Who knew that garage floors are built with slope? This girl sure didn’t! If I had, I would have asked my builder to level the floor, and install a drain in the center (assuming, of course, that garage floors are sloped due to drainage). But, we weren’t privy to this knowledge before construction, so now we have a garage floor with approximately 1″ of slope per 4′. Or, 1/4″ of slope per 1′. This doesn’t seem like much. In fact, it’s barely perceptible with the naked eye. HOWEVER, doing movements like back squats, box jumps, double-unders, or wall balls, and this imperceptible difference becomes all-consuming.
So, it became obvious fairly quickly that we needed to level out the garage (aka, gym) floor. After spending about $2k on some badass Crossfit equipment, the last thing we wanted was to bastardize our WODs with a sloped floor. The need was obvious. The how was not. After a few dozen or so conversations with my very handy boss and others at work, I had ideas ranging from pouring cement to building a platform by ripping 2×4’s. The cement idea was enticing due to it’s supposed simplicity, and the platform idea was enticing because it would require me to buy a table saw. *insert big, cheesy grin here* However, once I put more thought into the concrete solution, the permanence of it wasn’t very appealing. Not to mention that cement doesn’t level itself. BUT WAIT! There is something similar that does level itself… the aptly named Self-Leveling Compound used to level floors prior to laying tile. Kinda like the wine in this glass will “find” level despite the slope of the glass, self-leveling compound will “find” level in the area that it’s poured. Hmm… although still a permanent solution, it’s definitely the easiest option we had. So, I pulled myself together, grabbed the car keys, and headed to Lowes to buy materials. I bought 4 bags of self-leveling compound and enough 2×4’s to build the frame. Just when I got back home, Susan decided to wake up. As I excitedly explained to her that I’d found the solution for our gym floor problem, I could see that she wasn’t pleased. Like, at all. After about 5-6 hours of debate, she convinced me that the platform solution was the preferred method because it’s not permanent. She’s very persistent. And, I was going to get a table saw out of the deal. So….. we decided that we’d go back to Lowes the following morning to return my original purchases and buy lumber to build the platform.
The next morning arrived, we loaded up in the trusty Murano, and headed back to Lowes. We were walking back to the lumber section when we passed a display of shims. I stopped in my tracks. “Babe!” I yelled to Susan who was marching purposefully towards the 2x4s. “Look at these… these could work!” I didn’t even need to explain myself. She was right there with me. We loaded up our arms with shims, and redirected our course to the plywood aisle. There, we loaded up a cart with progressively thicker pieces of plywood.
1/4″, 15/32″, 1/2″, & 23/32″
Through sheer luck, and maybe a little divine intervention, we had a solution that only cost $80 (compared to the $300+ solution with the self-leveling compound). Plus, the plywood and shims solution is not permanent. It’s not even attached to the ground! It’s simply held in place by the 100# rubber gym mats. So, at this point, you’re probably wondering exactly how we did this. It couldn’t have been easier. Seriously.
We had Lowes cut the 4×8′ sheets of plywood down to 2×4′ strips. That saved us some cutting and the inconvenience of all the sawdust that cutting generates. (Have I mentioned that I don’t get my table saw after all?!?!) But I do get a level gym floor, so I’m not complaining too much.
When we got back home, we simply started laying the 2×4 strips of plywood onto the garage floor. Just as the slope of the garage floor gradually increases, we laid the plywood in order of thickness.
I tried to illustrate what we did in a graphic, because we didn’t take the best pictures of this project. (Note to self: take more and better pictures of your projects!) Ugh… anyway, hopefully this graphic helps. We played around with the placement of the shims a lot, trying to achieve the best level that we could. If you look at the picture below, I think we got it pretty darn close! 🙂 Obviously, you’ll want to test level and play with the placement of the shims prior to putting the gym mats on top. Unless, of course, you’re considering this your workout for the day, and then by all means, haul those 100# mats all over the place! A minimum 4′ level is necessary to accurately test level in a space like this.
Check it out! You can see the slight raise between the section of flooring that we leveled, and the rest of the floor. We might level off one more 4′ section, because as you can see in the picture, there isn’t much room to back up from the rack once you grab the weight.
Pretty badass garage gym, eh? Yeah, we thought so too.