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How to Build a Portable Shed on Skids


There are many reasons for building your shed on skids, the main one is it means you won’t need a foundation and in most areas a shed built on skids will not require a building permit.

Building a shed on skids is a popular way of building them. It is much less involved than pouring a concrete pad or piers, and the skids permit airflow under the shed to keep moisture away from your wood while it evaporates. It also keeps the shed from acting as a dam in case of heavy rain flowing to the shed.

Does a Shed Built on Skids Require a Permit?

Building a shed on skids makes the shed portable, and so does not usually require a building permit. If you intend to run electricity to the shed, you will almost certainly need a permit. You should check with your local building and zoning authorities on what is permitted and what you’ll need. A good idea would be to have your plans ready when you contact them.

If you do need a permit, you’ll have the plans ready to submit, avoiding delays in the process. Some areas that experience frequent storms may insist that your shed be anchored in some way. Zoning codes may or may not permit your building a shed. Usage plays a part as well. If you plan to use your shed as a workshop at least part of the time, you may need a permit to build it.

Codes may dictate how close your shed is permitted to be to your house, trees, fences, property lines or other buildings that may be on the property. The codes may also limit what percentage of your yard may be used for the shed. If you live in an HOA, you may run into other restrictions as well. For more information on permits read my article Do You Require a Building Permit For a Storage Shed?

What Are the Pros and Cons of a Portable Shed?

Pros: Portable sheds usually cost less than building a permanent shed. They also take less time to build and usually don’t require much of a foundation. Some people don’t even bother with a foundation for them. A portable shed means that it can be transported to a new home when you move.

It can also be relocated to another spot in your yard if the first placement ends up being less convenient than you had thought or if it turns out to be an unexpected place where water flows. Construction or landscaping by a neighbor can change the landscape to the point that water starts running off toward your shed.

Cons: Since portable sheds don’t require a solid foundation, they can be affected by ground freezing and thawing, causing movement. Portable buildings may tend to settle, which puts the doors and windows out of plumb, leading to sticking when opening and closing. You can read my article How Do I Keep My Shed from Sinking? for more information on preventing your shed from sinking.

A good foundation can prevent this problem. If your area tends to have weather problems such as strong storms or winds it will need to be tied down. Fortunately, there are kits intended to tie down mobile homes which will work for a shed as well. Being built on skids your shed will be higher off the ground if you need more information on dealing with this read my article How to Build a Ramp to a Shed.

What Do I Use for Skids Under My Shed?

Skids for a shed are usually lumber cut 4×4, 4×6 or 6×6 as long as the shed. The ends are usually tapered at a 45-degree angle. How many you will need will depend on the size of your shed. The floor joists are nailed to the skids underneath.

How Do You Add Anchor Points to Pull Skids?

You can attach long lag bolts or carriage bolts to the outer skids. These bolts will have to be long as the outer skids are not placed on the edge of the shed frame, but 12 to 16 inches away from the edge. You can also drill 1-inch to 11/2-inch holes on both ends of the skids about 4 inches deep for attaching a pull chain.

There are other ways to move a shed. If it is a smaller shed, you can attach a length of 2×4 to either end of both long sides to form handles for you and three friends to pick up the shed and move it. You can also use several pieces of pipe to form rollers. Lay out several pipes along the path to the place you want to move the shed.

You’ll need a way to pick up the front end to slide pipes underneath at least past the halfway point of the shed length. Then pick up the other end of the shed and push it along the rollers. You’ll need one person to move the pipes as you go along, picking up each pipe as it clears the bottom of the shed and moving it ahead of the shed.

How to Build a Portable Shed on Skids?

Your floor joist and skid plan will depend on the size of your shed. The heavier your shed and the things you plan to store there, the heavier the skids should be. Whatever size lumber you plan to use for skids, it should be pressure treated or cedar. Cut each end at a 45-degree angle and paint the cut ends with a wood preservative.

Consider your ground space, allowing about a foot of extra space all the way around to handle roof runoff. Make sure it’s level and smooth. Most sources advocate a slight slope to facilitate drainage. While some choose to stand the shed directly on the ground, it’s better not to take a chance with moisture or mold problems, which can happen even with treated lumber.

Install landscape fabric over this space, then spread about 4 to 6 inches of gravel. One-inch crusher-run gravel is better at compacting. After compacting the gravel, make sure it’s level. Layout the skids in place, putting the outer ones 12 – 16 inches from the sides. The maximum distance between skids is six feet, so your width will determine the number of skids needed. Make sure all the skids are level and even with each other.

Temporarily tack planks across both ends and the middle to steady them. Cut pressure-treated 4x4s for cross braces and attach them between skids in the middle and both with lag screws. Only stainless-steel screws should be used, as the chemicals in pressure-treated lumber will corrode galvanized screws. If you need more information read my article How to Build Your Shed Floor on Skids where I go into detail on layout and construction of the floor to the skids.

Conclusion

If you plan to tie down your shed, this is the time to do it, anchoring the skids. From here on in, building the rest of the shed continues as with building any shed, starting with assembling the floor joists on the skids.

Should I Build a Shed in a Sloped Yard?


Your running out of storage in the house and garage and thinking about adding a storage shed outside, only problem is your yard has a fair amount of slope and not sure if building a storage shed is worth it.

It’s not advisable to build a shed on a slope. Depending on the type of foundation you use, building on a slope will put a strain on your foundation in places, and may even lead to problems.

Your shed foundation will be very important to prevent such problems as boards or studs slowly separating from their attachments, warping, window, and door frames not working properly, and others. Of course, depending on your yard you may have no choice but to build your shed on a slope if your whole yard has a slope. Even a slight slope must be accounted for and counteracted when building a shed.

Can You Build a Shed on a Slope?

It is possible to build a shed on a slope, but it’s not really advisable if there is another choice. You’ll have to do a lot more work to the foundation, and it may limit the types of foundation you can choose. You’ll also have to deal with rainwater flowing toward and around your shed and possible soil erosion.

Soil erosion can eventually lead to enough soil washing away that it causes your foundation to crack or otherwise lean or give way, leaving your shed tilting or even falling in certain circumstances.

If you choose to build a shed on a slope, be sure to check with local building codes. They may have specifications on how deep your foundation or support posts are installed. If you have to get a building permit for the shed you can explain your situation and find out what restrictions, if any, you will have to follow.

The Importance of Drainage on a Slope.

Even when you avoid situating your shed in a water flow track, water will flow down any slope if the rain is heavy enough. You can build a small wall a short distance from the high side of your slope to steer water away from the shed. It can have a slight curve or angle to get the water to flow to either side. The ends of the wall should extend past the sides of the shed to keep the water away.

A French drain will also help with this. Start by digging a trench around the uphill side of the shed. The trench should be eight inches deep, and eight to twelve inches wide. The wider the trench, the more water it can handle. Figure out if the uphill side of the shed is a little lower horizontally than the other. That will be the side you extend down the slope.

If the ground is even across the high side, you’ll need to build an artificial slope to keep the water flowing down the pipe. You can extend it along the drip line on the sides of the shed to catch runoff from the roof if you don’t have gutters or you can extend one end down the natural slope.

Smooth out the bottom of your trench, then line it with landscaping fabric to prevent plants from growing up through the trench and dirt from entering the drain pipe, clogging it. Cut the fabric wide enough to go up the sides and wrap back over the top later. Another method is to wrap the fabric around the actual drain pipe before laying it into the trench.

Lay two inches of gravel along the trench bottom, smoothing it out flat. Place 4-inch perforated PVC pipe into the center bottom of the trench with the holes at the top. Check it with a level to make sure you have a slope to encourage water flow.

Fill the trench with gravel, leaving two inches of space at the top if using the landscape fabric to line the whole trench. This is where you wrap the remaining fabric over the top of the gravel, overlapping the cloth in the middle. Fill the rest with more gravel even with the surface of the ground around the trench. For more information on dealing with water drainage read my article What’s The Best Way to Add Drainage Around a Shed?

What is the Best Way to Level the Ground for a Shed?

Measure and mark the area for your foundation with stakes at the corners. Tie string to join the stakes together. Clear out any vegetation and rocks from the area. Then dig out all the topsoil if possible. This is needed because topsoil is usually softer than the soil underneath and could potentially shift under the weight of the shed and its contents. Typically, topsoil will be a different color than the harder subsoil underneath, so look for a change in color.

To even out the space, lay a plank across the ground. This will show you any slight peaks and valleys that can either be filled or shaved off as needed. If your excavation is deeper than you need, spread some of the topsoil back, raking the soil to break up any lumps.

Tamp down the soil, going over the area as many times as needed until the soil stops being compressed when tamps. Use your plank over the soil again with a level to make sure the whole space is level. Depending on the kind of foundation you plan for your shed you may want to install a landscape fabric to block the growth of weeds to finish out the dig. If you need some help or ideas on how to deal with the ground issues read my article How To Prepare The Ground For a Storage Shed.

Things to Look at Before Building on Sloped Ground

You need to look at how steep the ground is. Also, note whether the space is in a spot where water naturally drains or runs when there is a lot of rain. A shed should never be placed in a spot that is a natural track for water runoff. The soil will erode around it, eventually eroding enough to affect your shed’s stability and structure. Take a little time, if necessary, to notice where water naturally flows in your yard. It usually follows certain paths every time there is heavy rain.

Also, you need to examine the type of ground in your chosen space. Do you have exposed rock? Does your soil have a lot of clay which might make digging for a foundation or post holes difficult? If you plan to store heavy items, such as bags of cement, or you plan to store heavy equipment such as a riding mower or welding equipment, you may need to go to a gravel foundation or a concrete pad.

Figuring out the placement of the door or doors is another consideration. If you have anything wheeled to store in the shed or plan to use it for heavy items that are hard to carry, you need to put your door on the side of the shed that will face the top side of the slope.

Otherwise, you’ll need to build a ramp, and this will be much easier to build on the lower side of the slope. You’ll be faced with counteracting the slope with the ramp building if you place the door on a sloping side.

Is it Worth it to Build on Really Sloped Ground?

It’s a lot more work and usually more expense to build a shed on a steeper slope. You will probably need some type of retaining wall or use the method of posts attached to concrete poured into holes dug into the ground on the low side. You are limited as to the foundation you can use.

Most people who build on this type of slope find that they can use the extra space underneath the shed on the propped-up side for storage. Panels can be put around your posts as an enclosure if you plan for storage. On a steeper slope, the shed door will have to be put on the higher side of the slope.

What Foundation Types are Best for Sloped Ground?

If your slope is not very steep, your best course of action is to level the ground for the foundation. This will allow you to choose from the same foundations as with any other shed. If your ground is too steep for this, you’re limited to using posts attached to concrete forms sunk into post holes or building a retaining wall of concrete blocks.

For the side on the high side of the slope, you can use pier or deck blocks. Pier blocks are made of concrete with brackets attached to attach your horizontal beam. Deck blocks are also made of concrete but have a slot into which you insert the beam. You then build a deck platform attached to the beam or posts and wall to build your shed upon. Check out my article What’s The Best Shed Foundation Option For You? for the different types of shed foundation options that you can use.

How to Build Shed Foundation on Slight Slope?

The best way is to dig out the foundation to level the ground. You might want to dig out a space larger on all four sides to accommodate extra gravel to allow for drainage around the shed. Start out by using stakes to mark out your foundation. Put stakes on all four corners, then tie strings to connect the stakes. Tie one string to every pair of stakes and make sure the string shape is level. This way you can adjust just one or two strings if the shape is not level.

You can use single solid concrete blocks to help even out the ground if you don’t or can’t dig the base into a level state.. Use one tier on the high side, and build up a higher stack of two or three blocks on the low side to even out the side. Measure the height of your blocks and use that to help you figure out how far to dig.

For instance, if the difference in soil height is six inches and the blocks are four inches tall, you’ll need to stack two blocks for your lower wall, but you’ll also have to dig out the foundation hole lower on that side to even out the difference so that the tops of the blocks are even and level.

How to Build Shed Foundation on Steep Slope?

It would be a good idea to use the pier and post construction method, even after leveling out the space to keep your shed above draining water. It only takes a heavy downpour to wash debris up against the shed or for the water level to rise to the bottom of the shed joists while it’s pouring. A shed should never act like a dam for water to build up behind it.

Many people who build on a steeper slope build the shed right into the slope. This involves measuring out the placement of the shed, then digging straight down and across to form an L-shaped excavation for your shed. The bottom of the excavation should be level. You’ll also need to allow extra length at the vertical side of the excavation to build a retaining wall.

Leave some space between the retaining wall and the shed so that you can access that side of the shed for maintenance and to check on the condition of the wall. You also don’t want the shed wall to be so close that rain will splash from the top of the wall and onto your shed wall, keeping it damp.

You may be tempted to use the dirt you’re digging out to build up the height of the horizontal base and make your vertical dig more shallow. This would not be a good idea, however, as you would have to make sure that the soil you add is tamped down completely. If you build up the soil higher than the actual ground slope, you’ll need to build a second retaining wall on the low end to keep the added soil from washing down.

Contacting your building authority is vital in this situation. Building codes may restrict the height of the shed above ground or the height of the retaining wall. If your retaining wall needs to be over three feet tall, you probably need to contact a builder or engineer to check out the ground stability and the feasibility of building the wall you need. For more information on permits read my article Do You Require a Building Permit For a Storage Shed?

Conclusion

Building a shed on a slope is definitely a challenge, but once you get the foundation problem settled and constructed, the rest of the project should go along just like a shed built on level ground. With a little extra planning, you’ll be able to end up with a usable shed.

What Shed Floor Joist Spacing Should I Use?


The floor joists in your shed are an integral part of the structure’s soundness. They support anyone and anything that goes into your shed. With this in mind, it’s vital that the flooring be sound and able to support sufficient weight without problems. This is also a place where moisture seepage can cause problems, as most people tend to focus on roof leaks. Keeping potential moisture problems in mind while constructing your floor will prevent trouble and a lot of work later.

As far as joist spacing, the best is 16 inches on center. Since your floor joists will be holding weight along their length, closer spacing is vital. The recommended spacing is 16 inches on center to increase the load capacity of the floor and eliminate chances of bouncing.

Spacing can vary with the distance being spanned by the joists. There are calculators online that can be used to figure the spacing under varying specifications, such as the type of materials you plan for the floor. Building codes in your area should be checked and followed. Some might have different spacing requirements based on the width of the joist planks used. When you submit your shed plans for a building permit, be sure to specify your joist width and spacing distances.

Should I Use 2×6 or 2×8 for Shed Floor?

Most people use 2x6s for the floor joists. However, if you have a larger shed, meaning that the joists will stretch out over a longer distance, you may want to go to 2x8s. The maximum span recommended for 2×6 joists is nine feet, three inches, with a minimum bearing length of three inches at each end.

Also, if you plan to store heavy items, such as ATVs, welding equipment or lawn tractors, 2x8s will remove doubts about the stability of the flooring base. The grade of lumber you intend to use for the joists may come into play as well. Too much support is better than too little.

How Thick Should Plywood Be for Shed Floor?

If using plywood for the shed floor, you may want to consider putting the joists on 12-inch centers. Remember that shed floors usually have to hold a lot of weight. Even the best plywood can sag over time if the joists are too far apart. The recommended thickness for a plywood floor is 5/8 inch exterior grade plywood.

One source recommends pressure-treated exterior-grade CDX plywood. It is resistant to rot, even featuring plugs replacing knots in the wood to give it more moisture resistance and keep the surface smooth.

There is a type of plywood called tongue and groove, or T/G plywood. This is made with tongues and grooves at the edges that enable one sheet to fit into the next. While some sources state that this type of plywood is only good for eliminating squeaking between the sheets when weight is put onto it, others state that it adds strength to the flooring.

This is because the connections between the sheets help to distribute weight to other sheets and make a more rigid subfloor. It may tend to be harder to install, as the joints fit tightly. They don’t always go together easily. Keeping the flooring dry before installation will help with this problem. For information on using the strongest flooring material read my article What Are the Strongest Shed Floor Materials to Use?

Do the Floor Joists Need to Be Treated?

They don’t have to be treated, but since they will be the lowest wood in your shed, it would be rather foolish not to use treated lumber. Joists will last longer if they are treated. Even if your shed is raised to allow airflow and moisture drying underneath and you have protective barriers for wood parts that contact the ground or concrete, evaporation will cause moisture to rise and affect your joists. Read my article How High Should a Shed Be Off the Ground? to see if you need treated floor joists.

Does the Plywood for Floor Need to Be Treated?

Pressure-treated plywood is recommended for flooring or subflooring. There is a grade of plywood available called MR grade, which is made to be moisture resistant. It is a very popular grade of plywood and is even used for furniture.

How Do You Lay Out Floor Joists?

You won’t need a lot of tools to create your floor joists. You’ll need a level, tape measure, hammer or nail gun, speed square, chalk line and circular, miter or chop saw. For materials, you’ll need your joist lumber, 3-inch, 16 penny framing nails, and wood preservative. You may choose to use joist hangers with 3-inch exterior grade Simpson screws to attach them for extra strength.

Cut your frame according to the length and width of the shed, using all end cuts with wood preservative. Nail the frame together with the 3-inch framing nails, using three nails for each junction. Check to make sure your frame is square. A simple way to do this is to use the tape measure to stretch from one corner to the opposite corner diagonally. Then do the same with the other two corners. If the measurements match, your frame is square.

Now it’s time to cut your joists. One good idea is to just cut one and make sure it fits into your frame correctly. If it doesn’t, you can make adjustments to your measurements. Mark out the joist centers on the frame using your chosen spacing. Now you can fit in your joists, making sure the top edges are even with the top edge of the frame boards.

If using joist hangers, attach them with the Simpson screws, making sure that the center of the hangers matches the joist centers. Slide your joist ends into the hangers. You may need to tap them down a bit with a hammer. Attach the joists to the hangers, using the 3-inch nails. Angle the nails so they go through the joist and into the frame. I have another article What Size Floor Joist Spacing Should You Use? where I go into step by step detail on how to layout the floor joists if you need more help.

Conclusion

Planning the joists and subfloor carefully ensures that your shed will last a long time without worries. Materials are an important consideration, as the various types and grades of wood vary in strength. If you have questions about the best type of materials and best spacing for your joists, be sure to ask your supplier.

How to Install a Skylight in a Shed


If your shed is in a shaded place or dim inside on a cloudy day, you might get tired of trying to find things in a darkened shed. Running electricity for lights is one solution. Another is installing a skylight in your shed roof. They do require a rather complicated installation, so if you want to do it yourself, be prepared to spend some time.

Installing a skylight in a shed can be more difficult or simple depending on the type of roofing you have. It’s much easier to install the skylight during the construction stage, in this article I’ll go over some basic questions and then go over installing the skylight and flashings.

How Easy is it To Install a Skylight?

While installing a skylight is certainly possible, it is not an easy job. You’ll have to cut through the roof and install metal flashing properly on the roof to prevent leaks. You’ll also have to install a light shaft so that the light flows through the attic floor.

It is a fairly involved job taking an assortment of skills to complete. Unless you are an accomplished carpenter with roofing experience, you may not want to tackle the job yourself.

Can You Install a Skylight Yourself?

People can install a skylight themselves. As long as you have the proper tools and are good at precise measurements and working with roofing, it certainly can be done. If you built the shed yourself, you probably have the skills needed to do this. Since this is a fairly involved project, however, if you have any doubts as to your ability to do it correctly, or you will have to cut more than one rafter, you should probably hire a professional.

If the skylight isn’t installed and sealed correctly, you’ll end up with a leaking roof and moisture problems. Installing roofing shingles may not be a particularly arduous job or one that takes special skills. Cutting a hole in an existing roof using precise measurements and possibly having to cut through a rafter or truss chord is another story.

Add to that the installation of flashing and other kinds of work may be a bit too involved, even if you built your shed yourself. Putting the light in yourself is something that needs to be investigated as to what it will take before deciding to do it yourself.

How Much Does It Cost to Put in a Skylight?

The price of installation varies with the type of skylight you choose, and whether you hire a professional or do the work yourself. Market prices in your area also play a big part, both in the price of materials and the price of hiring an installer. One source lists a price range of $957-$2,415, with an average of $1,684. Another source lists the price range as $900-$2,300, with an average of $1,500. You can read my article Top 5 Best Outdoor Shed Lighting Ideas and Solutions for more options to get more light into your shed.

How Long Does It Take to Install a Skylight?

Much of the time it will take is dependent upon your specific needs and circumstances. These include the shape, roof pitch, and depth of the interior light shaft. If you hire a professional installer, the job could take between half a day and three days. If doing it yourself, you probably will take longer.

It’s important to take the time required into consideration, as weather can be a big hindrance to your completing the project on time, not to mention the extra effort and materials involved in case you need to tarp over the roof after you cut it for the skylight.

Where is the Best Place to Put a Skylight?

Typically, skylights placed on the north side will provide a consistent amount of the same type of light year-round, and you won’t be bothered by a strong beam of light in just one area. If you are interested in energy efficiency, it is recommended to put it on the south side. Some people prefer morning light from the east side.

Potential damage is another consideration. Putting a skylight on the part of the roof that is under a large tree is inviting leaves, sticks and even branches to fall on the glass, covering it up and blocking the light or perhaps cracking or breaking the glass.

Are Vented Skylights Worth It?

If your shed gets too hot sometimes, adding a skylight may well add to the heat problem. Having a vented skylight will let the heat rise and travel out of the skylight, keeping the shed cooler. The additional airflow that a vented skylight will provide will also help keep the inside of your shed dry.

Whether the vented type is worth it to you will depend on your situation. Does your shed have at least partial shade? Do you live in a hot climate? Does your shed face in a way that your skylight will have to be placed on the south side? Will your vent opener be easily accessible?

There are skylights with automatic vents available that use a motor to open the vent, but these are naturally more expensive than a crank-operated type and require electricity in your shed to operate it. Only you can examine your particular situation and the price of the vented skylights available to you and decide if the vented skylight will be worth getting for you.

What You Need to Know Before Installing a Skylight?

You’ll want to choose placement of the skylight carefully to prevent glare. It can make the shed too hot to be comfortable, especially if you are using the shed as a workshop. It can also cause fading in some materials you may store in the shed. There are filters you can add to the skylight or add a shade to counteract the glare.

To keep the shed from getting too hot, choose a skylight that is made from double-insulated glass that has been tempered with low-E coatings. A bronze-tinted skylight can also help, especially if the skylight is on the west or south side.

The shape of the skylight can affect how the light shines into the room. Skylights with straight sides focus the light in a straight line, but there are some with flared sides that spread the light out a bit. To mitigate potential damage from falling debris such as tree branches, there are domed skylights available.

These allow leaves and other tree debris to slide off. However, these only come in plastic instead of glass. One good thing is that the plastic can be coated with dark or reflective solar film to minimize heat buildup in your shed.

You may need to contact your local building authority to find out if you need a permit to install a skylight. The rules seem to be a bit confusing. Generally, installing a new skylight, door or window requires a permit. Replacing any of these things does not.

This is because the permit is not needed for actually installing the skylight, but is needed for cutting the hole for it. You may have a building code that needs to be followed to make sure your shed is still structurally sound after installation.

What is the Life Expectancy of a Skylight?

A skylight’s lifespan depends on the quality of its manufacture and how well it was installed. With that in mind, a skylight typically lasts between eight and fifteen years. Of course, there are other factors, such as something falling on the glass and breaking it, or hail cracking the glass.

How Do You Waterproof a Skylight?

A self-adhesive underlayment that goes all the way around the skylight. Once you have the skylight in place and attached, take off the cladding from the window first. Apply the first strip of underlayment extending six inches on either end and six inches from the bottom. Cut the corners and press it down firmly.

Apply the underlayment along the sides next, extending about six inches past the top edge of the skylight and overlapping the bottom part you installed before. Cut the corners and press it down firmly. The top piece is the last part, extending it across the underlayment you installed on the sides.

To prevent water from getting underneath the skylight when rain runs down the roof, cut a small slit into the roofing underlayment just above the top of the adhesive strip along the whole top. Slip a strip of your adhesive underlayment underneath the roofing underlayment. Putting small pieces of the adhesive over the corners to cover the junctions will also help.

How Do I Install a Skylight?

First, you’ll need some tools for the job, Your skylight should come with installation instructions and may include suggested tools. These will probably include a reciprocating saw, power drill or driver with bits, ladder, hammer, utility knife and measuring tape. You can also use a pneumatic nail gun with an air compressor.

A chalk line will also be handy for marking placement on top of the roof. As far as materials, the skylight should come with a materials list, but they usually include 2x4s for the frame, wood screws and one-inch roofing nails. Having somebody to help you with some tasks, such as holding the roof piece while you are cutting it out will be a big aid.

Inside your shed, decide on where your skylight will be placed and the orientation. Draw a pencil outline of the area. One side should be against a rafter. Drive screws upwards through the corners of the outline to mark the roof for the location of the skylight. Now it’s time to get up on the roof and use the screws to guide the placement of a chalk line. Cut the shingles just outside your chalk line.

Now you can remove the corner screws. Cut the roofing underlayment according to instructions provided by the skylight manufacturer. It will probably be cut back a couple of inches or so beyond the size of your opening. You’ll need to peel back the shingle edges to do this, but be careful not to crack the shingles when doing so.

Cut out your opening, following your chalk line. Finish up inside the shed by cutting any rafters needed, trimming them for 2×4 horizontal braces. You’ll need to cut 2x4s for the skylight frame.

This can be a three-sided frame, with the horizontal pieces attached to one rafter or truss chord. The long side should go all the way across the height of the roof, attaching to both the top rafter or chord and the top wall board. Make sure this frame is square. For additional support, use two boards to form the side not connected to a rafter and use an additional piece on the outside of the rafter.

These extra supports should be attached to the frame. It’s finally time to install the skylight, attaching it with one-inch roofing nails. Then you will attach the waterproofing materials as outlined in the previous section.

How to Install the Flashing

Installing the flashing comes next. This is probably the most important part of the installation, as it needs to be done properly or your skylight will leak. Skylights usually come with a flashing kit supplied by the manufacturer, or will sometimes come with flashing built-in. Just in case yours doesn’t come with the flashing, here’s how to install the proper flashing.

You can buy your own or have someone fabricate any pieces you still need. Sill flashing goes first against the bottom of the skylight and is attached with roofing nails. It collects runoff from the other flashing and directs it down the roof. Install step flashing all around the sides. This is flashing that is bent at a 90 degree angle.

Install step flashing next along the sides, overlapping each piece and weaving it in with the shingles around the opening. Step flashing is much better at preventing leaks than continuous flashing. Once you have this done, you can reattach the cladding to the skylight.

At the top, attach the saddle flashing along the sides of the skylight. Slide a piece of underlayment underneath the roofing underlayment, using it to cover the top edge of the saddle flashing. Add the last shingles to the top but don’t let the nails go through the flashing.

I have added a video that shows how to install a curb mounted skylight, they are using a 2×4 curb, if you live in an area that gets a lot of snow you can use a 2×6 or higher curb. Also note that skylights are made to fit between framing rafters that are installed on 24 inch centers, if you have trusses than you’ll be able to install easier. However if your rafters are on 16 inch centers you will need to cut and box in the rafters to fit the skylight in. Also note the use of flashing and waterproofing membranes.

Conclusion

As can be seen, the installation of a skylight can be quite complicated, especially when it comes to properly install the flashing. For most people, it’s probably a job that is best done by a professional, especially to ensure peace of mind, if nothing else.

Can You Build a Shed Without Plans? 


There are many reasons for wanting to have a shed, extra storage out of the weather, a place to use as an office or exercise room. If you’re an avid gardener, it’s a great place to start your seedlings and to store tools and other garden supplies.

You certainty can build a shed without using any plans, the building process will depend on the experience, knowledge and tools you have and if you have these skills you can save yourself a lot of money building your shed yourself.

Not having plans you won’t know the size or the amount and cutting list of the materials you will need, sure you can get some info from your local building supply store, but remember there job is to sell material and if your lucky you will find someone with knowledge with building a shed that can help you out.

Also, with the high price of materials it can get really expensive if you make an error when cutting material and have to go back to the building supply store to get more materials. This is where having a good set of plans will be worth the extra money.

Can You Use Free Plans? The Pros and Cons

The Pros:

1] Free… The biggest pro is its not going to cost you anything to get them, that being said you can expect some problems with free plans.

2] Get Them Right Away… Nearly all free shed plans can be downloaded for use right away, expect to provide your email before you can download the plans.

3] Able to Get Several… On some sites you can download several different plans which can provide you more information.

The Cons:

1] Not Complete… Free plans don’t have many of the fine details needed and can be very difficult to understand. Without details and accurate material lists as well as cutting list you’re going to be left to figure a lot of things out yourself.

2] Inaccurate Drawings and Dimensions… Most of the free plans have information that doesn’t help a beginner. I had a friend get some free plans and asked me for help building his shed and I found the plans mostly useless and a complete waste of time.

3] Will Need More Plans… In a lot of cases, you’ll have to download several plans just to find some important information. The result will be frustration and wasting a lot of material and time and you’ll still not know how to complete the shed correctly.

4] Small Images… Many times, when you download free plans the images you get are quite small and really hard to see the dimensions and other details for building the shed.

Can You Build a Shed with Free Plans?

You can build a shed with your free plans, but you’ll need a lot of experience and knowledge to turn the plan into an actual shed. Most free plans don’t give you any information on where to put the shed and the type of foundation or base it will need to sit on. They also lack cross sections and good pictures of the completed shed.

Are Buying Plans a Good Option?

If your serious about building your own shed and wanting to save a lot of money, having a good set of plans will be the key to success. The shed plans you buy will depend on size, style and foundation that will be needed for your situation and of course your budget. Here are some things a good shed plan should have:

1] Easy to Use… Plans need to be simple enough for someone without a lot of experience to be able to understand. They also need to be accurate so you’re not wasting your time trying to figure out how to go from one step to the next.

2] Detailed Drawings… They should have cross sections, and blow ups of images of detailed construction areas, as well as images of the completed shed so you can see what it will look like as your building it.

3] Detailed Instructions… That show you how to progress with each step, and they need to be in the correct order of the construction process. Having detailed roof construction before you have even built the walls doesn’t help.

4] Material and Cutting Lists… A plan that gives you a detailed material list lets you go out a buy the actual materials you will need. The cutting list lets you know how many pieces to cut and a what length or size, which means you won’t have to buy more material because you cut it the wrong size.

5] Dimension Drawings… These show a breakdown of how the different framing members are attached together and how to lay out the floor, walls, and rafters so your sheeting fits without having to cut and waste material.

6] Used for Labels… The better quality plans will include labels or a list of materials and what each piece is used for, no using the wrong piece and having to buy more material.

7] Guarantee… Any digital product that you can buy and download should come with a money back guarantee if your not completely happy with the plans.

The average cost of a shed 8×12 shed is about $4500 to $5500 or more depending on if you have windows and doors and what type of foundation you will need. This includes labor and materials and can be much more if you hire a contractor. You can expect to pay $40 or more for a good set of plans that you can download and print.

Just be aware that many online shed plans will have several upsells that can raise the price, if you find these upsells will benefit you as well as the free bonus it can be a great deal for you.

As I mentioned in my about me page, I’ve been a Journeymen Carpenter since 1983 and have build a lot of house, garages, decks, and storage sheds. For research for articles, I have downloaded many free plans and guides. Some have been useful, but most are useless providing inaccurate information which only leads to frustration for a beginner.

Conclusion

If you don’t have the skill level or tools to build your own shed, it may be a better option to buy one already build or use a prefab kit. You could hire a contractor to build it. If you are handy and have the basic tools, then I’m going to recommend you check out Ryan’s Shed Plans and be sure to download the 4 free bonuses. You can get some free plans from Ryan to if your budget is tight. Good Luck.

How to Build a Shed Ramp with Pavers


If you’ve built your shed raised a few inches to allow for airflow underneath to limit potential moisture problems, you’ve done a good job. However, now you have to step up to get into the shed.

You can build a step or two for yourself, but you’ve got some wheeled yard equipment. Wagons, walk-behind mowers and tillers can be lifted up into the shed, although this will soon get tiresome. However, this won’t work for that riding mower or ATV. The only solution is to build a ramp.

If you’re building a shed, include the ramp in your building plans when seeking a building permit. If you’re adding it later, you may need another permit. Be sure and check into this before starting.

If you choose to build a ramp using paving stones, be sure to choose stones with a rougher surface rather than a smooth one. Smooth stones will tend to be more slippery when it rains. Watch out for algae growth on the stones.

Just a thin film of algae can make stones extremely slippery during wet weather. Since your ramp is a slope, this will double the chances of a slip and fall and will make heavier equipment harder to move into the shed. It’s important to keep any growth from the surface of the stones. See other options for shed ramps in my article How to Build a Ramp to a Shed.

What is a Good Angle for a Shed Ramp?

Many public building codes hold to a maximum slope of 1:10, or one inch of rise for every ten horizontal inches. With this angle, if your floor is nine inches above the ground, your ramp should be 72 inches or six feet long. This slope is something riding mowers can handle with no problem.

However, if you can make the slope a little less steep, it will just make it that much easier to move equipment in or out. Many people like to push their mowers into a shed instead of riding it in so they aren’t subjected to deafening noise and fumes from the running engine.

Another reason to be cautious with the slope is the increased chance of slipping. Steeper slopes can cause problems when carrying something heavy out of the shed on a rainy day.

How to Prepare Ground for Shed Ramp?

You’ll need to start with flat, level ground. You may need to tamp the soil down to firm it. Consider how water will drain from your ramp. Make sure that there is no rise around the foot of the ramp site that may hold water and cause it to stand on the end of the ramp. You may find some useful information in my article How To Prepare The Ground For a Storage Shed for your ramp.

How to Attach Ramp to Shed?

While most wooden ramps are attached right to the shed or installed with the front just under the shed threshold, with a paving stone ramp, you won’t need to actually attach the ramp to the shed. Once built, the ramp is not going to move, and you don’t want any of the ramp materials to touch any wooden parts of the shed.

The stone, soil and gravel can transfer moisture to the wood. It would be a good idea to install some sort of plastic sheathing to any wood that will be under or could touch the ramp before starting.

If you choose to build a wooden tray to hold your pavers, this can be attached to the wood of the structure as a wooden ramp would be. Just make sure that any wood is protected from the dirt, gravel, sand and paving stones.

Step by Step Guide to Build Ramp with Pavers

Choose your stones with handling weight in mind so that they can handle your heavier equipment without strain. Mark the sides of your ramp path with stakes placed every six inches along the path. You’ll need some heavy-duty lawn edging material to contain your gravel. Some sources recommend using road base, as it contains different sizes of stone that tends to tamp down more firmly, limiting shifting.

Lay down landscape fabric along your path. Then put in a layer of gravel. Some people create most of the ramp with dirt, allowing for a layer of gravel three inches thick. Others prefer building the whole ramp with gravel.

However you choose to build it, be sure to tamp the gravel down firmly for every two inches that are laid down. Wetting it down with a hose will make this easier.

Spread a layer of bedding sand a half-inch thick over the gravel. Bedding sand is specially made of sharply angled grains that help it to lock the stones into place and keep them there more firmly than common sand. Some recommend using cement sand. Pull a 2×4 piece of wood over the sand to smooth it and make sure it’s level.

Lay the pavers on the sand, starting with the top middle and going out to the sides. For each course, start again with the middle. Tamp each one down with a rubber mallet. Depending on the pattern you want to make with the pavers, you may need to cut some at either end to create a straight edge. Spread a layer of sand over the pavers and sweep it into the joints between the stones. Tamp down the stones again to make sure they are level.

If the slope is higher than the edging material covers on the sides, you can put treated planks on the sides following your slope. You can also use pavers laid on edge to contain the dirt on the sides. Cut the pavers to match the slope of the ramp. You can also make a brick wall or block wall to hold everything together.

This would best be constructed with cement to keep any dirt from escaping and should be done before constructing the actual ramp. Another choice is to spread the dirt fill of the ramp wider than needed for the actual ramp size where the stones will be laid. Plantings of small or dwarf bushes along the sides will hold in the soil and make a pleasing appearance.

Another way to make the ramp is to build a frame or tray of treated lumber to place on top of your soil and gravel to contain the sand and stones. Use a moisture barrier under the sand. This will keep the wood in good shape and better enable water to run off. Put a small strip of wood along the bottom, just enough to keep the stones and sand from sliding off.

Conclusion

Paving stones seem to be an uncommon choice for a shed ramp. They do require more work, but the finished job should impress anyone who sees it.