How to build a shed base

How to build a shed base

Your shed or outbuilding is only as good as the foundations you build it on. This Waltons guide helps you decide which base is right for you and provides step-by-step instructions to walk you through the build.

Replacing an existing garden building? Browse our extensive range of wooden sheds and workshops for inspiration.


Why do I need to install a base?

A base provides a sturdy, level platform for your shed, and prevents rot by stopping groundwater seeping into the bearers.

Install your shed on an uneven surface and the timbers will flex. As a result, screw holes and joints may not line up, and once you’ve assembled your shed, you might find the doors and windows don’t shut properly.

A sturdy base also stops your shed subsiding over time, helping it last longer. Using floor bearers to raise your shed a few centimetres from the base will also help to protect your shed from damp by allowing air to circulate. 

Shed location

Bottom of a shed with a heavy-duty base
Choose your shed foundation based on the shed size and weight once in use - as well as your personal preference
Image: Waltons

Before you decide where to build your shed, think about the following points:

  • Terrain: Level the site. The flatter it is to begin with, the easier the job will be.
  • Access: For ease of access during construction and for maintenance afterwards, including regular wood treatment, try to leave a 3ft gap between your shed and any surrounding walls. This also lets the building ‘breathe’, reducing damp and the potential for rot.
  • Natural light: What will you use your shed for and how much natural light do you want or need? Site your shed accordingly – remember – direct sunlight soon turns a shed into an oven.
  • Electrical supply: If you plan to install electricity, take the location of the supply into consideration when choosing your site. Alternatively, take a look at our quick guide to powering your shed off-grid.
  • Planning permission: Most sheds don’t require planning permission, but if you’re not sure, our guide to planning permission contains plenty of useful information as well as links to the relevant planning bodies. 

Shed base options

Once you’ve chosen a site, you’re ready to choose a base. Here are your options.

1. Portabase

Suitable for garden sheds and  playhouses. Install a Portabase on a concrete  surface, or straight onto the  ground.

2. Paving slab base

Suitable for all garden buildings. Concrete paving slabs are long lasting and easy to install, as long as you prepare the ground properly.

3. Concrete slab base

Suitable for all garden buildings. A concrete slab is the most permanent option. Employ a builder if you’re not confident with DIY.

Installing a Portabase

Full sized image of wooden portabase
A cut to fit Portabase is available to match a selection of popular shed sizes for a perfect fit.
Image: Waltons

The Portabase is a time and cost-effective base that is purpose-built for garden sheds. Manufactured from pressure-treated timber, the Portabase provides a rot-resistant platform for your shed. Because it’s supplied with both ground spikes and metal support brackets, a Portabase is equally suitable for garden lawns and hard surfaces.

What you’ll need:

  • Portabase kit
  • Electric drill and screw bit
  • Tape measure
  • Spirit level
  • Hammer

Portabase installation process: 

Step 1: Level the ground ready to receive the Portabase. Arrange the shorter, cross-pieces on the ground, narrow side down. Cap the ends with the longer timbers to form a grid.

Waltons 8 x 6 Portabase laid out on floor
An 8 x 6 Portabase laid out ready to assemble

Step 2: Mark the capping timber where the cross- pieces are to be secured to it. Drill two holes at each point.

Person putting together a portabase
Pre-drill holes ready to screw the timbers together

Step 3: Screw the cross-pieces to the capping timbers using the screws provided. Drill pilot holes to prevent the timbers from splitting.

Person screwing a portabase frame together
Screw the frame together

Step 4: Measure the diagonals. If the base is correctly aligned, both will be the same length. If they’re not, secure one corner, then with your hammer, gently tap the frame into alignment.

Measuring portabase diagonally
Measure the base from corner to corner

Step 5:  Securing the base. Take each galvanised metal spike and place it flush against the wood inside a corner of the frame. Hammer it into the ground. If you’re installing the Portabase onto solid ground like a patio, follow the instructions provided with the base to attach the metal foundation frame.

Securing the portabase
Hammer the spikes until flush with the frame's top

Step 6: When the top of the spike is level with the frame, screw it to the wood.

Screwing the portabase together
Secure the frame to the ground using the spikes

Step 7: Place an L plate against the inside of the capping timber close to each of the corners. Hammer the plate to flatten it against the ground until the top is flush with the timber. Screw the plate to the frame. Repeat for each corner.

Securing shed base with L-plates
The L plates help keep your building level

Step 8: Use your spirit level to make sure the frame is level. If it’s not, hammer the corner spikes further into the ground as required. 

Finished portabase laying on ground
A strong and steady Portabase, ready for your shed

You now have a stable, level base on which to build your shed. 

Installing a paving slab base

Concrete base for shed base
Paving slabs are a flexible option - either use them as a shed base, or extend the area into a patio
Image: Waltons

Concrete paving slabs make an ideal base for a range of garden buildings. As long as the ground is properly prepared, this is a long-lasting, durable option. 

What you’ll need:

  • Concrete paving slabs 
  • Hardcore
  • Slab fix mortar
  • Tape measure
  • Set square
  • String and pegs 
  • Spade
  • Rake
  • Earth rammer
  • Spirit level
  • Watering can
  • Slab spacers
  • Rubber mallet
  • Brush
  • Trowel

Paving slab installation process:

Step 1: Level the site, then using the tape measure, pegs and string, mark out the area for the base. Use a builder’s set square to check each corner is a 90-degree angle. To create a patio area or walkway around your shed or summerhouse, mark out a correspondingly larger area.

Measuring out distance paving slabs
Keep your measurements accurate

Step 2: Remove the turf inside the perimeter, digging out the topsoil to a depth of 10cm for the hardcore, plus 2.5cm for the slab fix mortar, plus the thickness of your paving slabs. Your paving slabs should sit just below the level of the surrounding turf.

Digging out turf for paving slab patio
Dig out the right amount of topsoil

Step 3: Lay the hardcore, rake it level and compact it with your earth rammer. Use your spirit level to check the surface is level. An uneven or sloping base will weaken the structure of your shed.

Hardcore being compressed
Compress your hardcore to create a foundation

Step 4: Starting from one corner, practise-lay the patio slabs to make sure they fit properly. Leave a gap between each slab using off-cuts of ply or patio slab spacers. When you’re happy with the layout, remove the slabs and stack them to the side.

Laying down base for concrete slabs
Make sure your slabs fit before fixing them

Step 5: Spread the slab fix mortar to a depth of 2.5cm. Rake it level, sprinkle with water from a can and rake it level again. 

Starting from one corner, lay the concrete slabs, inserting spacers between them. Bed each slab by tapping it with the rubber mallet, remembering to check each one with the spirit level. 

Allow up to 48 hours for the slab fix mortar to harden.

Rubber mallet being used to secure slabs
Use a rubber mallet to set each paving slab

Step 6: Remove the spacers. Sprinkle dry mortar over your shed base brushing it into the gaps between the slabs.

When the gaps are full, brush away any excess mortar, then with a trowel, press the sand / cement mix into the gaps.

Now wet the surface with water sprinkled from your can. Allow to dry – your shed base is ready.

Pointing paving slabs with excess mortar
Fill any gaps between the slabs

Installing a concrete slab base

Concrete shed foundation
A concrete slab is a sturdy and permanent base for a shed

A concrete slab is the most permanent shed base, offering a sturdy foundation or a solid floor for heavy equipment. Installing this base requires that you have at least competent DIY skills. If you’re unsure, we suggest you consider hiring a professional.

What you will need:

    • Sand and cement (or ready mixed concrete) 
    • Tape measure
    • Pegs and string
    • Set square
    • Spade
    • Hardcore
    • Rake
    • Earth rammer
    • Timber
    • Cement mixer or mixing board 
    • Wheelbarrow
    • Tamp board
    • Spirit level 

    How much concrete will I need?

    Use the following equation to work out how much concrete you’ll need:

    Slab depth x Slab width x Slab length

    Round decimals up and add 10% contingency – it’s better to have too much concrete than not enough. 

    Concrete slab base installation process:

    Step 1: Level the site then using the tape measure, pegs and string, mark out the area for the base. Use a builder’s set square to check each corner is a 90o angle. Check you have the angles correct once you have the pegs and string in place.

    Measuring out concrete base location
    Make sure to take accurate measurements

    Step 2: Remove the turf inside the perimeter, digging out the topsoil to a minimum depth of 10cm of hardcore, plus 15cm of concrete. Add the hardcore, rake it level and compact it with the earth rammer.

    Hardcore being compressed
    Make sure the hardcore is properly compressed

    Step 3: Next, you’ll need to build a timber frame to contain the concrete while it sets.

    Measure, cut and join the timber, constructing the frame so that the inside measurements match the dimensions of your base.

    Measure the diagonals. If they’re the same, your base is square, if not, tap the frame into alignment with a hammer. Use a spirit level to check the frame sits level on top of the hardcore.

    Concrete base being constructed
    Make sure the measurements are correct

    Step 4: Mix the sand and cement, and add water in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Once you’re happy with the consistency of your concrete mix, pour it into the timber frame and start to spread it evenly.

    A wooden plank being used to even out concrete
    Even out the concrete using a wooden plank

    Step 5: Spread the concrete within the space until it slightly overfills the frame.

    Take a straight-edged length of timber, long enough to span the width of your slab and beginning at one end, work it across the surface of the concrete, using a sawing action.

    Use a spirit level to ensure you have a level surface.

    Spirit level being used to level out slabs
    Check that you have a flat, even surface

    Step 6: Wait for the concrete to set. If it rains, cover it with plastic sheeting. In warm weather, prevent cracking by covering the surface with damp cloth – dust sheets or sacking work well.

    Leave your concrete base to rest for at least three days before removing the timber frame, and installing your garden shed on it.

    Concrete shed base in a garden
    Leave your base to set for three days

    We hope this has given you all the information you need to build a strong foundation for your shed. Not only will a sturdy, level base support the structure, it helps to prolong the life of your garden building. For more practical how-to guides including advice on building, maintaining and decorating your shed, visit our blog.

    Back to blog