Building a shed, part 1

April 15th, 2014

In an effort to keep being able to park our cars in our tight 1960′s garage, we decided to build a shed. Specifically, we wanted to get the lawnmower and other various kid paraphernalia out of the garage, and also hoped to free up space in our partial basement (that we hope to finish off) by moving random items like our Christmas tree and camping gear. Here’s what we learned about building a shed, including a materials list and a detailed description of our shed building process.


I chose to order Smartside panels for our shed barn (as my Dad likes to call it), and purchased cedar trim, as well as additional cedar planks for the door. You can download my materials list and shed illustrations here:

Shed materials list

Next, I read Building a Shed by Joseph Truini over and over again, and put a bunch of sticky tabs to mark important pages. I checked my book out from the library and ended up maxing out the renewals (thankfully, no one else had it on hold).

If you don’t know much about framing, I recommend reading some framing books as well. The book I have is called Framing Basics, by Rick Peters. It is really old and out of print, but you can buy it used for pretty cheap. The shed book above also has detailed instructions on types of framing as well.

A couple of weeks before we planned to build the shed, I put in an order with a company called BMC. I chose them because I know a number of contractors get their materials from this company, and they deliver the materials to your location. Since I drive a Toyota Corolla, this was rather critical.

Design Considerations

I should point out that our shed is very tall. The walls are standard wall height (8ft), whereas a typical shed has 6ft tall walls. Since my husband is 6’3″, he suggested we make standard walls; plus this kept us from having to trim any of the 4′ x 8′ Smartside panels. Because we have a very large, tiered yard the shed does not look out of place. If you do not have a giant yard with a lower level area, you might want to consider lowering the wall height from the materials list attached (substitute wall/stud length 2″ x 4″‘s with 6′ ones).

Mark out the area you are going to have your shed and get a piece of lumber the height you plan to build your walls so you can hold it up and see the height in the actual space. Projects have a tendency to look different on paper than they do in real life.

Planning your time

We have two small boys, so building a 10′ by 12′ shed with full height walls was going to be a challenge. My Dad and his wife Kathy graciously offered to help us while they were visiting on “vacation”. Honestly, we thought the project would take 2-3 full days, not including finishing work (stain, trim, etc.) that I planned to complete after their visit. On day five of their visit we were frantically putting up shingles until 7pm. Yikes!

Lesson: Have at least three solid days planned to work with preferably three people to get the main structure done. If you have small children, add another day or two (or find someone to take them elsewhere).

Beginning construction

shed wall framing

We began framing each side of the wall, starting with the longest, then moving to shorter, 10′ walls (9’5″ long technically), then finished with the long wall with the door and window. In our haste to get started, we also forgot to keep in mind that when placing each stud 16″ on center, you have to consider that the walls that butt up against another wall need to account for the 3.5″ short of the corner they will be (due to the width of the other wall’s 2″x4″). In other words, we should have started the first 2″x4″ at 12.5″ in, instead of 16″ for the 10′ (9’5″ when adjusting for connected framing) wall sections. If you look at your framing book, this will make more sense.

Framing in place

wall one

Above, you can see the first wall in place, held up with some temporary 2″x4″ braces, with my boys acting as inspectors.

main walls shed framing

Here you can see how we did the framing on the wall with the door and window. Our window was 35″ x 35″ (the rough opening size for our 36″ square window), so we left a hole that was 35″ wide and 35.5″ high, to give a little wiggle room during the window installation. The Dutch door I made (which is covered in detail in the Shed Building book) was 77″ tall and 33.5″ wide. I framed the door opening to be 34″ wide and 78″ high. You may want to allow for a little more height in the door framing, since the Dutch door is technically two doors (you usually want about .5″ of extra space when framing a shed door).


Framing mostly done, showing the height of our “shed barn”

The roof “cradle”

roof cradle

Once the main walls were up, my Dad and I made a roof “cradle”, a place to support the main 2″x6″ running the length of the roof peak. We laid out two 10′ boards (the same length as the walls the “cradles” would be attached to), and constructed the peak pieces on our patio. The center board was 31.5″ tall (36″ minus the 5.5″ width of the 2″ x 6″ we had on hand). The outside boards of the cradle were each 36″ tall with a 29 degree angle cut off of each to create the point or peak. Once the cradles were finished we made some template rafter pieces and then tested them out on the actual walls of our shed. Note: most of your roof truss pieces will be slightly longer than the ones you created for each end, since you won’t have the cradle pieces to push into.

roof piece in place

Above is the first cradle in place, with one truss attached.

Work continues

Shed Multi Pics

By the middle of day two, we had all the framing done and were starting to put the siding in place.

Dutch door

Working on the Dutch door while my Dad and Kathy put in roof trusses.


My husband using the sawzall to cut the window and door openings out of the siding.


My Dad and I, nailing in more siding; the siding was the most time consuming part of the process. I found it helpful to pre drill holes for the first few nails, used to secure the panel while getting it in place. Note: If you have the manpower, it is easier to attach the paneling before putting the walls up, but this siding is a composite board and is very heavy. We would have needed more manpower to get it up already sided.

The roof

After we had most of the siding attached (which was also used to secure the walls into a nice, squared off and properly plumbed positions), we started adding the roof sheathing.

roof sheathing

If you’re going to build a tall shed, it is helpful to have a tall worker around…

attaching sheating

Here’s a nice shot of my Dad. If you look closely you can see doubt creeping in about the completion of this shed. This was taken at the end of work day number three.

shed construction

The scramble

On day four, the last full day of our free labor crew’s stay, we had a lot of work still left. I had miscalculated the amount of siding we needed, so we were waiting on a delivery that morning. Next, we started putting on the final pieces, including the harder to cut siding pieces that went into the peaks. This job was made more challenging by my almost four year old son, who at this point was missing his Mommy’s attention and was trying to ride on my back while I was measuring. Not helpful.

Andy, my husband, was able to get home from work early and help my Dad shingle the roof.


The rest of us did anything we could to help get this project done, including adding a few critical trim pieces (like the edge of the roof) and the final pieces of siding.

attaching the door

Finally, we attached the door and trimmed some of the shingles. The next morning my Dad and Kathy headed back to Michigan; the gift of their visit in place in our yard:

shed almost done

I’m looking forward to adding the finishing details, including the trim and interior shelving. Check back for part two…

Shed Design


2 responses to “Building a shed, part 1

  1. Marisa says:

    Impressive! You guys are crazy handy. Did you pick the Dutch door just for the name? :) (Also, so so nice that your dad and Kathy were willing helpers on their vacation.)

    1. Amy says:

      We just loved the look of the Dutch door, and the boys are having fun with it. And yes, we were extremely thankful that my Dad & Kathy were willing to offer so much of their time.

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