How to Build a Storage Shed

Four Methods:Planning the DesignPreparing to BuildConstructing the ShedPutting on the Finishing Touches

If you are wondering how to spruce up the backyard and love woodworking then building your own shed might just be the project for you. It can be a very rewarding experience and with a good set of plans it can be fairly straightforward. Follow these tips to build the best shed for your needs.

Method 1
Planning the Design

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    Determine the function of your shed. What you intend to use your shed for will affect the size, shape, and materials you will need. Here are some common shed uses:
    • Lawn and yard equipment. This is the most common use for sheds, and requires the least amount of work. These sheds are typically small and basic.
    • Household storage. Similar to the yard equipment shed, household storage may require more elaborate temperature and humidity control based on what is being stored.
    • Workshop. Workshops typically need to be bigger than a storage shed, so that you have room to move around and work on projects. With the addition of work benches and storage closets, these can be quite a bit more complex.
    • Car storage. A car storage shed will be one of the largest sheds you can build. It will require solid foundations and plenty of room, as well as car access to the front.
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    If you don't have much planning and building experience, you can purchase blueprints for your shed. Several websites offer a variety of blueprints, most of which can be had for less that $30. Here are a couple places that you can find plans for sale:
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    Plan your own design. If you'd rather build the entire shed from your own design, be sure to plan everything out from the start. You will need a blueprint for each of the following:
    • Foundation. The foundation needs to be solid, and the plywood on it able to hold up the weight of what you're storing without stressing or cracking.
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    • Back wall. Each wall is constructed separately and then raised.
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    • Front wall with door. You will need to leave room in the frame for a door. The size of the door is dictated by what you are using the shed for, and what you need to move in and out.
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    • Side walls with window. If you aren't wiring your shed for electricity, then windows are your only source of light. Try to face your windows east and west to maximize the amount of sunlight that can enter your shed. Also keep in mind that windows effectively prevent you from using that portion of the wall as hanging storage space, so avoid putting windows in every available spot.
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    • Roof rafters. A sloped roof will help prevent any water damage, and keep debris from resting on top of the roof. Rafters can be utilized for storage as well.
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    • Roof decking. The most common types of roofing for sheds are asphalt or cedar shingles.
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Method 2
Preparing to Build

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    Check your local zoning laws. Most areas require a permit if a building is being constructed over a certain size, so be sure to check and see if you can legally build without a permit.
    • If you need a permit, then you will most likely have to work with a building inspector. You must have a working set of plans for the shed in this case.
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    Plan where to build. There are multiple factors to take into account when building a shed. Be sure to give careful thought to all of them in order to avoid a serious hassle once you've finished. Here are some things to keep in mind:
    • Location of utility lines. Get in touch with your local utilities to find out where gas, electricity, and water lines run through your property. Building over these lines can make any repairs that need to be done to them overly difficult or impossible.
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    • Property lines. Make sure that the entirety of your shed is on your own property. Ensure that the eaves of the shed do not hang over into your neighbor's property.
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    • Moisture. Avoid building the shed in a low area of the yard where moisture collects. The ground around your shed will always be soggy. Moisture can also rot wood, rust hinges, and deteriorate whatever you're storing.
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    • Ground angle. You want your shed to be as level as possible. Adjust the ground yourself if you have to by digging out the flat spot and filling in any holes.
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    • Surrounding trees. Try to leave a few feet of space on all sides of the shed. This will make the shed easier to access and reduce the growth of mold and mildew. Build your shed in direct sunlight if possible to further reduce growth.
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    Assemble your tools and cut your lumber.
    • The average 8'x8' shed will require almost 100 pieces of wood precisely cut to construct. Use cedar if allowed in your area as it does not change size very much through temperature changes.
    • Rafters and trim require wood to be cut at a 45° angle. For this you will need a miter.
    • Remember the adage "measure twice, cut once." Take your time cutting your materials to avoid wasting time and money. Alternatively, many major home supply stores offer lumber cutting services. Take your plans with you and have the cuts made in the store when you purchase the materials.
    • Besides the wood, you will need several pounds of nails, roof tacks for the shingles, hinges for the doors, and prefabricated windows for the walls. You will also need gussets (triangle pieces of wood) for the rafters.

Method 3
Constructing the Shed

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    Lay your foundation. Without a solid foundation, the shed will not last.
    • Level the ground as much as possible. Clear any rocks or protruding roots. Fill in any potholes. Call an excavator if the build site is beyond your capacity to prepare.
    • The average shed can be supported by a foundation of concrete blocks or pressure-treated wood skids. Use solid concrete blocks for the foundation. Larger sheds will require a permanent concrete foundation much like a house. You will need to contact your local building department to find out the precise foundation requirements for your area.
    • Use pressure-treated lumber, especially in the foundation. Treated lumber will resist rotting much more than untreated.
    • For a solid, rigid floor use 3/4" pressure-treated Tongue and Groove plywood. The plywood locks together, and the pressure treatment prevents rot from excess moisture.
    • If possible, build your shed several inches above the ground to allow air and water to pass underneath. This will add to the longevity of your shed.
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    Build your walls. Start by constructing the frames for the two side walls. Afterwards, construct the front and back frame, with a space for the door in the front.
    • If you are putting in windows, be sure to construct the frame accordingly. The window must be supported on all sides by 2x4s.
    • A basic wall frame is composed of 2x4 studs evenly spaced along the frame. Window holes require extra smaller studs to support it.
    • Attach the siding to the frame while it is lying flat. It will be much easier to attach the large piece before you raise the frames up.
    • Once both side walls are completed, raise them up so that they are 90° to the foundation. Hold them up for the time being with planks nailed to both the foundation and the wall frames.
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    Build the roof. After the two side walls are raised, connect them by building the rafters and roof.
    • The rafters continue up from the studs in the wall.
    • Build each rafter truss (the triangle construction of the rafter) separately, using the first completed one as a template for the others.
    • When attached, the bottom of the rafter should be flush with the siding.
    • Once the rafters are all attached, cover the roof frame with decking material. Then, shingle the roof. There are multiple different patterns you can use when shingling a roof. It is recommended that you follow the manufacturer's specification for shingle placement.
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    Raise the two remaining walls.
    • Attach them to the roof and the two side walls.
    • Install the door in the spot made in the front wall.
    • Install prefabricated windows in the windows spots in your side walls.

Method 4
Putting on the Finishing Touches

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    Paint or stain your wood. To help protect your new shed against weather, you should paint or stain it.
    • Use the same paint that your house was painted with if you wish to make the shed match the look of your house. If you don't want them to match, pick a color from the same family so that the shed and the house complement each other.
    • A clear stain will keep the shed's rustic appeal by not covering up the wood construction while still protecting it from the elements.
    • Use either a sprayer or paint roller, with a hand brush for details and trim.
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    Wire the shed for electricity. If you plan to use the shed as a workshop, or want to put a refrigerator or freezer in it, then the shed will need to be wired for electricity.
    • WARNING: Wiring electricity is extremely hazardous if you do not take all the necessary precautions. If you are inexperienced in working with electricity, it is highly recommended that you hire a professional electrician.

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Categories: Sheds and Garages