The Best! IMHO


  15. Kevin Presutti,

    Kevin , thank you for pointing that out.

    I forgot--------I had a senior moment----

    I seen a lot of cracked ramps on buildings, but cracked pads are seldom noticed. In the past when I had customers tell me NOT to build the ramps as heavy, I just refused to do the concrete. In 35 years building , no lawsuits. No structural problems.

    Had a 32,000 pound forklift running around my building. Never a cracked the pad. Moved a 38,000 pound drill press in three sections plus the lift and no problems with the pad.\

    Again , I think you might want to put money in the ramps, than the floor pad.

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