Many choices in building a shed

The Baltimore Sun

As I looked for leaf-raking tools in the debris field formally known as my garage, I realized I need a storage shed. I want to build my own. Are wood sheds the way to go?

One of the first steps in your shed project should be to visit your local government officials. You need to know how zoning laws deal with sheds, as well as to familiarize yourself with local building codes. For example, where I live, the building department is not concerned with sheds that are under a certain square footage. You may discover that you do not need a building permit.

Next, decide whether the shed will have a wood floor or a concrete slab. If you want your storage shed to be problem-free for years, you need to make sure it has a great foundation that will not move. I prefer working with wood because it is easy to cut, move and erect.

Structures built in climates where the ground freezes must be protected from frost heave. This can lift the soil drastically, causing all sorts of structural stresses for structures built without frost-protected foundations.

There are different ways to build a frost-protected foundation, including full-length poured concrete footers that extend below the frost depth or round concrete pads that support treated-lumber posts. For a simple outdoor shed, you may only have to dig four 16-inch diameter holes for the entire foundation.

The wood-floor system should be made with treated lumber that will resist wood rot and any attack by wood-destroying insects. I also use treated-lumber plywood for the floor of my storage sheds. This way, any water that drips from tractors, tools or other things will not damage the shed flooring structure.

When you frame your shed walls, use ordinary framing lumber but always use a treated lumber bottom plate. Be sure to use plywood or oriented strand board at the corners of the shed. This makes the walls very strong.

You can buy prefabricated roof trusses for the roof structure, but cutting simple roof rafters is not that hard. If your budget is tight, you will probably discover that framing the roof without trusses is the better alternative.

Be sure you cover the exterior walls and roof with overlapping asphalt felt paper before you apply siding or shingles.

Expert home builder and remodeling contractor Tim Carter has 20 years of hands-on experience in the home industry. He is a licensed master plumber, master carpenter, master roof cutter and real estate broker. If you have a question, go to and click on "Ask Tim."

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