- Size and shape
- Building materials
- Roof line
- Estimating the cost
- Finding the right set of shed plans
- Price of shed plans
- Plan building sizes and features
Size and Shape
A square or rectangular shape in increments of 2 ft will be your most efficient shed. Efficient in terms of materials and labor. Options would be an “L” shape or perhaps an octagon, or a 5 sided shed to go into a corner.
But the most common shape is a rectangle. Any other shape will be disproportionately more labor and materials. Because materials generally come in 4 or 8 ft lengths.
An 8 or 12 ft floor or wall will need little or no cutting. A 6 or 10 ft wall will need something cut in half, but the other half can generally be used somewhere else. Like in the opposing wall.
Within what the law will allow, you will need to put your shed where it will be most useful to you. What kind of access do you need to your shed, how often will you need to access it, will you need to get to it with your car? You will also need to think about drainage and locate your shed where it will be away from water flow or standing water.
If your site is sloped, it is best to put the door on the high side so there will be a minimum step up to the door. Keep your shed away from trees that might fall on it or collect leaves that you will have to constantly remove.
The foundation serves several purposes. It provides a stable base for your shed, it gets your wood shed away from moisture and termites, and it keeps your shed from blowing away.
In general there are 2 types of foundations…
- In the ground
- On grade
In the ground
If you need your shed anchored against wind or up off the ground, then you will need a foundation that goes into the ground.
This would typically be pressure treated wood or a concrete footing or pier. But if you live in an area with frost, you will need to dig your footers below the frost line to prevent frost heave.
Another example would be a concrete slab. This would serve the dual purpose of a floor also.
An on grade foundation sits on the ground and is the least complicated to build. A skid foundation is the easiest. Place 2 pressure treated 4×4 or 4×6 skids on the ground, parallel to each other.
You can add some concrete blocks underneath for additional height or termite protection, or as spacers to level them. Then just build your shed on top of these skids.
You can also nail two 2×4′s or 2×6′s together to make your skids. The advantage of this is additional strength in the event you can’t find a single skid long enough for your shed.
A concrete slab is too complicated for the average weekend shed builder. It is also the most expensive of the floor options. But it has your several advantages. It will never rot or be eaten by termites.
Also a concrete slab will have no space underneath for little animals to live. Plus a concrete slab will hold a lot of weight, be easy to clean, and keep your shed firmly anchored to the ground.
But a wood floor is the typical option for most wood sheds. 2×4′s or 2×6′s 16 inch on center covered with 3/4 inch plywood will hold a lot of weight and is uncomplicated to build. As long as your skid and block foundation is on firm ground, you can store thousands of pounds on a basic wood floor.
The skids will keep your wood shed off the ground and away from termites. Being off the ground, air can circulate below the floor and dry out moisture between rains.
I would typically build the floor its self from un pressure treated wood for this reason. However if you live in an unusually wet environment you might want to build the entire floor, both frame and sheeting out of pressure treated lumber.
- Buy or build
Buy or build
You can buy a pre hung exterior door from your building supply store or you can build your own. Building your own door will be cheaper and it give you more options. Pre build doors are usually 36 inches wide maximum and swing in. You want your door to swing out to maximize usable space.
You will build your shed door out of the same materials as the shed its self. You can build the door to fit the opening after the shed is constructed, or you can build it as you build the wall. I prefer the latter because it is simpler and you know the door will always fit. I frame the door in the wall as I build it, then cut the door free after the wall is raised.
A swinging door is the easiest to build and therefore the most popular. Doors can swing in or out. But I suggest swinging out to maximize interior space. And it can swing to the right or the left.
It can be a single door, or double doors for a really big opening. Typically one door will remain fixed most of the time and use pass through the other, opening them both up when you need the width or want the light.
You can also make a dutch door, where the top and bottom half open independently. I have used a reverse dutch door on several occasions for large dog houses. The bottom half remains open for the dogs to go through, and open the top half only when a person needs to get inside.
Your door needs to be wide enough to get your big things in. A normal house door is 36 inches wide. But if you have a lawn mower or an ATV, you might want to make your door 48 inches wide. You can safely build a 48 inch wide door if you use good hinges.
Much wider and you should go double doors or install a commercially built overhead garage door.
Think about how you will use your shed in considering door location. If you keep it off the corner you will preserve wall space for shelves and hanging and storing things.
Also think about a right or left hand swing so the door will clear any outside obstacles and open back on its self. You don’t want your open door to block a window. Also, you might add a small latch on the outside to keep it from blowing closed if the wind catches it.
You can have several doors on your shed if you like. Doors are cheap if you make them. They give better access and make better use of your floor space. Two doors on a motorcycle or ATV shed will let you drive through.
Or you might want one door that you use regularly, and another wider door on the side for loading and unloading things.
You have many options when it comes to building materials. You can build out of steel, stone, block, or even mud. But wood is the easiest material to work with. But even within the wood family there are many options and combinations of materials, depending on your budget and what kind of shed you want to build.
- Floor sheeting
- Roof sheeting
- Roof covering
Building with 2×4′s 24 inch on center is typical shed construction. But you might want to go 16 inch on center if you have concerns about your siding materials buckling from humidity.
If you plan to insulate your shed in the future and want maximum insulation, then you could go 2×6′s. But 2×4 construction is sufficient in most cases.
4×8 Sheets of siding
I recommend 4×8 ft sheets of siding material. They go up quickly and provide a lot of rigidity. There are several versions of plywood “type” siding, often referred to as T-111.
Real wood plywood siding with vertical grooves either 4 or 8 inch on center is what most people think of as T-111. It comes in thicknesses from 3/8 to 5/8 inch, in 3 to 5 ply. This material stains up nicely for a rustic look.
Hardboard siding also comes with vertical grooves either 4 or 8 in on center, and usually 7/16 inch thickness. This is an artificial wood product that is not as strong as real wood but it has the advantage that it has a factory applied primer and holds paint much better than real wood. Hardboard siding also comes in various textures. Like simulated stucco.
Duratemp is a name brand of siding that is a combination of the best features of both. It has the strength of 5 plys, and a final veneer of hardboard that holds paint well. This stuff is more expensive and often a special order item. There are several other manufactures, some that make it with plywood and others that use an osb structure.
Other types of siding
There are various other types of siding but I am not personally familiar with many of them.
For example board and batten. This is using 4×8 sheets of plywood but putting a 1×2 batten board every 12 inches. This offers another nice rustic look.
Or you could sheet the framing with horizontal siding over a plywood base. This siding could be manufactured hardboard siding, or redwood, or cedar, or even vinyl.
You could even cover the shed with conventional tongue and groove boards.
You might even want to cover the walls with sheet metal. Either the rustic corrugated barn type or some nice architectural designed metal.
Wood sheds are usually built with nails. 16d nails holding the studs together, and 8d nails for the sheeting and trim. I would recommend galvanized ring shank nails for the siding because regular nails will rust in time and start showing through the paint. Ring shank nails will hold better. After a while the wood will relax and the nails will loosen up. Ring shank nails will stay tight longer than smooth nails.
You can use screws in the frame for critical components like trusses, or any where you want more control than a nail will give you. I will often drill the end holes for my top plates and bottom plates and floor rim joists and use screws there to prevent the wood from splitting.
Shingles will be attached with staples if you have a roofing stapler or can rent or borrow one. Or you can go with galvanized roofing nails and a hammer. The nails should be just long enough to pierce the sheeting but not long enough that they stick through. 3/4 inch is usually a good length. Roofing nails, or roofing tacks have a large head and are galvanized.
On exterior latches and hinges I recommend carriage bolts for 2 reasons. The first is they are stronger and can be easily snugged up over time. The second is that they offer more security than screws.
The purpose of trim is to cover the gaps where wood comes together at a corner or at a door or window. It also contributes to the aesthetics of the shed because you can paint it to highlight certain parts of your shed. Usually the corners and around the door and windows.
The trim material will be the same type as your siding. The width of your trim will depend on the look you are trying to achieve. We typically cut our trim 2 1/2 inches wide. You can either buy it pre cut or rip it out of a piece of your base material. Providing of course you have a table saw.
Floor sheeting can be anywhere from 1/2 inch OSB (organized strand board) for a light duty shed, to 3/4 inch or thicker plywood for a really heavy duty floor. You can use tongue and groove to keep your seams from flexing, or you can screw a 2×4 backing where the ends come together. CDX is the roughest grade of plywood but is sufficient for floors. If you want something nicer looking go with a better grade.
Use pressure treated plywood if you have a moisture or termite problem .
Then you can leave the floor natural or paint it for a nice finished look. You could even cover it with linoleum or carpet, depending on how you will use your finished shed.
1/2 inch OSB is usually sufficient for the roof sheeting. Some people might prefer 1/2 inch plywood. Either because they don’t trust OSB or for protection against moisture. Plywood looks better under outside eaves, and it holds paint better. Otherwise OSB is sufficient and is cheaper.
The roof covering protects your shed against the elements and keeps it dry inside. It is also a major element of esthetics for your wood shed.
You will want to put some galvanized metal drip edging around the edge of your roof to protect the roof sheeting and trim from water that splashes up or seeps up under the shingles. This is usually protects the first 3 inches under the roofing material. Then apply one or two layers of 15 or 30 pound felt paper as your first layer directly on the roof sheeting.
Your roof covering will partially be determined by the slope of your roof. Most shingles have a minimum pitch requirement of 3/12. Less than this water can back up under the shingle. But check with the manufacturer of the particular shingle you are going to use.
Shingles come in many types of materials. 3 tab asphalt fiberglass are the most popular because they are affordable, easy to install and come in a wide variety of colors and textures. Shake or cedar shingles are real wood shingles and need special attention to apply. You can also buy stone or artificial stone shingles. Here in the southwest ceramic tiles are popular.
If you are using heavy tiles, you might need to construct your roof a little sturdier to handle the additional weight. Shingles come with a 20 to 50 year ratings.
Lower pitch roofs can be covered by mineral roofing which has a very low minimum pitch. Or you can use metal for almost no pitch.
Metal roofing comes in many styles and colors and is getting more popular. Mostly because it has a long lifespan and is the lowest maintenance roof covering available.
The roof line is the single biggest design and aesthetic characteristic of your shed. The first three options are very popular with shed builders. The last 2 not popular because they are more complicated to build.
- Barn Style/Gambrel
- Single slope
The 3 most popular roof lines are gable, barn style and flat. Which one you will want for your new shed depends on a number of factors. Each one has it’s benefits and disadvantages.
- Shingle roofs are the standard. They are relatively economical and easy to install. And they are good for 20 plus years with proper maintenance.
- Fairly easy to construct because the walls are symmetrical and you can make your own trusses.
Barn Style Roof
- Barn style roofs look great!
- If you build it tall they have lots of overhead storage. You can easily add 50% more storage by installing a loft.
- You will lose storage space if you build it short (like in the photo here) because the shorter walls are useless for shelves or long items. But it still looks good…
- The trusses are more complicated to build and overall it takes longer to build.
- If you build it taller you need to be more careful because of the additional height.
- Requires more materials so it adds to the overall cost vs a flat or gable roof. But this is offset by the additional storage space you gain.
- It’s height might block your views, or it might look out of place in a confined yard.
- Lowest possible overall height in cases where you are concerned about view, or home owners association or zoning requirements that have height restrictions.
- Can easily add overhang or a porch in the same roof line. This makes it look built in and attractive.
- Can’t use shingles because the pitch is too shallow. So you will need rolled roofing which doesn’t last too long. But you can use metal. Costs a little more but is good for 30 to 50 years.
- No overhead storage because you have no rafters.
- Can’t use where snow load is an issue.
- You can control the direction of water flow off the roof depending on which way you slope it. For example if you are building up against an existing building, or on a property line where you don’t want the water going on to a neighbors property.
You might not have a choice if the law requires that your shed match your house. But most of the time you will have a choice.
In most cases a low pitch gable roof will be your best choice. My basic shed plans use a 3/12 pitch because it’s easy to work on. If you use a higher pitch it gets more expensive, more difficult, and less safe.
A hip roof has four sloping sides. These are the most difficult to build because of the multiple angles required.
A saltbox roof has two slopes but one is longer than the other. This makes one wall taller than the other.
Accessories will make your shed more useful and more pleasant to work in and look at.
- Work bench
You will want to ventilate your shed to remove excess moisture or to keep it cool. Another reason would be to remove odors if you are storing chemicals or petroleum products. For example if you are storing a gas lawnmower and a spare gas can in an enclosed space, the fumes can get overwhelming.
If you live in the desert and the summers get hot, you will want some airflow to keep things cooler inside. You can put eave vents or a ridge vent and supplement it with a turbine vent on top. If you are working inside your shed a lot, you could add a cooler or a power fan. Be sure your vents are screened if you are concerned about insects getting inside.
If you want to cool it with air conditioning in the summer or heat it in the winter, you will need to be able to close off the vents. This could be through movable louvers or to temporary cover the opening from the inside.
Windows provide ventilation and light. They also let you see whats going on outside. You might want to strategically place a window so you can see what is going on in your yard from the workbench in your shed. This way you don’t have to go to the door to see who is coming or going in your house or backyard. Use a single pane window, either a vertical or horizontal sliding with a screen.
alternatively you could also install a skylight if you want light but don’t want to lose wall space or have a potential security problem. Unfortunately the cheaper skylights will not open up so you will not benefit from additional ventilation that an open window can provide.
Shelves can multiply the storage space in your shed. Otherwise you are stacking things on the floor and can’t find anything.
The easiest option is to buy those metal “L” brackets that screw to the studs then you place a board on top. These are good if you are going to store not too heavy things. Otherwise make a 2×4 frame and 1/2 inch plywood or OSB shelf. Space the shelves up the wall allowing enough room above to store your largest items. You might want to make several different shelf spacings to maximize your wall space.
You can also just hang things from the wall on a peg board or from the trusses. Put some screw in hooks or eye bolts to hang things from.
If you make a sturdy shelf 24 inches or so wide and about waist height, you have a work bench. Support it in the middle with a 2×4 brace from the front edge, back and down at a 45 degree angle to a stud for a really sturdy work area. I suggest using plywood on top because OSB will not give you as nice and smooth a surface. You will also pick up more splinters from working on an OSB bench.
If you have a large step up to your shed you can either build a step, or a ramp. The advantage of a ramp is that you can roll things up easier than you can lift them. Like a barbecue, lawn mower or bicycles. Or a motorcycle or ATV.
Make your ramp sturdy enough and a gentle enough slope, depending on what you will be moving in and out. If you build it of wood, make sure to use pressure treated wood to prevent rotting and termites.
You might have to cut the bottom of your door off so it will close if you want to leave your ramp attached permanently. Otherwise just make the ramp portable and install it when you need it.
The purpose of applying a finish to your new wood shed is to protect it against the elements. The roof has shingles or metal, but the sides have nothing yet. And few building materials outside redwood and cedar are naturally resistant to the elements.
How you finish your shed will depend on the materials you built it of, and what you want it to look like. You might want it to match your house if it is up close. If it is far away in the back yard you will have more choices. You have two main finishing options…
I am not intimately familiar with using stain. But I know it people like it because it preserves the natural look of the wood. You can’t stain hardboard siding. You can only stain real wood.
And you can’t caulk if you are going to stain because the caulk will not absorb the stain so it will be obvious where you have caulked. Therefore it is necessary to be more careful with this in mind when you plan to stain your shed. You will have to make fewer mistakes and be more careful how you use the grain of the wood.
I have always painted my sheds. If the siding or wood you use doesn’t have a primer, applying a coat of primer is a necessary first step. Otherwise the paint will peel in short order. This is one of the main advantages of using a hard board siding. It comes with a factory applied primer and holds paint very well.
You can calk any large or small gaps and paint over it. This will make for a nice looking and very water tight finished shed.
I recommend buying the best glossy water based exterior latex paint you can find. Painting is not a whole lot of fun so the better the paint you use, the less often you will have to repaint.
You can use a roller if the shed has no complicated eaves. A sprayer is best to get up into the eaves and rafters if you build with an overhang. Then you can spray or roll the body of the shed. Or maybe both. Give it 2 good coats of paint for best results.
Apply a contrasting color to the trim and you will have a great looking shed.
How much time and effort you spend on security will depend on how safe your neighborhood is and what you are storing inside. And possibly if your insurance policy covers the contents of your shed.
- Door hardware
Where you place your shed will have a large influence on how secure it is. If it’s near your house, possibly near a window and under a light, someone will be less likely to want to break in. Best if it’s in your fenced backyard.
Most sheds are broken into through the door. Some one will cut or knock the padlock off. Or else they will put a tire iron in the padlock and twist the latch off. Or they will take a bar and pry the latch up. If your hinges are installed with screws, they can just unscrew the hinge and walk in.
The best defense against this kind of entry is a sturdy latch and carriage bolts. The hardware is usually the weak point so don’t bother with an expensive padlock unless you install a sturdy latch. And no one will back carriage bolts out from the outside.
Windows can be a security problem from two aspects. First, it’s easier to jimmy or break a window than a door. And second, if someone sees inside your shed and they see something they like, they will know it will be worth their effort to break in. This is case out of sight is truly out of mind.
If someone is really interested in breaking into your shed they can go through the wall as a last resort. They can kick or cut a hole in the siding. The best defense here is to use a thick plywood type siding and not the hardboard. It will take a lot more work to cut a hole through plywood siding than to kick a hole through the thinner and weaker hardboard siding.
Estimate the cost
Now that you have designed your shed, you can estimate the cost to build it. A set of shed plans should contain a material list. Otherwise make your own and price the materials for you shed to make sure it is within your budget, and to make sure the building supply store has the materials you need before you get started. You might have to get some things on order before you can start building. Or you might have to change your design to use the materials that are available.
The cheapest materials will be the common ones that are in stock. Special order items are usually less popular and are likely to cost more. If you have a truck or trailer you can haul your own materials. Otherwise ask how much delivery will cost.
Choosing The Right Set Of Plans
If you have never built a shed before then choosing and buying the right set of shed plans can be confusing. There are thousands of plans for sale on the internet.
So how do you go about evaluating them and deciding which ones are the best for you and your situation?
Sometimes you don’t know what you need to know until after you have started to built your shed.
And by then it might be too late because you have already invested a few weekends and $800 to $2000 worth of materials.
So I will give you some pointers about analyzing shed plans before you start buying materials and building.
Price of the plans
Shed plans are pretty cheap so their initial price is not the problem.
It’s the price of your time and the materials. You might get some free plans, or buy mine for $5.95, or buy a whole set of 12-16,000 woodworking plans for $30-$70.00.
But you will be spending $600 to $2000 for materials so the price of the plans only represents a small percentage of your total budget.
In fact you might wind up buying several sets of plans until you get the right ones. Because it’s hard to judge plans before you actually have them in your hands and can spend some time studying them.
- Overall height at peak, not including foundation: 8/9 ft
- Outside wall height at eaves, not including foundation: 7/8 ft
- Door opening: 43 inches by 71/83 inches
- Minimum inside height: 77/89 inches
- Maximum inside height: 92/104 inches
- Inside height under collar beam: 84/96 inches
- The area of the shed in square feet (Sq.Ft.)
- Cost to build next larger length (Cost/2 ft)
- And the dollar cost per square foot (Cost/Sq.Ft.)
The first thing is size and dimensions of the shed you want to build. Some shed plans sell you just one size at a time so you have to decide ahead of time what size you want.
If you make a mistake you will have to buy a new set of plans, or spend the time figuring how to modify them to make the size shed you want. Sometime this is just a matter of adding or subtracting.
But that’s not the case for rafters or trusses or anything on an angle. So buy a set of plans that gives you many size options.
My shed plans give you 21 size options from 8×4 to 12×20.
The first dimension is across the gable end and the second dimension is for the depth of the eave side. So for example an 8×12 and an 12×8 are basically the same shed but they differ in the direction of the roof line.
Efficient shed sizes
It is a good idea to build as large a shed as possible. Or as large as your budget allows.
Building a large shed costs less per square foot than building a small shed. Sometimes it might only cost $50 dollars to build another 2 ft in length.
And that is a bargain compared to the overall price of the shed.
For economy and efficiency think about building a shed in 2 foot increments. 4 foot increments is even more economical because floor, roof and wall sheeting materials come in 4×8 sheets.
Any odd measurements like 9 ½ ft or something will generate a lot of waste.
All my plans are 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20 lengths and widths for maximum efficiency.
You will loose 3 ½ inches of inside space on all 4 walls for your framing. You can store stuff in between the studs if it’s small. But big items will have to sit 3 ½ inches off the wall and resting on the studs. If you build shelves they will be nailed to the inside of the studs.
Height might also be governed by the law. This usually mean the highest point of the shed. But sometimes they mean the wall closest to the property line. Don’t forget to include the thickness of the foundation in the overall height calculation if you set your shed on skids or blocks.
The inside height of the sidewalls determines how long or tall of items you can store, or how many shelves you can build. So check the plans for the inside dimensions if you have a particular use in mind. Build 8ft sidewalls if possible to use the full length of the 4×8 sheets of siding.
My plans include the option to build 7ft or 8ft sidewall heights. 7Ft walls means no splicing the gable ends. But 8ft walls will give you an additional 12 inches of inside storage at very little additional effort or cost.
Here are the dimensions of my sheds
The first dimension is for 7ft sidewalls, the second dimension is for 8ft sidewalls. Add 2 inches to the overall height for 10ft wide sheds and 4 inches for 12ft wide sheds.
If you need to shorten the wall height to make a shorter shed then you can just subtract the same amount from all vertical dimensions.
Cost Estimate Worksheet
Before you commit to building a shed you should know what it’s going to cost. The plans you are looking at should include a material list and cost estimate worksheet for every size shed.
Follow this link to download your own materials list and cost estimate worksheet so you can do your own calculations.
Print it out and take it down to your building supply store and calculate the cost of materials. And make sure they have everything you need in stock. If you have to special order something do it well ahead of time.
If you have a truck you can haul everything yourself. If not ask them about delivery cost. Chances are they will just do a curb side delivery which means you will have to carry to the site by hand. So factor delivery cost into the total cost to build.
My plans include a material list and cost estimate for all 21 sizes.
Cost To Build And Estimated Savings (June 2013)
|Size||Build Your Own||TuffShed||You Save|
I’m using tuffshed as an example because they are a nation wide company and probably the most popular shed brand around.
And they build a very nice shed.
This table shows the cost to build each shed in terms of it’s size and cost efficiency. Including
You will notice that the larger sheds are much cheaper to build in terms of the cost per square foot.
And in cases of going from 6 to 8 ft, 10 to 12 ft, 14 to 16 ft, and 18 to 20 ft in length it costs very little to build the next longer size.
This is because certain sizes have a lot of waste and the next length up has very little or no waste. And you are paying for the lumber whether you use it in the shed or cut it off and throw it away.
Verify the cost to build your own…
These costs are based on prices in my area. Lumber and building materials might be cheaper or more expensive in your home town.
So download and print out this materials list and cost estimate worksheet and take it down to your local building supply store and price it for yourself.
It’s in PDF format so save it to your hard drive and print it out. It’s a single page (8 1/2 x 11 paper) that includes cost estimates for all 21 sizes from 8×4 through 12×20.
Watch this short video
This short video will show you some of the features and construction details of these sheds.
This has turned out to be a very long page. Almost 6000 words to be exact. But it is fairly thorough and covers a lot of options for your new wood shed. I will revisit and update as I think of new things.