Stud spacing for a shed is important for two reasons: a shed’s sturdiness relates to stud spacing, and stud spacing is a notable factor in total materials costs.
There are two stud spacing options for a shed: 16-inch and 24-inch stud spacing. Studs spaced at 16-inches make for a sturdier shed, but the 24-inch spacing is more cost-efficient. As the difference between 16 and 24 is roughly 33%, spacing shed studs at 24-inches rather than 16-inches can save you one-third on the total cost of shed studs.
Spacing shed studs every 16-inches is best, but spacing studs every foot-and-four-inches is not always necessary.
Three factors determine what is required for shed stud spacing: municipal/county building codes; the dimensions of the shed; and the weight of the siding as well as the interior panels/finish if one is to be applied.
Prior to deciding on the most appropriate shed stud spacing, it is valuable to understand exactly what stud spacing is.
What is Shed Stud Spacing?
The distance between studs is measured “on center.” That is to say, the distance from the center of one stud to the center of the adjacent stud(s) is the correct measure of stud spacing. “On center” is an important distinction to make because it eliminates the potential confusion created by the different studs in a wall: standard studs, king studs, cripple studs, and California Studs, for example.
Regardless of the width of a stud, measurements are always taken from the center.
Knowing what shed stud spacing is and what your two options are — 16-inches and 24-inches — you can begin determining what spacing meets your shed wall and budgetary needs.
Factors Influencing Stud Spacing for Shed
The first question you must answer when deciding between 16-inch or 24-inch stud spacing is, what are the building code requirements your shed must meet.
There are four types of building codes:
However, you only have to worry about county and municipal codes. All county and municipal codes must follow state building codes. Moreover, all state building codes must meet federal building codes. In other words, the codes counties and municipalities write, follow state building codes, at least they are supposed to.
By talking to your county or municipal building inspectors — or by picking up copies of the building codes — you can determine what is required with respect spacing the studs of your shed legally.
The next factor that will determine the spacing of your shed studs are the dimensions of your shed.
Shed Dimensions and Wind Load
Although the roof load created by an exorbitant amount of snow can cause the walls of a shed to buckle, in most cases it is not the load from the roof that will cause a shed to collapse.
Wind load is the most common cause of a shed collapse.
There are three means of fortifying shed walls:
- Shorten the Studs — from 92-5/8 feet to 6 feet, for example — to increase their tensile strength.
- Increase the Number of Studs — from every 24 inches to every 16 inches — to increase the tensile strength of the wall.
- Decrease Length of Walls – Shorten the distance between the perpendicular walls supporting the wind-facing wall, i.e., shorten the length of the walls.
You can shorten the length of the studs to increase their tensile strength — see the “Spaghetti Test,” — but that means lowering the roof. The lower the roof, the lower the ceiling you have to deal with when you are inside the shed.
You can increase the number of studs, but again, that means higher shed stud materials costs.
The third option is to build a normal-sized shed.
Typically, spacing the studs of a normal-sized shed at 24-inches will meet county and municipal codes. Although “normal-sized,” is a relative term, for this article a, “normal-sized shed,” will mean one with following dimensions or smaller:
- 10’x 7′,
- And 10’x10′
For sheds with these dimensions or less, 24-inch shed spacing will usually suffice to resist wind load.
Even for a shed that is a little larger than normal, a stud spacing of 24-inches might be sufficient. If that is, the bottom plate is anchored to the head and double-joists properly, and you make use of 3-stud corners.
However, even standard-sized sheds may require 16-inch stud spacing if the walls are to bear heavy loads.
Siding and Interior Panel Weight
It is not only wind load that determines the spacing of shed studs, but the weight hanging from the walls that determines whether or not a 16-inch stud spacing is necessary.
If you plan to use plywood on the exterior of your shed and cover it with aluminum siding — which is about the lightest siding available, — 24-inch stud spacing is sufficient.
You may want, however, to use something heavier as siding. Matching your shed to your house means you may want to use the same siding on your shed that you have on your home.
If you are going to use a heavier siding, you need to consider the weight of the siding per square foot. Examples of siding that may necessitate the use of 16-inch stud spacing include:
- Clapboard, lap or bevel siding
- Fiber Cement
- Stone and stone-veneer siding
Likewise, if you plan to finish the inside of your shed, you’ll likely want to use 16-inch stud spacing, especially if you plan to hang gypsum.
You might be able to get away with 24-inch stud spacing if you use a lighter laminate interior wall cover, but you’re probably better off using the sturdier of the two stud spacings for a shed. While there are some lighter interior panel options like plastic panels or plywood, if you are hoping to give the interior of your shed aesthetic appeal, you will probably use something like:
- Textured wall panels (drywall/gypsum),
- Wood planks,
- Lath and plaster,
- Wahoo walls,
If you choose wall panels or a finish that is heavier than plywood or plastic panels, you’re better off spacing your shed studs at 16-inches.
The weight of the trusses resting on the walls — as well as the roofing materials you choose to use — also play a role in determining the shed stud spacing.
The steeper the pitch of your roof trusses, the heavier the trusses and the heavier your roof. So, it might seem logical to have the flattest roof possible to reduce the weight on your walls.
However, it isn’t the weight on the walls that causes most sheds to collapse; it is wind load.
The roof pitch that provides the greatest amount of tensile strength for your walls is 30-degree, i.e., a 7/12 pitch roof. While a 5/12 pitch roof is the standard, if you are going to save money by spacing your studs at 24-inches, a 7/12 roof pitch will fortify your walls to a greater extent than a 22.62-degree roof pitch.
Moreover, if snow load is a concern where you live, a 7/12 roof sheds snow better as well.
How to Increase Wind and Weight Load Bearing of Walls
If you want to use 24-inch shed stud spacing, but want to increase the tensile strength of the studs and walls, beyond using a 7/12 pitch roof, there are other options.
Means of strengthening the walls and fortifying the studs include:
- Adding blocking (noggins), which are boards cut to match the distance between studs and then fastened perpendicular between the studs. While it requires extra lumber, you will still save in relation to what you would spend if you used 16-inch shed stud spacing.
- Add a king stud in the center of the wall, two studs fastened together side-by-side.
- Connect the studs to the top and bottom plates (the lumber on top of the footer) with 16 gauge plates (pieces of tin you can hammer through).
While stud spacing for shed can be as complex as you want it to be, it’s rather simple. You have two options, 16-inch spacing or 24-inch spacing.
Unless you are going to hang heavy siding off them or you are in a very high-wind area, 24-inch spacing for a normal-sized shed should suffice!