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Is it Cheaper to Build or Buy Storage Shed Shelving?

Shelving is an important part of any shed to increase storage capabilities. While shelving units can be purchased, it’s usually cheaper to build shelving yourself. All you’ll need are some boards for the shelves and some brackets or wood strips.

Large brackets that extend nearly the width of the shelves would be best, as you may want to store some heavy items such as partly used pails of paint, bags of leftover nails and containers of lawn chemicals. While these items are not particularly heavy by themselves, the weight adds up, and metal brackets are up to the task.

In most cases it will be cheaper to build the shelves yourself, which also allows you to customize the width and height of each shelf to suit your needs.

Building Your Own Shelves

The benefits of building your own shelves are that you can cut them to the lengths you want and place them where you need them. You can put short shelves into corners or use 2x4s and a piece of plywood to make a small platform for small boxes or wood scraps.

Some people build small shelves between the wall studs. You can also build them as you find a need for additional shelving. You can also build your own shelving units. Check out my article Messy to Organized – Installing Plywood Shelves in Your Shed for more tips on installing plywood shelving.

How Do I Build Storage Shelves in My Shed?

First, you need to decide what material you want to use. You can use leftovers from your shed build or buy a few boards. You can also use heavy plywood or particle board. Plan out where you want them. Don’t overthink how many you think you will need as you can always put in a few more later.

If you plan for a column of shelving on a wall, make sure you leave enough space between them for taller items. While you can put taller things on the top shelf, this also makes it easier for those things to fall over when you are trying to reach them or getting things from other shelves.

You can use wood strips to hold your shelving, using small triangular blocks underneath for extra support, but brackets are usually easier to work with. Brackets are also easier to remove if you need to do so.

For tools, you’ll need a saw, drill with bits, screwdriver and screws, tape measure, level and a pencil. If you want to paint or varnish your shelves or round the edges, it’s best to do so before attaching them. The longer the level the better.

You can use it to draw a line across your studs to mark the placement of your top screws. Starting at the top if you’re planning a column of shelves, place a bracket so that your shelf is where you want it. Make sure it is placed in the center of the stud. Drilling a starting hole for the screws will help prevent splitting the wood while tightening the screws.

While you can use just two brackets per shelf, unless the shelves are short you’ll want additional support. Utilizing each stud for a bracket along the length of the shelves is a simple way to do this.

Attach the first bracket with a screw in the top hole or holes. Inserting the screws at a slight downward angle helps to support against the pull of the shelves and the weight on them. Attach the rest of the bracket tops, using your pencil line as a guide.

If your brackets aren’t quite level, they shouldn’t be off far enough to cause a problem. After the brackets are attached, go back and finish the remaining screws.

Another solution is to build platforms in a corner or two. Heavy plywood or particle board is great for these plus a 2×4 or 2×6 for outer support. You can use 2x4s as support for the platforms or use brackets. If using brackets, measure the length and width of your platform material and place brackets on the wall studs.

Place your platform on the brackets without attaching them. Then measure the outer corner for a cutout for your support stud. You’ll use brackets on the support stud. If installing multiple platforms it may be easier to place them with the cutouts and then attach them to the support stud all at once.

A top frame of 2x4s attached to the wall studs and support stud will ensure that the support stud stays secure. If using 2x4s, the same sequence applies. If your a beginner check out my article 6 Shed Shelving Ideas for Beginners.

How Do You Build Shelves in a Metal Shed?

One way is to fasten 1×4 or 2×4 wood beams to the shed walls. You would drill holes into the wall and use wood screws with washers. The holes are later sealed with silicone caulk to prevent water leakage or metal corrosion.

Your shelves are attached to those beams the same way as with studs. This is the easiest method, but it does have the drawback of having holes in the shed wall. Even with caulk, the natural expansion and contraction of metal can eventually work the caulk loose, making a place for water damage.

A better method is to drill holes directly into the metal framing and attaching toggle bolts to handle your brackets. This will leave a space between the back of your shelves and the shed wall unless you make cutouts on the back of your shelving to fit.

The last option is to build your own freestanding shelving units. To get the shelf backs flush with the wall you’ll need to extend the shelves past the back supports. You might consider sanding the bottoms of your main support beams at an angle to create a slight slant towards the back. This should eliminate wobbling problems. If your considering plastic storage units, check out my article Are Plastic Shelving Units Strong Enough for a Shed?

How Wide Should Shed Shelves Be?

Shelving can be whatever width you may need, but the most useful widths are usually 10 or 12 inches. These can hold paint cans and other wider items securely. Some people built a platform along the short end of the shed to use as a workspace. It can be installed the same way as the shelving.

Can you Put Shelves in a Plastic Shed?

If you have an all-plastic shed, you should not drill holes in the walls. They do not have interior studs or metal framework. Some plastic sheds do come with an interior wall anchor system inside to enable you to hang hooks or shelving. Without one of these models, all you can do is build or buy a freestanding shelving system.


Shelving is the easiest way to utilize more of your shed’s space while keeping things off the floor and out of your way. Look at the interior of your shed and see what kind of possibilities are there.

Recommended Resources

In this area I will go over the best resources that I have found that you will find very helpful:

Here are my favorite eBooks for beginners as well as those of you who have a lot more experience with home projects.

I know how disappointing it can be to finally find some plans online only to find out after that theirs a lot of essential information missing making these resources useless and a waste of your time!

First is “Ryan’s Shed Plans”… Provides 1,000’s of shed plans, so there’s something for everyone with detailed cross sections and very easy to follow instructions. What I really like is the material and cutting lists which means you know how much material to get.

And if you act soon, you can also get some free books: Advanced Woodworking Tips, List of suppliers to get your materials even cheaper and for you woodworking types you also get 400 free wooding plans. Definitely worth every penny… Check it out here and get your free 8×12 plan just for looking.

Second is “Ted’s Woodworking” … You get thousands of woodworking plans and they come with step-by-step instructions, material and cutting lists, very detailed plans, something for beginners as well as the professional woodworker.

You’ll also get woodworking guides and a detailed book on how to start a woodworking business and how to sell your woodworking projects for profit. See for yourself all the projects you can do and start making impressive pieces right away. Check it out here.

Third is the “Ultimate Small Shop” … This guide walks you thru everything you need to get a small workshop set-up on a budget. Goes into detail what you need to set-up, organizing your space and laying out your work areas, tools list, safety and so much more. Covers everything you need to have a complete shop.

You also get some Free bonus: The workshop cheat list, shows you where to get cheap supplies and tools. You also get a lifetime subscription to the deal alert service and so much more, see it for yourself here.