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Thread: Concrete versus wood for shop floor

  1. #1
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    Concrete versus wood for shop floor

    Lots and lots of sources, magazines, web forums, wisdom, etc saw a wood floor is easier on your knees and feet than concrete. Runners choose asphalt over concrete for the reason. I have been searching for any research and have been unable to find any.

    Gym floor systems look idea. The gym floor where I grew up was built as follows.
    - Concrete slab base
    - 3/4" plywood on top of the concrete but a 3" by 3" rubber pad every 12" between the plywood and the concrete
    - 3/4" maple stapled on top

    That floor had great feel and bounce.

    I have a friend who built a shop that could later be a garage with a full basement. He had the floor engineered to handle a 10,000 lb truck parked on the wood floor system. He has joists 12" on center, and two layers of subfloor, 1 1/4" and a 3/4" glues and screwed. It's crazy rigid. Is a floor like that really easier on your knees and feet?

  2. #2
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    I'd always choose wood if it were an option for me. A floating floor over concrete is an east solution, especially where keeping thickness down is important. Glued T&G sheet goods are often used for that as you describe. Where there is more headroom. 1.5" lumber 16" OC with 1.5" thick insulation foam in between, all over a vapor barrier and then topped with 3/4" T&G sheet goods or strip flooring from a place like Lumber Liquidators or similar is another option.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  3. #3
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    I wonder how much pounds per square inch you can put on 3/4" subfloor? I currently roll some very heavy machines on casters. I probably have 400lbs per caster on my sander right now. In my new shop I won't have mobile machines YEA!

  4. #4
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    Wood of any sort is definitely easier on your knees,back,etc. I installed a sleeper floor in my shop,found some 3/4'' plywood from a party tent rental company and set it up on 2x6 on edge laid out on 16'' centers. I supported the 2x6 with a 1x4 runner perpendicular to the joist direction every 6'. I reinforced spots where machines sit with extra blocking and shimmed to the conc. The whole floor is screwed only,no Pl 400 . I just used exterior stain as a finish,it is a shop floor. This has been far better for comfort and is also real nice when stuff is inadvertently dropped.(chisels,etc). Because I am a carpenter I used my screw gun for subfloors and also went over the whole floor with my laser level to determine shim thicknesses to keep it absolutely level.

  5. #5
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    If the objective is a little springiness under your feet, you have a choice. You can put the springiness everyplace in the shop -- a wood floor. Or you can put the springiness just where it is needed -- under your feet. That approach is called good shoes. A pair of shoes is a bit less expensive than a whole floor.

  6. #6
    With the wide variety of shoe soles available from hard leather to marshmallow foam, wood vs concrete doesn't seem so important.

  7. #7
    I don't think you can completely compensate for a concrete floor with shoes. Even with relatively new high quality walking shoes, after 6 hours on the concrete shop floor, my back is killing me, and I've got rugs and anti fatigue mats where I stand the most. In my old shop which had a wood floor, I had much less issues.

    Shoes also don't solve the moisture issue with concrete floors, especially in the summer. My shop gets damp to the point where the AC can't keep up. Having the floor insulated in the winter would also be nice as well.
    Last edited by Andrew Seemann; 05-06-2019 at 11:33 PM.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Jensen View Post
    I wonder how much pounds per square inch you can put on 3/4" subfloor? I currently roll some very heavy machines on casters. I probably have 400lbs per caster on my sander right now. In my new shop I won't have mobile machines YEA!
    You can put a lot of weight on a 3/4 SYP plywood floor with 2x4 sleepers on the flat spaced 16 inches apart and rigid foam in-between (and a moisture barrier under the plywood). In my old shop with that set up, it seems to me I drove the pickup over mine a couple of times.

    The bigger issue than weight is the crush strength of the plywood. My 15 inch Grizzly planer would leave slightly indented marks on the floor where I had rolled it. Having the wood floor was still worth it though, much easier on the back and the tools. Since I had screwed down the plywood, I figured I could just replace a piece or two if needed. I ended up moving before that happened.

    I'm hoping to put that set up in my current shop; 2x4 sleepers on the flat 16 inches on center, rigid pink foam insulation in between, a plastic vapor barrrier, and 3/4 SYP plywood on top. If I can swing it, I'll put some kind of hardwood on top of that.

  9. #9
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    I've worked on both, the wood is nicer in every way--comfort, looks, ease of sweeping up. Remaindered hardwood on a plywood subfloor over 2x4 sleepers 12" OC on concrete cost about what one of those green power tools costs, but I use and enjoy it every day. Good enough for me!

  10. #10
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    Jim described what I did as the comments on the moisture issues and impact on your body are spot on. There is a product called drycore which can be laid down directly on the concrete since it’s designed this way. The only draw back is it is more expensive than sleepers and OSB. I don’t know the load rating but it’s not that thick so I don’t see any machine crushing it.

    If you decide to use sleepers and OSB you can add extra sleepers where the heavy machines will sit. No reason you can’t space the sleepers every 8 inches in these spots. I have a 1500 pound jointer and just added extra sleepers and this handled the extra weight.
    Don

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Seemann View Post
    I don't think you can completely compensate for a concrete floor with shoes.
    I agree from personal experience. Great shoes certainly go a long way, but great shoes on a better, more foot friendly, surface are even more valuable.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  12. #12

    Drops

    Every time I drop a good quality hand tool on the concrete floor I'm, "Damn, should have put in a wood floor."

  13. #13
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    The floor I described in the post above has a 16'' jointer that wieghs at least 1000 pounds ,full size sliding t.s.,a big shaper in the 1000 pound class as well as many other machines. I have blocking across the joists under the heavy machines as well as shims directly to the concrete. Has worked real well so far (one year plus).

  14. #14
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    I went the wood floor route for my new shop after years of back pain in the basement, even with shoe inserts, and miracle soft shoes, most recently Hoka’s. Since I plan to put in some heavy OWWM in there I used 3”x12” I joists 12” o.c. and 1.25” advantech. It still feels softer and warmer than concrete. And I’ve already dropped a couple of tools

    jon

  15. #15
    As I get older, can appreciate having a wood floor shop. Mine I added over concrete, used treated strips laid flat on concrete, and cut dow board between, and laid some fir T&G flooring over the top. Hard part was jacking up the machines, moving machines around while laying the floor without moving the machines out of the shop. Floor is plenty strong with just one layer of flooring, and I have heavy machines. Added benefit is the shop is easier to heat in winter.

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