Gravel vs. Concrete: Which Shed Base is Best for You?

gravel vs concrete shed base

Many of our clients are come to us wondering, “Do you need a foundation for shed?” Once that question is answered, though, a follow-up question is often “What’s the best shed foundation: gravel or concrete?”

In most cases:

Let’s talk about the respective benefits of each.

Gravel is generally better than concrete for a shed foundation

As mentioned above, gravel foundations win out for prefab sheds that come with wooden floors pre-built. If that’s the type of shed you’re planning to build/buy, the following reasons explain the benefits of a gravel shed foundation.

gravel vs concrete shed base

Better drainage = less rot and decay. A gravel base acts like a sponge by wicking away the water that would normally collect around the bottom of the shed. A concrete base, on the other hand, cannot absorb water. This can create more water runoff issues during heavy rain falls. Additionally, the bottom of the shed also won’t dry out as quickly with concrete.

Photo credit: http://shabbyglam.blogspot.com

Less water splashing against your shed. A gravel base functions like a diffuser when water that runs off the roof reaches the ground. The rough, porous surface of the gravel prevents water from splashing up. Instead, the water quickly soaks into the ground. With a concrete base, water from the roof will splash up against the sides of the shed. This increases the likelihood that any wood (including siding) on your shed will rot over time.

gravel vs concrete shed base
gravel vs concrete shed base

Cheaper than concrete. A gravel base has a price point significantly lower than concrete. If your building doesn’t require a concrete foundation, a gravel pad can save you hard earned dollars and allow you to invest more in things like landscaping (or a bigger shed!). We have an entire article devoted to shed site prep costs when installing gravel foundations.

Photo credit: Sheds Unlimited

Easier to install and remove. With a gravel base, you won’t have the heavy concrete truck driving on your lawn. A gravel base for an average sized backyard shed can usually be installed in a day or less. You may even decide to level the ground for your shed, calculate how much gravel you need, and build your own gravel shed foundation. And if you ever decide to move the shed to a new location in your yard or get rid of it altogether, a gravel base will be much easier to remove. 

gravel vs concrete shed base

Concrete is generally better than gravel for a garage foundation

If your shed will serve as a garage (especially a multiple-car garage), it’s important to have a foundation that will properly support heavy vehicles. This is also true for sheds that are built or assembled on-site. The following reasons explain the benefits of a concrete garage or shed foundation. 

Diagram of a concrete shed foundation

Local regulations may require concrete. Some municipalities require certain building types or building sizes to be constructed with a concrete foundation or footers. This is especially true in areas that are prone to frost heave. Check your local code, as there are several types of concrete foundations (with varying costs) that may meet requirements. If you’re only installing a shed, concrete piers at each corner, combined with a gravel foundation, may be satisfactory.

Concrete offers the best support for vehicles. As mentioned above, concrete is the best option for a garage. Years of driving a vehicle in and out can cause a building on gravel to start to shift. Concrete eliminates that danger. For both attached and detached garages built on-site, construction will usually start with concrete wall footers and a concrete floor. You can see several types of concrete garage foundations here.

A concrete block foundation installation in Chester Springs, PA

So, is a concrete shed base better or stronger than crushed stone? It depends…

The truth is, the extra cost of concrete does not necessarily make it a better foundation for a shed. A gravel base is an ideal foundation for small prefab sheds and can even be a good option for some portable garages. However, concrete is a great option for larger garages and any building that’s not pre-built with a floor. If it doesn’t have a floor, then a concrete foundation is a good option.

Does That Help?

We hope that answers your questions! Please contact Site Preparations LLC if you have any additional questions. We’d be happy to give you a free quote on a shed or garage foundation. 

You can also feel free to browse our galleries of gravel shed foundation photos and concrete garage foundation photos.

16 thoughts on “Gravel vs. Concrete: Which Shed Base is Best for You?

  1. Aditya says:

    Hi there! I’m getting a 14×14′ finished shed built as a backyard office in Austin, TX. The builder generally builds on 4×4 pressure-treated skids (on concrete blocks, I think). Do you think that will suffice? Thanks!

  2. Site Preparations LLC says:

    Hi Aditya, building a shed on skids is pretty standard. The main concern would be placing the finished shed on concrete blocks. It’s a pretty common foundation style, especially in the southern US…The problem is that the blocks can tend to settle unevenly, putting extra strain on the frame of your building. You probably won’t notice it in the short term; it’s more an issue of longevity. We usually recommend a gravel foundation with a treated wood border.
    We actually have an entire article dedicated to that question here: https://www.siteprep.com/shed-foundation-blocks/
    Hope that’s helpful!

  3. Summer says:

    We are installing a 12×20 shed for gym equipment in Kentucky. Do you think concrete is necessary for that weight?

  4. Site Preparations LLC says:

    Hi Summer,
    It depends if your shed will have a built-in floor or not. If it has a wooden floor, a crushed stone pad will be fine (basically the gravel can handle any weight that a wooden floor can handle). Obviously, if there’s no built-in floor, you’ll want a concrete foundation to also serve as the floor for your shed. Hope that’s helpful!

  5. Jai Roberts says:

    Hi! Thanks for all this helpful info! We plan to install a pre-built manufactured tiny home – the builders will block the building 15 inches off the ground. What type of site foundation should I be getting a quote for? I also saw you mention above that cement blocks are not ideal long-term. Is there a better option you suggest that I can request of them or will the builders not likely oblige that type of request? Thanks for your input!

  6. Site Preparations LLC says:

    Hi Jai, if your tiny home has a built-in wood floor, we recommend going with a gravel pad as described above. The builders may or may not offer that as a foundation option; if not, you may be able to hire a third-party site preparation company (that’s what we are) to install the pad. Ideally, you want to prepare the pad before the building arrives. You can see examples of completed gravel foundations here. We also have a guide to building your own gravel foundation here.
    Hope that answers your question!

  7. Lou says:

    Hi, I had a question. I am putting up an 8 x 12 resin shed with a resin floor. Would you still recommend a gravel base over concrete or wood?

    Thanks

  8. Taliyah says:

    I currently have an existing 12×20 shed that is on cinder blocks in Northern AZ Mountains. The floor is warping and no longer seems viable. I know we need some kind of foundation but unsure where to start or who to even contact…. I’m in need of professional advice. Please help!

  9. Arthur says:

    Hello, you did not mention critters. Namely rats. My 8×8 shed, built several years ago is actually sinking because rats regularly make their homes under it. I sort of contracted with a guy to pour a 9×9 concrete floor pad, with a 1×2 foot rat wall/footing all around. I have kind of decided to seriously consider the crushed concrete and/or gravel option, as it seems cheaper, more doable and flexible should I have to move it or the shed. My question is give that, how deep should the gravel foundation be for such, and would this be effective in keeping rats from tunneling. Or, should I still dig extra deep around the perimeter for rat control.

  10. Site Preparations LLC says:

    Hi Taliyah,
    Unfortunately, we don’t serve AZ (yet). However, we did create an in-depth how-to guide for building a gravel shed foundation, which you can find here: https://www.siteprep.com/how-to-install-a-gravel-shed-foundation/
    If you’re not up to doing the job yourself, you may be able to find a landscape or foundation company that would be willing to install a pad according to the specs laid out in the guide.
    Hope that helps!

  11. Chris says:

    Morning,

    I’m looking for advise on whether I should use blocks or skids under my shed which will be on a gravel foundation. Thoughts?

  12. Will says:

    We are building a 12×20 ft prefabricated cottage with a floor and insulation. The interior is unfinished but we will install that a bit later. The manufacturer suggested that we use concrete because of the size of the building and the concern that gravel might settle over time. Is that justified? Also eventually we hope to add plumbing which might make a concrete slab a bit difficult and we certainly are intending to have electric as well.

  13. Site Preparations LLC says:

    Hi Will, we recommend using ‘3/4″ clean’ crushed stone for shed foundations and compacting with a plate compactor before placing the building. 3/4″ clean stone is 95% compacted at delivery and compacting locks the stone edges together to prevent settling.
    That being said, if you’re planning to finish the interior with drywall, you do run the risk of having cracks appear as the building naturally flexes during use; if you’re finishing it with shiplap or tongue-and-groove paneling it shouldn’t be an issue. We would suggest following the manufacturer’s recommendation as they know best how their specific building will behave under certain conditions.
    You can read more about our crushed stone recommendations here, under the section titled “Crushed Stone”.

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