How to Build a Shed

What You'll Need
Hammer/nail gun
Level
Square
Circular saw (optional hand saw)
Chalk line
Measuring tape
Safety glasses, work gloves and ear protection
16 penny galvanized and ungalvanized nails
8 penny nails
1-1/2" roofing nails
Pressure treated sub flooring
2x4 wall studs
2x6 rafters material
½ inch plywood and/or wood siding
Siding material
Tar paper
Shingles or roofing material
Proper brackets per code

Building a shed isn't as difficult as it's often made out to be. With little hard work and help you can complete the job in as little as a day. But before you start there, are a few things you need to know and do.

Step 1 - Check Codes

The most important thing to establish before you hammer the first nail in your new shed is the municipal requirements for adding outbuildings and sheds. Some areas require a permit for anything larger then a doghouse and the last thing you want to do after building your new shed is tear it down. Once you are have finished the red tape requirements, you can get started.

Step 2 - Plan

Have a plan, whether it’s from a book or one you have laid out on your own. Sticking to a plan allows you to measure and accurately estimate how many materials you need, what your next step is, and how you intend on completing the project.

Step 3 - Level the Site

A shed in a backyard.

By the time you are ready to build, you should have your site picked out and your materials ready to go. The first step here is critical in a quality finished product; leveling. If your floor framing and ground are not level then everything else will be out of square and level and can result in a collapse.

Step 4 - Add Flooring

The flooring should be made from pressure treated material to protect from moisture and is better slightly off the ground whether on a concrete pad or foundation. This allows either an already level floor or at least a solid place to jack from to level your shed precisely. Having it off the ground will also keep moisture away from your shed prolonging its life.

Step 5 - Add Framing and Squaring

Even though most code allows 2 feet on center, which means when you pull your tape measure from the end of your layout the center of the stud or joist is exactly 2 feet, 16 inches on center adds extra support and strength and helps with any bowing of the plywood from the weight on the roof.

Flooring layout is simple because with only studs there are no holes for windows or doors so there are no extra pieces or parts, just joists. With the layout done it is now important that your floor is square. There are two quick methods to square your corners to ensure a perfect shed. First, you can pull your tape from diagonal to diagonal. These two long measurements should, in the end, be equal. If they aren't, take your sledgehammer and tap the long measurement towards the short one to create four equal angles. You can also use the 3-4-5 triangle. This measurement is a little simpler if you are by yourself. First, measure from one corner out 3 feet and then from the same corner measure 4 feet and make a mark. The distance from your 3 foot mark to your 4 foot mark should equal 5 feet. If it does not, adjust the corners again with a sledgehammer.

Walls are built in the same fashion, keeping your layout on center and everything squared. As you frame out for windows and doors, make sure put headers of at least 2x6 with a piece of plywood sandwiched in between them; to pack them out to 3.5 inches. This gives support to the roof where gaps will be larger depending on layout.

Step 6 - Cut Rafters

A shed in a backyard.

When you get to the roof framing, cut a template and then cut the rest of your rafters from it (whether shed-style, a-framed, or another variety). This takes the guesswork and remeasuring out of the rafters. When you cut a bird mouth, the V notch that allows the rafter to rest on the wall, try to cut it close with a circular saw and then finish with a hand saw. Often times bird mouths are over cut for speed but that can take away from the strength in the rafter.

Step 7 - Add Sheathing

If there is a situation where there is a second row either on the roof or on the wall, stagger your plywood to eliminate long seams and to add strength. Also when putting sheathing on the roof, check to see if "H" clips are recommended. These clips space the plywood.

Step 8 - Add Siding and Roofing

If you start your first row straight, life is easy; make sure that you have a level line to start from and check periodically as you proceed. And always stick to manufacturers recommendations to ensure proper installation and to maintain your warranty.

Step 9 - Finish Up

Install any specific hangers. Make sure any exposed wood is painted or wrapped in aluminum. If you are skilled, run electircal wiring or consult a professional. Finish your interior to taste and enjoy.

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