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How to Get Your Shed Ready for Winter


If like most people, you use your shed primarily for storage of garden tools and equipment and other warm-weather items, it will probably sit unused most of the winter.

Getting your shed ready for winter means give it a good cleaning, check doors and windows for air leaks. Also make sure weather stripping is in good condition and clean the gutters and around the outside so rodents don’t move in.

Another good idea is to check for any leaks or cracks at this time. Also, go inside on a windy day and shut the shed completely to check for air movement. You can track down cracks in this way by seeing where the air is coming from. Inspecting the roof for any broken roof covering such as shingles would be a good idea now also.

How Do You Seal the Bottom of a Shed Door?

Door sweeps are the best way to seal out drafts around the bottom of your shed door. They come in wood or metal with a rubber or rubber-wrapped part on the bottom which lightly sweeps over the top of the threshold. They are fairly easy to install.

Measure your door from the inside, then cut the sweep to fit. You’ll need a hacksaw if you get the kind with a metal base. Position your sweep on the inside of the door so that it just barely touches the threshold. Mark your screw positions, drill your pilot holes, then attach the sweep.

How to Fit and Seal Shed Windows

Unless you have a pre-hung window for your shed, you’ll need to have glass cut to size. Place it into your window frame, then hold it temporarily by carefully tapping in panel pins or small finishing nails into the frame around the front of the glass. Next, make sure your glass and window frame are completely dry and clear of dust and debris.

Seal the windows using silicone or other sealant, removing your temporary nails as you go. Take care to put in a good bead that contacts both frame and glass all the way around. Then you can install your beading and outer frame.

How Can I Keep My Shed Warm in the Winter?

Insulation is the most important part of keeping your shed warm in winter. If you don’t have it insulated, any heating source you can add will be far less effective. If your shed is wired for electricity, an electric heater will do nicely. Some people use heat lamps or infrared bulbs, which can emit a surprising amount of heat.

Other choices include a propane or wood stove. You’ll need to plan for a chimney for the wood stove. Kerosene stoves are made to be safer than they used to be, but they still should be used with caution and adequate ventilation. There are also battery-operated electric heaters available for those without a wired shed.

If your shed is not yet built, you could consider a radiant heating system. This is a system installed under the floor. It warms the flooring, causing the heat to slowly rise to heat the shed. It doesn’t add much to the floor height but does need electricity to operate.

Should I Put Plastic Over the Windows?

Many people put plastic sheeting over their windows to seal out drafts in winter. However, if you really want this to be effective, plastic sheets and duct tape just won’t do the job. There is window film available made for just this purpose.

There are films made for privacy and reducing glare, but you’ll want an insulating film. The film comes with instructions, but it is stretched over the window. Then you use a hair dryer over it to shrink the film into place firmly all the way around.

Should I Insulate the Ceiling?

Actually, if your roof is insulated, additional insulation in the ceiling is not necessary. It makes more sense to put insulation under the roofing, as this will insulate the whole upper space and help keep the shed cooler in summer.

You can install insulation under your roof between the rafters or truss chords. Popular choices are spun fiberglass, which comes in rolls, and polystyrene foam board. The foam board is waterproof, which is another advantage, and doesn’t need all the installation precautions that the fiberglass insulation requires, such as a respirator and other equipment to combat the tiny glass fibers that may come loose and scatter. If you want to insulate your shed read my article What’s the Best Insulation for a Shed? [Batt, rigid or loose fill?] to find out what will work best for your shed.

How to Check Roof for Leaks and Damage

Shed roofs should be checked periodically for roof damage just as your home’s roof should. Check for any broken or cracked shingles or any standing up, and any slight warps. To check for leaks, checking from the inside is the easiest. Look all around the inside of the roof and the top parts of all the walls to check for signs that water has come in.

Follow any moisture flow up to where it enters your roof. One way to do this is to go inside the shed, shut the door and cover any windows, then check for any spots where light is coming in.

If you can’t see any leakage, you can make sure by having someone else stand inside the shed while you pour water onto the roof. Start low and go back and forth slowly in rows, using plenty of water to imitate heavy rain. Your assistant should be able to spot any leakage this way.

How to Re-seal Roof if Needed

If you see a damaged shingle, it should be replaced as soon as is practical. Remember that cold shingles can be brittle, while hot shingles can tear fairly easily, so handle accordingly. First slide a flat bar under the edge of the shingle to break loose the sealant. Prying up the nails is next, then removing the old shingle.

Slide the new one underneath where the old one was set. Nail it down just above the adhesive line. Apply some sealant on the new shingle’s next-door neighbors to keep everything snug.

There are many roof sealants on the market. Some are designed for different types of roofing materials while others will work on any kind of roofing. Asking your supplier would be a good idea, as some sealants work better on pitched roofs than others. Application methods can be discussed also.

Sealants can also be divided into water-based and solvent-based types. The water-based types are less expensive and give off fewer fumes, but they are not as weather-resistant as the solvent types. The solvent sealants usually recommend using a respirator to apply, so avoid trying to use one on a still, humid day.

To make things even more confusing, sealants are made from various materials:

Acrylic sealants are made to deflect ultraviolet rays to prevent sun damage. While they do prevent some moisture problems, they are not waterproof.

Polyurethane sealants are more moisture-resistant but provide less ultraviolet resistance.

Silicone sealants are very good protection against both moisture and UV rays, handling virtually any weather condition. The only downside is that they are more expensive than other types; however, since you will be coating a shed roof and not your house roof, the cost may not be prohibitive.

Rubber sealants are actually liquid rubber, often in a thin water-based form. It’s easy to apply to small leaks and cracks.

Sealant tape is meant for repairing small leaks and roof seams but is not meant to seal a whole roof or large section.

A sealing coating on your shed roof usually lasts between 10 and 20 years. The lifespan depends on the sealant chosen and the thickness of the application. The application itself is very important to do correctly, as this has an impact on how long your sealant will retain its properties.

Roof sealants must be applied to a clean roof, and should not be applied to a cold or wet roof or before rainfall is expected before the sealant has had adequate time to cure. Thicker sealants, such as rubber or silicone, may be harder to apply, but the thinner ones usually take multiple coats. In hot weather, the heat will likely make the thicker varieties easier to apply but may make the thinner ones too runny.

All types may be applied with a brush or roller, while the thinner ones can be applied with a paint sprayer. For small repairs, such as tacking down an errant shingle, sealant is available in tubes like calking and can be applied the same way.

Should I Remove Snow from the Roof?

Light snow won’t need to be removed. The type of snow, wet and heavy or dry, will also place a part in whether it needs to be removed. A few inches of heavy snow should be removed. The more the snow, the longer moisture will be in contact with your roofing. You also don’t want any snow avalanches once the snow starts to melt.

Another problem is caused by the phenomenon of how heavier snow melts in the sun. The sun’s heat will actually melt the snow from the bottom where it contacts the roofing, especially if the roofing is dark. Even with heavy snow, once the snow melts down enough, it will start melting from the bottom.

The melted snow will form ice at night if temperatures are cold enough. This will not only keep the snow on the roof longer, but when the ice touching the roof starts to melt, you have the potential for a snow avalanche sliding on a thin sheet of ice.

How Do I Replace Door Weather-stripping?

Weather-stripping is one of the easiest ways to protect your shed from moisture damage. Weather stripping comes in many forms, from brass strips that are nailed on to foam strips. Foam strips come with an adhesive on one side and a protective paper backing that is peeled off when attaching it to your frame. There are also rubberized weather strips with the same adhesive and backing. These come in various forms and thicknesses.

If your door weather-stripping has seen better days, replacing it is not a problem. Remove your old strip first. If it is worn in just a place or two, go ahead and replace the whole strip on that side. Replacing the strip in pieces won’t give you the protection you need, and the strip is inexpensive enough that you don’t have to scrimp when using it.

Remove the old strip slowly so that the old adhesive comes up with the strip. If it still sticks to the door frame in places, you’ll need to remove it. Get one end up, then pull slowly to keep it from breaking. Clean your frame with mild soap and water to remove any dirt and let it dry thoroughly before installing the new strip.

You can measure your door frame and cut the strips to size first or start attaching the strip a little at a time, cutting the strip once you get to the end of the frame. Don’t go all the way around the door frame with one strip, as they don’t fit around corners well this way. Go slowly when attaching the strip, removing the paper backing a little at a time.

While you can reposition the strip if it starts to go off-kilter, every time you lift it up and replace it you lose some sticking power. When done, run your finger down the strip with some pressure to make sure it sticks firmly.

Conclusion

Getting your shed ready for winter takes some care. There are some ways to get it ready while it is being built, such as adding insulation or installing a radiant floor system if you plan to spend a lot of time working inside it in the winter. Others need to be addressed over time, such as dealing with water or air leaks or a drafty window or door. It’s all part of maintaining your shed over time, just as you maintain your home.

Can I Build a Shed Without Getting a Permit?


Building a shed on your property can be a fun and provide you with a place to store items or even use it for other personal or business reasons. A with anything you try to build having the proper permit in place is often necessary.

In many localities, you need a permit for building most kinds of structures. While some building authorities don’t require a permit for smaller sheds, if you want to run electricity or plumbing to your shed, you definitely will require a permit for that, whatever the size. Some authorities require a permit if you want to pour concrete.

Besides the permit, there may be zoning restrictions, such as how far from the property lines the shed has to be, how far from other buildings, and other considerations. Utility companies may have easements for sewer lines or the area under utility lines, preventing your building on them.

Unless you live in a very rural area with no restrictions, you should check to see if you’ll need a permit and what documentation you’ll need to present to get approval for your shed. You might need to provide detailed plans with measurements, type of foundation and other items. If you plan to add electricity or plumbing, you’ll need to provide schematics for those as well. You can also find out about any zoning restrictions at the same time.

The bottom line is that different localities have different requirements for building permits and zoning restrictions, so it’s vital that you check with the permitting authority before you start your project. Most municipalities have websites that you can check for general requirements but it’s best to actually call. The building authority may ask you questions you hadn’t thought of to decide if you will need a permit.

In addition, if you live in a homeowner’s association area, there may be other limitations on shed placement and even appearance. For instance, some HOAs insist that a raised shed on blocks has to have skirting to cover up the concrete blocks. Some also have further restrictions on placement, such as placing the shed in the back yard, perhaps even out of sight of the street. Get more information by reading my article Do You Require a Building Permit For a Storage Shed?

Do I Need a Permit for a Shed on My Own Property?

Any property that exists within the purview of a building authority may need a permit. These permits are issued for a reason. They require approval of the building plans to ensure that the building will adhere to local buildings codes for safety and fire purposes.

Electrical and plumbing codes are likewise meant for safety purposes. In addition, once your plans are approved, you may need an inspector to sign off on your build or on phases of your build. If you plan to run electricity or plumbing to your shed, you will definitely need a permit.

An electrical inspector will examine all your wiring, outlets and switches, and the manner in which the electricity is run to the shed. Likewise, a plumbing inspector will inspect your piping and connections and the way wastewater is handled.

There are also a few other situations that dictate obtaining a permit. If there is another shed on the property, you live in a hazardous or environmentally sensitive area, or you plan to use the shed for living or sleeping space or to run business activities, you probably will need a permit. Your local authority may have other requirements.

Is There a Maximum Shed Size Without a Permit?

In many locations, you can build a shed up to 100 square feet without a permit, or a 10 x 10. Some places allow you to build a shed up to 200 square feet without needed a permit, while others lower the limit to 60 square feet.

There also may be instances that while the shed’s square footage does not require a permit, the height of the roof might necessitate having one. That being said, different locations have different requirements, so checking with the building authority is a must.

Even if you don’t plan to install plumbing or electricity, some building authorities may require a permit for the type of foundation you plan on having, regardless of the shed size. In some places, having a septic system on the property will necessitate your getting a building permit for the shed.

Be aware that if you have a small lot you may run into other problems, as some municipalities have restrictions stating that the shed’s footprint can’t be larger than a certain percentage of the lot size.

What Will I Need to Obtain a Permit?

Again, different localities will have different requirements for this, but generally, you’ll have to put all your contact information on the application. You’ll also need to know the square footage of the shed and you might need to submit building plans. You will need to submit a site plan so the building authority can check to see that the shed is not built where it shouldn’t be.

You will probably pay the permit fee when submitting your application. If your plan is rejected, you can find out the reasons, revise your plans and resubmit your application. Applications for smaller projects such as your shed build will probably take only a couple of days, depending on the number of permits waiting for approval.

Even if you don’t need a building permit, you probably will need a zoning permit. The site plan you submit for this should include distances between the shed and property lines, fencing, and other buildings on the property. The zoning authority will have information on any easements that may cross your property.

These permits usually don’t cost very much. Many municipalities price them as a percentage of the cost of your build. If the location you plan for your shed exists in a floodplain or other environmentally challenged location, you may have to pay for an extra permit.

Are There Any Consequences for Not Getting a Permit?

You may think that nobody will know if you are building your shed without a permit, but think again. You will need to display your permit near the work while it is ongoing until an inspector signs off on the job. A homeowner’s association will insist on your getting any needed permits.

Besides, all it takes is one neighbor who thinks his job is to oversee the neighborhood knowing that you need a permit, not seeing one posted while you’re building, and making a phone call to ruin your plans.

If you need a permit and don’t get one before building a shed or even starting the build, getting caught can get really expensive. Depending on your location, fines may range from $250 per day to $2,500 per day until you get that permit. Some areas assess a flat fine, then penalize you further if you don’t get the permit. Some areas will even give you some jail time.

While a court may be lenient if you didn’t know you needed a permit, that defense rarely works. The old adage “Ignorance is no excuse” will apply here. If you don’t get a required permit and you are caught, the best thing to do is go ahead and get the needed permit or permits as soon as possible. If you go to court to try to fight the charge, you may well have to pay court or other legal fees along with the fine and possible jail sentence.

Not only that, in cases in which the homeowner really asks for trouble and simply ignores the building authority notice or court order, the municipality may issue a lien on his house. If he doesn’t pay that amount promptly, the municipality actually has the authority to take the property and force him to sell it to pay the amount owed. That doesn’t happen very often, but it’s never a good idea to try the patience of a court or other government entity.

As if all that isn’t bad enough, having a lien on a home will affect your credit rating, which may in turn cause your homeowner’s insurance rate to go up. In the case of an insurance claim, such as a house fire, the building authority will get paid before you do.

Since the building authority is a government entity and most building codes are issued by the state, the lien may be well be satisfied before your mortgage holder gets paid. If it was your shed that caught fire, once the insurance company finds out that you built your shed without a needed permit, they may deny the claim entirely.

How Much Does a Permit for a Shed Cost?

The cost of a building permit depends on the size of the shed and whether plumbing or electricity will be involved. Permits run from $250 to $2,000. The area in which you live also has an effect on the cost. A small village will probably charge less than a large city for the same type of permit.

Is There Any Way to Build Without Requiring a Permit?

You can build a shed without a permit if you find out the requirements from your local building authority and adhering to them. This means building a small shed within its limits and restricting your foundation to the types specified. Even though you may not need a building permit you will still have to follow all zoning restrictions as to where you plan to locate your shed, and any additional restrictions placed on the project by a homeowner’s association.

Do I Need a Permit for a Shed Already Built?

Prefab sheds are usually treated as a build as regards permitting requirements, but again, this will depend on your local codes and restrictions. Even if a prefab shed doesn’t require a permit in your area to install, your proposed foundation may require one. As with building a shed, you will likely need a zoning permit.

Will I Need to Get a Permit for My Shed?

If you plan to run electricity or plumbing to your shed, you already know you will need a permit. You will need to check with your building authority to find out what their size limits are for a shed without a permit and other restrictions that might be in place, such as the type of foundation.

It would be a good idea to already have plans drawn, as you will need to submit them to obtain your permit. In any case, if your locality requires permits for building, they probably require zoning permits, and you will need one of those.

Do I Need a Permit If My Shed is On Skids?

Sheds built on skids are usually designated as temporary structures, and so do not need a building permit. That being said, it’s always better to check. You still will have to find out about all zoning and easement restrictions and abide by them. You can read my article How to Build a Portable Shed on Skids to see if that’s an option for you.

Is There a Minimum Size That Won’t Require a Permit?

Usually, a shed up to 100 to 120 square feet will not require a permit. The limitation varies from place to place. Any size lower than the maximum size will be allowed without a building permit but you still may need a zoning permit.

Getting a building permit does add to the cost of your shed. You may also be anxious to start your build and having to wait for the permit really can hold up your project, especially if there is a backlog of permits to be approved and you have to wait longer than usual.

Still, it’s much better to go through the aggravation of waiting to schedule your concrete pour or truss delivery for a few days than to suffer the consequences of building without permission. Fines will cost far more than the permit would have.

Conclusion

Even if you don’t need a building permit, if you don’t get a zoning permit and violate any of their restrictions with regards to placement, the zoning authority can force you to move your shed to another location. If you have built a large shed or have a concrete foundation, this will cost you far more than the permit would have cost.

It doesn’t take long to make a call and find out if you need any permits and what you will need to submit and what forms to fill out to apply for them. It’s just good common sense to make that call. It’s likely you’ll need a permit and will save you a lot of headaches, however you may not need plans too build a shed. Read my article Can You Build a Shed Without Plans? for more information.

Can You Use Black Plastic for Vapor Barrier?


When building a shed, installing the proper vapor barrier is vital to keep moisture from seeping up from the ground and into the wooden lower parts of the shed, such as the joists and flooring. This is especially important when using a concrete slab as a foundation, as concrete absorbs moisture. If it doesn’t dry quickly enough, the moisture eventually seeps upward, affecting any wood that contacts it.

Black plastic makes a good vapor barrier. It comes in rolls or rolls of sheets and is available in the same thicknesses as clear plastic. Black plastic is more effective at preventing plant seeds from sprouting. It is also more effective at stopping moisture evaporation up into your shed base. Clear plastic, on the other hand, has a tendency to sweat, adding an additional moisture source.

Some sources state that a vapor barrier is not necessary under certain conditions, such as having the shed raised to allow airflow. However, if you have your shed on a concrete slab it still is not a bad idea to install a barrier even if the shed is raised. Moisture seeps through concrete and then can condense on the underparts of the shed during humid weather.

It is also advisable to use it on gravel foundations. If you plan to install solid or mostly solid skirting around a raised shed, which will limit airflow, a vapor barrier is a good idea. If you have a shed on skids, you might consider attaching a vapor barrier to the bottom of the subfloor between it and the skids and joists.

What Kind of Plastic Do You Use for a Vapor Barrier?

Polyethylene is the usual choice for a vapor barrier. There are other alternatives, however, such as kraft paper either coated or impregnated with asphalt, and foil skim Kraft, which is paper-backed aluminum. These last two choices are less effective in keeping moisture out of your shed than polyethylene. For more information on vapor barriers read my article Do I Need a Vapor Barrier Under My Shed?

Do Vapor Barriers Cause Mold?

Vapor barriers actually prevent mold and mildew. Even if your shed is raised from the ground a few inches, allowing airflow, if you live in a humid climate, any moisture takes longer to evaporate, keeping the ground from drying. When it evaporates, moisture travels upward, going right up into the joists and subfloor of your shed.

A vapor barrier prevents this moisture from traveling to and through the wood, preventing mold and mildew. Once you have moisture problems in the base of your shed, not only does it help deteriorate the wooden structure but also affects anything stored in your shed.

What Thickness of Vapor Barrier is Best?

While a 6 mil thickness was traditionally used for decades, it has been discovered that a 10 mil thickness is preferred. For a foundation vapor barrier, a 20 mil barrier is recommended. Thinner plastic may tend to tear, especially when pouring concrete for a foundation pad. Rebar especially can punch through a thinner plastic.

Is Black or Clear Plastic Barrier Good for Under a Shed?

Either one is great for putting under a shed. As mentioned before, the black barrier does have advantages over the clear barrier, but either one will work.

How to Install Vapor Barrier?

On the ground – If you plan on a concrete foundation, you’ll want to install your vapor barrier over a tamped base of gravel. You can pour some sand onto the gravel to level it out. The plastic allows for better concrete curing, as without it, the edges tend to cure more quickly than the middle, which can lead to curling.

If you plan for a gravel foundation, dig out the space for the gravel, then install the vapor barrier before pouring the gravel. Spreading the plastic out around the perimeter of the space about a foot will allow you to spread more gravel there to catch and drain rain runoff from the roof. For more information on preventing water under your shed read my article How High Should a Shed Be Off the Ground?

On walls – Most sources state that a vapor barrier is generally not needed unless you plan to heat and/or air condition your shed, using it as a workshop or art studio. Where you install the barrier depends on your climate. Basically, the vapor barrier goes on the hotter side of the wall.

In a cold climate, the barrier goes on the inside of the framing. A barrier on both sides is definitely not needed and will actually cause moisture problems. If you are using insulation, install that first.

Check the joists, removing any large splinters, and making sure all nail and screw heads are flat. In other words, check for anything that may poke holes in the plastic. Measure your wall, then cut strips of the vapor barrier to the lengths needed. Use a staple gun and 1/2-inch long wood staples to attach it to the studs, overlapping the edges.

Make sure all the gaps are covered. If you haven’t installed your flooring yet, you can allow a longer length to be tucked under the flooring edge. The wall covering is installed over the vapor barrier.

In warm, humid climates, the barrier goes behind the outer wall covering depending on the type of insulation and siding you choose. Ask your siding supplier for recommendations.

On ceiling – Vapor barriers are generally not needed in sheds with adequate attic ventilation, even in colder climates. That being said, some people in cold climates choose to install them. As with the walls, the barriers are only used in heated and/or air-conditioned sheds.

Similarly, the vapor barrier is installed after the insulation, with the ceiling material over that Installing all the barrier you plan for before putting on any wall or ceiling material will allow you to join the barrier edges where the walls meet the ceiling.

Conclusion

Vapor barriers are an important part of protecting your shed from the weather. Your choice of foundation, climate conditions in your area, and whether your shed is intended to be climate controlled all play a part in deciding where a barrier should be installed. Your supplier should be able to advise you on whether you need a barrier in certain places in your shed.

Do I Use Nails or Screws for Attaching Plywood?


This seems to be a question I get asked a lot, I do use both depending on what I’m doing. I like screws for their holding power, but I use nails and brads in my air powered tools.

Either nails or screws can be used for attaching plywood. Screws are usually recommended for plywood used for flooring, as it will help to prevent squeaking. The general rule of thumb is that whatever type of fastener you are using, the fastener should be at least three times the thickness of the material used, so that’s something to keep in mind.

What Nails Do You Use for Plywood?

Different types of nails can be used, depending on what you are doing with the plywood. The lengths of the nails are determined by the material underneath the plywood.

Framing nails are generally recommended for most plywood applications. These are good for both indoor and outdoor use. They are also called box nails or common nails. Box nails are thinner than the others to help keep the wood from splitting while they are being driven. They are really designed for solid wood boards, not plywood.

Common nails are the least expensive but tend to start to loosen and pull up due to plywood shrinkage. Another type is the sinker nail, which has a waffled head and a coating over the shank which is designed to help keep them in place. This is the best type of framing nail to use for plywood. Check out my article What Are The Best Types of Plywood For a Shed? if you need help choosing your plywood.

Can I Use Brad Nails for Plywood?

Brad nails are actually made from 18-gauge steel wire. The small diameter makes them easier to use, but many people just use them to hold glued pieces together until the glue dries. Since they also have a smaller head, they are often used in furniture, paneling or other interior work where it is desirable to make the nails less visible. Since these nails are thin, they work well with plywood.

However, these nails are not meant for the heavier work of construction, such as building your shed. Since you will be using thicker plywood in some areas, such as flooring, you’ll want a heavier nail that will do the job and hold a long time. The nails may tend to bend more often when nailing the thicker plywood unless you are using a nail gun.

Will Finishing Nails Hold Plywood?

Finishing nails are named for their purpose. They are used mostly for lighter carpentry work, such as trim, baseboards, crown molding, stair treads and risers, cabinets, and other light, mostly interior work. While they will hold plywood, be sure to get the heavier type. Another problem with finishing nails is that they have a small head, which can eventually allow the plywood to pull up.

While the small heads are fine for interior work which will not get much wear, finishing nails are desired to make it easier to hide the nail heads and holes. On a build such as a shed, you want nails that are sure to hold your plywood in place, especially since you hope to use your shed for many years.

Can I Use Screws for Roof Sheathing?

While most people prefer nails for roof sheathing, screws can be used to attach plywood sheathing, but you’ll need to ask your supplier about the size you need. The thickness of the plywood used (usually a 2 ½ inch for roof sheathing), along with the local weather will help determine what size screws to use.

Screws generally will hold plywood more firmly than nails. Another advantage is that nails will sometimes miss the joist when nailing while screws if missed will not countersink letting you know it has missed the rafter.

Can I Use Drywall Screws on Plywood?

Just about any source that can be found on the subject will tell you not to use drywall screws on plywood. There are separate drywall and wood screws for a reason. Drywall screws were developed originally to provide a rapid method of attaching drywall to metal studs when installing it in commercial buildings. They were designed for speed economy.

The fact that these screws have threads along the whole length means that there is a tendency for the two substrates attached to slowly work themselves apart during natural expansion and contraction and other stresses.

Because these screws were designed to go into metal, they are very hard, but with that hardness comes brittleness. They will snap off if they are screwed in too tightly. They can also snap off under excessive stress. Just something heavy dropped on a floor secured with drywall screws can eventually cause the screws to snap.

With the stress placed on a plywood floor in your shed, drywall screws would not be suitable. Considering the failure possibility and the tendency to have the substrates pull apart, it would be a much better idea to use wood screws for the purpose.

How Far Apart Should Screws and Nails Be in Plywood?

Generally, nails and screws should be spaced six inches on center along the plywood panels edges, and twelve inches on the studs or joists on the interior of the panel. On flooring, you may want to space them even more closely for extra stability. Also make sure your installing your plywood correctly, take a look at my article What’s the Correct Direction for Installing Plywood? to be sure your not making these mistakes.

What Size Screw for 1/2 Inch Plywood?

For half-inch plywood, a #6 screw 1 ½ inches long is generally used. When using screws to install plywood, you may want to drill pilot holes to help keep the plywood from splitting. On this size plywood, the pilot holes should be 1/8 inch wide.

How to Choose Correct Size Nail or Screw?

Nail lengths are generally figured by choosing a nail three times as long as the thickness of the material you are nailing. Since there are so many types of nails and screws to choose from and each has various sizes and thicknesses, the best way to find out what size and length you need is to consult your supplier.

Be sure to tell him exactly how and where you plan to use your plywood. There are also charts available for plywood which will tell you what size you need according to the thickness of the plywood. They will also tell you what size pilot holes you will need to attach screws.

Can I Use Screws on OSB Sheeting?

OSB stands for oriented strand board. It is engineered wood with similarities to particleboard. It is formed by adding adhesives to wood chips, strips and flakes arranged in specific directions, with layers perpendicular to each other. The board is then compressed. OSB is more popular than plywood in some areas.

Some sources consider it to be stronger in some ways than plywood, while others’ testing results rate them as having the same strengths. As far as building codes, both OSB and plywood are considered to be wood structural panels, and so are interchangeable as far as building codes.

While OSB is typically coated to withstand moisture and some is rated waterproof, it does have more problems with moisture than plywood. The edges are not treated, and once they swell due to moisture it is a problem that can’t be fixed. One cause is that water and moisture take longer to respond than does plywood, but conversely, it takes longer for that moisture to leave.

The longer the moisture remains, the more likely it is to rot. The kind of wood used in its construction has an impact on this tendency as well. A good way to prevent problems is to cut all your OSB to size first, then use waterproofing on all the cut edges.

As far as fastening, for a subfloor it is recommended to apply construction adhesive along each joist, then lay the panel on the joist. Use #10 2 ½ inch wood screws to fasten, spacing them six inches apart along the edges and twelve inches apart throughout the rest of the panel. For other applications, the manufacturer or supplier should be able to give you advice.

Tips for Using Nails and Screws

Storage – You can store a few leftover nails, screws, or nuts and bolts in old prescription bottles. Scraping off the label will help you see what’s inside. This is much better than dropping them into a jar with the different sizes and types all mixed up. Sandwich bags will also work, but screws and nails do tend to punch through these thin bags.

There are all sorts of products that come in smaller containers, such as olives, small jars of instant coffee, drink mixes, etc. These all work to keep your fasteners stored, and the transparent ones take the guesswork out of identification. Of course, labeling your containers helps considerably.

Nuts and bolts can be kept together by attaching the nut to the bolt part way before storage. Use beeswax or a lip balm on the bolt threads to prevent rust for long-term storage.

While taking something apart for repair, use a jar lid or small container such as that from sour cream to drop them into while you are working. An old spice rack with jars would be ideal. You can label your fasteners by writing the size on masking tape, then putting it on the bottle. Note – it’s a lot easier to write on the tape while it’s still on the roll, then tearing it off.

For more complicated items such as those requiring different fasteners in different places, you can use a piece of foam board or corrugated cardboard. Insert your nails or screws into the board as you take them out. Writing down on the board the places the fasteners came from will help you get the right ones in the right place.

Screw sticking – If you have a hard time driving your screws, use a chunk of beeswax or lip balm to lubricate the threads before using. If you are working on something already built and trying to remove some screws, you may find that the screw head slots are worn, especially with Phillips head screws. To counteract this, put a piece of wide rubber band flat over the screw head. Stick your screwdriver tip into the head through the rubber. The rubber band should provide traction to help you get that screw out.

On a ladder – Keeping track of fasteners while on a ladder has always been a problem. Attaching a magnet to the top of the ladder will help keep those fasteners corralled. Some magnets even have a sticky side with a peel-off strip. Another choice is to use that sour cream carton with a hole cut into each side near the top edge and running a string through to create a kind of small pail. A paper clip or Christmas ornament will hook your pail to a ladder support.

Typical uses for nails – Nails are more flexible under pressure, while screws, especially long ones, can snap. This is why nails are used for structural joining of materials, such as framing. When needing thinner fasteners, such as on furniture, thin nails also hold up better than thin screws. Nails also have the advantage of not necessarily needing to have a large head, making small-headed nails ideal for furniture and other inside jobs where it is desirable to hide the nails.

Nails can be easily hidden by countersinking with a nail set tool. This is a tool with a tapered tip, rather like a punch. You can get a set that includes different sizes. Once the nail is pounded in, use the nail set to pound it in until the head is below the material surface. The hole that’s left can easily be filled in with wood filler to create a smooth surface.

Typical uses for screws – screws are favored for temporary jobs because they are easier to remove. They also form tight bonds. Because attaching screws causes less vibration than using nails, they are also good for installing materials that are more delicate, such as drywall.

Screws also are better at preventing attached materials from working loose or separating with time or vibration. They are also better at withstanding shear, which is caused when two attached surfaces try to slide past each other. If screws do work loose, they are more easily tightened back to normal than are nails.

Conclusion

Basically, nails and screws are like any other tool. For each job or part of your job, you pick the fastener that will work best with your materials and what you are doing with them. Large building projects such as sheds often use both.

What’s the Correct Direction for Installing Plywood?


Plywood has become the go to choice for sheeting floors, walls, and roofs. It is also used in cabinet making and many shelving units.

The location and use of the plywood determine which way the grain should run on the installation. When used for flooring or roof sheathing, it is usually installed with the grain running perpendicular to the joists. When used for walls it can be installed facing either way.

Which Side of Plywood Faces Down?

Plywood has four grades – A, B, C and D – that are determined by the quality, namely the number of knotholes and voids in the top layer. Most plywood has one grade on one side and another grade on the other surface. Normally the side with the highest grade is installed facing toward the installer. The grade indicates the surface quality. The thickness of the plywood is what determines its strength.

How Thick Should Floor Plywood Be?

The weight of some things usually stored in a shed, such as a riding mower or other heavy yard equipment, can put a lot of strain on the flooring. Even smaller things can add up to a lot of weight when piled up on one sheet of plywood. Think of a stack of unused cinder blocks or even cans of paint.

Because of the load the flooring will need to bear, the recommended thickness for flooring plywood is 3/4-inch pressure-treated exterior grade plywood graded CDX. This means that one side of the sheets is grade C and the other is grade D. With all the hard usage a plywood shed floor will take, you don’t need to spend money on fancier surface grades.

Another option is using subfloor plywood. It is waterproof and thicker than most types of plywood. It can also be obtained in the tongue and groove form to keep it attached firmly and prevent squeaking.

This flooring is recommended to be used on 12-inch joist centers. Many people put their joists 16 inches apart, but if you plan to use plywood flooring, it would be much better to space the joists more closely to help the plywood handle the load.

Should I Glue Plywood to Floor Joists?

While most people prefer to nail plywood to floor joists, one of the major complaints of this type of flooring is that the floor squeaks after a while. If you do a lot of yard work, you’ll have a lot of traffic moving over the same spots in the floor over and over, which may tend to loosen nails after a time because of the slight flexibility of the plywood.

To fight the squeaking problem, people are turning to subfloor adhesive. One advantage is that you can apply it all along the joists, creating not just attachment points at the nails but attachments all along the joists. Not only does this decrease the possibility of squeaks, but it increases the stiffness of the flooring overall.

What Types of Plywood are There?

Plywood is made from thin veneers of wood peeled from logs. The binding adhesive is applied to the layers, which are laid at different angles to add strength and prevent warping, cracking, shrinking and breaking. Then the composite is pressed and heated. There are many types of plywood available using different types of materials and construction, as well as the grades.

Veneer core plywood is the most basic type, made of layers of wood bonded together. It is considered to be very strong.

MDF core features layers of wood ply with a center core of multi-density fiber or MDF. Since it’s very stable and more consistent in thickness than the veneer core type, it is often used for doors.

Exterior sheathing plywood is made for outdoor use. It can be used as a base for siding or roofing or as lateral bracing on the exterior of buildings. It is rated CDX, which means that one surface is rated C, the other is rated D, and the X means that it is meant to be used outside when covered with another material. The glue used in bonding the layers is also rated for exterior use.

Subfloor plywood is waterproof. It usually comes in greater thickness than some other types, and usually runs 3/4 to 1-1/8 inches thick. It is also offered in the tongue and groove option to prevent squeaking. Check out my article What Are The Best Types of Plywood For a Shed? for more information on choosing plywood for your shed.

Plywood Sheeting Grades

Grade A plywood means that both sides are nearly free of defects and knots. It features a smooth surface that is meant to be seen, which makes it good for such things as furniture and cabinet doors.

Grade B is sanded smooth, but it does have a few defects, which may have been repaired with wood filler or patches.

Grade C is not sanded. It is allowed to have tight knots up to 1 ½ inches wide. There may be larger areas that have been filled or patched. It is good for use under another covering, as it is not meant to be seen.

Grade D is likewise not meant to be seen, with larger knot holes, patches, filler and perhaps some defects that have not been repaired. When there are two letters in the grade, it means that one side is one grade, with the other side having a different grade. For more information on shed floors read my article What Are the Strongest Shed Floor Materials to Use?

How Far Can You Span ½ Inch Plywood?

The usual span limit for ½ inch plywood is 24 inches. This span measurement is predicated on the plywood being used as a subfloor or sheathing for walls. That means that this measurement is not meant for load-bearing flooring. If you plan to use plywood as your only flooring, ½ inch plywood is really not very suitable and must have the joists placed much more closely. Even ¾ inch plywood is recommended to be used with joists spaced at 12 inches.

What Sheeting Can I Use for Walls?

You can use 3/8 inch CDX plywood for wall sheathing. It is not waterproof but is resistant to moisture and rot. It can be painted or stained or covered with another kind of siding. If it will be the only wall material, you might want to consider using a plywood a little thicker.

What Direction Does Wall Sheeting Go?

The strongest way to install wall plywood is to have the grain follow the studs, so installing with the grain going vertically is the way to go.

What Type of Plywood Do I Use for Shed Roof?

The anticipated load on your roof helps determine the plywood thickness for roof sheathing. Usually, 3/8-inch plywood is used for roofing with light loads, installed on rafters or trusses at 16-inch centers. If your rafters are spaced at 24 inches, use ½ inch with h-clips or 5/8-inch plywood. If your roof will be subjected to heavier loads, such as with heavier roofing material or in areas prone to heavy snows, ¾ inch plywood is recommended, regardless of the rafter spacing.

How to Install Floor Plywood?

An easy way to start out installing your plywood floor is to lay out all the plywood before starting to attach it. If the shed will be larger than 4 x 8′, the seams should be offset to add stability. Once you have the plywood laid down, use chalk lines to identify the placement of the joists. Using wood screws for the floor seems to work better than using nails, as they are more secure. The screws should be around eight inches apart.

You can use screws all the way through or use subfloor adhesive. If using glue on joists under the middles of the plywood sheets is awkward, you can use screws on the joists toward the center and adhesive on the joists closer to the edges of the sheets. Be aware that subfloor adhesive takes two to seven days to fully cure, depending on the temperature and humidity.

How to Install Wall Plywood?

You might want to investigate using tongue and groove plywood for the outer walls. This will add stability and make a smoother finish, making an even seal at the seams. Be aware that since this plywood will be subject to the weather, it makes sense to leave a tiny space between sheets to allow for expansion and contraction caused by weather conditions. Some prefer to overlap the plywood panels.

The tools you’ll need are a jigsaw, #9 deck screws two inches long or eight-penny galvanized nails, a drill with a bit for screws, a three-foot T-square, and a pencil. A couple of sawhorses will also help. If you are using foam insulation board, of course, this will be installed first.

You’ll need to figure on starting the sheets at half an inch below the top of the wall. The bottom edges of the plywood should extend at least ½ inche below the wall framing’s bottom plate. The space at the top keeps the siding away from the rafter seat, while the bottom extension keeps rain running down the shed wall from getting into the shed.

Set your first piece on nails placed into the bottom frame to use as temporary props. Slide the panel so it is even with the corner of the shed. Attach one screw or nail to the lower corner, then another at the top, making sure that the top corner is also even with the shed corner. Attach a screw in the center of the corner stud.

Use a tape measure and pencil to mark the rest of the stud locations on the plywood sheet. Finish attaching the sheet using a nail or screw on center around the edges every six inches on center. You only need fasteners every twelve inches in the center part of the sheet. Once you install the first piece of siding you can use that sheet to align the rest. Install the rest of the siding on the walls. In the front of the shed, cut your plywood around the door opening to expose the door opening frame an inch on top and sides if you are building your own door. If you have a pre-hung door, attach the plywood all the way to the edge of the door frame.

If you have a window in your shed, it may be easier to just attach the plywood over the whole wall and then cut out the window opening later, then fastening the edges around the window cutout frame.

How to Install Roof Plywood?

Check the level of your nailing surface first, using a long level or a straight piece of lumber. You can use shims on the rafters or trusses to level out the surface. Position your first panel at the top. Install your fasteners at one end, then use chalk lines to indicate rafter or truss centers.

Install your nails the width of the sheet, then move down to your next row 12 inches down to keep stress from your sheets. Nails should be flush with the sheet surfaces. Nails should be 3/8 inches from all the sheet edges. While nailing, stand on the panels over the framing. If you stand in between the framing, it can cause the plywood sheet to shift slightly.

As with the wall siding, leave a bit of space between the sheets for expansion and contraction. Once you have the plywood attached, you’re ready for your underlayment felt material.

When planning for ventilation if you plan for an enclosed attic, many people use a wood block between some of the rafters on the end plate with holes cut for airflow. In order to keep any insulation or other material from blocking the holes, baffles are available to insert between the truss chords or rafters to keep materials from blocking the ventilation holes.

Conclusion

Plywood is a popular material for shed building, whether using it for flooring or outside walls. Of course, it makes good roof sheathing. In fact, it’s the most popular material for roof sheathing on houses as well as sheds. When planning for your shed build, you’ll need to take load bearing in the various places you intend to use plywood to figure out the thickness and grade of the plywood you’ll need, and perhaps joist placement as well. You may find my article Do I Use Nails or Screws for Attaching Plywood? helpful for choosing the right fasteners.

With proper planning, plywood should serve you well.

What Is the Best Option for Shed Skirting?


Have you been noticing small animals and insects have been hanging around the bottom of your shed? Many animals and insects will love to set up their home under your shed and they can cause a lot of damage.

Lattice panels are the most popular choice for shed skirting, and often the least expensive. They can either be installed by themselves or with framing to add stability and help keep larger animals from breaking through. A great advantage is that lattice allows plenty of airflow to keep moisture from harming the underside of the shed and the lattice itself.

If you are undecided as to what type of skirting you want, take a sightseeing ride. Mobile homes often have skirting that uses the same materials that you can use for your shed. You can get a good idea of how the different types look and also how well they stand up to aging and weathering.

What Does Shed Skirting Do?

You may have your shed built up from the ground a bit instead of having it flat on a slab. You may have the shed raised up quite a bit to allow the shed to be level on a slope. Shed skirting allows you to have the all-important airflow underneath the shed while keeping animals from making a home under your shed.

Some animals, such as rats, squirrels and mice, can chew through a surprising number of materials, and if they smell that bag of dog food or deer feed you’re storing inside, they’ll work on something until they get in. Additionally, they can make nests in insulation materials and even chew electric wiring if your shed has it.

They can also chew through any exposed wiring on your tools. Mice and rats are notorious for chewing through things that seem to make no sense. If you don’t like the look of cinder blocks or concrete piers, skirting hides the structure underneath and makes the shed more visibly appealing. Some homeowner’s associations even require skirting for sheds that sit on blocks or piers.

Do You Need Airflow Under a Shed?

It’s important to allow airflow underneath a shed. It keeps moisture from building up underneath and condensing on the wooden parts of your shed. Some people mistakenly believe that treated lumber is waterproof, but it isn’t. The treatment delays deterioration from moisture, but the wood itself absorbs moisture just like any wood product.

Even the treatment won’t protect treated lumber from deterioration if it is subjected to a moist environment much of the time. Having your shed installed with at least a six-inch clearance from the ground will go far towards making the shed last longer. Airflow allows moisture to evaporate more quickly, keeping the underside of your shed dry more of the time. In order to get that required airflow you can read my article How High Should a Shed Be Off the Ground?

How Do I Protect the Underside of My Shed?

Since the underside of your shed is wood, you need to protect it from both moisture and any animal life that may try to chew its way through the wood to get inside or at least to a hiding place. Skirting underneath that allows for airflow will both keep animals out while allowing airflow to help your flooring components last longer.

What Can I Put Around My Shed to Keep Animals Out?

Almost any type of skirting will keep out unwanted animals to some extent. A good idea would be to think about any animals you see roaming around the neighborhood and identify any tracks you see around your yard. Asking the neighbors about any animal problems they have will also help. This will tell you how sturdy your skirting needs to be and whether or not you need to plan for some sort of barrier to prevent an animal from digging underneath the skirting. For some help with keeping animals and insects out of your shed read my article 8 Ways to Keep Insects and Mice From Living in Your Shed.

What Are the Choices for Shed Skirting?

Treated plywood – Treated plywood is plywood to which preservative chemicals have been applied by brushing, spraying or dipping the wood in the chemicals. When installing, plan to leave a little distance between the plywood and the ground. The plywood eventually will deteriorate if it is in contact with damp soil.

Lattice panels – These panels are relatively easy to cut to size and install. They are available in wood, treated wood or vinyl. If you have mostly large wild animals around, such as cats, raccoons, rats and groundhogs, lattice will keep them out. If you also want to keep out the smaller pests such as mice, you can attach screen material behind the lattice to keep them out. The advantage of lattice is that it keeps things out while allowing plenty of airflow to keep blowing underneath.

Concrete blocks – Concrete or cinder blocks provide the sturdiest shed skirting available. They also can add to the stability of the structure. It is important, however, to install some kind of barrier between the blocks and any wood they come into contact with under the shed. They can be difficult to install and cut to fit. Some people choose to use bricks, which are easier to fit around an existing shed and add a nice accent to its appearance.

Unfortunately, concrete blocks and bricks are usually the most expensive type of skirting you can choose. This will also block off airflow under the shed. One choice is to install air vents or just leave out a few bricks and attach screen to the backs of the surrounding bricks to allow for airflow.

Pressure-treated plywood – This type of plywood has also been treated with preservative chemicals. The difference between this type and treated plywood is that the chemicals have been applied under pressure, forcing the chemicals into the wood cells themselves, creating better prevention against moisture damage than the type of plywood that just has the chemicals applied to the outer surface. However, it should not come into contact with the soil, as it is not waterproof.

Wire mesh – This is a choice that allows plenty of air to flow under your shed while keeping out animals. Chicken wire with a small mesh is best for keeping out all sizes of animals. Keep in mind that a mouse can get into any space it can get its head through. If you can’t obtain chicken wire with a small enough mesh, you can install a double row around the shed. Installation is easy, using a staple gun to attach it to the shed framing.

Vinyl skirting – For vinyl skirting you can use scraps leftover from vinyl siding or purchase vinyl skirting from a supplier for mobile home skirting. It’s especially convenient for a shed built on a slope, as you can easily cut the vinyl panels to fit the slope and cover the whole bottom part. It comes in various colors to go with your shed. Vinyl siding scraps sometimes have a bonus in the form of tiny vents built into them to allow airflow. Vinyl is easy to keep clean also.

Vertical metal roofing – This would be a great choice if you already have some scraps available from a roofing project. You can use corrugated metal roofing panels for skirting. You may wish to install additional small posts to attach the metal panels. Like the chicken wire, metal can be bent and partially buried to keep out digging pests.

Treated wood lattice – If you plan to use wood lattice panels, remember that the lattice will reach the ground and be subject to weather. It should be treated with a wood preservative to keep it from deteriorating. Fortunately, treated wood lattice is available. It can be painted to match your shed or in an accent color or left with its natural color.

Pros and Cons of Shed Skirting

Pros – Shed skirting helps to keep out unwanted animals. If you have a problem with groundhogs or roaming dogs digging in your yard, you can use wire mesh or metal that can be buried to prevent the digging. Skirting makes your shed more attractive, especially if it’s higher off the ground than a couple of inches. It hides the posts or blocks underneath.

Cons – Unfortunately, some animals are actually attracted to shed skirting, as it creates a nice, enclosed hiding space. Some animals may see it as forming a great space for a nesting spot. If you have animals around that may be able to dig underneath, it would be a good idea to prevent this when installing your skirting, even if you don’t have that problem yet. The other problem is that many kinds of skirting close off airflow from under your shed.

The most enclosed the space, the longer the soil underneath will remain damp. Once the moisture does evaporate, it will tend to condense on the underside of your joists and subfloor, causing mold and mildew problems or even rot. Remember, even treated lumber absorbs moisture. If using solid-type skirting, some sort of venting should be planned.

How to Install Shed Skirting

For lattice skirting, installing it with frames is the best and most stable way to use this type of skirting. For wood lattice, using 1x4s for the framing is sufficient. Build your frames to the needed size according to the distance between the bottom of your shed frame and the ground. Remember to leave a bit of space underneath so the panels don’t touch the ground.

Prime and paint your frame. Also prime and paint the lattice before you attach it to the frame. Cut the lattice to fit your frames. Use stainless steel screws with washers to attach the lattice to the frames. Use 3- or 4-inch metal straps to attach the frames to the shed frame. You can also use T-hinges on one so that the frame can swing upward to allow access for inspecting the shed underside.

For vinyl lattice, you’ll need a fine-toothed blade if using a circular saw. U-channels or cap molding is used instead of frames, with either liquid nails or small galvanized bolts to attach them. Attach the U-channels to the shed frame with screws or use furring strips attached to your shed frame, then attaching the U-channels to the strips.

Chicken wire is also an inexpensive choice and one of the easiest to install. Be sure to get the kind with small holes to keep out mice or plan to install a double row with one offset from the other to form smaller mesh. Installation only requires a staple gun and wire cutters for tools.

One good idea is to dig a small trench around the shed first. Bend the length of your chicken wire at a 90-degree angle to provide protection underground, then bury this side with the bend facing your shed. This will prevent digging animals, such as dogs and groundhogs, from digging underneath your wire skirting. Digging animals will dig into the bend and quickly become discouraged.

Metal panels are another choice. They come in various colors, so you aren’t limited to the bare metal look. You should overlap the panels at the edges and use screws that come with an attached rubber gasket to both join them and attach them to the shed frame. This will seal out moisture from the screw holes.

Be careful not to screw them down too tightly or you might cause a dimple in the metal. Neoprene washers between the metal and wood frame will keep moisture from collecting at the connections. Drilling pilot holes will help when attaching the screws. To keep your screws lined up, you can drill the pilot holes through all the panels at once along a straight line.

To allow for airflow, get vents to install throughout the metal panels. They needn’t be large vents. There are vents with fins or mesh made from metal or plastic available. Another solution is to cut out small shapes in the panels using stencils. These can be very decorative. You can also use metal mesh instead of panels. This mesh comes in various patterns and is sturdier than chicken wire.

Conclusion

Shed skirting will not only protect your shed from invaders but add curb appeal to the shed. Investigate the various types available. You might be surprised at the variety of materials that can be used. Ask your supplier about installation so you can evaluate the difficulty. Many people use skirting around their sheds and decks, doing the installation themselves. There’s no reason you can’t do the same.