How to Build a Lean To - Framing and Adding Siding (Part 1)
How to Build a Lean to Shed
A lean to shed is a great structure to keep in your backyard and fill with gardening supplies, landscaping tools, or whatever else you need to store. You can build a lean to shed relatively inexpensively with materials purchased at a local hardware or home-supply store. Since a lean to shed is relatively small and lightweight, you won’t need to worry about pouring a concrete foundation. As its name suggests, the roof of a lean to shed slopes down from the rear, rather than peaking in the center.
Constructing the Shed’s Floor
Cut the joists to the intended width of your shed.Joists are the cross-beams that will lie on the ground and hold together the outer framing of the floor. Use 2x6 lumber for the joists. For example, if you’re building a 12 by 16 feet (3.7 m × 4.9 m) shed, cut each of your joists to 16 feet (4.9 m). Use a circular saw to cut the joists.
- If you’d rather not cut the joists yourself, you could have the lumber cut at the hardware store from which you bought the lumber.
- Take safety precautions when using a circular saw. Wear protective eyewear, always cut away from yourself, and never set the circular saw down while the blade is still spinning.
- Use treated lumber for the joists since the lumber will be in direct contact with the earth.
Lay out the front and back beams of the floor.Use 2x6 treated lumber for these beams as well. The front and back beams will provide the outline of your shed’s floor.
- If the beams aren’t already the intended length of your shed, use a circular saw to cut them to the shed’s length, e.g., 16 feet (4.9 m).
Fasten the joists to the floor beams using 3 ½-inch galvanized screws.Lay out each of your cut floor joists between the front and back flooring beams. Leave 14 inches (36 cm) between each of the floor joists. Once the joists are laid out, use a screwdriver to drive a 3 ½-inch screw through the front flooring board and into each joist. Then, drive screws through the back flooring board into each joist.
- If you’re struggling to insert screws directly through the joist boards, drill a pilot hole to screw each screw into.
- The number of joists you’ll need will depend on the total length of your shed. If you’re building a shed with a width of 8 feet (2.4 m), you’ll only need 6 or 7 joists. If you’re building a larger shed with a width of 16 feet (4.9 m), you’ll need 13 or 14 joists.
Attach 4 skids to the floor.The 4 skid beams should be made of 4x4 treated lumber. Each skid beam should run the full length of the shed, e.g., 16 feet (4.9 m). This means that each skid will be the same length as the front and back floor planks. Cut the skids if necessary, and attach them across the joists using metal connectors.
- Skids sit on the top of the floor joists and provide a stable foundation for the flooring to rest on.
Cover the framed floor with ¾-inch plywood.The plywood will form the flooring of the shed. Cut your ¾-inch plywood sheets so that they’ll fit together and seamlessly cover the framed flooring. Then, attach the plywood to the joists with 1 5/8-inch screws. Drive 1 screw into each skid beam every 1 foot (0.30 m).
- Use treated or sealed plywood so that you don’t get splinters in your bare feet when walking on the flooring.
Erecting the Side, Front, and Back Walls
Frame the shed’s 4 walls from 2x4 lumber.Frame each wall by nailing together 2 2x4 beams for the top and sides. The bottom of the wall should be a single 2x4 beam. Be sure to measure each beam before cutting or nailing them together so that the walls will be properly framed.For example, let’s say you’re building a 12 by 16 feet (3.7 m × 4.9 m) shed. You’ll need to frame:
- 2 192 in × 81 in (490 cm × 210 cm) side walls.
- 1 144 in × 81 in (370 cm × 210 cm) back wall.
- 1 144 in × 81 in (370 cm × 210 cm) front wall
Attach joists at 22 inches (56 cm) intervals within each framed wall.Use a circular saw to cut the 2x4 beams to the correct height of 81 inches (210 cm). Then, attach the wall joists to the doubled-up 2x4s of the frame using 2 ½-inch screws. Drill a pilot hole before screwing in the screws to make them slide in a little easier.
- The framed wall should approximately resemble the framed floor (before the plywood was put on).
Leave a 21 in (53 cm) gap in the front wall for your door.Regardless of the size of your shed, leave enough room for a standard-sized door so you won’t need to alter the size of the door. Double up 2 2x6 boards on either side of the door opening so that the gap will be reinforced. The doubled-up studs will also give you material to screw the doorframe into.
- Once your shed is assembled, you can hang a door in the gap you’ve created in the front wall.
Raise and attach the side walls with 2 ½-inch screws.Lift up the 2 side walls and set them in place on the 2 sides of the framed floor, making sure that the edges and corners of the walls align with the edges of the floor. Then, drive 2 ½-inch screws through the bottom beams of the walls. Drive the screws directly into the floor. Space each screw 8 inches (20 cm) apart.
- Use a level and a carpenter’s square throughout this process to ensure that the walls are level and all corners are square.
Raise and attach the front and back walls with 2 ½-inch screws.Once the side walls have been attached in place, you’re ready to attach the front and back walls. Raise the walls and set them in place in between the 2 side walls. Drive 2 ½-inch screws into the sides of the front and back walls where they butt up against the side walls every 8 inches (20 cm). Drive screws through the front and back walls’ bottom boards at the same distance.
- This will attach the front, back, and side walls all securely together, and also anchor the walls firmly to the floor.
Attach siding to the 4 walls.Once the walls have been framed and are set in place, you’re ready to attach the outer siding. Measure the final dimensions of each wall, and cut the siding to size using a circular saw. Then attach the cut siding to the walls with 2-inch nails.Space the nails out by about 12 inches (30 cm), and drive them directly into the joists on each wall.
- Purchase siding at a local home-supply store or hardware store. You can choose the color of the siding.
- Since lean to sheds are primarily used for storage, you shouldn’t need to insulate the shed walls.
Building the Shed Roof
Frame the top-side wall of the lean to roof with 2x4 lumber.Since a side wall of the shed will be higher than the other side, you’ll need to construct a small add-on wall for the side. The add-on wall should be 192 inches (490 cm) wide, but only 34.75 inches (88.3 cm) tall. Frame the top, bottom, and sides of the wall using 2x4 lumber, and attach joists between the top and bottom every 22.5 inches (57 cm) using 3 ½-inch screws.
- The sloped roof of the lean to shed will allow water and snow to run off to one side of the roof without soaking into the wood.
Screw the add-on wall to the top of 1 side of the shed.Select which side of your shed you’d like to be higher than the other. Then, set the add-on wall on the side you’d like to be elevated. Attach it to the top framing of the side wall using 2 ½-inch screws.
- Space the screws out by 8 inches (20 cm).
Cut rafters from 2x4 beams.Each rafter should be 168 inches (430 cm) long in order to cover the sloping roof and hang off of the far side. Then, use the circular saw to cut a 1 by 3.5 inches (2.5 cm × 8.9 cm) notch 10.25 inches (26.0 cm) from the top of each rafter. Cut another 1 by 4.25 inches (2.5 cm × 10.8 cm) notch 11.75 inches (29.8 cm) from the bottom of each rafter.
- Use a circular saw to cut your rafters, and make sure that they’re all uniform.
- If you’re building a 12 by 16 feet (3.7 m × 4.9 m) shed, you’ll need 9 rafters.
Fit the rafters in place on top of your roof.Space each rafter 24 inches (61 cm) away from the adjacent rafters. If you’ve made your rafter cuts correctly, the rafters should all fit snugly in place and slope evenly from the higher-side wall down over the lower-side wall.
Attach the rafters to the walls using collar ties.Use 2-3 2-inch nails to attach a collar tie to each rafter about 2 feet (0.61 m) from where it rests on the wall. Then, drive another 2-3 nails into the vertical joists on the side wall add-on. These ties will hold the rafters in place and also stop them from exerting downward pressure on the side walls of the lean to shed.
- You can purchase collar ties at a large hardware store or at a home-supply store.
Insert 5 support beams on the front and back of the shed to hold up the sloping roof.Use a circular saw to cut 2x4 beams into support beams. These support beams will hold up the rafters on the sides of the roof. Cut the support beams and insert them under the roof. Each support beam should be spaced 20.5 inches (52 cm) apart from the adjacent support beams.The 5 support beams should be cut to these specifications:
- 6 inches (15 cm) tall.
- 12.5 inches (32 cm) tall.
- 18.75 inches (47.6 cm) tall.
- 25.25 inches (64.1 cm) tall.
- 31.75 inches (80.6 cm) tall.
Cut siding panels for the back, front, and high side of the shed.Measure the uncovered gaps on the upper portions of the shed, and use a circular saw to cut siding sections of corresponding sizes. Keep in mind that the siding panels that cover the front and back of the shed will need to be cut at the same angle as the rafters, in order to provide full coverage.
- The low side of the shed won’t need a siding panel cut for it, since the roof will come down to the side of the shed.
Attach the siding panels using 2-inch nails.Once the siding panels are cut to size, attach them to the add-on side wall and the support beams on the front and back walls. Drive 2-inch nails into the joists and support beams to hold the siding firmly in place.
- Make sure that this siding matches the color of the siding you used for the 4 walls.
Screw ¾-inch sheets of plywood to the top of the roof.For the shed’s roof, purchase large sheets of plywood that are 96 by 48 inches (240 cm × 120 cm) in size. Use 1 5/8-inch screws to secure the plywood sections firmly in place. Drive screws straight down through the plywood and into the rafter beams. Space each screw out by 8 inches (20 cm).
- To use gravity to your advantage, start nailing plywood to the roof at its lowest point. This way, gravity will pull the higher plywood sections into place.
- If you were to start nailing plywood at the highest point of the roof, gravity would pull lower portions off of the rafters.
Paint or stain the walls and roof of the shed to finish them.Stain will draw out the natural color of the wood, while paint will cover over the wood. Whichever you choose, use a 3 in (7.6 cm) paintbrush to apply 3-4 coats of the paint or stain to the sides and top of the shed.
- Give the paint or stain at least 48 hours to dry before you touch it.
- The size of the lean to shed is up to you. Small sheds are typically 4 by 8 feet (1.2 m × 2.4 m), while larger lean to sheds can be 12 by 16 feet (3.7 m × 4.9 m).
- You may want to wear leather work gloves while working with lumber to prevent splinters and cuts.
- If you find that hammering in individual nails with a nail gun is too time consuming, try using an air gun instead. You can buy one at a local hardware store.
Video: How To Build a Lean To Shed - Part 2 - Wall Framing
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