Constructing a Storage Shed: A Guide

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Homeowners looking for additional storage space can benefit from building their own storage shed. With basic carpentry skills and the right motivation, constructing a sturdy and attractive shed can be completed in a day by a skilled builder. Not only does a storage shed provide storage space, but it can also raise the property value of a home. Furthermore, a well-designed shed can function as a potting shed, home office annex, or secret clubhouse. This article provides a brief overview of the shed building process and some factors to consider when preparing to build.

Tools and Materials for Building a Storage Shed

Before building a storage shed, it’s important to choose a plan that fits the desired type of building and size requirements. Plans can be found at home improvement stores or online and provide a checklist of materials and a detailed breakdown of the construction process. Building materials necessary for constructing a shed include pressure-treated lumber such as 2x4s, 4x4s, and 2x8s for the skids, joists, beams, rafters, and frame. Treated plywood is recommended for the floor and bottom plate of the walls to prevent decay and insect infestation. Plywood siding is also used for the walls. Hardware such as nails and hinges are also necessary for construction.

While prefabricated sheds are available, building a shed from scratch offers more flexibility in design and appearance. Shed builders should consider the intended use of the shed and design accordingly. For example, a shed intended to house a lawn tractor may require a vertical-lift garage door and ramp for easy access. The possibilities for shed design are endless, and a custom-built shed can be both functional and attractive.

When building a shed, there are several options for a foundation. Some plans suggest using wooden skids, while others recommend using cable tie-downs or wooden posts to anchor the shed. Many plans also suggest using compactable gravel or poured concrete for a foundation. The roofing material can include roof underlay, wood sheathing, and durable cladding materials such as corrugated iron or asphalt shingles. A hammer, saw, framing square, screwdriver, measuring tape, stakes, line and level are all necessary tools for the project. Door and window plans can be adjusted to fit your needs and preferences.

Before beginning your project, it’s important to research local building and zoning codes, as you may need a permit to build on your property or to build a structure above a certain size. You may also need to set the structure back a certain distance from the property line. Consider the size and location of the building, with the primary factor being what you intend to store in it. Ideally, sheds should be located on level turf, in a location that is relatively close to the lawn or garden but away from neighbors’ sight lines. A strong foundation, such as concrete, is recommended for longer shed life and protection from frost heaves.

To build a storage shed, you will need to spend around $2,000 or more on lumber and hardware, depending on the plan you choose and the cost of materials. The plan itself may also come at an additional cost, but it could be worth the investment.

Start building your shed from the bottom up, beginning with the foundation, followed by the floor, walls, and roof. The floor is supported by two long pieces of lumber called skids, with joists placed on top to hold up the frame. After spacing out the floor joists, nail them to the bands of the frame and then attach the plywood.

Next, build the wall frames on the wood floor by measuring, cutting, and nailing wall studs to the top and bottom plates. Space the studs about 2 feet apart at their centers, which will match up with standard 4-foot cladding boards. Apply horizontal members, or “noggings,” perpendicular to the studs before adding the wall siding. With a friend’s help, lift the four wall frames and fit them together, ensuring that they are plumb and flush with the edge of the floor and with each other.

The roof frame starts with a single-roof beam above two supports on the front and rear wall frames. The four end rafters slope down from the roof beam over the corners to create the roof angle. Add more rafters in parallel to fill out the frame, and cover it with plywood sheathing boards and other materials such as underlay and fascia. After the roof is complete, install the doors and windows.

Consider the types of items you will store in your shed, such as heavy equipment, and choose flooring materials accordingly.

Additional Information

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Sources for Further Reading

  • Buildeazy. “Instructions on Building a Storage Shed.” (Accessed on February 24, 2009)
  • Carter, Tim. “Step-by-Step Guide on Building a Shed.” (Accessed on February 24, 2009)
  • Carter, Tim. “Outdoor Storage Shed Options.” (Accessed on February 25, 2009)
  • Gibson, H.E. “Selecting the Right Storage Shed: Storing Garden Tools and Supplies.” Flower & Garden magazine, August-September 1994.” (Accessed on February 25, 2009)
  • Shank, John. “Building a Shed: Tips and Instructions.” (Accessed on February 24, 2009)
  • Southern Pine. “Storage Shed Building Plans.” (Accessed on February 24, 2009)
  • Truini, Joseph. “Enhancing Your Shed Beyond the Basics.” This Old House. (Accessed on February 25, 2009),,218418,00.html
  • Truini, Joseph. “Constructing a Colonial-Style Storage Shed.” Popular Mechanics, June 2002. (Accessed on February 24, 2009)


1. What are the requirements for building a storage shed?

Before starting to build a storage shed, you need to check with your local authorities to see if you need any permits or compliances. You also need to determine the size and location of the shed, and plan the layout according to your storage needs. The shed should be built on a level surface, ideally a concrete foundation, and have proper ventilation and lighting. You can either buy a shed kit or build it from scratch with basic tools and materials like wood, nails, roofing, and siding.

2. How do I prepare the site for building a storage shed?

The site preparation for building a storage shed involves clearing the area of any debris, rocks, or vegetation. You need to level the ground and remove any protruding roots or stones. If you plan to build a concrete foundation, you need to excavate the site to the required depth and width, and lay a gravel base. If you plan to use a wooden foundation, you need to lay down pressure-treated beams and joists, and anchor them with concrete piers or blocks. Make sure the site is accessible for transporting materials and has enough space for the shed and any additional features like a ramp or walkway.

3. What tools and materials do I need to build a storage shed?

The tools and materials you need to build a storage shed depend on the size and design of the shed. The basic tools include a hammer, saw, drill, level, measuring tape, and safety equipment like goggles and gloves. The materials include wood boards, plywood sheets, roofing shingles, siding panels, nails or screws, and any additional features like windows, doors, or vents. You can also use a shed kit that comes with all the necessary materials and instructions. It is important to choose high-quality materials that are weather-resistant and durable to ensure the longevity of the shed.

4. How long does it take to build a storage shed?

The time it takes to build a storage shed depends on several factors like the size, design, complexity, and weather conditions. Generally, a small to medium-sized shed can be built in a weekend or a few days with the help of a friend or family member. A larger or more elaborate shed may take up to a week or more to complete. It is important to plan the project in advance and schedule the time accordingly. You also need to consider any delays or setbacks that may occur, such as bad weather or missing materials.

5. How do I maintain and protect my storage shed?

To ensure the longevity and functionality of your storage shed, you need to maintain and protect it from the elements. Regular maintenance involves cleaning the shed inside and out, checking for any leaks or damage, and repairing or replacing any worn out or broken parts. You can also add a coat of paint or stain to protect the wood from moisture, insects, and UV rays. To protect your shed from theft or vandalism, you can install a locking mechanism or a security system. It is also important to check with your insurance company to see if your shed is covered under your home insurance policy.

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