How to Build a Wooden Garden Shed

Updated February 21, 2017

Homeowners need a variety of tools and equipment to maintain their home and yard. You can store smaller tools in the garage, but if you don't have room, you'll need another spot for larger tools and equipment such as lawnmowers. Build a garden shed to solve your storage problem. You can complete this project in a weekend, and your garden equipment and tools will be safe and dry.

Go to your local zoning board to find out the building codes that you must follow and obtain the necessary permits. Many municipalities allow each city lot a single small outbuilding with a footprint of 10 by 12 feet or less without a permit. However, permit requirements in individual cities and counties vary, so before you break ground, make sure you know what's legal and what isn't in your locale.

Design the shed on your own or buy plans from a site like You can choose from a host of elaborate designs or keep it simple with a small slant-roofed shelter. Just keep your ability level in mind as you choose a design.

Decide which parts of the shed that you'll build yourself and what parts require you to call in a contractor. To do this, be realistic about your construction abilities. Doing it on your own is admirable, but keep your limitations in mind. If necessary, call in a professional for the tougher tasks.

Mark off the area where the shed will be placed by driving stakes into the ground around the perimeter and tying them together with string. In our example, we'll build a 10- by 12-foot shed, so we'll create a foundation of 11 feet by 13 feet.

Excavate the ground where the shed will be. Make sure that you dig deep enough that the foundation will be below the frost line. Check with your local zoning board for this information.

Build a wooden frame around the perimeter of the hole to pour the concrete into. To build the frame, drive wooden stakes into the ground around the hole every 3 feet, and nail 2-inch by 4-inch boards to the stakes.

Lay down a vapour barrier on top of the dirt inside the frame. This plastic sheet prevents moisture from seeping up from the ground into the foundation. Without it, moisture can cause damage when it freezes, contributing to cracked foundations.

Following the regulations set by the zoning board, add a layer of sand or gravel on top of the vapour barrier. These regulations will tell you what material to use and how deep the layer needs to be.

Lay rebar or wire mesh on top of the sand or gravel. Again, follow your local building codes.

Mix a batch of concrete, following the instructions on the packaging, and pour it into the hole.

Screed the concrete by sliding a 2-by-4 board across the top to make it level, smooth out the surface and eliminate any air bubbles trapped inside.

Allow the concrete to cure for at least four days.

Mark the location of the sill plates on the concrete and drill pilot holes for the masonry screws, following local building codes. The sill plates are pieces of pressure-treated wood that will attach the wooden frame to the concrete.

Cut 2-inch by 4-inch pieces of pressure-treated wood to act as the sill plates and attach them to the foundation with masonry screws.

Build the walls by laying a 2 x 4 on its edge to act as the bottom plate and nailing another 2 x 4 to the end to act as the end stud, so that the two boards form an L-shape. Nail a 2 x 4 to the other end of the sill plate and nail other studs in between, following local building codes (including for the door and any windows). Nail a 2 x 4 on top of the studs to complete the frame.

Lift the frame into place on top of the sill plate and nail it into place, making sure that it is level (horizontally straight) and plumb (vertically straight). Get someone to help you with this. Repeat this process until all four walls are up.

Nail prefabricated roof trusses into place on top of the walls, following local building codes.

Cover the walls (except the one where the door is) and roof with plywood sheathing. Stagger the boards by lining each new row off-centre from the previous row, similar to how bricks are laid. This will help make the walls stronger.

Use a reciprocating saw to cut holes in the sheathing where the windows will go (if you have them). Wear safety goggles when using the saw.

Cut sheathing to fit on the wall around the door and nail it into place.

Add the exterior finish (brick, siding or shingles) to the shed walls.

Add a layer of 30-pound roofing felt to the roof, flattening it out and overlapping the edges to prevent leaks. Install shingles on top of the roofing felt.

Install the doors and windows. You can paint your shed for a finished look.

Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure
  • Wooden stakes
  • Hammer
  • String
  • Shovel or excavator
  • 2-inch by 4-inch boards
  • Saw
  • Vapour barrier
  • Sand or gravel
  • Rebar or wire mesh
  • Concrete mix
  • Water
  • Drill
  • Masonry bit
  • Pressure-treated 2-inch by 4-inch boards
  • Masonry screws
  • Nail gun
  • Nails
  • Assistant
  • Prefabricated roof trusses
  • Plywood sheathing
  • Reciprocating saw
  • Safety goggles
  • Brick, siding or shingles
  • 30-pound roofing felt
  • Shingles
  • Windows
  • Door
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article


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.