Once you have a solid foundation to build your shed on, it’s time to start bringing this project together by building the walls. If you don’t know how to frame and build shed walls, then this article will discuss everything you need to know to get started.
A shed wall consists of a bottom and top plate fastened to studs that reach from floor to ceiling in evenly spaced intervals. Sheathing and siding enclose the exterior of the wall. If the wall contains a door or a window, then it will also require a header. The header must be supported by a trimmer on each side, with king studs run to the outside of each trimmer. Shorter cripple studs support the gaps above and below windows.
Although the basics of framing and building a shed wall seem simple on the surface, it is best to be fully prepared. As with any project, make sure you know exactly what you’re getting into before you get started. The remainder of this article will go in-depth into how to build your shed walls.
- Shed Wall Framing Basics
- How do Walls Attach?
- Basic Wall Plans for Your Build
- Material for Shed Walls
- How to Frame and Build Shed Walls
- Anchoring Walls to Concrete Pad Foundation
Shed Wall Framing Basics
For a basic shed wall with no windows or doors, your wall will consist of a bottom and top plate with studs fastened in between at even intervals. Framing studs are precut for standard wall heights and save time and waste cutting 8′ studs down to length.
An 8-foot wall uses 92-5/8″, 9-foot are 104-5/8″, and 10-foot use 116-5/8″. Determine the wall height prior to purchasing materials, and remember sheathing comes in 4×8′ dimensions.
These studs should be spaced 16” apart on center. This spacing will satisfy the requirements of the building code, as well as provide structural integrity for your shed.
The minimal cost saved by spacing these studs farther apart, 24” for example, is not worth the loss in strength and longevity for your shed. Plus, if your shed requires a permit, then your studs will need to be 16” on center to pass inspection.
If your wall contains a window or a door, then you need a header at the top of the opening. This header could be two pieces of lumber fastened together with a plywood or OSB spacer between and could be made from 2×4 or 2X6.
Supporting your header on each side are trimmers. Trimmers are studs that extend from the bottom plate to provide support for the header.
This will create the external dimensions of your opening. These trimmers are attached to king studs, which run from the bottom plate to the top plate on each side of the opening.
For any space above or below your window or door opening, you will need cripple studs. These are short studs that are meant to add support in openings that are left after framing for a window or door.
While your walls only require one top plate, it’s recommended that you add a second top plate to add strength and support to your roof. A double top plate will also help to anchor your walls together more securely by overlapping in the corners.
This second top plate will be installed after the walls are already built and in place, not during the initial framing of each wall section.
How do Walls Attach?
Your shed walls are going to attach in two main ways. They will be fastened to the floor, and they will be attached to each other.
When securing your walls to the floor, you will nail or screw through the bottom plate of your wall and directly into the floor joists. When attaching the corners of your walls together, your strongest most stable option is a four stud corner.
A four stud corner (sometimes called a three stud corner) contains a “block” of three studs together at the end of one wall. The end stud from the adjoining wall (stud four) will attach to this block of three. This 3-stud block provides plenty of area for fasteners to attach.
When building your four-stud corner, the middle stud in your “block” of three can be made from shorter scrap pieces of 2×4 instead of a whole stud. This is up to you, but if you have extra scraps laying around you, can use them and save yourself one stud per corner.
Basic Wall Plans for Your Build
Before you start putting together your first wall or gathering up materials, I recommend that you put together some basic plans for your shed. There are many free and paid options available online to download basic plans for any type of shed you may want to build. If you want to build your shed to your own specifications, you may want to draw up plans.
Why use Plans?
How many 2x4s does your build need? How much sheathing? How many nails/screws? Without plans of any kind, you’re essentially flying blind.
Once you have some basic plans in hand, you’re taking a lot of the guesswork out of your build, saving you time, money, and energy! By using plans, you’ll be able to tell what length of lumber you require and how much of each material to get.
These plans will prove just as helpful once you actually begin the building process. They will help with measurements, placements of openings, and will help you visualize the project as a whole.
Questions Before Putting Plans Together
So we know we want plans for our build, but what do we need to know to put these plans together? Well, you’re going to need to know what you intend the shed to be for, and what your budget is for this project.
This will help you to determine the overall size and type of shed that will best fit your needs and price range.
Here are some things to consider when deciding on what you want from your shed.
What are you storing/doing inside?
How much overall space do you need?
What type of roof do you want?
Do you need windows?
How much are you willing to spend on this project?
How much time are you willing to invest in building your shed?
The answers to these questions will help you decide what type of shed you need, what type of materials you may want to use, and how large of a shed you need to build.
Putting Plans Together
Once you know the size and purpose of your shed, you’re ready to find or draw your plans.
If you don’t want to draw up the plans yourself, a basic google search will provide you many different options for basic shed plans. Some of these are available for free; some are available for a fee.
Plans will be available in varying degrees of complexity, quality, and price. Make sure you do a little research and don’t just pick the first set of plans you find.
If you want to draw up the plans yourself, here’s what you need to do. Be sure to use a ruler to draw straight lines. For best accuracy also use measurements to draw to scale, using something like ¼” to equal each 1 foot.
- Determine the type of shed you wish to build, including what type of roof you will use, and the overall dimensions to which you plan to build your shed.
- Sketch out the exterior of the shed to get a visual.
- Determine the placement of windows and doors and add them to the drawing.
- Begin making individual drawings for the framing of each wall. Use the outer dimensions of the wall to determine the length of the bottom and top plate and the overall height.
- If there are any openings (doors or windows), determine the spacing and draw in the header, king studs, and trimmers.
- Draw in remaining studs. Don’t forget to add your 3-stud blocks where needed for attaching corners.
- Repeat steps 4-6 for each of the three remaining walls.
Material for Shed Walls
Here are the materials that you will need to build the walls for your shed.
- 2x4s for top and bottom plate, studs, and headers
- (optional) 2x6s if you prefer to use them for headers
- OSB for sheathing, or T 1-11 or similar if building a single wall shed (explained below)
- Fasteners for attaching 2x4s during framing
- Fasteners for attaching sheathing/siding
Now that you have an idea of the materials you need let’s cover how to choose which of them best fits your build.
It is recommended that you use 2X4s for framing your shed walls. 2X3s will not save you much money and will not provide the same support, strength, and longevity as 2X4s. 2X6s would be overkill and wouldn’t be cost-efficient. The number of 2X4s that you require will depend on the size and type of shed that you are building.
If you plan to build the headers to your openings out of 2X6s instead, then you will also need to get some of these when picking out your materials.
How to Pick Good Lumber
Once you know what kind of lumber you need and how much, you need to know how to pick out the decent boards. Unfortunately, at most big box stores like Home Depot or Lowes where you will probably be purchasing your materials, the lumber selection is less than excellent.
It is likely that you will need to go through quite a few pieces to find good pieces of lumber to use for building your shed.
To test your pieces for straightness, you can “sight” them by looking directly down the length of the board and checking for discrepancies. If you have a hard time detecting them by eye, you can lay the board on the floor and make sure that it is touching along the entire length. You will need to check this for both the face and edge of the board.
If you’re looking down the thin edge of the board and see the board warping in either direction, this is a bow. If laying the board flat on the floor, you will lay it on its face, which is the wide part. Anywhere the board is lifted from the floor indicates a bow.
A crook is similar to a bow, except you will see it when sighting down the face of the board (the wider part) and not the edge. If using the floor instead of sighting, you will lay the board down on the skinny edge. Any parts that are not touching the floor indicate a crook.
Twists are pretty self-explanatory. If you look down the edge of a board and it appears to be twisted, it’s well… you get it. If you lay the board flat on its face on the floor, the twists are not meeting the floor.
Knots and defects aren’t always deal-breakers. For instance, knots in the middle of a stud may not affect your build. If a board is straight and devoid of other defects, I wouldn’t avoid it because of a knot in the middle.
However, some defects and even some knots could have an effect while working with them. Large knots on the very end of a stud can make it difficult to nail or screw into. Cracks or splits in the wood can cause the wood to split farther when cut or screwed/nailed into.
You will need two different types of fasteners for building your shed walls. You’ll need 3+½” long screws or nails for framing, and you’ll need shorter 2” ones for attaching the sheathing.
If you opt to use screws instead of nails, it may be necessary to pre-drill your holes to avoid splitting your boards.
If you decide to use nails, it is recommended that you use galvanized, spiral shank nails from a nail gun. Galvanized nails are less prone to corrosion, and spiral shank nails offer superior grip in the wood.
You could choose to hand nail all of these, but I strongly recommend that you use a nail gun if you have access to one. Not only will a nail gun save you lots of time and energy (and thumbnails!) it will also split fewer boards because of how fast the nail enters the board.
Sheathing and Siding
When it comes to covering your exterior walls, you have two main options. First, you could install sheathing on the walls, then apply the siding after the shed is completed. Alternatively, you could use siding panels that attach directly to the studs, such as T 1-11. This method is also called “single wall.”
Some types of siding panels such as T 1-11 and SmartSide are fastened directly to the studs. These types of siding are meant to act as sheathing and siding together.
A shed of this type will be cheaper and easier to build but will be less secure and less sturdy a structure. This type of siding can be installed prior to lifting a wall into place if desired.
Sheathing and Siding
A shed that has OSB sheathing with the siding installed on top will be more expensive and take a few extra steps to build. However, it will also be stronger and more protected. OSB sheathing is the best choice for your shed walls. It is cost-effective and durable.
Once the sheathing is installed, you will want to apply a moisture barrier such as felt paper or Typar. Then you will apply the siding of your choice such as vinyl siding. OSB sheathing can be installed prior to lifting a wall into place. Vinyl siding however, cannot be installed until the shed is completed.
Panel sidings and OSB sheathing will be attached directly to the 2X4s of the wall frame by nail. You can attach the sheathing prior to each wall being lifted into place. Alternatively, you could install it once the walls are firmly secured into position.
If you choose to install sheathing before placing the walls, you will have an easier time sheathing them since you won’t have to hold the sheathing up while nailing it. You will also extend the sheathing below the bottom of the wall, which will act as a stop when placing the wall.
The sheathing will also hold your wall square while you move and attach it. However, the wall will be much heavier and more difficult to lift into place and will likely require additional help.
If you decide to secure the walls in place before installing OSB sheathing, you will have an easy time lifting the bare wall frames into place and attaching them. However, installing the sheathing will be more difficult.
You will need to hold the 4’X8’ OSB sheets into place while you nail them, and you may need a ladder to nail some of the higher pieces.
How to Frame and Build Shed Walls
Ok, we’ve covered the basics. Now it’s time to build the walls.
Get your basic plans and determine which wall you will be starting with. You will be using the plans to ensure you have proper dimensions at each step.
If you’ve never built a wall before, I’d recommend starting with the back wall, which usually has no windows or doors. This gives you a good chance to practice on a simple wall before moving on to one with openings.
Using your plans, determine the overall length of your wall and cut your top and bottom plate to this length. Set them together and mark your studs so they will sit 16” apart, center to center.
Remember to subtract half the width of a 2X4 (¾”) from the 16” spacing to mark for the close edge of the stud. This means you will be placing your mark at 15+¼”. Then place your X on the other side of the line to mark where the stud will sit.
Once your top and bottom plate are marked, set the studs in between. You may have to cut the studs to your desired length. The 4’x8′ sheathing is 8 feet long, remember to account for the double top plate and the bottom plate.
Starting with the two ends, nail or screw the studs into place through the top and bottom plates where you have marked. Remember to build your 3-stud block in the corner where this wall will accept an adjacent wall.
Once you have attached all of the studs, you need to make sure your wall is square. You can do this by measuring from corner to corner diagonally, in both directions.
For a wall to be square, these two measurements will need to be the same. Make adjustments by applying force to the corner of the wall while holding one edge still, until the diagonal measurement each way is equal. You can nail a 2×4 diagonally across the wall to hold the wall square while moving it.
If you will be installing OSB sheathing or panel siding prior to lifting the walls into place, now is when you will do so. Remember siding options such as vinyl will have to wait until the shed is completed.
Be sure to extend the sheathing below the bottom to reach down over the side of the foundation. On the opposite side from the 3-stud block, you will extend the sheathing to attach to the butt end of the adjoining wall. Sheathing nails will be spaced 6” apart on the perimeter, and 12” apart on the interior.
Stand the wall up into place and attach it to the floor using 3+½” screws or nails. Ensure the wall is plumb, then attach bracing to hold until the remaining walls are in place and attached.
Repeat steps 1-4 to build the side wall.
If your next wall has a window or door, you can mark the king studs like the regular studs, but mark a K on them to signify they are king studs, with another mark on the inside of each for the trimmers.
- Build your header and attach it into place on both sides by nailing through the king studs.
- Attach trimmers underneath the header by nailing through the king studs from the other side.
- If there’s open space above your door, cut 2×4 pieces to fit as cripples and attach.
- Leave the bottom plate attached; you will cut this out after the walls are in place.
- Build your header and attach into place on both sides by nailing through the king studs
- Mark the height of your bottom sill on the king studs. Cut a piece of 2X4 to fit across from king to king, and install by nailing through the king studs on each side.
- Cut and install cripples to brace the open areas below the sill and above the header.
Raise the second wall and attach to first by nailing or screwing through the end stud of your interjecting wall, and into the three stud block of the accepting wall. Anchor this wall to the floor as well. Make sure the wall is plumb before adding temporary bracing for support.
Repeat for the remaining two walls.
Add a second top plate to more securely attach the walls and to add strength and support for the roof. The top plate on each side will overlap and attach to one adjoining wall corner. This will occur at all four corners, adding an additional attachment point for each corner.
If you didn’t install sheathing on the walls prior to setting them in place, it’s time to do so now. If you’re building a single wall shed, then your walls are complete! If opting to use a siding installed on top of OSB sheathing, then continue to step 8.
Apply moisture barrier (felt paper, Typar) by stapling it tight across the sheathing, cutting to fit tightly around any openings. A hammer stapler is recommended.
It’s time to add your roof! After the roof is installed, you can come back and add your final siding.
Install your siding. Your shed is now complete!
Anchoring Walls to Concrete Pad Foundation
If your foundation is made of concrete, you will not be able to simply screw the walls into it. In this case, you can use Ramset nails, or you can use concrete anchors such as Red Heads.
Ramset nails are shot through the bottom plate of the wall and into the concrete by a .22 charge. This method requires no drilling, but is loud and can sometimes damage the concrete instead of getting a firm hold.
If you opt to use concrete anchors such as Red Heads, you will have to pre-drill the holes with a hammer drill and a masonry bit. Once drilled, you will install the anchors with a hammer, and then tighten them with a wrench.
Once your walls are constructed and securely fastened in place, you are ready to build your roof. Your shed is almost complete!
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