You may have seen an old farm outbuilding or two that had a plywood door, braced only with a couple of 2 x 4s in an “X” pattern across the middle. That door didn’t seem to be very sturdy and probably wasn’t.
There are good ways to build a shed door with plywood that will be sturdy and last a long time. Using plywood will mean that your budget won’t holler at you as well. Another perk is that you can easily paint the door to match the rest of your shed, or even in another color to spice up your shed’s look.
There are several ways to build a shed door as far as support. One way is called ledged, in which three 2 x 4s or 1 x 4s are put across the door near the top and bottom and at the center. This type of door tends to drop over time. The wood will expand and contract slightly with temperature changes, causing a bit of sag. Eventually, your hardware won’t line up like it used to.
A ledged and braced door adds two diagonal braces, one between the first top and middle ledges and the other between the middle and bottom one. A really sturdy door will have a rectangular frame all around the door, with ledging and bracing fitting inside the frame area. The diagonal bracing keeps the door from dropping and the perimeter frame keeps the whole door from warping.
Another idea involving a full frame is to use the frame with support going across the middle, then adding diagonal supports near the corners. You can use 1 x 4-inch lumber for these. They help keep the frame and everything else square. Check out my article Should a Shed Door Open In or Out? if your wanting more information on door swing.
Materials you’ll need: To build a shed door you’ll need 5/8-inch thick pressure-treated plywood rated for exterior use. Remember that this door will see a lot of use over the years and has to stand up to the weather. Plywood is graded with letters that tell you the quality of the finish on both sides.
For a shed, you can get something like AC or BC. A is the highest quality, with no knots or repairs, and will be smooth to paint, while B has a few flaws and is slightly less smooth. This can go on the outside of the door. The inner side can be rated as C, which may have knots and is less smooth, but will save some money. Check out my article Shed Door Ideas if you need some help with choosing your door design.
You’ll also need enough 2 x 4 lumber for the framing you have chosen, 1 x 4 lumber for corner bracing if you choose, wood glue, and some 2-1/2 inch screws. Galvanized screws are best as they are coated with zinc to prevent rust. You can use nails, but screws will stay in place longer.
As for tools, you’ll want a jigsaw, a miter saw to cut the bracing if you want it, a tape measure, level, carpentry pencil, and screwdriver, either power or hand.
How to Build a Shed Door with Plywood
- Measure. Measure the opening you have for the door. Then you’ll know how much lumber and what size plywood you’ll need to get. It will help to draw out your door to help you estimate the number of 2 x 4s you’ll need.
- Cut. When you cut your plywood, you’ll need a little room for the door to open and close. Usually, the gap should be 1/8 inch along the top and sides and 3/8 inch at the bottom. If you choose to have a full frame, it should be placed an inch or two inside the outer edges of the plywood. It will be easier to install the frame and then measure the ledging and bracing.
- Install your supports, whatever style you have chosen. A frame is installed an inch from all plywood edges. If you use diagonal bracing, it can be cut diagonally to attach to the ledging or it can be notched in. For additional support, you can use wood glue to attach your framing in addition to the screws. This will also help keep the screws from moving over time.
If you choose to just use horizontal ledges, they can be installed about seven inches from top and bottom. The middle one goes about 22 inches down from the top, or at a comfortable position for your latch hardware. The ends should be in from the edges one inch.
- Paint or stain your door. When you build a shed door, it’s much easier to paint the door before installing the hardware. If you want to paint or stain both sides, do this before putting on any bracing. Any protective coating should also be applied before starting the framing, as you’ll probably want to coat both sides. Don’t forget to apply this coating to all the cut edges if you use it.
Here’s a Video on Building a Shed Door with Plywood
What Type of Hinges are Used on a Plywood Shed Door?
When you build a shed door, hardware choices are important. T-hinges are the most common type of hinge. They have a rectangular part that goes on the doorway frame and a longer, triangular part that attaches to the plywood. Keep in mind the weight of your door when choosing hinges.
The wider your door and the more lumber you used in bracing, the heavier your door will be. Longer hinges will help support your door better. For a heavier door, you may want to consider using three hinges rather than just two. Need some help picking good hinges? Check ou my article How to Choose the Best Shed Door Hinges for more information.
Using dome-headed coach bolts to secure your hinges will keep potential thieves from unscrewing your door from the door frame and bypassing any locking system you have. These have a rounded head and no slot, meaning that they can’t be removed from the outside.
Another trick is to use Torx screws, as burglars won’t usually have the tool necessary to unfasten these. You can also use an assortment of screws, such as Phillips and slot-headed screws and bolts. The more different kinds of fasteners you use, the less likely a burglar will have everything he needs to undo them all and remove your hinges. Read my article How to Use Door Security Hinges on a Shed if you want to make your door more secure.
What Type of Latch is Used on a Plywood Shed Door?
Latches and locks for your shed can be purchased at any hardware or home improvement store. You might also check any farm goods store in your area. They may carry a heavier, better-quality type of hardware than some other stores.
It’s much better, in any case, to purchase your hardware at an actual store rather than online so you can make sure you get sturdy items rather than cheaply made ones. This hardware will have to hold and secure your shed door or doors for many years to come, so you don’t want to take a chance on getting hardware made from flimsy metal.
A good type of latch is the kind that has a hinge on one side. It’s attached with the hinge away from the door opening and has a long plate that folds completely over the latch, preventing anyone from prying off the latch to bypass your lock. The other part that goes on the door frame has a hasp for your lock.
Sliding latches are popular also. They are attached to the door and have a sliding bolt that fits into a slot on the part attached to a frame. Many of these are manufactured with a place for a lock. Here’s more options for making your shed door secure. 4 Shed Door Ideas That Will Increase Shed Security.
How to Build a Double Shed Door with Plywood
Building a double door is a good idea if you plan to have a wide opening in your shed. It’s much better to have a double door than a really wide single door. The wider the door, the heavier it will be and the more strain you’ll put on your hinges and the door frame holding them. In addition, you don’t have to open both of them if you’re just dashing in to get something.
Basically, you build a double door much like you do a single door but build two of them. When you measure the width of your door opening, you also leave 1/8 inch or 3/16-inch space in the middle for clearance. This means that when you cut your plywood, you’ll leave 1/8 inch for clearance on one side and 1/16 or 3/32 on the other on each door for the middle gap. If it’s a bit larger, it won’t hurt.
If you choose, you can attach a thinner strip of plywood to the inside of one door next to your framing or ledges that will overlap with the other door, closing up the gap between the two doors. This also helps prevent a problem that crops up with double doors, which is that they move back and forth a bit on windy days, straining the door latch fasteners.
Another aid for this is a simple turn button latch for one of the doors. This can be as simple as a short piece of wood nailed into the top of the door frame on the inside which can be turned vertically to hold the door shut. Take care not to nail it in too tightly so as to allow the turning movement.
It’s a good idea to leave attaching the door latch for last. No matter how careful you are, there may be a tiny difference in the way one door hangs from the other. If you leave the latch for last you can still be sure that both parts of your latch will line up, which is really important with some latches, such as the sliding bolt. Also check out my article How Secure Does a Shed Door Lock Need to Be? for tips on picking the most secure door locks.
Since the door is usually the last part of a shed build, once you have your doors installed, you can start filling up your shed. Don’t be surprised if it fills up more quickly than you expected. After all, we all have more stuff than we think, don’t we?