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Storage in a pole barn


Guest AlCapone
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Guest AlCapone

In the last year I acquired a very large pole barn. In fact it was a rodeo arena. It has steel walls and very high ceilings with many solar light panels in the roof and pretty much air tight doors. No rain or snow is able to penetrate. The floor is 10 inches of hard packed sand.

The question is: is this a good or bad storage facility? My car collection is about 20 restored vehicles, should I put plastic under them or park the wheels on 2 by 10 lumber? A cement floor is out of the question as an estimate to pour cement in one section of the barn 80 by 150 is in excess of $100,000 dollars. Any and all suggestions appreciated. Thanks, Wayne

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Where are you located? Here in North Central Florida, the geology features mostly sand, which is not a good thing if it's the floor of a pole barn in which one plans to store items subject to surface corrosion/rust. In the summer, we often experience periods of high humidity, and sand floors seem to attract moisture. This is not a scientific fact, it's just been my experience. As I said, I don't know where you're located, nor am I familiar with the geology of your region. I would think that putting a membrane between a dirt floor and car could not hurt things.

Good luck,

Grog

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Should be an excellent storage facility. If you want a damp proof floor here is a cheap way to make one. Cover your sand floor with plastic vapor barrier. Lay down sheets of styrofoam insulation. The stiff blue kind. Cover with chip board 7/16 tongue and groove flooring. No nails or glue needed. You can paint the chip board with porch and floor paint.

 

The result is a dry, damp proof insulated floor. Strong enough to drive on and comfortable to walk and work on.

 

I did this in an old chicken coop I converted into an upholstery shop for my brother and it worked great.

 

PS one of the big problems you may run into with your pole barn is rodents namely rats and mice. Suggest you keep a few cats on hand at all times, or distribute poison and traps.

Edited by Rusty_OToole (see edit history)
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Cover the sand floor with concrete and it WON'T be a good place to store anything.

A dry sand floor in a well vented building is as good as it gets and no heating bills to pay.

When I had my 40' × 80" steel shed built I told the builder I wanted a dry, drafty, building so they installed full length eves and ridge vents.

I have a minimum of 6" of road mat for the floor.

No matter WHAT the weather conditions here in central Wisconsin everything in the building is DRY......never a hint of hoarfrost in the Winter either.

You WILL need rodent poison.

I use that and haven't experienced ANY rodent trouble in 13 years >>> http://www.fleetfarm.com/detail/tomcat-bait-chunx-9-lb-/0000000006238

Edited by cahartley (see edit history)
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There may be some concern if this was an equestrian facility with urine and fecal droppings. (The horses didn't leave the room to go potty) . Will some sort of acid manifest itself in the air? I agree with Rusty and Grog that some type of membrane on the floor may be your first line of defense. Perhaps a soil test so that you know exactly what your dealing with. I have no idea how one would counteract the effects of whatever may be in the soil. Lime? Baking soda? I don't know. You may want to investigate, though. That's my $0.02. Larry W

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Guest my3buicks

The membrane idea is ideal - the large sheets used for flat roofs would be perfect for that purpose - I think you can get white or black.  I have stored in an exactly the same sounding building that they had a layer of pavement put down on top of the base floor. 

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Cover the sand floor with concrete and it WON'T be a good place to store anything.

A dry sand floor in a well vented building is as good as it gets... 

 

I can't understand why a concrete floor would be bad.

Just about EVERY garage or commercial facility has a

concrete slab on grade.  That's what you would have

if you poured concrete over a sand or gravel base.

Just be sure you put a 6-mil or thicker polyethylene

vapor barrier down before you pour the concrete.

Mr. Hartley, if you had a bad experience with concrete,

maybe it was missing its vapor barrier.

 

The concrete, for a car-storage building, should be 4 inches

thick.  Welded wire fabric ("wire mesh") should be placed

at mid-depth of the slab in order to control shrinkage cracks,

and saw-cut control joints should be done too.

A good strength for such a slab is 4000 pounds per square inch

(psi) at 28 days, or whatever its Canadian metric equivalent is.

And get 3 bids, because a concrete slab-on-grade

should cost FAR less than the quoted $100,000!

 

Your building, Wayne, is every car hobbyists' dream!

You can make friends, and offset some of your cost,

by renting out extra space, if there is any, to fellow collectors.

Edited by John_S_in_Penna (see edit history)
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Guest AlCapone

Thank you everyone for the input. The rodent problem has been taken car of with a poison food product and electronic sensors. I will indeed get another quote on the concrete. Many kind regards, Wayne

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Wayne, you'll save a little bit if you get your

floor-slab bid directly from a concrete-slab contractor,

or concrete contractor.  You don't need a general

contractor.  In fact, if you know of a good general

contractor or large house-builder, ask him what

concrete subcontractor(s) he recommends for your job.

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Another question; is your metal roof insulated? If not I would advise that it be insulated also. In Winter when the sun comes out and the metal gets warm, condensation forms on the underside and can drip like rain on things below. Even happens in homes.

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Guest AlCapone

If you pour a concrete slab of about 4" thickness, it should take about 150 yards. Even at a $100 a yard, that's only $15000 in materials. A good contractor should be able to do it for much less than $150K

I am in Canada and the current base, contractor price is $218 dollars a yard for concrete delivered which is more than $30,000 for the cement alone. The contractor also wanted to put a gravel base under the cement with reinforcing steel. Wayne

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I am in Canada and the current base, contractor price is $218 dollars a yard for concrete delivered which is more than $30,000 for the cement alone. The contractor also wanted to put a gravel base under the cement with reinforcing steel. Wayne

 

There is absolutely NO need for reinforcing bars in 

a normal slab on grade.  Canada has free enterprise,

thankfully, so get other bids based on (if you wish)

the outline specifications in my posting #8.

 

I called a concrete-contractor friend here in Pennsylvania,

and here are some figures:  concrete $100/ cubic yard for material only;

complete slab $2.75 to $3.00 per square foot, including

all labor and materials, but not the underlying sand and gravel.

That means that, here at least, your slab would cost

$33,000 to $36,000.

 

The prices you quote, Wayne, seem high to us, but I figure

you are quoting in Canadian dollars.  (Latest translation:

Canadian dollar valued at 75 American cents.)  Also, if you

live remotely, far from concrete and its aggregate (gravel),

your cost could be a bit more than I quoted.  Maybe

$45,000 (U.S.) at the top end, but certainly not $100,000!

 

By the way, when you write "cement," I believe you 

mean "concrete."  Cement is a powder, only one of

several ingredients in concrete.  Don't give up!

Edited by John_S_in_Penna (see edit history)
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I might consider a concrete slab in a work area and a wood floor in storage areas.

 

For an unheated building you need to get outside and inside temperature/humidity conditions to match as quickly as possible. Outside air dampers and a ventilation exhaust fan should be controlled by a thermostat to ventilate any time the outside air is between 30 and 60 degrees F. This will keep the car temperature and air temperature the same and prevent the cars from being below dew point. That will keep them from getting a coat of water on them.

Bernie

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Guest AlCapone

There is absolutely NO need for reinforcing bars in 

a normal slab on grade.  Canada has free enterprise,

thankfully, so get other bids based on (if you wish)

the outline specifications in my posting #8.

 

I called a concrete-contractor friend here in Pennsylvania,

and here are some figures:  concrete $100/ cubic yard for material only;

complete slab $2.75 to $3.00 per square foot, including

all labor and materials, but not the underlying sand and gravel.

That means that, here at least, your slab would cost

$33,000 to $36,000.

 

The prices you quote, Wayne, seem high to us, but I figure

you are quoting in Canadian dollars.  (Latest translation:

Canadian dollar valued at 75 American cents.)  Also, if you

live remotely, far from concrete and its aggregate (gravel),

your cost could be a bit more than I quoted.  Maybe

$45,000 (U.S.) at the top end, but certainly not $100,000!

 

By the way, when you write "cement," I believe you 

mean "concrete."  Cement is a powder, only one of

several ingredients in concrete.  Don't give up!

Yes I substituted cement for concrete. My mistake! Wayne

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Guest my3buicks

When Vanderbrink Auctions first posted pics on there website of the Lowell Lundberg collection, the pics of the cars were of how Mr. Lundberg last stored them.

One of the buildings was a (i'm guessing) 40ftx60ft wooden pole barn with a dirt?gravel?floor? Mr.Lundberg put old carpet down and the cars had like a 2x6 piece of wood under each tire and some of them had car covers.When the auction came about the pics of the cars they looked fine? but pics can also lie..but I also read a story a while back in Hemmings classic car about a guy with a Hudson collection and he just had an old barn and he put down old carpet , and when he winter came

along he'd get a car up to operating temp and pour mystery oil down the carb..Good Luck,Benny 

Carpet would attract moisture, bugs, and rodents

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 The vapor barrier is the most important item . There are plastic's made specifically for this it is very strong ( yellow ) and it is taped at joints with a (red) tape of equal strength . I'm sure there other brand , this is what I see used on large construction  slabs at work .  Plain poly plastic is not good enough ,it  migrates moisture .  They also put the vapor barrier down under the modified or gravel ,mostly done to protect it from concrete trucks and us electricians damaging it .

   Maybe pull back some of your sand if clean and place back or add new if available . Moisture will then only be available  from the atmosphere it can not accumulate in the earth .  I learned from studying , building and living in underground home (earth sheltered ) ,for 28 yrs .

   Basic structure is concrete , vapor barrier , foam insulation , EPDM rubber membrane , 1" styrene protection for rubber and gravel drain field . Can be seen a little in my avatar , with retaining wall .

  Also you do not need reinforcing metal in your floor if you decide to pour . Get the concrete with fiberglass reinforcement mixed in .

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Guest my3buicks

Tom's fist sentence and others that have said the same thing is the very best advise you can have - regardless of what you have as your top surface, the vapor barrier is the key ingredient for a dry excellent storage 

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I can't understand why a concrete floor would be bad.

Just about EVERY garage or commercial facility has a

concrete slab on grade.

 

 

Yes.......but they are heated buildings.

Every unheated steel shed with concrete floors I've ever been in are swamps depending on the weather.

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Yes , if the building is unheated the air will hold the moisture, but only the air and object within  . This why ventilation high and low is important limiting the moisture to atmospheric only . This will reduce itself faster with roof heating from sun  . Go in most barns the bottom on grade floor is damp but second hay storage area is always dry or drying ,but also cold or hot . Or why  even a tight trailer off the ground is dry inside .

  I would probable add a internal work shop /garage inside with heat and a/c .

  Even the pre made shed/ garage stay dry because they are off the ground a couple inches .

   Another thing is for every inch of concrete it will take about a year for it to complete dehydrate . My house took about six years with heating and dehumidification to completely dry .

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Guest AlCapone

Sounds like a nice building, Wayne.

 

Sure appreciate the discussion that has developed, too.  Good info for future reference.

 

 

Cort :) www.oldcarsstronghearts.com

pigValve, paceMaker, cowValve | 1979 Caprice Classic (awaiting new owner)

"I guess the winter makes you laugh a little slower" __ Counting Crows __ 'A Long December'

Thank you my friend, the expertise on this site is nothing short of amazing. The entire project is a dream unfolding in honour of my father and mother. Best regards, Wayne

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I recommended high ventilation for the building if it is unheated. Some anecdotal suggestions I see may get you in trouble. Your best long term solution would be to cordon off an area for the 20 cars and heat it.

It is tight, but I have kept five cars at a minimum of 42 degrees F. for the last two years. Using natural gas and a strategically placed residential furnace in a 1,000 square foot building in extreme weather for about $350 per season; about $70 per car.

 

I am very happy that the cars a never below dew point and nothing in the building freezes. I think you could heat an internal area of 5,000 square feet to minimal temperatures above freezing on a $2,000 per season budget on natural gas or LP. The compacted sand should be fine.

 

My system is using a web based thermostat with smart phone access and cost tracking. If the cost increases beyond my plan I reduce to 38 degrees F. for a few days. I can increase the temperature remotely and warm up for a visit.

 

You should be able to find some basic videos online to coach you on psychometrics and dew point. That will help you establish a goal and know how to verify it.

 

PM me if you have questions. I have been doing variations of this stuff since I was 19.

Bernie

Edited by 60FlatTop (see edit history)
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Our metal-clad shed has a concrete floor with vapour barrier under. I have been in there and found the vehicles wet - they are below the dew point. Testing by Consumer NZ shows that just a dehumidifier will raise the temperature a couple of degrees. It also lowers the dew point of course. Also remember that the specific heat of water is 4x that of rock and concrete, so your heating system will require a lot less energy if you remove some of the moisture. That is one reason we use bathroom extractor fans and kitchen range hoods - the air is cheaper to heat. The relative humidity rises as the temperature goes down; when it reaches 100% you have the dew point and the water settles. Ventilation helps here. Remember that a plastic cover over a car will eventually destroy the car with build-up of condensation due to lack of ventilation.

 

Normally, moisture evaporates from the ground surface when temperatures are high enough. Surface tension will "pull" water up to 7 m above the water table, towards the ground surface. By covering the ground - any sort of paving or cover - you reduce the evaporation and it effectively pulls the ground water surface up. It is essential to have a vapour and moisture barrier under your building to reduce evaporation from the ground. The difference in my 1960 house, which was on piles with timber floor ("suspended floor"?), after putting black polythene on the ground under it was very noticeable - much easier to heat and less condensation.

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We have a 40'x60',finishes and insulated pole building. The floor is concrete with heating tubing installed and a plastic sheeting for a moisture barrier. The building was constructed fourteen years ago and heating tubes were installed but never used. Instead we do have an electric furnace that we use occasionally. Quick temperature swings with high humidity are not generally an issue in our part of the country. The one exception was just before I installed the furnace, and when the temp had been unusually cold, which brought the shop temp down to about 32 degrees, and then the weather warmed very quickly (temp. usually stay around 40-44 degrees without the use of the furnace). I was surprised to walk into the shop on to find all the cars dripping wet from condensation. Several hours of toweling off and strategically placed floor fans, with the shop doors open brought things back to normal.

In my humble option a plastic moisture barrier between ground and storage area is almost always essential. I don't know why you couldn't lay 2x4's on top of plastic sheeting with plywood over the top. Seems to me that it would work about as well as concrete, remember concrete is not impervious to moisture. Heat is nice but regardless of whether you have heat or not air circulation, or ventilation if you have no heat, is the second most important storage requirement. Bernie an I are on the same page.-Bill

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My 30 X 40 ft. metal garage building has a 6 inch thick concrete slab on a vapor barrier on top of a clay/sand pad.  The perimeter of the slab is tied into the foundation with re-bar, but the field of the slab is reinforced with wire 'highway mesh' and has no re-bar.   I live in North Central Florida, and in the winter, temperatures can vary widely.  For example, after a week of near-freezing low temperatures, we can have several days of highs in the 70s.  I live on a small lake, and after a period of low temperatures, balmy (70+ degrees or so) breezes blowing through the garage can cause the relatively low temperature of the slab to precipitate moisture contained in the relatively warm air.  This can cause an annoyingly wet concrete floor, but if I expect such conditions, I keep the garage closed up and run a household-variety dehumidifier, which solves the problem.  If I had it to do over again, I'd have installed heating elements in the concrete slab to keep the slab temperature close to the temperature of the ambient air, but what's done is done.  During the fall, spring and summer, even in conditions of high humidity, I have no problem with moisture condensing on my concrete slab.  All in all, I definitely recommend concrete.  The only reason I have a 6 inch thick slab is because I wasn't sure where I'd be locating my lifts, so I just poured the entire thing 6 inches thick.

 

In this area, where we endure prolonged periods of high humidity, sand floors don't seem to perform as well as concrete floors when it comes to protecting the contents of a building.

 

Cheers,

Grog

 

 

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Thank you my friend, the expertise on this site is nothing short of amazing. The entire project is a dream unfolding in honour of my father and mother. Best regards, Wayne

 

You are welcome ... & I whole-heartily agree!

 

Really cool project, Wayne!

 

 

Cort :) www.oldcarsstronghearts.com

pigValve, paceMaker, cowValve | 1979 Caprice Classic (awaiting new owner)
"Believe what you feel inside" __ Ronnie Milsap __ 'In Love'
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I would add some reinforcing to the slab, mainly to control "crinkage" = shrinkage cracking. Concrete heats (expands) up as it cures and cracks as it cools (shrinks) differentially. Usually mesh is the expensive option. You also should price 10 mm deformed bars at 2' centres both ways for comparison. Bars should be placed at mid to 2/3 depth on stools (as should the mesh). Saw cuts also help control crack locations. You can reduce crinkage by keeping the concrete cool during curing. One way is to include ice as part of the water measure, but this is more for bulk concrete pours like in a dam. The usual way is to mist spray it with water.

 

Pouring concrete inside a building is a pig's ear of a job. You have to pump or barrow it in and it is hard to keep it cool without damaging the building. It is also difficult to get formwork around the edges for level control. One way is to put them in a foot or so from the edges and when the concrete is all floated off, remove the formwork and hammer the pegs down (which leaves a hole in the DPC) and hand float the repaired areas. Or use permanent formwork. Neither of  these need to penetrate to full depth, it is just the top surface you need.

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