Building a studio

Hello all,

I am planning to build a small studio in my garden, to contain a vandercook No 4 and about four cabinets of type plus the usual extras. I’m thinking about using a wooden garden shed/workshop, having chatted to the sales guy he said it is unwise to buy one without a floor as not having one would compromise the structural integrity. I am planning on siting it where there was an old shed, so the area is partially prepared - as far as being paved.

My worry is even if I double the standard quantity of floor joists to 6 inch gaps, it would be a lot of weight to support using only pressure treated 2x2 joists. Do any of you have experience of using wooden flooring in such a situation or have any recommendations/anecdotes you’d like to share?

I guess the other alternative would be to set a concrete floor with wooden battens dropped into the concrete to affix the ‘shed’ to. I do like the idea of the warmer/softer wood floor rather than cold old concrete, but structural soundness is more of a concern.

Any thoughts appreciated, particularly by anyone who has gone down this (fancy garden shed) route of creating a studio space.

Thank you


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I would definitely go for the slab. I had a shop with a wood floor in an ancient factory building. We’re talking 2”thick wood floor on top of giant beams. Way overengineered. Even so, it still shook and bounced.

Now I have a cement slab and I’d never go back.

The slab floor is really the only way to go, but you can cover than with wood flooring if that is the effect you desire.

I would think that the most crucial factor is dealing with heat/cold/humidity/etc. Where are you geographicaly? Presses and especially paper do not react well to drastic temperature/humidity changes. I think you want something well insulated and capable of being heated or air conditioned.


Cement is the way to go. Plus I can slide my SP-20 around if needed. And you wouldn’t have to worry about spills ect.

I am at this very moment!! in the final cement pourings for our “garage”. I am beyond excitement to say the least. The total size is 28x18 and my studio will be 10x18. We just finished (today) our insulated slab for the garage. Where are you located? I am in sunny Colorado, but heat is very important for my Goldie! Oh, and me too! We will be moving our “Tuff Shed” out, I would not not not recommend a wooden sub floor, our shed was pretty much for storage and over the years the floor has held up ….but started warping with the heat and cold here. I originally wanted a wood floor, but now am researching painting the cement or putting down a “rubbery type” stuff from Home Depot and then throw rugs. Still deciding.
Good Luck + keep us posted! Denise

Denise, i’m on a cement floor, just put down some rubber mats to stand on. Heat is very important, without heat your ink will thicken in cold weather, paper will curl and your Goldie will rust. my garage is 24x48’, i keep the heat on 55 all winter then when i’m working i run a small wood stove to take the edge off. humidity is bad here, i run air conditioning during the summer when the temp. is over 80. Good luck Dick G.

To be different, I’ll vote for a wooden floor, or perhaps a mix of wood and concrete. While it’s good to have a solid foundation for your press, use wood (or even cork) where you must stand and work. Easier on your feet, of course, but much easier on things you happen to drop.


This is very exciting, Alistair. My only thought is that you make your studio bigger than you think it needs to be. Letterpress things breed and multiply!


Thanks for all the advice.

I am based in London, England. I was going to insulate the studio, think I will get a heater in there too - just to take the edge off. Concrete seems the way to go but like you all say I can put some sort of covering to make it more comfortable.

It would be really interesting to see peoples studio lay-outs - particularly those where space is limited, so if anyone has the time and inclination, please upload a plan.

As for space, Barbara, I’m already accutely aware there will never be enough room.


Preston makes a good point, i have lots of rubber mats where i set type, if you drop mag. dies or type on cement floor they will get nicked. Alistair, there is never enough room, my presses are set on the slab but everything else has wheels under , so i can roll things around, my galley racks are stacked two high, most benches have wheels so i can roll them to where i need them, things hang from the ceiling, my daughter just took some pictures of my (rather messy) shop, i don’t know much about computers so i will see if she will send them to you when she gets back from vacation in a week, this will give you an idea of what to expect after 49 years of hoarding letterpress stuff, Good Luck Dick G.

Dick…I would love to see the photos too of all your goodies!

i’m pulling up the carpet in my basement where my printing area will be set up to expose the concrete slab floor but I will be putting down some of that peel and stick vinyl wood-look plank flooring.

I want the look of a wood floor without the hassle of putting wood, laminate or engineered flooring down on concrete below grade.

this stuff comes in all shapes and sizes and looks pretty good when it’s down.

dropping type, etc on the vinyl should keep it protected pretty well.

Armstrong makes about 60 different styles/sizes.

You can get no-name brand at Home Depot for under $2 a sq ft.

Instead of the Peel & Stick route, go with the Allure by Trafficmaster product from Home Depot. It is a floating floor, only sticks to itself with a grip strip along the edges, fantastic product, completely 100% waterproof and a 25 year warrenty. Thicker and more durable than the peel and stick. It comes in a ton of wood grains and tile simulations, wood look is $1.79 per sq. ft.!!! It also has the moisture barrier built in so you do not need any floor preparation!!!

sorry. yes.. that’s exactly what I was talking about. I didn’t mean peel and stick the whole tile.

I’m getting some of the stuff Dennis just mentioned in a nice red mahogony color.

thanks for clarifying.

The shop I built is 14 x 18, and has a concrete slab floor. I used concrete for a number of reasons - a slab can be closer to grade level than a framed wooden floor, so rolling equipment into - and out of - the shop is easier. A few rubber mats make fatigue less of a problem. In a different situation, I would have preferred a sturdy wood floor for resilience and the look.

Around my presses and in my workspace I bought packages of the grey 2x2 foam pieces that hook together from Costco. Over that I have the grey indoor/outdoor carpet also from Costco. Works great on my garage floor and easy to move and change design as you add stuff.