How To Build a Storage Shed

Photos and writeup by Trevor Freeman. December 2007.

Lumber for the foundation THE PROBLEM
When you live in a small house, every square foot of floor space is precious real estate. My collection of car parts and other junk was too large for my closet, but I needed a place to store it until I moved out. Renting a mini-storage unit was too expensive, so I decided to put up a storage shed in the backyard and keep my junk out there, free of charge. Once I got the okay from my folks, things began to get exciting.

I studied our backyard and found a spot against the north wall of our property that was just the right size and was not being used for anything better. Finding a shed that would fit was the real challenge. How much space would I need? How big of a shed could I fit in the yard? What was this going to cost? Could I build it myself or should I buy a kit? I considered all of these options before deciding on the Arrow Brentwood BW54 shed. The shed was a modest 5'x4' and just under 6ft tall.

The next thing I needed to do was build a foundation for the shed to sit on. I went to Home Depot and selected a large piece of 5/8" plywood, four 2x4 boards that were 10 feet long, two 2x4 boards that were 8 feet long, a box of 3-inch wood screws, and a quart of some weatherproofing stuff. A quart seemed too small but a gallon was too large, they were the only options. (I went with the quart and it was just enough).

The wood had to be cut before I could fit it in the car, and it took a while for the saw operator to show up. He was friendly and I was a little nervous about the cuts I had asked for, hoping I had calculated things correctly. At the front, I told the cashier I'd had eight cuts done and that the sign said they were 50 cents each. She didn't know how to ring them up and she let me have them for free. Good deal! I now had a trunk full of lumber and supplies for $49.97.

Building the foundation. November 2007. BUILDING THE FOUNDATION
I read the directions, studied them, and read them again. I had already chosen a wooden foundation instead of pouring a concrete slab. The directions said to build it on a foundation of loose gravel for drainage, to which I responded "Ah, fuck it." The ground is hard enough where I live and our average annual rainfall is not enough to worry about drainage.

Moving on, I arranged the two-by-fours into a rectangle and joined them together with the wood screws and an electric drill. At least three screws went into every board, spaced about nine inches apart. Once everything was screwed together, I coated it with the weather-proofing wood sealer. It had the color and consistency of chocolate milk, and it made the wood several shades darker. I guess that means it worked.

The BW54 shed was selling for about $270-300 online, but I decided to order it locally and not pay for shipping charges. After doing a web search for "Lowes coupons," I discovered that they have a one-time 20% off coupon for people who are moving. Well I wasn't moving, but I sure could use twenty percent off! I punched in my email address and soon had a coupon in my inbox, just that easy. Unfortunately it was only good in-store and not online. So I ventured over to Lowe's to order the shed, and spoke to several different people in the garden department. While Lowe's sells tons of sheds, they only stock a few models. Nobody at our store had done a special order before, but they eventually figured it out and I got it for $275 out the door.

I was told it would be ready to pick up in store within two weeks, and was quite surprised when a week later I got a phone call that it had come in. With my receipt in hand, I headed over to pick it up one day after work. It took three people and about thirty minutes of waiting for them to find it in the receiving department, but they did eventually find it. The shed was in a large cardboard box about 6 feet by 3 feet and maybe 4 inches tall. With the back seat folded down, it just barely fit in the car.

The box-o-parts ASSEMBLY
The next day was Thanksgiving, a perfect day off from work to get started. How could a whole shed fit in such a tall and thin box? I wondered. When I sliced open the box, I found out: the metal was probably about as strong as a soda can and even more flexible. I think the box it came in was stronger than the walls of my shed. Wasting no time, I got started right away. Using a chair to prop up the walls, I was able to get all four of them up before lunchtime. The instructions recommended two people, but you can do it with just one if you're determined.

Because the summertime temperatures can and do reach 120°F here, I reasoned that the dark brown roof was not intended for the harsh desert climate. I made a quick trip to the store and got two cans of flat white Rust-Oleum spray paint. With zero prep work, I simply painted the roof with a steady and even coat. It covered the brown completely and looked as though it had come that way. After letting the paint dry overnight, I continued with the assembly the next day.

Walls in place With the walls up and interior supports in place, I was nearing the end of the project and I could see that the bag of extra screws was more than plentiful. I began adding additional screws as I saw fit, all over the roof panels and on the walls. The door was a bit tricky to get on its track, but I managed to do it right on the second try.

Once the trim was on the roof, everything was completed. I chose not to get the "highly recommended" anchoring kit that the instruction manual advised, and just screwed it down to the foundation with a LOT of screws. The whole thing feels rock-solid and it's definitely not going anywhere.

Before moving my junk in, I sealed the outside with a tube of clear window sealant to keep the moisture and bugs out. Finally, I made one last trip to Lowe's and got pair of a cheap Plano plastic shelving units for the inside.

With everything finished, I was ready to move my junk inside. The extra storage space was well worth the money and a week after construction, the shed passed the rain test and kept everything inside nice and dry. It has been working great for close to three years now. Here is a summary of my project costs:

Lumber and building materials: $50
Arrow Brentwood BW54 Shed Kit: $270
Plastic shelves: $40
TOTAL: $360 dollars

-Trevor Freeman
Created: 21 December 2007
Revised: August 2008, November 2009


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