How to Build a Shed on the Cheap

We designed this shed with money saving in mind. Even the dimensions are designed to make the most efficient use of lumber.

Next Project

Introduction

Modular construction and inexpensive materials make this shed easy to build and easy to afford. We'll show you how to build this shed and provide you with the plans and materials list you need to get started. Don't be intimidated by the size of this project. We use simple construction methods to make the building process as easy as possible.

Tools Required

  • Air compressor
  • Air hose
  • Brad nail gun
  • Caulk gun
  • Chalk line
  • Circular saw
  • Clamps
  • Cordless drill
  • Drill bit set
  • Hammer
  • Hearing and eye protection
  • Jigsaw
  • Level
  • Pocket hole jig
  • Router
  • Sawhorses
  • Speed square
  • Stepladder
  • Tape measure
  • Tin snips

Materials Required

  • 1-1/2-in. trim piece
  • 1/4-in. acrylic sheet
  • 16d nails
  • 1x6 x 8 ft.
  • 2×10 x 8 ft.
  • 2x4 x 8 ft.
  • 2x6 x 8 ft.
  • 3-in. screws
  • 4x6 x 8 ft.
  • 4x8 ft. grooved plywood
  • 6d galvanized box nails
  • 6x6 x 8 ft.
  • Caulk
  • Composite trim
  • Fiberglass shingles
  • Gravel
  • Hinges
  • Metal Z-flashing
  • OSB siding
  • Soffits (we used 12-in. fiber cement siding for soffit material)
  • Treated 3/4-in. plywood
  • Two layers of 3/4-in. boards

Project step-by-step (21)

Step 1

Build the Foundation

  • Dig two trenches 16 in. wide, 12 in. deep and 13 ft. long.
  • Center the trenches 66 in. apart.
  • Fill the trenches with a 3-in. layer of gravel and compact it with a hand tamper.
  • Repeat this process until the trench is full.
  • Cut the treated 6x6s to 12 ft. and set them on the gravel so they're parallel and the outside edges are 6 ft. apart.
    • Pro tip: On sloped ground, you'll have to raise the 6x6 on the low side until it's level with the adjacent 6x6. Do this by stacking treated 2x6s, 4x6s or 6x6s on top of the treated 6x6 to reach the right height.
  • Cover it with treated 3/4-in. plywood (Figure B).

Step 2

Assemble the End Walls

  • Start by nailing together the perimeter and adding the center stud.
  • Then measure from the center stud to mark for the remaining studs.
    • You can build the walls on any flat surface, but the shed platform is ideal. Use chalk lines as a guide.

Building a cheap shedFamily Handyman

Step 3

Attach Flashing Over the Siding Seam

  • Nail siding to the walls before you stand them up.
  • Cover the horizontal seam with metal Z-flashing to keep out water.

Building a cheap shedFamily Handyman

Step 4

Side the Walls

  • Screw the front wall to the platform to hold it square while you add the siding. Align the bottom plate with a chalk line to make sure it's straight.
    • Snap chalk lines on the plywood deck, 3-1/2 in. from the edges of the platform, to indicate the inside edge of the walls. Measure to make sure the lines are parallel and 89 in. apart. Then chalk a line down the center. You'll use this line to make sure the angled top plates meet in the center.
  • Snap lines for the peak.
  • Cut 2x4s to fit inside the lines and toe-screw them to the plywood to hold them in place while you fill in the center studs and nail on the siding.
    • Toe-screw from the outside so the screws will be accessible after the siding is installed.
  • Nail on the siding so that it overhangs the framing on each side by 3-1/2 in.
  • Trim off the top corner to follow the slope of the angled top plate.
    • When you're done building the front and back walls, set them aside so you can use the platform to build the roof sections.

Building a cheap shedFamily Handyman

Step 5

Build the Roof Frame

  • Start by cutting out the rafters using the pattern in Figure D as a guide.
  • Omit the bird's-mouth from four rafters and use these on the ends.
  • Cut the 2x4s for the ridge and subfascia to length and mark the rafter positions on them.
  • Line up the rafters with the marks and nail through the ridge and subfascia with 16d nails to secure them.

Step 6

Install the Soffits

  • Line up the subfascia with the chalk line on the platform. Tack it in three or four places with toe screws to hold the frame straight while you install the soffit.
    • Pro tip: Add the soffit to the roof frame while it's on the platform. That will save you the hassle of upside-down nailing in a confined spot.
  • Nail the soffit to the roof frame with 6d galvanized box nails.
  • We used 12-in.-wide fiber cement siding for soffit material.
    • Mount an inexpensive carbide blade on your circular saw to cut the fiber cement.
  • Set the roof panel aside and build the other half of the roof using the same techniques.

Building a cheap shedFamily Handyman

Step 7

Stand and Nail the Walls in Place

  • Stand the walls, starting with the back wall.
  • Add the sides and the front.
  • Nail each wall to the platform as you go and lock the corners together by nailing through the overhanging siding into studs.
    • Line up the bottom plate with the chalk line and drive a few 3-in. screws or 16d nails through the plate to hold the bottom of the wall in position.

Building a cheap shedFamily Handyman

Step 8

Lift the Roof into Place

  • Slide the roof panels up the roof until the bird's-mouths drop over the top plate of the wall.
  • Make sure the 2x4 ridge is perfectly aligned with the peak of the wall.
  • Secure the roof panels with a pair of toenails through each bird's-mouth into the top plate of the wall.
  • Complete the roof framing by nailing the 2x4 ridges together and adding two 2x4 collar ties, 4 ft. apart.

Building a cheap shedFamily Handyman

Step 9

Mark the Gable End Trim for the Brackets

  • Start by cutting the gable end trim a little long and cutting the angle on the top.
  • Tack it up parallel to the end rafter and mark for the bracket notch.
    • Pro tip: Mark rather than measure for the notches. It's faster and more accurate.

Building a cheap shedFamily Handyman

Step 10

Assemble the Door Frames

  • Build two frames.
  • Glue and clamp them together to make a 1-1/2-in.-thick door.
  • Use pocket screws to assemble each frame.

Building a cheap shedFamily Handyman

Step 11

Install Wood Stops to Hold the Plexiglas in Place

  • Set the plywood and Plexiglas insert into the recessed area on the back of the door.
  • Nail wood stops around the perimeter to hold them in place.

Building a cheap shedFamily Handyman

Step 12

Route the Door Hinges

  • Eliminate measuring mistakes by clamping the door and trim together before routing for the hinges.
  • Make sure the trim piece extends 1/8 in. above the top of the door before you clamp it.

Route the door hinges on shed

Step 13

Attach the Door Trim

  • Center the door on the opening and screw through the trim to attach it.
  • Support the door with a temporary 2x4 screwed to the platform.
  • Attach the opposite side trim and finally the top.

Building a cheap shedFamily Handyman

Step 14

Build the Door

  • The door consists of two layers of 3/4-in.-thick boards that overlap at the corners to add strength. Rip 1x6 boards to 4-1/2 in. on a table saw for the outside layer
  • Complete the door frame. Then cut the 4 x 8-ft. grooved plywood to fit the lower recess, and cut a piece of 1/4-in. acrylic sheet to fit the upper recess. Secure the plywood and acrylic sheet with 1/2-in. x 1/2-in. moldings nailed to the inside. Sand the edges of the door flush.

Step 15

Hang the Door

  • If you have a router, use a hinge-mortising bit (or straight bit) to cut the hinge recesses. Otherwise, use a sharp chisel.
    • An easy way to mark and cut matching hinge recesses in both the door and the trim is to clamp the trim alongside the door, making sure it extends 1/8 in. beyond the top of the door. Then mark the hinge cutout on both the door and the trim at the same time.
  • Screw the hinges to the door and trim.
  • Mount the door to a 1-1/2-in.-thick trim piece and then screw the trim to the wall.
  • Finish the door installation by adding the top and side trim pieces.

Step 16

Mark the Window Arches

  • Mark out the arched window trim using a simple trammel.
  • Use the same setup for marking the curved 2x10 header and the curved bracket support.

Building a cheap shedFamily Handyman

Step 17

Mark the Angled Cuts on the Side Trim Pieces

  • Mark and cut the side trim pieces.
  • Then set them in place on the top piece to mark the angled cuts.

Building a cheap shedFamily Handyman

Step 18

Rout the Back of the Window Trim

  • Assemble the window frame with pocket screws.
  • Rout a recess in the back for the acrylic sheet.

Building a cheap shedFamily Handyman

Step 19

Install the Windows

  • Rest the window on the temporary 2x4 and screw it to the wall. Center the window on the opening before driving the screws.
  • Cut the side pieces.
  • Set the side pieces in place over the top of the header and mark the angled cuts.
  • Finish the curved trim piece by first cutting the angles on each end, and then sawing the curves with a jigsaw and sanding them smooth. Use the marking jig to lay out the curved brace, too.
  • Cut the sill piece and assemble the windows with pocket screws.
  • Using a router with a 3/8-in. rabbet bit, rout a 3/8-in.-deep recess on the back of the window to receive the 1/4-in. Plexiglas acrylic sheet.
  • Set the window frame, recessed side down, over a piece of acrylic sheet and trace the shape with a permanent marker.
  • Cut the curve with a fine-tooth jigsaw blade and the straight sections with a fine-tooth blade in a table saw or circular saw.
  • Prime and paint the window and let it dry.
  • Then apply a thin bead of clear silicone in the recess and embed the acrylic sheet in it. Secure the acrylic sheet with glazing points. Let it set up overnight.
    • We cut the grid pieces from 3/4-in. x 1/2-in. parting stop and glued them to the acrylic with clear silicone caulk.
    • A temporary support makes it simple to install the window. Level a 2x4 and screw it to the wall 2 in. below the window opening. Then rest the window on the 2x4 and center it in the opening before driving screws to secure it. Use caulk to fill the gaps left by the grooved siding.

Building a cheap shedFamily Handyman

Step 20

Install the Exterior Trim

  • Mount the brackets.
  • Line up the outside edges of the lower brackets with the face of the siding, push them tight to the soffit and screw them to the wall.
  • Center the top bracket on the peak and push it tight to the soffit.
  • Starting with the pieces that go under the brackets, wrap the corners with the corner board.
  • Overlap the front corner board onto the side corner board.
  • Get ready for roofing by adding the fascia boards and shingle molding. Notch the fascia boards to fit around the brackets. Keep the 1x2 shingle molding flush to the top of the roof plywood.
  • Roof, stain and paint the shed

Step 21

Shingle and Finish

  • Complete the shed by installing shingles and finishing the exterior.
  • Prime and paint the doors and windows before installing them, then you only need to caulk and fill nail holes before rolling an additional coat of paint onto the flat surfaces.
    • The LP SmartSide panel siding, the composite fascia and corners, and the fiber cement soffit were all pre-primed and required only two coats of paint to finish.