How to Build a Shed
Time Required: Over 1 day
When you need extra outdoor storage or a new workspace, consider building a shed in your yard. Building a shed allows you to customize it for your specific needs, whether you need a woodworking shop or just a place to store your lawnmower. Plus, learning how to build a shed yourself is often less expensive than hiring construction services.
This guide will teach you how to build a shed from scratch, which includes what you need to prepare, how to build a shed foundation and how to install shed roofing.
The cost to build a small, basic shed is relatively inexpensive. The price increases steadily depending upon the size, materials and finishes you choose to use. There are many other factors to consider when learning how to build your own storage shed.
- Determine the size and style of your shed. There are a lot of options to choose from. Decide what type of roof and door you want and if you want windows. Make sure you plan to install a door in the right location. The door should be large enough for all the equipment you plan to store. Also consider a ramp for wheeling in and out mowers, wheelbarrows and other tools. This guide details how to build an 8-foot x 12-foot shed with a 48-inch door opening, one window, a gable roof and a ramp.
- Create a drawing. You can do this on your own, hire a professional designer, or purchase ready-made shed plans online.
- Determine the shed location. If possible, build the shed on ground that is within 6-inches of being level. Building a shed on a slope is more difficult and requires either a special foundation or for you to level the ground yourself. Avoid locating the shed at the foot of a hill or low-lying area where water collects. Also consider avoiding areas near dense trees where falling debris might damage the roof.
- Get a building permit. In many areas, small sheds don’t require a building permit. If your shed has any dimensions over 12-feet, or if you plan to run power to the shed, your local ordinances may require you to get a permit. To be sure, check the building code requirements in your area. At the very least, there will likely be some set-back requirements you’ll have to follow when locating the shed in your yard.
Note: An alternative to building a shed from scratch or hiring a construction company to build one is to assemble a shed from a pre-built kit. A DIY shed kit allows you to build a resin, plastic or metal shed from prefabricated pieces and detailed manufacturer instructions. Kits are an easy option for beginner DIYers or anyone who wants a wood shed alternative. They also take less time to assemble than it takes to build one from scratch. Since they are prefabricated, shed kits can’t be easily customized.
- There are several options for building a foundation for your shed. Your climate and local building code will dictate which option to use, especially if your area requires a building permit.
- In most areas, the base of the shed can consist of a wood floor platform that rests on top of concrete blocks set on crushed stone- especially when the grade is within 6” of being level. If your yard has a significant slope, or If you live in a high-wind or seismic zone, use concrete mix to build on poured concrete piers or something similar.
- To locate the foundation, build the perimeter of the floor frame first. Build the perimeter of the floor frame by assembling a square box made of pressure-treated 2x8s that is equal to the length and width of the shed. Nail the 2x8s together using 12D galvanized nails
- Once the box is assembled, lay it where you want the shed to sit in the yard.
- Measure diagonally corner-to-corner to roughly square the box, then place concrete blocks in the corners.
- Check the frame for level across all four sides to determine the high corner. You’ll set this concrete block first.
- Set the frame aside, keeping the blocks in place.
- Starting with the block in the high corner, dig down 5- to 6-inches below where the block will sit and fill the area with crushed stone. Crushed stone helps maintain drainage around these footings. Set the block on top of the crushed stone.
- Repeat the step above for the three remaining corner blocks. Level each block to the first block using a long straight edge and level. Use crushed stone and extra blocks as necessary to bring each corner level with the first block.
- Add a second block mid-span on each of the 12-foot runs, leveling with the corner block as in the previous step.
- Place the floor frame perimeter on top of the concrete blocks. Double check the floor frame perimeter with the level and adjust the blocks as needed by adding or removing stone.
- Add floor joists every 16-inches on-center. Run the joists across the short span, which in this case is 8-feet. Nail through the band joist into each end of the floor joist using 12D galvanized nails.
- Once all the joists are nailed in place, add joist hangers at each location. Nail the joist hangers in place using galvanized joist-hanger nails.
- Square the floor framing again by measuring diagonally from corner-to-corner.
- Lay a sheet of 3/4-inch plywood sheathing or tongue-and-grooved floor sheathing in one corner. Use this sheathing to ensure the floor framing is square. Nail it down using 8d ring-shank nails. An optional step here would be to add exterior-rated subfloor adhesive to the joist before adding the sheathing.
- Lay the next sheet, cutting to length as necessary and repeat the step above.
- Complete the sheathing, making sure to stagger the seams.
This shed consists of two gable-end walls and two bearing walls. Site-made roof trusses will sit atop the walls to create the roof. Walls consist of a bottom plate, studs spaced 16-inches on-center, and two top plates. Any openings for doors or windows will require headers per the shed plans.
- Assemble one gable end of the shed using 2x4s cut to length per the shed plan drawings. Assemble the wall on top of the floor sheathing so that it can be tipped up once it is complete.
- Once the wall frame is nailed together, square it by pulling diagonals from opposite corners as you did with the floor framing.
- With the wall square, add sheathing and then the siding. Hold the sheathing down below the bottom plate so that it registers onto the floor band joist of the floor framing. In this case, the sheathing and siding are one-in-the-same T-111. Nail the sheathing / T-111 with 8D ring-shanked nails.
- Install any windows to the wall now using 1 1/2-inch roofing nails.
- Trim the window as desired.
- Lift the wall up so that it’s plumb. Align the outside so that the sheathing runs flush with the floor framing and nail through the bottom plate into the floor framing. Temporarily brace the wall in place using a 2x4s screwed or nailed diagonally from the sides of the wall to the floor framing.
- Repeat this process for the two bearing walls, and then the remaining gable wall.
- Once all of the walls are tipped in place and plumb, nail them to one another at the corners.
There are a number of ways to frame a roof, including using a ridge beam, common rafters, collar ties and roof trusses. This guide will cover a roof assembly composed of site-built roof trusses. The trusses must all have the exact same measurements to create an even roof. Once assembled they will sit on top of the bearing walls spaced 16-inches on-center.
- Roof trusses consist of two rafters (also called top cords) that join at the peak, and a bottom cord that stretches across the two at the bottom; together the three members create a triangle. The rafters and bottom cords are joined together by plywood gussets at each joint.
- Rafter and bottom chord length will vary based on your shed plans. Cut each member according to the drawings and lay them down to form a triangle.
- Build a truss for each gable wall, and span the bearing wall at 16-inches or 24-inches on center, depending on your shed plans.
- Attach the rafters and bottom cord using 1/2-inch plywood gussets cut to 8-inches x 14-inches. Trim gussets as needed.
- The four interior trusses will have gussets on both sides. The two exterior trusses will only have gussets on one side. The other side will be covered with siding.
- Cut four 2-inch x 4-inch boards to 1-foot and four 2-inch x 4-inch boards to 2-feet with a 30-degree miter cut on one side. These will be vertical supports for the exterior trusses.
- Fit the above cuts into the exterior trusses and toe-nail them into the rafters and cross ties.
- Cut the shed siding to size to cover the exterior trusses. Attach with 1 1/4-inch finishing nails.
- Raise the trusses and toe-nail them to the top plate of the front and back shed walls. Each truss should be 2-feet apart.
- Once complete, set the rafters on top of the bearing walls at 24-inches on-center.
- Add half the plywood sheathing to the roof. Start at the lower corner of one side, run the plywood across the rafters so that it is perpendicular to them (the 8-foot run of plywood spans across the rafters). Nail off with 8D ring-shanked nails.
- Repeat this process, cutting pieces to fit as needed and staggering joints at each row of plywood.
There are many roofing options and designs. Be sure to follow the shingle manufacturer’s instructions. The process below describes how to install typical 3-tab asphalt shingles.
- Cut and install the fascia trim along the gable ends and along the eaves. Be sure to hold the fascia trim down from the sheathing so that its outer edge is in-plane with the top of the roof sheathing.
- Now, install the drip edge. Line up aluminum drip edge flush with the edges of the roof at the eaves and make a pencil line at the top on each end of the shed.
- Make a straight line for reference using a chalk line. Snap the line between the two marks that you just made.
- Install the drip edge, holding it down about a half-inch from that line to create a gap between the drip edge and the fascia board. This gap will keep water from sneaking back up and behind the fascia boards.
- Nail the drip edge down using 1 1/4-inch galvanized roofing nails. For long runs, overlap the drip edge by an 1-inch to 1 1/2-inch.
- Do the same on the gabled ends, installing the drip edge up the roof along the gable. Fold the drip edge over the ridge and down the other side to avoid a seam there.
- Lay out 30-lb. asphalt roofing felt paper and nail it in place using 1 1/4-inch galvanized roofing nails.
- To lay out the design for the shingles, begin at the bottom of the roof. Place a tape measure 1/2-inch from the edge of the roof to ensure the shingles overhang the drip edge.
- Mark 12-inches up on the roof for the first course of shingles, then mark every 5-inches all the way up the roof to set your reveal. Do this on both sides of the roof.
- Using the chalk line, snap a straight line on each 5-inch increment.
- Use the chalk line to snap a straight line vertically every 6-inches.
- Install a starter course by cutting off the three tabs on a shingle, leaving only the top tar section. Orient the starter course so the tar is facing up and located over the drip edge.
- Install the first shingle over the starter course, aligning the top edge with the horizontal line and the side edge with the vertical line. Ensure that the seams of the tabs overlap the seams in the start course below by about 6-inches. Continue to the end of the roof.
- Start the next row so that it is offset 6-inches from the previous row. Repeat this process for each row, all the way up to the ridge.
- Repeat on the other side of the roof.
- Once both sides are complete, cut shingles into each individual tab and install them perpendicular to the singles so that the fold evenly over the ridge. Overlap each cap shingle by 5-inches.
There are a number of different door types including pre-hung units and slab units with exterior gate-style hinges. This guide will illustrate how to install a pre-hung door. If using a pre-hung door, purchase an exterior-grade unit that will include a threshold.
- Set the door so that it is centered in the opening.
- If the door has pre-installed brick molding, plumb the hinge side and nail the molding into the sheathing / siding (if you used T-111). Nail the molding off around the door. Then shim/nail following the steps below.
- Shim behind the hinges to maintain plumb.
- Remove the screw closest to the door stop and replace it with a screw long enough to penetrate the framing by at least 1-inch. Repeat this process for each hinge.
- Shim behind the latch and install a screw so that it penetrates the framing by about 1-inch.
- Add shims to the latch side of the door jamb so the reveal is even when the door is shut. Nail through the door jamb and shims, penetrating the framing by 1-inch.
- Repeat this process for the head jamb.
- Install exterior trim as desired on the corners of the shed, along siding seams, around the door and around windows.
- Paint or finish the siding and trim with a weather-resistant exterior wood paint or stain. If desired, paint the trim a contrasting color from the siding.
- Consider installing wireless lights or hiring an electrician to wire the shed for lights and outlets.
- Consider adding window boxes and planting garden beds around your shed.
- Build a ramp to wheel large equipment in and out of the shed. This can be as simple making a 2x4 frame screwed to the shed just below the threshold and finished with pressure-treated decking.