How to build a garden shed from scratch

Written by carson barrett
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How to build a garden shed from scratch
A woman inside a shed. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

Owning a home also means being able to maintain your home. To do this, you need a wide variety of tools and equipment to do maintenance tasks and complete home improvement projects. Some of these tools can be stored in your basement or garage, but you may not have room there for equipment like your lawnmower or your gardening tools. Building a garden shed provides you with a secure place to store this equipment, while freeing up other storage space in your home.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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Things you need

  • Tape measure
  • Spray paint
  • Shovel or excavator
  • Vapour barrier
  • 2-by-4 boards
  • Saw
  • Safety goggles
  • Nail gun
  • Nails
  • Sand or gravel
  • Rebar or wire mesh
  • Concrete mix
  • Drill
  • Masonry bit
  • Pressure-treated 2-by-4 boards
  • Masonry screws
  • Prefabricated roof trusses
  • Plywood sheathing
  • Roofing paper
  • Hammer stapler
  • Wooden shingles
  • Flashing
  • Roofing shingles
  • Utility knife
  • Door
  • Windows

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    Building the Foundation

  1. 1

    Mark the area for the shed by spray-painting the outline of the shed or by driving wooden stakes into the ground to mark the location. Make the perimeter of the foundation 1 foot wider than the shed on each side.

  2. 2

    Dig a hole inside the marked-off area that goes beneath the frost line. This helps protect the foundation from being damaged by the ground freezing and thawing. You can learn how deep you need to dig from your local zoning board.

  3. 3

    Cover the ground inside the hole with a vapour barrier. This is a plastic sheet that prevents moisture from seeping up through the ground.

  4. 4

    Build a wooden frame for the foundation by driving wooden stakes into the ground around the perimeter of the hole and nailing 2-by-4 boards to them.

  5. 5

    Add a layer of sand or gravel on top of the vapour barrier. Follow local building codes regarding which material to use and how deep the layer needs to be.

  6. 6

    Lay rebar or wire mesh on top of the sand or gravel, again following local building codes.

  7. 7

    Prepare a batch of concrete, following the instructions on the packaging.

  8. 8

    Pour the concrete into the hole until it is slightly above the top of the wooden frame.

  9. 9

    Drag a 2-by-4 board across the top of the wooden frame with a side-to-side motion. This process is called screeding, and it smooths the surface of the concrete while exposing low spots in the pour. Add more concrete to the low spots, and screed the surface again. Allow the concrete to cure for the time specified on the packaging.

    Building the Shed

  1. 1

    Mark the spots on the foundation where the sill plates will be installed. These are pieces of pressure-treated lumber that connect the wooden frame of the shed to the concrete foundation. Drill pilot holes into the concrete with a masonry drill bit.

  2. 2

    Measure and cut the sill plates, then attach them to the concrete with masonry screws.

  3. 3

    Nail a 2-by-4 board to the end of another 2-by-4 to form an "L". The bottom board is the bottom plate, and will be nailed to the sill plate. The other board is one of the end studs.

  4. 4

    Nail the other end stud to the bottom plate.

  5. 5

    Nail studs to the bottom plate between the two end studs. In most cases, the studs need to be placed 16 inches apart, but consult your local building codes, because it can vary by municipality. Frame the door and any windows you are installing by following the building codes.

  6. 6

    Nail a 2-by-4 to the top of the studs. This is the top plate.

  7. 7

    Set the wall frame on top of the sill plate (you may need help for this). Check the frame to make sure it's level (horizontally straight) and plumb (vertically straight). Nail the frame to the sill plate.

  8. 8

    Construct the frames for the other walls and install them on the sill plates using the same technique.

  9. 9

    Nail the prefabricated roof trusses to the top plates, following local building codes.

  10. 10

    Cover the bare frame of the shed with plywood sheathing by nailing the plywood to the studs and roof rafters. When installing the plywood, stagger every other row (similar to how bricks are laid) to strengthen the structure.

  11. 11

    Cover the plywood sheathing with roofing paper. Apply the paper horizontally, beginning at the bottom of the walls and roof. Attach it to the sheathing with a hammer stapler every 6 to 8 inches, laying the paper flat against the sheathing. Overlap the edges of each strip by an inch to prevent leaks.

  12. 12

    Nail wooden shingles to the side of the shed. Begin in the lower corner of one wall and rive two nails into the shingle about 4 inches from the bottom and an inch from the side edges. Finish installing the rest of the shingles in the bottom row, keeping a gap of 1/4 inch between each shingle.

  13. 13

    Cut a shingle in half and use it to begin the second row. Place it on the edge of the wall so it covers half of the shingle in the bottom row, and nail it to the wall. Install full shingles in the second row, using the same method you used to set the first row. The half-shingle is used so the second row of shingles is staggered from the first row, so the shingles in the second row will straddle two shingles in the first row.

  14. 14

    Install the shingles on the rest of the shed, using the same method. Stagger every other row of shingles.

  15. 15

    Nail drip-edge flashing along the bottom edge of the roof. This is a strip of metal that prevents water from seeping up underneath the shingles and damaging the roof.

  16. 16

    Lay the first row of shingles along the bottom edge of the roof. Hang the shingles over the edge by 1/4 inch and drive three nails evenly spaced into the shingles an inch above the tabs.

  17. 17

    Set the next row of shingles into position on the roof. Line the shingles up so the bottom of the second row covers top half of the first row, and stagger the shingles in the second row. Cut the shingles with a utility knife when necessary.

  18. 18

    Continue installing the shingles until you reach the peak of the roof.

  19. 19

    Install a ridge cap along the peak of the roof. Cut the tabs off of shingles and fold the shingles over the peak of the roof. Drive in one nail on each side.

  20. 20

    Install the windows (if necessary) and door.

Tips and warnings

  • Contact your local zoning board before beginning construction to acquire any needed permits and learn your local building codes. If you don't do this, you can be fined or forced to tear down the shed.
  • Wear safety goggles when using the saw and drilling into the concrete.

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