Here are some excellent tips taken from our pros' 50 years worth of experience in designing yard
sheds. These tips will make your project easier, more economical and help you add practical features that will make your shed even more useful.
By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine:June 2008
Metal roofing costs about twice as much as asphalt shingles. But on a midsize shed, you'll only spend an extra $100 to $200. And that's a bargain when you consider the benefits. A metal roof typically lasts 30 to 50 years and instead of covering the whole roof with plywood, you just nail a few 2x4 “purlins” across the rafters. Screwing the big metal panels to the purlins is much faster than nailing on hundreds of shingles. To find manufacturers, search online for “metal roof.”
A shallow tool locker on the side or back of a shed offers
quick, easy access to lawn and garden gear. To build this tool locker, we constructed an interior wall 12 in. from the back of the shed, covered the studs with pegboard and installed a pair of steel prehung doors ($110 each) inside out so they swing outward. Homemade or sliding doors would work well too.
Pressure-treated lumber laid on a bed of gravel gives you a fast, easy foundation that will last for decades. Or lay joists on the wood foundation and cover them with plywood, just like the floors in most homes are built.
For a floor that's more durable than plywood, fill the
wood foundation with gravel and lay cement pavers, just like for a paver patio. A paver floor allows water to drain through, so it's perfect for a gardening shed and you can rinse the floor clean with a hose.
Sliding doors are easier to build than swinging doors
because they don't have to be as stiff and sturdy. And since you don't have to fuss with hinges, installation is much simpler. Years down the road, sliding doors won't sag and stick the way swinging doors do. But sliding
doors have two drawbacks. First, they don't
fit as tight; critters or snow can sneak in
around them. Second, you need a long
wall for a wide door—the door's
width can only be about half the
length of the wall.
The sliding closet
door hardware available at most
home centers costs less than $30, but
check its weight capacity. To find
heavier-duty hardware, search online
for “barn door hardware.”
If you want your shed to have a rustic, natural look, you can't beat stained wood. But if you plan to paint your shed, try these long lasting materials:
A few decorative details make all the difference between a
show-off shed and a backyard eyesore. A dormer or front porch can dress up a shed, but smaller details can do the trick too. Features like exposed rafter tails, simple decorative brackets, corner boards, a cupola or a gable window are great ways to add charm without adding a lot of work.
If you frame your roof the traditional way, one
rafter at a time, you'll spend half the day crawling
up and down ladders. With prebuilt roof
trusses, you'll cut out most of the ladder work,
saving time and sparing your knees. Manufactured
roof trusses in standard sizes are surprisingly
cheap—often just a few bucks more than
the lumber alone would cost. Contact any home
center or lumberyard for prices and options.
“Barn sash” windows are the simplest windows you can get—basic wood frames, single-pane glass and dividers for classic
charm. That simplicity makes them inexpensive ($45 for a 22x 42-in. version) and versatile. You can install them upright or sideways, screw them in place permanently, or hinge them on the side or top. Some home centers carry them, but most don't. Call local lumberyards or ask a manufacturer to recommend a local dealer. To find manufacturers, search online for“ barn sash.”
Skylights let a flood of overhead light into a shed and—unlike windows—leave wall space free for hanging storage and shelving. Skylights made for houses are pricey, but there's an inexpensive alternative.
Plastic dome skylights start at about $45 and are easy to
install. Just cut a hole in the roof sheathing, nail the skylight into place and shingle around it. Plastic skylights aren't exactly attractive, so place them on the side of the roof that's least visible.
You don't need to buy an expensive nailer for
exterior trim. An inexpensive little 18-gauge
brad nailer can do the job almost as fast. Since
those skinny brads don't have enough holding
power to keep large trim in place permanently,
you need to first lay on a couple of generous
beads of construction adhesive. Then tack the
trim into place, using just enough brads to hold
it while the adhesive hardens. Unlike thicker
nails, brads rarely split the trim and you'll have
only a few tiny holes to fill.
Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.
Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.
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