Storage Shed Preparation
A PDF version of this project is available at Building a Storage Shed
Easy to assemble, a store-bought shed is great way to quickly add valuable storage to your yard. There are many sizes and styles, making them versatile and attractive. There's no measuring, nothing to cut and everything you need — including instructions — is conveniently located in the box(s).
Sometimes even a simple project can be overwhelming. Choosing the location of the shed and keeping all the pieces organized are a couple of challenges that you may run into during the assembly process.
Following a few simple steps will ensure that your project runs smoothly. Choose a weekend, enlist the help of one or two friends and with a little time and some basic tools, you will get the job done.
Tools and Materials
Foundation: Concrete Pavers
Before You Start
Before you begin, read the instruction manual from start to finish. Get a feel for the steps in the assembly process and the parts involved.
Identify and inventory the parts and hardware. Was everything included in the box?
Your shed is designed to rest on a sturdy, level, well-draining surface. If your building site isn't level, it may not go together properly.
If there is a floor model at the home store, take a picture of the completed shed so you know exactly what it's supposed to look like when it's done.
Keep the instructions in case parts come loose or break. You'll have the part numbers handy if you need to order replacements.
Don't forget about shelving, hooks, and other storage options for your finished shed. If the door to your shed is higher than the ground, a ramp will make it easier to wheel out large items like lawn mowers, wheelbarrows, or bikes.
If at any point you're unsure of what you're doing, call a qualified professional. The money you spend will be returned in the benefits of a quality job.
1 Determine the Location
Review the area that you would like to build your storage shed. Watch for obstacles like trees and fences, review your property lines, easements and encroachments. You will want to take into consideration the shed from the perspective of your neighbours as well.
2 Check if You Need a Building Permit
Only your local building office can say for sure, so ask. Each municipality has its own codes and zoning ordinances, and even a small shed may require a permit. Without one, you may face fines and have to remove your shed.
3 Prepare Your Location and Base
Your shed needs a flat, well-drained base. The most economical and simplest way to create this base involves an array of concrete patio paving stones on gravel. Here's how to do it:
3.1 Clear your building site of all shrubs, trees, rocks, and stumps. Protect nearby landscaping, pavement, and other structures from damage during construction of your shed.
3.2 Determine the length and width of your shed and use stakes and string to outline the perimeter.Measure the distance between the stakes, making sure the diagonal measurements are equal.
3.3 To reduce weeds and improve drainage, excavate sod and soil inside the staked perimeter to a depth of 4". Cover the area with landscape fabric and top with 4" of pea gravel. This can be compacted with a mechanical compactor.
3.4 Add a uniform 1" layer of dry sand/cement mix (one part cement to eight parts sand) on top of the pea gravel. Rake level.
3.5 Lay down an array of concrete pavers within your staked perimeter, starting from one corner. Leave a 1" gap between the pavers.
3.6 Level and adjust each paver as necessary using a piece of scrap wood and a rubber mallet.
4 Before You Build
There's more to assembling your shed than what's inside the box. Take these extra steps to simplify the process:
Enlist a friend: Heavy pieces are easier to manage with two people—one doing the holding, the other doing the fastening. Not only will assembly go more smoothly, it will go more quickly.
Take your time: Most plastic, resin, or vinyl sheds are designed to be put together by two people in about a day or two, not including the time it takes to clear your site and build a base. Set aside enough time to do the job, taking daylight and preparation time into account. Check the weather; it's important to work on calm days when no wind or rain is in the forecast.
Shed delivery: A store-bought shed comes in one or more large boxes. Talk to your home store about delivery options. Sometimes it's worth it to have someone else do the hauling and heavy lifting for you.
Read the manual: Before you begin, thoroughly read the instruction manual. Get a feel for the steps in the assembly process and the tools and parts involved.
Gather your tools: The instruction manual will list the tools you'll need. You probably have most of them at home, including a screwdriver, wrench, utility knife, hammer or mallet, and step ladder. Because of the number of screws involved, it's a good idea to use a magnetic screwdriver bit and an electric screwdriver or power drill.
Inventory the parts and hardware: Lay out all the pieces on a tarp and review the materials list in the instruction manual. Was everything included in the box?
Tip: Label each parts bag to make it easier to locate and identify parts and hardware during assembly.
Be safe: Wear work gloves, safety glasses, and long sleeves.
5 During Assembly
Each shed will have specific instructions. But these strategies will streamline the assembly process no matter what size or style of structure you're putting together:
Follow the steps in sequence: The manufacturer made the assembly sequence for a reason, and some parts simply may not fit if built out of order.
Cover your site: A temporary anchoring system should be in place every time you leave the assembly area—whether you break for one hour or several days. Cover your building site with a tarp and weight the corners and edges to keep pieces together and protect them from wind and weather.
Soap the joints: To lubricate tight-fitting components, apply a mild liquid soap.
Don't over-tighten screws: It's easy to damage plastic by over-tightening screws. Make sure that washers are used where instructed and use a low-powered electric screwdriver or a drill with an adjustable clutch on a low torque setting. If neither is available, use a hand screwdriver.
Wait for clear weather: If the weather changes and becomes rainy or windy, stop building and immediately temporarily anchor your shed for completion on a calm, clear day. Wind can stress joints and turn plastic floor, wall, roof, and door panels into sails.
Anchoring: Follow the manufacturer's recommendations for securing the shed to an immovable object or to the ground.
6 Care and Maintenance
A plastic, resin, or vinyl shed may be low maintenance, but it does require care:
Fasteners: Regularly check your building for loose screws, bolts, nuts, etc. Retighten them as necessary. Promptly replace loose or missing hardware. Keep the instructions in case you need to order replacement parts.
Roof: Keep the roof clear of snow and leaves.
Exterior: Rinse with water from a garden hose and use a soft cloth to wipe away dirt, debris, and grime. A power washer, stiff brush, or abrasive cleaner can damage the material.
Finish: Touch up scratches on painted steel as soon as you notice them. Immediately clean the area with a wire brush; wash it and apply touch-up paint per manufacturer's recommendation.
General use: Follow the manufacturers' recommendations about storing chemicals, combustibles, and hot items like recently used blowtorches or grills.