Material List for a 12 by 16 Foot Backyard Shed

Updated February 21, 2017

Many homeowners quickly learn that the tools they need to maintain their homes and yards can take up a lot of space. If you don't have enough space in your home and garage to store your tools and equipment, building a backyard shed can provide you with the needed space.


The construction of a well-built shed begins with a solid foundation. Smaller sheds can be placed on breeze blocks, but for a 12-by-16-foot shed, a poured concrete foundation can provide a better base. Dig a hole for the foundation. For a project this size, renting a 1 1/2-ton excavator can get the job done faster than using shovels and digging by hand. The foundation should be at least one foot longer on each side than the shed, so for a 12-foot by 16-foot shed, dig a hole for the foundation that is 13 feet by 17 feet. Build a form for the concrete around the perimeter of the hole by driving wooden stakes into the ground and nailing 2-by-4 boards to them. Concrete mix is the main component of a solid foundation, with water being the other main ingredient of a concrete mix. You also need a vapour barrier, which is a plastic sheet that is placed over the bare soil in the hole you dig for the foundation that protects the foundation from excess moisture. Gravel is poured over the vapour barrier before the concrete is poured to provide a base for the foundation, and steel rebar or wire mesh is placed in the concrete to strengthen it. The depth of the gravel base can vary by municipality, so follow your local building codes, but generally you need a 6-inch layer of gravel. So for a 13-by-17-foot base, you'll need somewhere in the neighbourhood 110 square feet of gravel (based on a 6-inch gravel base).


The main material used to build many sheds is wood. This begins with pressure-treated 2-by-4 boards that are bolted to the concrete foundation and connect the wooden frame of the shed to the foundation. The pressure-treated boards are called sill plates, and are attached to the foundation with concrete wedge anchors. You'll need two sill plates that are 16 feet long and one sill plate that is 12 feet long. You'll also need two smaller sill plates for the front 12-foot long side of the shed, but you need to subtract the width of the door from 12 feet, then divide that number by two. Non-treated 2-by-4 boards are use to construct the wall frames and roof trusses of the shed. The 2-by-4 boards in the frame are held together with nails. You'll need approximately 12 studs for each of the side walls of the shed, and nine studs for the back wall. The amount of studs you need for the front wall is dependent on the width of the door. In most cases, the studs need to be 16 feet apart, but again, follow local building codes. Plywood sheathing is then nailed to the exterior of the roof trusses and wall frames to provide the base of the roof and walls. The amount of sheathing needed depends on the height of the walls. For 6-foot high walls, you need approximately 400 feet of sheathing, depending on the size of the door. The number of nails and concrete wedge bolts for the sill plates is dependent on local building codes and the width of the door (the wider the door, the fewer you'll need).

Roofing and Siding

Roofing paper is used to cover the plywood sheathing on the roof and walls to help protect it from moisture, and is attached to the sheathing with staples. The amount of roofing paper needed is the same as the amount of plywood sheathing needed, so it's approximately 400 square feet. Strips of metal called flashing are nailed to the bottom edges of the roof, and help prevent water from getting underneath the shingles. You'll need two 16-foot strips of flashing for this shed. Siding is installed over the roofing paper on the exterior walls. This is often vinyl siding or wooden shingle siding. Roofing shingles are attached to the roof with roofing nails. Determine the amount of shingles needed by measuring the length and width of one side of the roof, then double it. If you live in a cold climate, or plan on working in the shed, installing insulation between the wall studs can help keep the interior of the shed warm.

Doors and Windows

Installing windows on a shed is an option for some people. They can provide light to the interior of the shed, which can be very helpful, especially in larger sheds, or sheds located in a spot where you can't easily access electricity. Choosing to install windows that can be opened can help provide fresh air for the shed, which comes in handy on hot days or if you store odour-emitting substances such as fertiliser in the shed. When choosing the door, you can choose a single door, but many sheds of this size have double-doors.

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About the Author

Carson Barrett began writing professionally in 2009. He has been published on various websites. Barrett is currently attending Bucks County Community College, pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in sports management.