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I have a VERY basic work space that I'm building, and it has a dirt floor with very fine gravel smushed in. What I wanna do is get some paving blocks so I can have a clean floor. I just can't pour a pad since head room is an issue. Is there a particular kind of block I should use, or does it matter? Keep in mind i'd like to keep cracking to a minimum.

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Everything in my shop is or will be shortly on wheels to max. usable space and make the shop multi functional so dirt wasn't an option and having spend 55 yrs on concrete it doesn't seem to bother me much.  We also have a company that has been cutting off the top of a mtn near an airport for yrs. and they make a "road pack" of finely ground NH granite with fines and small rock which packs down hard with use or a compactor.  Presume shipping costs might be steep depending on where you live.

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One of the old time floors that had a long service life was hard wood with the end grain positioned up.

Good drainage was the first order of business. You do not want the wood getting moist or wet. Then start laying the blocks of wood end grain up and make a solid floor. I do not recall how thick the floor was, that would depend on the length of the wood. The floor was then tamped with sand to fill any gaps. Some type of preservative may have been added to be absorbed into the wood, before and after installation.

The floor was stable and if one piece of wood were to fail, it could be easily replaced.

 

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The massive old factory I once worked next to used the vertical grain wood floor for the heavy work shop---where the punch presses bigger than my house lived.  The wood was impregnated with oil; I don't know if it started that way or just got that way after decades of oiling machines.

My shop is bimodal: the clean shop has a concrete floor the dirty shop has a slightly raised clay/sand/gravel (courtesy of the local arroyo) floor that is very comfortable to stand on and easy to clean up messes, you just replace the messed up area.

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Wooden block flooring Glenn. pretty common here in the UK in industrial settings over past decades. The only ones I've seen removed were very well impregnated with who can tell, original treatment plus what ever got spilt onto it over the decade and it lasts and wears very well indeed. The ones I saw where being burned as fire wood, one 6x4x4" block lasted about six hours due to all the volitiles it had absorbed over the years.....we refered to them as "toxic logs"!

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The forge floors in Samuel Yellin's shop were wood -- I think I recall (from my one visit back in 1984) that the grain was horizontal rather than vertical.

On the other hand, I worked for a time in a furniture shop that was housed in one of the old buildings in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. (The building originally housed the machine shop where they made the barrels of the big guns on warships; the crane on the roof was pretty impressive.) The floors there were end-grain blocks of creosote-impregnated oak, bedded on a thick layer of sand.

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I like the end-grain floor, I'd like to walk on some of that.

Below is what I use here and there; not pictured is a 100 sq ft out-building with the same system, that has been stable going on 16 years.

 

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The Knack box weighs 360# empty, and the three drill presses, 250# each (all on wheels). I will provide prep details if requested, but 1/4" grout spacers make this system very repairable, if needed.

Robert Taylor

Edited by Anachronist58
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If you go with the end grain blocks, you'll be pretty happy with the results!  The slight unevenness is really comfortable on the feet, and the floor just looks "right" in a shop.  You can grout with an equal mix of portland cement and sand.  The cement hardens with ambient moisture and helps look the blocks in place.  Might not be absolutely needed, but a small bag of the stuff is cheap enough.

Keeping the floor dry is really important because you don't want moisture being trapped underneath.  I've seen bad jobs done where the top looked great, but the bottoms were rotted halfway through.  You couldn't tell until you stepped on one and it gave way under your foot like some kind of pressure plate in an Indiana Jones film. :o

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I have dirt/sand floor and it it works well except that it tends to create a lot of dust. Subsidience and moisture is no problem since my topsoil is very sandy. I do not move any heavy equipment around and I have no power hammer.

Sometime in the far future I will put in a wooden floor to get rid of the dust. 3/4" tounge and groove on top of close spaced battens(right word?) It will be tricky, however, to do it without getting all the heavy stuff out and in again.

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4 minutes ago, gote said:

3/4" tounge and groove on top of close spaced battens(right word?)

I think "joists" is the word you're after.

Which reminds me of a joke. Q: What's the difference between a joist and a girder? A: Joist wrote "Ulysses" and Girder wrote "Faust"!

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I think the proper term for this would be 'sleeper'- at least that is what I have always used for this kind of construction.  In doing this on sandy soil, I would lay the sleepers (?) flat to give more bearing surface on the base. Treated lumber would also be prudent.

Steve

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  • 3 years later...

[thread necromancy]

Can anyone weigh in on the effect of end-grain wood floors v packed dirt floors on joints? I'm 6'8" and my weight hovers around 300 pounds, so concrete is right out. 

I plan to start with a packed dirt floor as I don't have any truly heavy equipment yet, except perhaps my stump, and pulling it all out next summer and putting in end-grain wouldn't be terribly difficult. I also need money for wood, which I currently lack. But I'd like to know whether this would be a good investment for the future.

 

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