Framing a shed isn’t rocket science, but if you don’t plan properly you can end up making some costly mistakes. Whether you are making a storage shed or framing up a wall for a lean-to against your house, you’ll want to pay attention to the helpful tips and tricks I’ve compiled below.
When I first started building sheds, I didn’t think much about top plates, wall corners, or ridge boards. Then I realized there were many different ways to frame a shed, and I started to pay more attention to some of those details I hadn’t given much thought to.
Let’s take a closer look at some guidelines and helpful tips that you can apply to frame each part of your shed: roof, floor, and walls. Hopefully, you’ll be able to use one or two as you frame your next shed project.
Overall Guidelines for Shed Framing
Let’s take a look at the most important factors to consider when building a shed. Also, we’ll cover tips and tricks you can use to make a more sturdy structure and that may also speed up your build.
Remember, you can’t just build something on your property without telling your local municipality. Well, you can, but I don’t recommend it.
If you don’t get a permit for your new shed and it burns down, insurance may not cover it – or whatever was in it. If they find out you never got a permit to build your shed, then forget about an insurance payout.
A building inspector will put his or her stamp of approval on your structure. Mostly, they know what they’re talking about and will give you helpful advice along the way to solidify your structure and get it up to code.
Shed placement on your property is critical. Don’t put your shed too close to property lines – you don’t want a difficult neighbor forcing you to move your finished shed 8 inches to one side just because you weren’t quite sure where the boundaries were.
The bigger the shed, the more expensive. However, a large shed may increase the value of your home, if done properly.
Also, remember to stick to standard lengths and measurements. Sheets of sheathing and siding are typically 4 x 8’, so keeping your framing measurements divisible by 4 and 8 will make your life easier when finishing your walls.
Your framing will be 2x4s, and your roof will either be 2x4s or larger depending on if you use trusses or rafters. Beyond that, you’ll need plywood sheathing for the floor and various sizes for floor joists and beams, depending on the size of your shed.
What is not up for debate is that you should frame your structure with nails. Nails have excellent shear strength. Shear force means downward force, and nails have a much greater shear strength than nails.
Use screws for finishing and attaching sheathing, but not holding structural members. Remember that galvanized, ring shank nails are ideal because they will not corrode.
Above all else, you’ve got to build safely. If you have even the slightest hesitation about building a shed on your own, then at least grab a friend who knows what they’re doing or even go to your local building supply store. There’s always someone willing to lend a helpful suggestion.
How to Frame a Shed
Plan all your framing before you start swinging a hammer. Even though your framing plan might be straightforward, you are less likely to make a mistake if you draw out your plan first. Planning a shed framing also makes purchasing lumber and other materials more exact.
Framing a Shed Floor
The most important aspect of your shed is the base. Properly sizing your lumber for joists and beams is critical. Let’s take a look at all the things you should consider before framing your shed floor.
Use a chart like this to size your floor joists properly. Keep in mind that 2×6 is the standard for sheds, but that 2×8 is better and actually not that much more expensive. You’ll notice much less “give” to your floor by going bigger.
Also, even though you can technically use 2x6s for your shed, according to the chart, you might consider what will be in your shed. If you are storing a couple of large touring motorbikes, then an upgrade to larger joists is critical.
Finally, for joists, I recommend always using pressure-treated wood. Joists and floor material are exposed to moisture at all times. Without protection, these will rot and compromise your structure. Use PT lumber and ¾” plywood for floor sheathing with galvanized fasteners.
Space your joists at 16” on center. This is standard, but many will go up to 24” on center, which I believe is too far. You always want your joists divisible by 8’ so that the edges your 4 x 8’ sheets of pressure-treated plywood line up to the floor joists.
As always, ensure your joists are level and square. An unlevel floor will often result in a visibly unlevel structure, making it potentially unsafe. A level is your most valuable tool.
Anchoring the Shed Floor
Building codes will always stipulate that the shed must be anchored to the ground with some type of fastener. Consult your local code to see if they mandate a particular area of the shed that needs anchoring, such as corners, or if they require specific tie-downs for high winds.
No matter the foundation of your shed – concrete piers, slab, cinder blocks, or even a bed of gravel – there is always a way to affix your shed to the earth permanently. Clicking the above link will show you that there are straps, tie-downs, ground anchors and bolts to anchor any type of shed properly.
Framing Shed Walls
Remember, having a detailed plan is critical before you start. Make sure you mark out where your doors and windows will go.
Framing shed walls is straightforward. Use 2x4s with galvanized framing nails. You can use 2x6s, particularly if you are going to add insulation and want a higher R-value. 2x4s can also be insulated, but you’ll get a lower R-value.
Use pressure-treated lumber for the bottom plate of all shed walls when you build shed on concrete pad. This is the likeliest spot that will see moisture. The rest of the wall can use non-PT studs.
Double up the top plate of your shed walls to comply with building codes. That means after framing, add another row of 2×4 or 2×6 on top. This adds strength and gives a little more headroom for you in the interior of your shed.
It is a good idea to overlap the uppermost top plates. What does that mean? It means the plate on top should run over onto the wall it connects to, forming a right angle and a solid connection. Every top corner should have a top plate overlap.
Wall height is sometimes confusing for DIYers because using 8’ studs with a double top plate results in sheathing that doesn’t quite cover the entire wall. Here’s why: while an 8’ stud is actually only 92 ⅝” long, you have to take the double top and single bottom plate into account. That’s an extra 4 ½”. So in total, you have 97 ⅛” of the vertical wall.
Regardless, run your exterior wall sheathing vertically. Start slightly above the bottom edge of the bottom plate to avoid water damage to the bottom of the sheathing. It won’t quite reach to the top of the uppermost plate, which is fine. The last bit of exposed framing will be covered by soffit or the overhang of the roof.
Remember, all headers – the framing that goes on top of door and window openings – should be doubled up and stood on their end. Since this results in a ½” gap – two 2x4s on edge or only 3” wide and thus don’t mesh with the rest of the framing at 3 ½” wide – you can rip a piece of ½” plywood to put between the header pieces and create a header flush to exterior and interior walls.
Speaking of doors and windows, be sure your windows and doors are completely framed by 2x4s or 2x6s. Be sure you’ve given yourself at least 2” to the width and 2 ½” to the height of the actual door and window size to account for the door and window frames.
When framing doors and windows, be sure that each door and window sits between two studs that run from the bottom to the top plate – king studs. You’ll then put two jack studs in between the king studs, on top of which will rest your header. This will leave the sides of your door and window with doubled-up 2x4s.
When you frame shed walls, you’ll find that the corners will have awkward cavities. This makes it hard to fasten the walls to one another. Instead, one end of each wall should have a three stud corner. This creates a solid corner to attach the other wall to, instead of a cavity.
A three stud corner requires you to add two studs to one end of your wall using 16d nails every foot or so. Nail the studs so they are flush with the end stud, from top to bottom plate. If you are running wiring through your wall corners, use blocking for the middle stud instead of one solid stud. This will give you a smaller cavity to more easily run wires through.
Remember to always frame studs at 16” on center. Use 3” spiral galvanized nails. Personally, I use a nail gun to speed up the framing process. While they are expensive, they cut down on build time tremendously. Cordless versions also exist that use batteries and gas cartridges also reduce the need to buy more than one tool.
Finally, make sure you anchor your walls to the concrete pad. While there are several methods to do this, the most common is to use L-bolts that you’ve embedded in your concrete pad. Holes drilled in your bottom plate will allow you to slip your new wall up, over, and through the bolts. You then use galvanized nuts and washers to secure the wall to the concrete pad.
Framing a Shed Roof
When framing a roof, consider safety first. Do you get lots of snow? If so, better have a steeper pitch. High winds and lots of rain can also play havoc with a roof, so choose your materials carefully. The higher the pitch, the more moisture resistant a roof.
Speaking of wind, if you live in the great state of Florida, or other high wind areas, then you’ll need extra hurricane-proof strapping and fastening. See my post for help in finding out how to keep your shed from blowing across the street.
After you determine your roof pitch, you’ve got to decide on a roof type. Gambrel roofs give a traditional barn look and offer increased headroom inside the structure. A gable roof is your regular two-sided construction. Both have benefits, although a gable roof is faster to build.
If building a gable, gambrel, or saltbox-style shed, are you going to use rafters or trusses? Rafters will cost more as they use wider dimension lumber – 2x6s are the most common, but bigger sheds can take wider lumber for rafters.
Trusses only use 2×4. While they require more individual pieces, they are cheaper to construct and just as strong as a rafter. A small shed, such as an 8×8, can use 2×4 rafters, but any bigger requires wider lumber.
Remember, rafters can offer more headroom in a shed since there are no truss webs impeding the space above your head. Similarly, a lean-to, saltbox, or slanted roof shed can also be built with rafters and offers similar benefits in terms of headroom.
Using rafters, particularly with shallower roofs, should be used in conjunction with rafter ties. These are just pieces of 2×4 that connect each pair of rafters. The lower they are, the stronger the bond they create. Using bolts to connect the tie at each end significantly strengthens the tie compared to nails. Roofs that are 4:12 or less should have ties no higher than ⅓ the distance from the top plate to the ridge board.
When framing the roof, consider how much overhang you want off the edge of your shed. The more overhang, the further away water will puddle at the base of your shed. If your shed is on a gravel pad or close to the ground, then this is a great way to keep water away from your foundation. However, it necessitates longer rafters or trusses, raising your cost.
Finally, you can erect rafters and trusses yourself. Just make sure you read my article rafters vs trusses for information on how to do it safely. Hurricane ties are what I use to connect trusses and rafters to shed walls.
I hope you were able to get some helpful tips for framing your shed. Just remember to always consult your local building code first to make sure you are following municipal guidelines.
If you have any other helpful tips or suggestions for how to make framing a shed easier or safer, then please drop me a line below – I’d love to hear from you.
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Eugene has been a DIY enthusiast for most of his life and loves being creative while inspiring creativity in others. He is passionately interested in home improvement, renovation and woodworking.