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Author Topic: Dirtcrete anyone?  (Read 17650 times)

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Offline srt

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Dirtcrete anyone?
« on: November 17, 2008, 12:52:27 PM »
I have a 16X24 shed out back with a sandy dirt floor.  I'd like to make the floor a bit nicer, but won't come off the bucks to pour a real slab.  The shed receives light use - mill (LT30) is parked in it (I pull it outside to saw) , mower, etc.  No point loads of any consequence and no lumber stacks etc. 

I remember reading years ago about guys mixing portland cement into shed dirt floors with a rototiller and letting nature provide the moisture for set-up.  A little reading on line says that I could do this floor with about 15 bags (10% by weight of the first 5 ") of cement.  Lots cheaper that a real floor.  That's about $150 for 360ft2 of floor.  I realize it won't have the strength of real concrete.

Anyone ever tried this or something similar?  We'll be moving from here in under 4 years, and I really don't want to pay for a real floor in an old pole shed, but would like it to be a bit nicer than sandy dirt.

Open to suggestions....

Offline Radar67

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Re: Dirtcrete anyone?
« Reply #1 on: November 17, 2008, 01:23:35 PM »
I've made dirt mortar in a pinch (didn't have enough cash to order sand). Used it on a concrete block septic tank. I used the tank for 4 years, and to my knowledge, it is still there.
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Offline timberfaller390

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Re: Dirtcrete anyone?
« Reply #2 on: November 17, 2008, 01:49:11 PM »
I like that idea!! around here you can get busted bags of cement for .50 or $1.00 that may be a pretty good way to toughen up a floor.
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Offline Woodchuck53

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Re: Dirtcrete anyone?
« Reply #3 on: November 17, 2008, 02:02:53 PM »
My original lumber stack shed had a floor 12x36'. I listened to several pros and cons and ended up doubling the sacrete and went ahead and wet it like they do on soil cement road- ways for asphalt laying. Didn't wait on ma nature. It's still there and holds up an IH tractor to boot. CV
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Offline Engineer

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Re: Dirtcrete anyone?
« Reply #4 on: November 17, 2008, 04:15:55 PM »
You could make it really nice and noone would be the wiser.  Spread the portland cement evenly with a drop spreader (like the ones you'd spread seed or fertilizer with), mix it up good with a rototiller and then mix it again, screed it and pack it good with a plate compactor, and then water it somehow.  Probably with a very fine mist sprayer or soaker hose. 

Offline york

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Re: Dirtcrete anyone?
« Reply #5 on: November 17, 2008, 04:40:31 PM »
SRT,
ya don`t say where you are from????what about the frost??what would be wrong with digging down,get rid of top layer and put down some "one bs" small crushed stone..Did this for my girl friends car port..she loves me for it...

Bert
Albert

Offline sharp edge

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Re: Dirtcrete anyone?
« Reply #6 on: November 17, 2008, 04:44:31 PM »
On my garden, wood, and sugar sheds I make black top fioors. Don't like 2x6 wood floors to many wild things like to make there home under them. >:( I get the dirt smooth then put down 100lb. minteral roofing rols one way then 90 deg. another layer. Was $10 a roll think $18 now for 100 sq. ' . use some  tar in between.

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Offline ely

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Re: Dirtcrete anyone?
« Reply #7 on: November 17, 2008, 04:52:07 PM »
my uncle did that here in his house. he mixed it up a little bit with the tiller and screeded it out flat then soaked it down good and even used a bull float to smooth her out real nice like. been there several years now.

ps. he is the same uncle that robbed my slab pile and thin boards off the mill to build the entire house also. maybe i should get some pics of his place.

Offline SamB

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Re: Dirtcrete anyone?
« Reply #8 on: November 17, 2008, 08:42:34 PM »
Some really good stuff on this thread. Creative..... low budget.....improvised engineering/construction methods. :) The only advice I might offer would be to wear a dust mask when working with dry cement. It's hard on one's airways! I know from a unpleasant experience . :( You don't want to have to spend those savings on doctor bills. :)

Offline srt

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Re: Dirtcrete anyone?
« Reply #9 on: November 17, 2008, 09:25:21 PM »
Thanks to all who have so far contributed to this thread.  I almost didn't start it, thinking it might be to hairbrained of a scheme - even for my thrifty, yet quality minded FF buddies.  Glad I put that thought aside.


I think I'm going to need a bit of what we call gravel here to bring the level up by a few inches.  Here, gravel is straight out of the pit, containing stone and sand, and a little clay.  I'll ask Richard (local dirt guy) to go easy on the clay if he can.  There are times when water runs in a bit, so I want to be a few inches higher.

Generally, the gravel he brings is already nice and moist, and should be really good to get a good stiff dry mix.  I'll do as the Eng and others suggested, and wet the top a little to make some cream.  Float and trowel by hand. Wait a few days and then put the stuff back in.

It's always nice running things by fellow FF members.  There's so much of a willingness to share experience.  It's kinda like a big functional family.

srt

Offline J_T

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Re: Dirtcrete anyone?
« Reply #10 on: November 17, 2008, 11:08:48 PM »
Yep I did it once with pit run gravel  8) I may of got mine a little wet but it smothed out good  I getterbuged the big rocks down some an it worked out nice .
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Offline okie

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Re: Dirtcrete anyone?
« Reply #11 on: November 17, 2008, 11:14:51 PM »
I have a friend whose shop is done just that way. He has sandy soil and tilled the soil as deep as the tiller would go, spread portland, tilled and repeated several times. Misted the area with the hose and compacted with a $30 rental plate vibrator ( he didnt get it soping wet, just moist enough to stiffen it up). After a dozen or so times with the compactor he waited 30 minutes or so and wet the top and bull floated it with a rented float. That was many years ago and the floor is in great shape, several fine cracks but is level and holds up a lot of weight. I personally think it is a great idea.
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Offline logwalker

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Re: Dirtcrete anyone?
« Reply #12 on: November 17, 2008, 11:44:47 PM »
Around here the engineers call it Density Modified Fill. They firm up large wherehouse sites if it is too spongy. They use 4% by volume and let the moisture in the soil harden it. It goes overnight. I did a small area I needed to run a 10,000 lb forklift on to build my shop. It worked very well and has never broken down. Joe
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Offline sawmilllawyer

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Re: Dirtcrete anyone?
« Reply #13 on: November 17, 2008, 11:57:44 PM »
Several year ago helped my best friend "sackcrete" a 20' x 30' shed. Used a rear tine rotor tiller and went as deep as it go spread out a couple of bags and rototillerec several times, then smoothed out the "floor" wetted it down and floated it. Turned out ok still it is not as nice as concrete slab but not near as pricey either. Wish we would have knon about the plate compacter.
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Offline jdtuttle

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Re: Dirtcrete anyone?
« Reply #14 on: November 18, 2008, 11:26:42 AM »
Check with your local highway department for left over grindings from road work. Or get some crusher run, it hardens up pretty good.
Jim
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Offline Engineer

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Re: Dirtcrete anyone?
« Reply #15 on: November 18, 2008, 04:58:48 PM »
Good idea on the road grindings.  I had a past customer who laid down 6" of ground asphalt on a very steep driveway and rolled it, and it hardened up nicely. Only problem with ground aspahlt is that if the sun doesn't get to it, it won't harden up like you want.

Offline Ironwood

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Re: Dirtcrete anyone?
« Reply #16 on: November 18, 2008, 05:09:19 PM »
Millings? use diesel fuel to re-emulsify the tar. I "paved" my 1/2 mile drive this way. level, roll, diesel, roll..........hard as a rock, plow it yearly with a meyers plow and no real issues yet, 4 years or so.


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Offline SAW MILLER

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Re: Dirtcrete anyone?
« Reply #17 on: November 18, 2008, 06:46:23 PM »
When I was a plumber/pipe fitter/layer We filled the ditches accross roads with K-crete .I think it was just cement and course sand.We would fill up to a foot from the top and finish filling the next day with blacktop or regular concrete.It was pretty cheap compared to concrete.It was almost self leveling.
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Offline SPIKER

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Re: Dirtcrete anyone?
« Reply #18 on: November 18, 2008, 08:28:23 PM »
I did something similar to my barn transfer pumping setup.  I used 3 55 gallon drums, strapped together and drilled through some 4" S.S. pipe connections that I sealed up with good silicon 30 yr caulking.   I buried these drums to use as small holding tanks for some hand washing soapy drainage that is pumped back to septic tank with a cheap HF sub pump.   I set them up with clean out tops & all.  I poured crete sand gravel mix. (not really concrete but close) and mixed really well, and leveled it out. let dry set the drums. and filled them with water, then mixed up more mix and poured more (heavier on the sand) down around in between drums and all around covering them over.   I did it in several lifts with some re-rod added  in and wire.  to prevent the empty drums from collapsing.   so far it has held up well, is water tight and I probably can drive the tractor over it..  I've opened it up 2 times to just check it out.  the covers worked well, (made up from some scrap Stainless steel,) with about a 10 degree tilt in pyramid form, 12"wide by ~14" long.   I topped it with about 6" of better grade crete/sand/gravel mix.   
I also did some of the crete dirt mix in the one back shed.   I later wasn't as satisfied and ended up putting in 3+ yards from a truck that cost probably about 1/2 again as much as the first try, but it made a great base.   I think the 4 yards cost me 360 bucks with a light load fee,  I put in 10 bags of Portland cement at ~`6 bucks a piece back then. so I guess it was a 1/3 the cost.  I didn't use a compactor though and didn't wet it down with a hose when I did the first go around.   It as late fall/winter on the first try...   
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Offline MattJ

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Re: Dirtcrete anyone?
« Reply #19 on: November 19, 2008, 01:56:37 AM »
Hey guys, my first time posting but been reading for a while.  I don't know as much as you guys about milling wood, but I am very experienced in making decisions I regretted later!  I did the dirtcrete option once, in an area where frost was a problem (upstate NY).  It was a mess after a few years, all cracked up and difficult to move stuff on.  We didn't do the compacting though.  What about just getting a load of washed stone and compacting that down into the base?  Later on if you want to bring in concrete on top of that.

- Matt


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