converting a pole barn to a workshop

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Forum topic by Suzkahn posted 04-18-2012 12:56 AM 21215 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3 posts in 2413 days

04-18-2012 12:56 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question

I have a 30 yr old pole barn that will be turned into a workshop, about 24×42. I am gathering estimates to pour a floor, but there seems to be a great disparity of opinions about how to tie the new floor to the building… There have also been suggestions to build a plywood floor over gravel base. I can build fine furniture and turn a beautiful bowl, but construction is over my head. Just looking for any insight & experience. What about heat? I have access to a wood burning stove, or could do propane… would even consider radiant. The primary concern is the best environment for wood that’s ready to work.

12 replies so far

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18267 posts in 3671 days

#1 posted 04-18-2012 01:10 AM

Insulate the roof or it will condensate and rain inside ;-((

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View geoscann's profile


258 posts in 2275 days

#2 posted 04-18-2012 01:17 AM

IF you do it in concrete put two inch” of pink foam board and a six mil. plastic vapor beerier so it dont sweat in the summer and its easier to heat in the winter.

-- BIG geo ---Occam,s razor The simplist answer is often correct

View Sawkerf's profile


1730 posts in 3063 days

#3 posted 04-18-2012 01:42 AM

Do yourself a favor and get a contractor involved. They will know the best ways to convert your structure into what you want/need. They will also be able to do it so it meets whatever local building codes you might be subject to.

The pole construction raises flags for me. You can tie your new floor to the poles, but keeping it where you put it might be problematic. The depth of the poles and the condition of the part below grade will be very important. If they aren’t set deep enough – or in non-expansive soil – you will probably have movement as temperature and moisture levels vary.

-- Adversity doesn't build reveals it.

View Suzkahn's profile


3 posts in 2413 days

#4 posted 04-19-2012 01:36 PM

Thanks for the input.

View muleskinner's profile


896 posts in 2431 days

#5 posted 04-19-2012 02:01 PM

Re. your heat. My experience is that going from cold to comfortable is going to take forever with a wood stove in a barn that size. Propane would be a lot quicker.

-- Visualize whirled peas

View bandit571's profile


19965 posts in 2678 days

#6 posted 04-19-2012 02:33 PM

Insulate! Think the spray-on kind of foam! I have a large Pole barn i use as a shop right now. Winter time is “Shop Closed” time for me. I look at bare steel walls all the time. Concrete floor is only in half of the barn I’m in.

Lighting: You WILL need lots of lighting, just to see. Unless you open them big barn doors to let natural sunlight in.

Walls: after insulation, add plywood over it. Then you’ll have places to hang things up:

For more about a pole barn shop, go look up mine.

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

View Al Killian's profile

Al Killian

85 posts in 2620 days

#7 posted 04-22-2012 10:28 PM

A wood stove will heat it up quick if you use shop scraps and would chips. Then after it get p to temp put reg wood in

-- Owner of custom millwork shop

View MrRon's profile


4764 posts in 3238 days

#8 posted 05-09-2012 10:11 PM

I too would go with a wood stove, but whatever you do, DO NOT USE PROPANE. Propane burners give off a lot of moisture into the atmosphere which can cause humidity problems in the shop.

View crank49's profile


4030 posts in 2966 days

#9 posted 05-09-2012 11:29 PM

Check out this shop that was posted recently.
Very close to what you are talking about i think.

Here is a link to more pictures of this shop.

View Suzkahn's profile


3 posts in 2413 days

#10 posted 05-15-2012 07:57 PM

I have a contractor on board. We are evaluating whether to just make a wood floor since access for the concrete pour is not ideal… about 400’ down a slope! Are there any alternatives to conventional (and expensive) 3/4 strips to consider… plywood? Once we get underway, I’ll post some pictures.

View Charlie's profile


1100 posts in 2281 days

#11 posted 05-15-2012 10:24 PM

If you do a wood floor over dirt, it’s going to be a problem at some point unless you REALLY take measures to keep it from being exposed to a humid environment under your floor. Isolate the floor from the ground even if using pressure treated joists. If you want any heavy pieces of woodworking equipment, OR if you want to be able to roll things around, I’d say find a way to get concrete in there. If there’s just no good way to do that, then put down a stone base about 6 inches thick. Tamp it tight with a plate tamper and get it as flat as possible. Then cover it with HEAVY plastic, taped at the seams, then a gridwork of wood with 2 inch foam insulation (like bungy’s shop floor). You can put 3/4” plywood over that and then you can get unfinished southern yellow pine wide planks or red oak for around $2 a sq ft. (for the wood flooring, around $1800 for the entire 24×40 floor). 30 sheets of 3/4” plywood at $50 a sheet (for example) would be another $1500. With stone, wood for gridwork, insulation, I’m guessing you’re getting near 5 grand.

Anything less than “done right” and your floor will roll and rot.

I think I paid $6.50 /sq ft for my shop’s concrete floor. I stripped the sod (and sold it). Contractor excavated the edges to give me thicker edges, stone, rebar, pour and then he and his guys spent a LOT of time troweling it hard. It’s almost polished. No expansion joint material, and no control joints tooled in. He came back the next day and saw-cut control joints 2 inches deep. I can roll anything over them and not even feel them.

So… concrete may be more economical than you think.

View Mainiac Matt 's profile

Mainiac Matt

8032 posts in 2323 days

#12 posted 05-15-2012 11:17 PM

The photo in post 10 was a timber frame built on a poured foundation with the wood floor installed over radiant heat in a concrete slab…...

A pole barn, by definition, has NO foundation…. Just poles in holes.

You need to do something to keep the frost out …. If nothing else, excavate the perimeter and put foam board ( the type used to insulate foundations) in…. Then poor a slab over a good vapor barrier

-- It’s the knowledge in your head, skill in your hands and motivation to create in you heart that makes you a woodworker. - Mainiac Matt

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