How to Build a Gravel Shed Foundation: The Best Options, Tips, and Next Steps

shed on gravel foundationBuilding a Gravel Shed Foundation

 If you want to learn how to build a gravel shed foundation, this article will explain what a gravel foundation is for a shed, and steps you can take to accomplish it.

Having the right foundation is crucial for any shed build, and a gravel shed foundation is one of the most popular and cost-effective options out there. In this article, I'll also discuss the best options for larger sheds and the common problems associated with gravel foundations. So, let's dive in and get started!

Introduction to Gravel Shed Foundations

A gravel shed foundation is a simple and cost-effective way to create a solid base for your shed. It's a popular choice for those who don't want to go to the expense and hassle of pouring a concrete slab.

Gravel foundations are also a great option for those who don't have access to the heavy equipment needed for a concrete foundation. Plus, a gravel base can be installed relatively quickly, making it a great choice for those who are building a shed on a tight timeline.

Obviously if you don't initially have level ground to use this foundation type, it's pretty much out of the question that you will be able to use the gravel bed foundation option.

Types of Gravel Shed Foundations

wood framed gravel shed foundationGravel Shed Base In Wood Frame Option

When it comes to building the best gravel shed base, there are a few different options. The most popular are:

  • Gravel pad: This is the simplest type of gravel shed foundation, and is simply a layer of gravel spread over the ground.
  • Gravel foundation: A gravel foundation is a layer of gravel spread over a dug out area usually at least 4" deep, then leveled and compacted down.
  • Retaining wall: A retaining wall is a type of foundation like 2x6's built so that it's basically a wood frame that is filled with gravel making a level base. The frame would be larger than the shed itself. For example if you are building a 10x12 shed, your frame would be roughly 12x14 which would give you 1' on either side of the shed.

Benefits of Gravel Shed Foundations

Gravel shed foundations offer a few key benefits over other types of foundations. For starters, they are relatively inexpensive and easy to do. Plus, if you don't have access to a lot of heavy equipment, a gravel shed foundation is a great way to go.

  • Gravel shed foundations offer great support. Weight of your shed will be more evenly distributed on your shed floor since there are more contact points on the gravel base rather than just a few. If your shed floor is resting on blocks, these points may wear out faster and heavy equipment on your shed floor would have to be stored over these support areas of the foundation.
  • Very Good Drainage. A gravel shed base offers excellent drainage as opposed to a concrete shed foundation. If your shed floor has support skids which are resting on the gravel, water will be drained away from these much better than if the shed is built with concrete floors.
  • Cheaper. A gravel shed pad involves a lot less labor than if you were to go with a more permanent shed foundation such as pouring a concrete base.
  • Lasts a long time. You won't have to worry about water damage in the long run! Stones have a long life and hardly deteriorate over time so your gravel shed base is going to be around awhile!

Gravel foundations are also very sturdy and can handle heavy loads. And because of their low cost, they are a great option for those on a tight budget.

What Type of Gravel is Best for a Good Foundation?

The most important factor is the size of the gravel. You'll want to use gravel that is ¾” or smaller in size. It is a form of crushed stone that is drainage stone, #57 gravel, washed stone, or clean stone. All of these are going to be referring to the same type of crushed stone, which is the best material for gravel shed bases.  This will ensure that the gravel will settle and compact properly. I would not suggest using pea gravel as it will not compact properly like crushed rock will.

Gravel Shed Foundation Installation Steps

dug out ground for gravel shed foundationDug Out Ground For Gravel Shed Foundation

Once you've found the best location for your shed site, you'll want to mark off the base area. If for example your building a shed that is 10'x12', your will want to mark off an area that is just a little bit bigger. With this example, you would make your shed gravel base 12'x14'. This will give you 1' of gravel extending out 1' all around the bottom of your shed.

Next step is to dig out this area down at least 4". If you can, go with a 5" deep hole. After the area is dug out, you may want to lay down some landscaping fabric that will act as a weed barrier. If you are extremely lucky your entire area for the base of your shed will be a perfectly level area! But if you're not that lucky, and your ground does have some slope to it, you may want to consider building a wooden frame that will give you a level surface. You can cut the wood so that it conforms to the slope you have to work with.

It's a good idea to compact the soil down first before laying down any type of weed barrier. This will help to ensure that the crushed rock doesn't settle any more than it has too!

Dug out hole filled with crushed rock for gravel shed foundationDug Out Hole Filled With Crushed Rock

Ok, so now you've got level ground to work with, or you've got a level wooden frame. Now it's time to fill your area with the crushed rock, level it out, and compact it the best you can. If you can afford it, I would rent out a compacting machine to really compact the gravel down good.

Now you're ready to build your shed floor. This can be accomplished very easily and I have lots of information on building wooden shed floors here.

Common Problems with Gravel Shed Foundations

Gravel shed foundations can be prone to a few common problems. The most common issue is the gravel shifting or settling over time. This is why it's important to make sure the gravel is spread evenly and compacted down with a tamper.

Another problem is the gravel washing away during heavy rains. To prevent this, you'll want to make sure the area is level and there is a slight slope away from the shed. This will help to divert water away from the shed and prevent the gravel from washing away.

Conclusion

Gravel shed foundations are a great option for those looking for an inexpensive and easy to install foundation for their shed. They are sturdy and can handle heavy loads, and they are relatively easy to repair in the event of any damage.

When building a gravel shed foundation, it's important to make sure the area is level and free of any obstructions. You'll also want to make sure the gravel is ¾” or smaller in size, free of any sharp edges, and clean and free of any debris or organic material.

Finally, you'll want to make sure the shed is securely anchored to the foundation. This can be done by either attaching the shed to the pressure-treated lumber. With the right preparation, a gravel shed foundation can be a great option for your shed.

So, if you're looking for a cost-effective and easy to install foundation for your shed, a gravel shed foundation may be the best option for you. Just make sure you take the time to do it right, and you'll have a solid foundation for your shed that will last for years to come.

My Personal Recommendation For a Gravel Shed Foundation

gravel shed foundationMy Personal Recommendation for a Gravel Shed Foundation

Here is my own personal recommendation for building your shed on a gravel foundation:

  • 5" deep hole for crushed rock gravel.
  • line the bottom of the hole with landscape fabric.
  • frame in the perimeter of the hole with either landscape timbers or pressure treated 4x6 skids.
  • Fill with crushed rock no larger than 3/4" and compact with gas powered compactor.
  • Build my shed floor on treated skids as shown in the picture above.

Building a Wooden Shed Floor On Your New Gravel Shed Base

Ok so now you've got your beautiful shed foundation made out of gravel and you're ready to build your shed floor.  I've got good news for you!  Here's everything you need to know about building a shed floor with treated skids and treated floor framing right here.

Crushed Rock: Want to Know More

Here's an interesting article about all the many uses of crushed rock from Murrysville Machinery Company.

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