How to Build a Shed From the Ground Up

Updated February 21, 2017

Many homeowners purchase backyard sheds to free up space in their homes and garages. Building one of these simple sheds yourself will save you money and allow you to customise it.

Select an area in your yard that is relatively flat. Prepare the ground by using a pick and shovel to move the soil until the area is level. Use a hand tamper or gas-operated compactor to compact the soil so that there will be no settling once the shed is complete.

Place the 4-by-6 pressure -treated beams on the ground to serve as skids for the shed's foundation. The beams should be placed parallel with the longest side of your shed and 36 inches apart on centre. Use a carpenter's level across these beams to recheck that they are level. Remove or add soil underneath the beams as needed.

Use two pieces of 2-by-4 lumber to make rim joists. These should be the same length as the short-side dimension of your shed. Make floor joists by using 2-by-4 lumber that is cut to a length that is 3 inches shorter than the long side of your shed. Lay the rim joists parallel to one another. Place all the floor joists between them and running perpendicular. They should be spaced 16 inches apart on centre. Nail these floor joists to the rim joists to build the floor frame for the shed (see photo). Cut 5/8-inch, 4-by-8 plywood sheets to a size that covers the floor frame. Line up the edges of the decking flush with the frame and nail it. This is the floor decking.

Make top and bottom plates for your walls. Cut two 2-by-4s to a length that is the same as the planned side length on which you are working. Cut the studs for the wall from more 2-by-4 lumber. These should be a length of the planned height of your shed walls. Nail the studs to the top and bottom plates, spacing the studs 16 inches apart on centre. Repeat this process for all four walls. Frame out the openings for any doors or windows.

Raise the walls one at a time. Attach the bottom plates of the walls to the floor by screwing heavy-duty 3-inch screws down through the bottom plate in to the floor. Use a 2-by-4 piece of lumber temporarily nailed to the wall and extending to the ground as a brace. Plumb and square the walls and then nail them together.

Make another set of top plates that are identical to those made in Step 4. Measure and mark on the plates every 24 inches on centre. These will act as guides for where to put the roof trusses. Nail the top plates directly onto the others on top of the wall.

Nail the end trusses to the top plates, making sure they are flush with the side of the wall. Nail the rest of the trusses to the top plates also. They should be placed on the marks on the top plates you made earlier, so that they are 24 inches on centre. Cover the trusses with sheets of 5/8-inch plywood in a manner similar to that of the floor decking and nail it down.

Roof the shed. Use asphalt paper to cover the plywood and fasten it with roofing tacks. Install metal drip edges on the eaves of the roof by nailing them to the plywood, under the asphalt paper. This will allow any water to run cleanly off the edge of the roof. On the overhangs, nail the drip edge over the asphalt paper. Add roofing shingles.

Nail 5/8-inch channel siding to the outside walls. Leave 1 inch of the siding hanging below the bottom plate of each wall. Place any windows and doors into the rough openings you have framed in the walls. Trim the shed and paint it to your preference.


Roof trusses are specifically engineered to handle loads; order them from professionals.


Always wear eye protection when using power tools.

Things You'll Need

  • Tamper
  • Pick
  • Shovel
  • 4-by-6 pressure-treated beams
  • Carpenter's level
  • 2-by-4 lumber
  • Circular saw
  • 3-inch heavy-duty galvanised screws
  • Galvanised nails
  • Roof trusses (custom made from lumber yard, based on the dimensions of your shed)
  • Roofing tacks
  • Asphalt roofing paper
  • Shingles
  • Drip edge
  • 5/8-inch channel siding material
  • Prefabricated windows and doors
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About the Author

Anthony Smith began writing for Demand Studios in May of 2009 and has since written over 1400 articles for them. He also writes for "The College Baseball Newsletter." He attended the University of New Mexico, and has more than 25 years of experience in the business world.