diy storm shelter

DIY Storm Shelter for All Terrains – Materials Needed

Surviving a storm is extremely challenging. Make it easier with these DIY storm shelter ideas that work well on all terrains.

Storm shelters are becoming more popular as a result of the recent outbreak of tornadoes and severe storms.

Storm shelters protect your loved ones and preserve valuable items like paintings and jewels. So, understanding how to construct your storm shelter is crucial in today’s fast-paced society.



Why Do You Need a Storm Shelter?

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A storm shelter is a construction that provides protection in the case of a serious disaster such as a hurricane, flood, or tornado. It can provide life-saving protection in the event of a storm or even if your house falls apart.

Storm shelters are designed to resist the most destructive storms, hurricanes, and tornadoes while remaining undamaged.

A storm shelter’s walls and ceiling are reinforced with high-quality steel. As a result, they’re not only safe but also long-lasting.

Besides, a storm shelter is a location that most family members can easily reach. After all, storms strike at high speeds and can cause severe damage in less than a minute, so swiftness is crucial.

A storm shelter is also a perfect place to store any emergency supplies you might need when tragedy strikes.


The Types of Storm Shelters

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There are two primary types of storm shelters: underground and above-ground.


Underground Storm Shelters

An underground storm shelter, as the name suggests, is built below ground level. If your basement slab floor fulfills FEMA guidelines, you can use it.

This type of shelter provides the best level of protection against major storms such as tornadoes.


  • You can use existing parts of your house, like your basement, to establish an underground storm shelter
  • In the case of a disaster, you can always get to the shelter quickly
  • Underground storm shelters are perfect for newer home constructions


  • Will occupy a large space in your home
  • Building a storm shelter within a home often needs heavy retrofitting, which is quite costly


Above Ground Storm Shelters

If your home doesn’t have a basement, you may feel as if you have nowhere to run in the event of a tornado or severe storm.

An above-ground storm shelter is a great way to guarantee you have a safe place to go during disasters.

Such shelters are perfect for hurricane-prone areas.


  • If you move, you can take the shelter with you
  • It’s easier to move supplies to above-ground shelters
  • It’s easier to make space adjustments


  • During a storm, you won’t be able to go to the shelter as fast as if it was an underground shelter


Things to Consider When Building a Storm Shelter

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Before you start building a storm shelter, be it underground or above the ground, there are a few things you need to take into consideration:

  1. Pick a suitable location. Your storm shelter should be built on a solid concrete slab base.
  2. Remove any storage items, furniture, or decorations from the location you’ve chosen for your shelter. If any tiling, carpeting, or other flooring is covering the structure’s base, it must be removed.
  3. Ensure 7 square feet for each individual. According to FEMA guidelines, the shelter must have enough floor space for each person to stay for the period of the disaster.
  4. Use a tornado-resistant door assembly. During a disaster, a door failure might result in catastrophic injury or death.
  5. Selecting a suitable material for your shelter, like pourable concrete, concrete blocks, wood, and steel.


DIY Storm Shelter Ideas

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Whether you’re looking to establish an underground or above the ground shelter, we’ve got your back. Here are two DIY storm shelter projects; one underground and another above the ground:


Underground Storm Shelter


1.    Draw Your Plans

Begin by sketching up some ideas. You’ll need to have a decent understanding of the size of the shelter in terms of both width and height.

Make sure the site you choose has a clear path so it’s easy to get to in case of an emergency.


2.    Make a Hole

The hole for your shelter should be somewhat larger than the shelter’s intended size. Why? Because while constructing the shelter, you’ll need some space to move around.

A rule of thumb to follow is to plan for three times the amount of space you’ll require based on your plans.


3.    Level the Floor

Pour concrete to level the floor. It should be five inches thick at least. Allow for thorough drying of the concrete before proceeding.


4.    Construct the Frame

You’ll need to take measurements for your walls. To determine the proper wall measurements, you must first determine the size of the room. To do so, multiply one side’s length by the width of one side.

The lengths of the walls can then be calculated depending on the square footage. Take measurements of the lengths on the ground with a tape measure.

Dig holes big enough to hold your frames. You can use wooden planks, steel bars, or even fiberglass for your frame, depending on where you live and what kind of soil you have.

If you’re going to use wood, you’ll probably need 2×6 boards cut to the exact measurements you took for your wall.

If you don’t want to cut your own boards, you can buy them pre-cut at a hardware store.

To adhere the boards to the wall, start at the ground level and use a hammer drill to drill holes into the concrete. Use anchor bolts to secure the bottom boards, then anchor the boards to the slab. Tighten them to the maximum extent possible.

You can next use concrete nails to secure your frame, or studs, from the floor frame to the ceiling. Hurricane ties should be used to secure these to the ceiling for best protection.


5.    Pour Concrete

Pour concrete to the height of the walls once you’ve placed your framing and let it harden.

After it has dried, apply a waterproof membrane to the whole outer wall of the shelter before strengthening the walls with wire mesh on both the exterior and interior of the halter.


6.    Finish the Roof

Build a roof frame out of plywood and 2×4 boards. You can also use metal and wood if you want an even stronger shelter.

Nail each wooden board to the plywood, then pour concrete twice till the thickness of the floor is about 10 inches thick. Allow time for it to set.


7.    Install the Door

You can now put the door in place. The door should be made of concrete and steel. The hinges also must be placed outside because it must open to the outside.


Above Ground Storm Shelter


1.    The Plan Comes First

Because it may not be as stable as an underground shelter, an above-ground shelter will likely be smaller. It should, however, comfortably accommodate one family.


2.    Build the Floor

Next, you need to establish a concrete floor. Pour the concrete, using the rebar rods as a guide, and let it harden completely before proceeding.

Thereafter, lift the rods slightly to allow the concrete to flow beneath the rebar, increasing the structure’s stability.


3.    Construct the Walls

Put holes in the bricks and insert the metal frame into them. Pour concrete into the cell area of the bricks after finishing one bricklayer. This will add to your overall strength.


4.    Finish the Roof

Bending metal frames horizontally will be used to construct the roof. Add more metal frames and connect them as you bend them to make a metal mesh.

Finish the process with a wooden frame, then pour concrete on the roof.


5.    Install the Door

Use a storm and tornado-proof door that has been approved by FEMA. It must be able to endure winds of at least 200 miles per hour.



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Every year, more than 1,000 tornadoes strike the US, and so having a storm shelter is of the utmost importance.

Tornadoes are typically short-lived; the average one lasts only five minutes on the ground, but some can last up to 30 minutes and they can inflict a lot of damage.

Having a storm shelter in your home can give you and your family peace of mind. And the good news is that you can build a storm shelter on your own with the aid of the ideas above.