Building your own storage shed might seem daunting – after all, the cost coupled with all the extra work might not seem worth your time. But if you can’t stomach paying someone else to do a job that you could do yourself, then finding the cheapest way to build a shed is your priority. But how can you do it without spending a fortune?
The cheapest way to build a shed is by doing it yourself. Hiring someone adds labor costs plus materials, and pre-fabricated sheds are marked up anywhere from 50 to 100% – or more. Building a shed from pallets, specifically, is the most affordable way to construct a garden shed.
In this article, we’ll cover the most inexpensive ways to approach every step of your shed construction, from planning down to the last nail – or screw. We’ll also cover how building a shed with pallets can be an extremely cost-effective shed project.
- Is It Cheaper to Build Your Own Shed?
- What is the Cheapest Way to Build a Shed?
- How to Build a Cheap Shed from Scratch
- How Much Does it Cost to Build a 10×10 Shed?
Is It Cheaper to Build Your Own Shed?
Whether you are building a shed or fixing a car, completing a DIY task yourself saves you from paying labor costs. Contractors will add anywhere from 10% to 50% – or more – to account for labor costs. If you opt to buy a $4000 shed, then you could reasonably expect to build that shed yourself for less than $3000.
When you build your own shed, you also get to choose your materials. Sourcing cheap lumber and building materials also saves money. You also get to take your time, complete the job right, and have the knowledge you did it yourself. If something breaks, then you’ll be able to fix it.
What is the Cheapest Way to Build a Shed?
Building a storage shed yourself is cheaper than buying a shed – most of the time. Yes, you can buy a pre-fabricated 8×8 shed made out of fiberglass or plastic for cheaper than you could make it with wood. However, there is a way to make a really cheap shed that no store can compete with – using pallets.
Using pallets to build a shed is the most affordable of shed building methods. There are nearly infinite ways to make a pallet shed, but most use pallets as the primary building material. You can use them for the shed framing and siding, saving you hundreds or thousands of dollars if your shed is really big.
With so many options for building a pallet shed, it can be overwhelming to choose which is best. It largely depends on what kind of pallets you have, but one of the best ways to use pallets is for the framing, with few pieces of lumber to reinforce the pallets and keep the structure together.
Remember, pallets are free. Keep a lookout on the side of the road for businesses discarding old pallets, or simply go to an area of town with lots of warehouses. Check the backs of big box stores; there may be an employee who is more than happy to have the old stack of pallets of their hands.
How to Build a Cheap Shed from Scratch
Let’s go through every step of the wooden shed building process, starting with the tools you’ll need. Remember, this article is meant to cover the cheapest – and most effective – methods for shed construction. For a more thorough overview of how to build a shed, see my article on shed construction.
1. Find Free or Cheap Storage Shed Plans
First, you need a plan to build your shed. Yes, you could buy one at your local home reno store or online, but many places online offer free shed plans, too. If money is an issue for you, there is no need to pay for a shed plan – check out my article where I listed 159 Free DIY Storage Shed Plans.
A plan is critical. It allows you to see all the materials you’ll need in advance. This will then let you plan your purchases or make alterations to the materials before starting your build. Consider also your building hardware, as this will be a cost.
Plan every material purchase first, so you can determine what you can source for free or at a discount.
What tools do you need for building a shed on a budget? I see many articles claiming you need a compressor and pneumatic nail gun or a sliding miter saw. Sure, those tools make shed building faster, but you can still build a shed without them.
At a minimum, you need a tape measure, speed square, saw, hammer and drill. I recommend a cheap corded drill. This will be powerful enough to drive any screw or drill any hole you’ll need. You’ll also need an extension cord, a square #2 bit, and a set of drill bits.
A hammer is always essential. Remember, using nails is much cheaper than using screws. In most cases, nails have a far greater shear strength than screws. Use nails to save money.
Finally, you’ll need a saw. A miter or circular saw is ideal, but they are expensive. A true cost-saving measure would be to use a 14” handsaw. This takes lots of muscle over the course of a shed build but is about $100 cheaper than a miter saw.
You have many options for a shed foundation: skids, concrete piers, concrete slab, and more. The cheapest DIY option is using concrete blocks or deck blocks. Putting your shed floor framing on top of these blocks is the simplest and most affordable solution for anchoring your shed.
Deck blocks are extremely cheap. You can purchase them for under $10 and they are grooved to fit 2x lumber, making them perfect foundation for nesting into your shed floor framing. Alternatively, concrete blocks, such as cinder blocks, make a viable alternative. Many of you may have them sitting around your yard, making them the lowest cost option.
The cost of lumber and pouring concrete slab makes blocks the most inexpensive option. You should put some effort into site preparation for the deck or concrete blocks, such as digging below and adding gravel. But even then, this option is your cheapest shed foundation method.
4. Floor Framing
You should not frame your shed floor with any size of lumber less than 2×6. You could use 2×4 lumber, but you would need to significantly increase the number of deck blocks supporting the floor frame.
Instead, use 2×6 lumber. This will ensure your deck floor does not fail. Treated lumber is imperative. But if you have some exterior paint sitting around, then you could purchase untreated lumber and paint it. This would save you some money as treated lumber is more expensive than untreated.
5. Wall Framing
The cheapest material for wall framing is to use 2×4 lumber. You could use 2×3 lumber, but you risk the integrity of the entire structure if you opt for this route. Remember, your entire roof structure will bear on your shed walls. If you have snow loads, don’t even consider 2×3 walls.
The other drawback to 2×3 walls is that they split more easily when you nail siding into them or when nailing them to one another. With less physical material to work with, fastening material to a 2×3 or fastening them together becomes difficult and potentially unsafe.
2x4s are your best bet, and most affordable, for constructing low-cost shed walls. Opt for 2×3 walls at your own risk, but I don’t recommend this. Remember also that even cheaper than 2x4s are using pallets if you are comfortable attempting a pallet shed.
6. Roof Framing
Just as 2x4s are the cheapest for wall framing, so they are also for roof framing. For sheds in the smaller category, such as 10×10 or less, then rafters made from 2x4s are the most affordable framing option. You can buy 2x4s in 10’ and 12’ lengths or greater, which helps minimize waste.
Trusses will use more wood than rafters and still use 2x4s. Whether you opt for a gable style roof or single slant, 2×4 rafters are a simple and sturdy solution for your roof frame. Heavy snow is a concern, although if your shed is unheated, you won’t have to worry about heavy ice on your roof.
The design of your roof can help you mitigate costs, too. A gable roof forces you to use slightly more lumber than a single slant roof, as a gable requires four angle cuts for a length of 2×4. Plan your roof slope so you can use just one 2×4 per rafter or set of rafters for a gable roof. That cuts down on waste and minimizes your costs.
Figuring the most cost-effective way to side a shed can be tricky because there are tons of options. I’ve found that the easiest and most affordable method to side a shed is to use LP SmartSiding. It’s a painted, engineered 4×8 panel designed for exterior exposure. All you have to do is fasten it to your framing and call it a day.
These panels are cheaper than plywood exterior panels and more weatherproof. Plywood siding panels don’t hold up as well under constant exposure to moisture unless painted, which is an additional cost that you don’t have to deal with if you use an LP panel.
Other options include lap siding or shingle siding, but these require more material and, thus, more cost. LP siding offers the cheapest and easiest install while providing a long-term and maintenance-free solution.
Asphalt shingles are your low-cost solution to roof a shed cheaply. There is a reason asphalt shingles dominate the homes in your neighborhood – cost. Metal roofing is much more expensive, and other roofing materials such as rubber or corrugated plastic are also less affordable or not adequate for a shed structure.
Consider a 10×10 shed. Let’s say the shed roof is that size or slightly larger. That means the roof is around 100 square feet. We know that it takes, on average, 3 bundles of shingles to roof one tile – 100 square feet. 3 bundles of shingles are about as cheap as you can get for roofing material.
If building a shed as cheaply as possible is your goal, then omitting a window is necessary. A new window, even a very cheap window, will cost you over $50. And that’s for a fixed, non-opening window of minimal size.
Instead, opt for a solar light or simply use an extension cord with a bulb at the end if you need a little light in your shed. A window is costly and will also force you to use more lumber in the wall framing of your garden shed.
Exterior door is expensive. A quick glance at your local home reno store will show that exterior doors cost anywhere from $200 to $500 and more. Instead, use 2x4s to make a wooden door frame and cover the frame with the same siding you used for the rest of the shed – LP SmartSiding.
There won’t be much added cost whether you have a double or single door since you are simply using more 2x4s and siding. Using 2x4s also allows you to make the door as wide as you’d like, and you’ll save hundreds of dollars not buying a proper exterior door.
You’ll need a set of hinges and some type of latching mechanism. This hardware is cheap and can be purchased for under $20, total, not including a padlock of some kind if you need one.
How Much Does it Cost to Build a 10×10 Shed?
Using the most affordable methods of shed building, the cost of a 10×10 shed could be as low as $1000 or less. Obtaining supplies on sale and using materials you already have laying around will vary the final cost.
Below we’ll go over the cost of each material and add up what the final cost will be for a 10×10 storage shed. The total amount needed will be in parentheses.
Cost of Shed Materials
- Deck Blocks – $8 (9 needed)
- 2×6 Floor Framing – $20 (12)
- 2×4 Wall and Rafter Framing – $7 (~50)
- LP SmartSiding Panel – $42 (10)
- Shingles – $33 (3)
Add these totals and you get a total estimate of slightly over $1000. However, keep in mind that these prices were taken directly from big box store websites at the time of writing, without concern for sales or other deals.
Siding is one of the greatest costs. If you can source pallet wood, you could replace the siding and use pallet wood as your siding. Painting it could make for an effective weatherproof option and get your total cost well below $1000.
Building a cheap shed is a fun challenge for a DIYer, but you do not want to sacrifice safety. Sure, you could build a shed floor with 2×4 framing, but you may regret that after your riding mower falls through it in a few years.
It isn’t worth “going cheap” if the shed will fall apart one year later. You must still take pains to make your structure strong, even if it means getting slightly larger lumber materials or a sturdier siding option. Paying an extra $50 or $100 to keep your shed dry and upright is always the best option.
And finally, be sure to check out my other articles on pallet sheds and shed construction for more tips on shed building and making your dollars stretch before you start building your next shed project!