How to Build a Shed

How to Build a Shed

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Building your own shed can be a challenge, but it’s a very rewarding project. A storage shed or garden shed can house your tools and equipment. A new shed is also a great place for work projects that won’t clutter up the garage. This wikiHow will teach you how to build your own shed, whether you’re consulting shed plans or not.

Steps

  1. 1

    Get a building permit if you need one. Depending on the local building codes in your area, you might need to obtain a building permit before erecting your own shed. Call your local building office or permit office and ask what you need to do. If you need a building permit, get it before you start your shed so you don’t risk having to tear down your hard work.

    • There will likely be a small fee for the building permit.
    • If you don’t get a permit, you might have to tear down the entire shed and start over, even if you follow the other local building codes.
  2. How to Build a Shed

    2

    Level the ground (if necessary) and install deck piers along a grid to support the shed. The piers will allow you to string support beams beneath the floor of the shed. In the example design, the piers are spaced 6 feet (1.8 m) apart in one direction and 4 feet (1.2 m) apart in the other for a total grid area of 12 x 8 feet. This is convenient because once you lay supports along this grid, it will take exactly three standard 4- by 8-foot plywood sheets to cover it.

    • You may prefer to build your shed on a concrete slab to protect it from water that might seep up from the ground. If so, lay your concrete slab before you start building the base of the shed.

    Tip: Building your shed will be easier if you follow shed plans. You could create your own shed plans so your design is to your specifications. However, you may prefer to download professional shed plans.

  3. How to Build a Shed

    3

    String support beams lengthwise across the deck piers. This will support your floor joists, which run in the opposite direction. The easiest way to attach the beams to the piers is with metal straps, which have built-in nail holes. In the example design, the beams are 12-foot-long 4×6”s.

  4. 4

    Attach joists to the support beams and separate them with blocking.

    • First, you will need to attach a rim joist along the outer edge of each outermost support beam; each of these will need to be the same length as the beam underneath.

      How to Build a Shed

    • Then, you will need to install a series of floor joists across the entire length of the support beams; these will need to be the same length as the distance between the two rim joints so that they’ll fit between them. In the example design, the floor joists are all separated by 14.5-inch gaps except for the outermost two, which are 13 34 inches (34.9 cm) from their immediate neighbors; this is to allow a standard piece of plywood to line up with the outermost edge of the outermost joist but only cover half of an interior joist, allowing its neighbor to cover the other half so that both can be supported properly.[1]

      How to Build a Shed

    • To keep the floor joists from moving, install a piece of blocking between each pair of floor joists along the center support beam.[2]

      How to Build a Shed

  5. How to Build a Shed

    5

    Nail plywood sheeting to the joists to form the shed floor. If necessary, use H-clips in addition to nailing the sheets into place; these fit between two pieces of plywood and lock them together for additional structural strength. In the example design, two standard sheets of 4- by 8-foot plywood are used whole and a third is sawn in half and used to fill in the 4-foot difference on either end. Because of the spacing of the piers, support beams, and joists, no additional cuts or adjustments are necessary. Note that the pieces of plywood are intentionally misaligned so that the floor doesn’t have a single seam running across the whole thing, which would be a significant structural weakness.

    • Your shed floor may also be screwed down with 3-inch deck screws.
  6. 6

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    Build the framework for all four walls. To account for the fact that the front and back walls are different from each other (due to the doorframe in the front) and the side walls must both be sloped (to prevent rain from collecting on the roof), each of these will have to be tackled somewhat differently. It’s easiest to construct the back first, the front second, and the two sides last, as shown in the numbered image below. See How to Frame a Wall for more information before you read the instructions below.[3]

    • Build the framework for the back wall. Make the top and bottom beams (a.k.a. the plates) the same length as the length of the floor which they sit. To keep your measurements simple, make the spacing between the vertical studs identical to the spacing between your floor joists. Note that the back wall should be lower than the front wall so that the roof slopes and directs rain away from the door.[4]

      How to Build a Shed

    • Build the framework for the front wall. The front wall should be the same as the back wall except taller and with a door frame so that you can hang a door in the shed when you’re done.[5]

      How to Build a Shed

    • Build the framework for the side walls. The bottom plate of each side wall should be the same length as the distance between the bottom plates of the front and back wall (so that the side walls will fit between them). The standard spacing between vertical wall studs in the US is 16 inches (40.6 cm) (from center to center, not from edge to edge); since this stud spacing doesn’t perfectly divide into the total length of the side walls in the example design, the two outermost studs make up for this discrepancy by being slightly closer to their neighbors. Most importantly, the top plate is angled so that the roof will be sloped, which makes the height of each vertical stud slightly different. If you’re not sure how to calculate the necessary height of each vertical stud in advance, make the two outermost vertical studs first, lay them the correct distance apart, cut a top plate that spans this distance, and then cut each remaining vertical stud individually based on the distance between the top and bottom plates at that exact location.[6]

      How to Build a Shed

    • Assemble the four wall structures. Wall structures are usually nailed to the underlying support from the bottom up. However, if this is not possible with the design you’ve chosen, simply nail them downwards through the plywood and joists or toenail them into place by driving the nails downwards and at an angle. Note that you will probably need other people to help you hold the wall structures up until they can be attached to one another.[7]
  7. How to Build a Shed

    7

    Build rafters across the roof and separate them with blocking. These should overhang the walls of your shed for increased weather protection. Again, your measurements will be greatly simplified if you space the rafters the same way that you spaced your floor joists. When you’re done, attach pieces of blocking between each pair of rafters along the top plates.[8]

  8. How to Build a Shed

    8

    Nail plywood sheeting to the rafters to form the roof. If you have added overhang, the plywood layout you used to cover the floor will have to be amended.

  9. How to Build a Shed

    9

    Cover the walls. You can use siding, textured plywood, or anything else that gives the shed a more finished look.

  10. How to Build a Shed

    10

    Add tar paper to the roof. Start from the lower end of the roof slope and work your way upwards, making sure that each new level of paper overlaps the one below it to keep rain from seeping into the cracks. You can also use shingles or other roofing material if desired.[9]

Expert Q&A

Add New Question

  • Question

    What’s the best wood to use to build a shed?

    Benjamin Hansen is a Landscape Contractor and the Owner of Artscape Gardens, a boutique landscaping company in Los Angeles, California. With over 12 years of experience, Benjamin specializes in transforming properties into aesthetic, functional, and drought-tolerant oases. Benjamin uses color scheme, dimension, and water conscious spaces to inspire the design and installation of soft scape, hardscape, patios, pathways, irrigation, drainage, fencing, concrete, lighting, and electrical work. Artscape Gardens covers all areas of the C-27 landscape contractor classification.

    Licensed Landscape Contractor

    Expert Answer

  • Question

    How do you level the ground when you’re building a shed?

    Benjamin Hansen is a Landscape Contractor and the Owner of Artscape Gardens, a boutique landscaping company in Los Angeles, California. With over 12 years of experience, Benjamin specializes in transforming properties into aesthetic, functional, and drought-tolerant oases. Benjamin uses color scheme, dimension, and water conscious spaces to inspire the design and installation of soft scape, hardscape, patios, pathways, irrigation, drainage, fencing, concrete, lighting, and electrical work. Artscape Gardens covers all areas of the C-27 landscape contractor classification.

    Licensed Landscape Contractor

    Expert Answer

  • Question

    How can I build a homemade shed?

    Mark Spelman is a General Contractor based in Austin, Texas. With over 30 years of construction experience, Mark specializes in constructing interiors, project management, and project estimation. He has been a construction professional since 1987.

    Construction Professional

    Expert Answer

    For the beginner, there are a lot of pre-cut kits that you can buy at local hardware store. You can also find a lot of building plans online that will be easy to follow.

  • Question

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    Can I make a shed out of balsa wood without breaking it?

    Mark Spelman is a General Contractor based in Austin, Texas. With over 30 years of construction experience, Mark specializes in constructing interiors, project management, and project estimation. He has been a construction professional since 1987.

    Construction Professional

    Expert Answer

    This would be for modeling only. Balsa wood is used for designing small mock-ups of design.

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Tips

  • You may want to install a corrugated fiberglass roof for natural light.

  • You may want to stain or paint your new shed to make it last longer.

  • If you plan to finish the inside, you should add an additional stud in each corner for a nailing surface.

  • A ramp instead of stairs will allow you to move wheeled equipment in and out of the shed easily.

  • Let your new shed breathe before you fill it with items.

  • Pick a good spot. For instance, put a garden shed near your garden or put a storage shed where you can easily retrieve your items.

Things You’ll Need

  • Deck piers
  • 16d nails for the framing
  • 8d nails for the sheeting
  • 4- by 6-inch (10- by 15-cm) beams for support
  • 2- by 6-inch (5- by 15-cm) beams for joists, rafters, and blocking
  • 3/4-inch (2-cm) plywood for flooring
  • 2- by 4-inch (5- by 10-cm) beams for studs and plates
  • 4- by 4-inch (10- by 10-cm) beams for frame headers
  • 1/2-inch (127-mm) plywood for roofing
  • textured plywood (or siding) for the walls
  • tar paper for the roof

Warnings

  • If you haven’t done so before, have your property line surveyed and marked

  • Check the zoning in your location to see if a shed is allowed.

  • Before you begin construction check local laws at your town’s building department to see if a permit is needed.

About This Article

Article SummaryX

To construct the floor of your shed, install deck piers and fasten support beams lengthwise. Nail horizontal floor joists and plywood sheets on top. Build the walls and rafters out of wood beams, and make sure to build the back wall slightly shorter to create a slant. Then, cover with plywood. For recommended measurements and tips on how to make your shed even sturdier, read on!

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Reader Success Stories

  • How to Build a Shed

    Charlie Kenyon

    Jun 17, 2017

    “Your build-a-shed narrative was very informative. I should have read it before my construction, it might have…” more

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