Backyard Storage Shed (Part 3)

Finishing Touches

Trim the door opening with 2x3s and cover the comers of the shed with corner boards made from one piece of 2×2 and one piece of 2×3.

If you have any energy left after the door is installed and the shed is painted, you can get started moving in. And maybe, before you quit for the day, you can relive the joy of parking your car in the garage.

  1. Level the shed site. Then square the timber foundation by adjusting it until diagonal, corner-to-corner measurements are equal.
  2. Mark and cut just one of each component. Then use it as a pattern for marking the rest. This will let you quickly churn out rafters, wall studs, cross ties and gussets.
  3. Build a truss jig from 2×4 scraps and 5/8-in. material that will later be used for the shed. Use it to hold the truss components in place while you connect them with gussets.
  4. Nail all seven gussets to one side of the truss, flip it over and nail them on the other side. Note: The two end-wall trusses will have gussets on one side only. The other side will have siding.
  5. Mark fascia and rim boards carefully using a framing square. Getting the lines in the right place isn’t difficult, but it is important.
  6. Hold the truss “plumb” (straight up) while your partner drives three 16d nails through the rim and into the floor joist. Then toenail through the floor joist into the timber.
  7. Set each truss in place, securing it with toenails and nails through the rim and fascia. After all the trusses are set, attach the rim and fascia to the other side.
  8. Mark truss locations and cut notches in the plywood with a jigsaw. When notches are cut, the plywood will fit into the gaps between the studs.
  9. Attach blocking and end-wall studs. Screws will make this easier, but toenails will work too.
  10. Nail sheets of siding to side wall and end-wall studs. At corners, the sheets should be flush with the corners of the studs, not overlapping each other.
  11. Cut openings for skylights between rafters, being careful not to cut into the rafters. A 2×4 cleat will keep you from sliding off the roof.
  12. Nail or screw rake boards to the underside of roof sheathing (clamps are helpful). Rake fascia, made from 2×6 lumber, will cover the rake board.
  13. Nail skylights in place after the roofing felt is attached. The skylight’s lip goes over shingles on its lower edge, under shingles at the sides and top.
  14. Install the roll-up door by attaching its tracks to the end-wall studs with lag screws. You can install the door before or after doing the roof.

The Door. A homemade plywood door will add about $50–and extra building time–to your costs. A metal entry door will cost about $170. We chose a 4-ft. wide steel roll-up door ($150) because it’s easy to install, secure and convenient.

Suggestion: Make photocopies of this list and take them to three lumberyards or home centers for price quotes.

Design Options

All the measurements and materials we list here are based on an 8 x 12-ft. floor plan. But you could easily stretch this shed out indefinitely just by adding trusses. For the sake of simplicity and economy, we suggest that you add length in increments of 2 ft. Aside from extra nails and roofing materials, add the following to your materials list for every 2 ft. of length added:

  • One treated 8-ft. 2×6.
  • Six 7-ft. 2x4s.
  • A half sheet of treated 3/4-in. plywood (but you’ll have to buy a whole sheet).
  • One sheet of siding.
  • One sheet of 5/8-in. plywood.
  • Treated timbers, treated 2×6 rims and 2×6 soffit boards all will need to be 2 ft. longer.

Bottom Line: Expect to pay about $100 more for every 2 extra feet of length.

On the other hand, you could save money on materials by omitting some features:

  • Timbers make the foundation firmer and assembly easier. But they aren’t absolutely necessary. Savings: $65.
  • If you don’t mind a slightly spongy floor, you can use 1/2-in. treated plywood instead of 3/4-in. Savings: $25.
  • The siding we chose costs about $25 per sheet. But some cost as little as half that. Savings: $125.
  • The two skylights brighten up the otherwise pitch-dark shed. But you could get by with one or none. Savings: $40 per skylight.
  • The shed is far from airtight. So the gable vents are primarily for the gasoline fumes given off by small engines. If you don’t live in a wet climate and don’t plan to store small-engine powered machines in the shed, you can leave out one or both. Savings: $20 per vent.

Backyard Storage Shed (Part 2)

Raise The Shed

Preparing to put up the trusses demands some attention to detail: Cut four 2x6s to exactly 12 and 14 ft. (two of each) and mark them “2 ft. on center” (so the centers of the trusses will be 2 ft. apart).

Stand the center truss first. Then stand one of the end-wall trusses, remembering to face the side without gussets toward the outside. Note: Drive a “toenail” (a nail driven at an angle) through every floor joist into the timber it sits on.

Once two trusses are in place, nail a 14-ft. fascia board to their rafter tails so that the top edge of the fascia is 5/8 in. above the top edge of the rafter tails. (Use a small scrap of 5/8-in. plywood as a spacer.) Then you can plug the other trusses into place fast, using the marks on the rim and fascia boards, rather than a level, as your guide.

When the trusses, rims and fascia are in place, add blocking between floor joists (exactly in the center of the future floor) and between the rafters.

tip If you use the 2-ft. scraps left over from cutting the cross ties, you can cut the rest of the blocking from just three 8-ft. 2x4s.

Flooring And Final Framing

Three sheets of 3/4-in. treated plywood will cover the floor. Nail the plywood down with 8d galvanized nails (one nail every 6 in. on each joist and piece of blocking).

Complete the skeleton of your shed by framing the end walls. The three studs along the back wall are spaced 2 ft. on center. The two studs on the front wall will frame the door opening, so their placement depends on the door you choose. Also attach a 2×4 “header” horizontally between the two studs at whatever height needed for your door opening.

Siding And Straightening The Shed

  • To avoid water damage, the siding must be at least 6 in. off the ground. So you’ll have to cut about 10 in. of length off the six sheets used on the side walls and make diagonal cuts across the upper corners of the four end-wall sheets.
  • Chances are, the shed’s frame has tilted slightly forward or backward since you stood the trusses. Here’s how you straighten it out while covering the side walls: Starting at a corner, nail a sheet of siding to the end-wall truss only. Then hold a level against one of the end walls. If the wall is plumb (perfectly vertical), finish nailing the sheet. If not, have your partner push the end wall one way or the other until it’s plumb, then nail the sheet. You’ll have to do this to both side walls.
  • Cover the gables with four triangular pieces of siding, each covering half a gable.

Tip: Here’s a foolproof way to cut siding for the end walls. Set it on nails driven partway into the rim and hold it in place against the shed while your partner marks for the diagonal cuts (and the door cutout on the front wall).

Onward And Upward

Sheathe the lower ends of the roof with four 4-ft. wide sheets of 5/8-in. plywood. Cut them to 7 ft. long, so that one end will be flush with the end of the rake fascia and the other falls on the center of the middle rafter. Use 3-ft. wide sheets to finish off the roof. But use an 8-ft. long piece in the middle of the roof and 3-ft. long pieces above the gables.

When the roof is sheathed, cut an opening for the skylights and attach the rake boards. Then nail rake fascia (85-1/2 in. long 2×6, cut to the same angle as the rafters) to the rake boards. After that, the roof is ready for shingles and the drip edge.

tip Before you cover the gables, lay the matched pieces together, place the gable vent over them, mark around it and make the vent cutout.

Backyard Storage Shed (Part 1)

Do-it-yourselfers can build this 8 X 12-ft storage shed for about $1,200 in a few weekends. Although a kit for a shed of the same dimensions would be less expensive and easier to put together, the storage shed described will last longer and has more features.

Every year your garage–defying the laws of physics–shrinks slightly. At the same time, the stuff in your garage magically multiplies. In desperation, you have a garage sale and fill a trash bin with junk. But you still can’t get your car inside.

Before you give up your riding lawn mower or sell that antique chest you’re going to refinish someday, consider this: For about $1,200, you can build a good-looking, 8 x 12-ft. storage shed in your back yard.

And you don’t have to be a carpenter to build it. We’ve figured the angles, worked out the measurements and listed the materials for you. So if you’re comfortable handling power tools, you can (with the help of a friend) build this large, sturdy shed in a few weekends.

Thinking About A Kit?

If you’re trying to decide between our design and one of those ready-to-assemble kits sold at home centers, here are some things to consider:

  • A shed kit with similar square footage will cost $100 to $400 less.
  • A kit can be assembled more quickly and easily.
  • Designed to meet building codes, our shed is made to last. The floor and everything below it is made of rot-resistant, pressure-treated material. The fully framed, walls won’t shake in a stiff wind and the roof won’t sag under a heavy snow.
  • Our standard stud-wall construction lets you mount shelves, brackets, hooks and whatever on the walls.
  • We’ve included features many kits don’t: vents, skylights and a secure, steel roll-up door.

A Fast Foundation

Your shed must be built on level ground–and your chances of having a perfectly level shed site are about as good as your chances of winning the lottery.

Because it drains well and is easy to work with, we used pea gravel to build up a level platform. Sand or dirt would work too, but they’re not as stable in wet areas and have to be “tamped” or packed down.

Because our site was sloped, and because we wanted our foundation to sit several inches off the ground, we needed 4 cubic yards of gravel. Depending on how uneven your site is, you may need much more or much less.

Tip: A 6-ft. 4×4, held vertically, is a good tamping tool.

Lay The Foundation Timbers

  • You could build the shed right on a leveled gravel, sand or dirt platform. But for a more rigid foundation and easier assembly, we chose to build on treated 5×6 timbers.
  • First, cut two 5x6s to exactly 12 ft. and lay them parallel to each other so that their outside edges are 8 ft. apart. Then measure the distance between their inside edges and cut the other 5x6s to fit. Nail the timbers together with 10-in. spikes.
  • Square the foundation by measuring it diagonally corner-to-corner in both directions, adjusting it and measuring again until the two measurements are equal. Then make sure all four timbers are level.

Tip: A long board-like one of the 14-ft. 2x6s you’ll use to build your shed–is useful when checking the levelness of a large area: Lay it on edge, set a level on it and you’ve got a 14-ft. level.

Truss Production

Your truss factory–which can be in your yard or garage-requires only a power miter box or circular saw and a framing square.

The seven trusses consist of.126 parts. But that’s not nearly as bad as it sounds. The numbers, dimensions and angles listed here, along with marking patterns and a truss jig, will give you a high productivity rate. Consideration: You can speed up production–and avoid a sore arm–by renting a compressor and air nailer for a day (about $50, plus nails).

While you’re cutting, you might as well cut the blocking you’ll need later: twelve 22-1/2 in. 2x4s and six 21-3/4 in. 2x4s. (The shorter ones will go against the end walls.)

Tip: When cutting lumber thicker than the reach of your circular saw blade, cut from one side, flip the piece over and cut from the other. If that doesn’t do it, make cuts on the other two sides and finish the job with a handsaw.