How to Build a Storage Shed

When you live in a small house, every square foot of space is precious real estate. My collection of car parts and tools was becoming too large for my bedroom closet, but I needed a place to store it until I moved out of my parents’ house. Renting a storage unit was too expensive, so I decided that a storage shed in the backyard was the best solution. Once I got the okay from my parents, things began to get exciting.

Our backyard had a space against the north wall of our property that was just the right size for a small storage shed. Finding a shed that would fit was the real challenge. 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 and ultimately decided on a pre-made shed kit from Arrow Storage Products. They sell it at Lowe’s, the model is the Brentwood BW54. The shed was a modest 5′ wide x 4′ deep and just under 6 feet in height. I figured it would be perfect for holding a couple of shelving units.

The BW54 shed was selling for about $270 to 300 online, but I decided to order it locally so I wouldn’t have to pay for shipping. 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! Unfortunately the coupon was only good in-store and not online. I drove to the nearest store and found someone who helped me order it, since they didn’t have that model in stock. My final price with the coupon was $275.00.

I was told it would take about two weeks for the shed kit to arrive, and was quite surprised when a week later I got a phone call that it was ready for pickup. 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 kit comes in a flat pack box (similar to IKEA furniture) that fit in my car with the back seats folded down.

The shed comes as a kit that you assemble and includes four walls, a door, and a roof. The only thing it does not include is a floor. I did not want the shed to sit directly on the ground, so I needed a foundation for it. Fortunately, the instruction manual that came with the shed included plans to build your own foundation out of wood.

I went to Home Depot and bought a large piece of 5/8″ plywood, four 2×4 boards that were 10 feet long, two 2×4 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, those were the only options. (I went with the quart and it was just enough).

The wood had to be cut before it would fit in the car. Home Depot will cut lumber in store for you, which is wonderful for those of us without trucks! At the register 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.

With all of the supplies purchased, I was ready to build the foundation. The directions said to place the foundation on a bed of loose gravel for drainage. Clearly these instructions were not written for the Arizona desert, where we get less than six inches of rain a year. I decided to ignore the drainage part and continued on.

I arranged the 2×4’s 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. I even took the time to ensure the foundation was level, and placed a couple of scrap pieces of wood under the left edge to bring it to the proper height.

Once everything was screwed together, I coated the finished assembly with the weather-proofing wood sealer. Although moisture is rare where I live, I did not want the wood to warp or swell in the future. The sealant had the color and consistency of chocolate milk, and I applied it using a cheap paintbrush. The sealant made the wood several shades darker by the time I was finished.

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 opened the box, I found out: the galvanized steel panels for the walls were super thin: 26 gauge metal. (For reference, the thickness of an aluminum soda can is about 38 gauge). So it was only slightly stronger than a beverage can, but that’s okay – this is a shed for garden tools, not a bomb shelter.

Wasting no time, I got started right away. The instructions recommended two people, but you can do it with just one if you’re resourceful. I used a folding chair to prop up the wall panels while I screwed the horizontal brace pieces in place. It didn’t take long to have all four walls up.

I did make one modification to the shed during the build process. The roof panels were a dark brown color, which I felt would get very hot during our extremely hot summer months. I made a quick trip to the store and picked up two cans of flat white Rust-Oleum spray paint. I figured white would help reflect the sun and maybe keep the inside of the shed a few degrees cooler.

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.

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.

The instruction manual recommends that the shed be anchored down to prevent it from blowing away in a strong wind. This is good advice if you are building this shed as a free-standing structure, but mine is up against a concrete block wall and protected from the wind. I did not buy the manufacturer’s anchoring kit, but instead used some of my leftover screws to attach the metal base of the shed to the wooden platform.┬áThe 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 bought two 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. Here is a summary of my project costs:

Part Name Price
Lumber and building materials $49.97
Arrow Brentwood BW54 shed kit $275.00
Plastic shelves (2x $20 ea) $40.00
TOTAL $364.97

Originally Published: December 21, 2007.
Revised: August 2008; November 2008, August 3, 2018.

About the author

Trevor Freeman

Trevor Freeman is a writer, photographer, and maker who loves learning new things. His favorite food is pizza. He received a Bachelor's Degree in Business Management from Grand Canyon University. He lives and works in Phoenix.

You can follow Trevor on Twitter @TrevorFreemanAZ, on Instagram at @arizona.dreamin, and on YouTube: TheRealTrevorland.

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