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An Illustrated Guide To Building A Shed Roof

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The roof is maybe the most important part of every outdoor shed. Without a good, secure and water resist roof your shed is going to experience water leaks and can quickly start to rot and fall apart.

There are several main types of shed roofs:

  • Gable and Cross Gable
  • Flat roof
  • Mansard gable roof
  • Hipped
  • Pyramidal
  • Shed style roof
  • Gambrel
  • Saltbox
  • Barn style shed roof

All the types of shed roofs have their history and reasons to be choosen. But realization of most types is technically very similar. For this reason in this guide I'll show you how to build one of the simplest roofs - the gable shed roof.

First Step - Install Top Beams

 At this point I assume you have already build the rest of your shed. If you are just starting, you have arrived at the wrong guide. Learn how to build a shed foundations first.

Now, let's get to work. You need four stable beams that should be placed on the top of the shed like shown on the picture below. Assuming your shed walls are abotut 2-3 inches thick, your beams will need to be 4 inches thick.

Use bolts or nails with glue to fix the beams very stable.


Second Step - Prepare Roof Construction

 The Gable roofs have a simple construction of horisontal and vertical beams. On the picture below you will see only a part of your roof for simplicity. Exactly at the middle of the frontal horizontal beam there is a vertical one, perpendicular to it.

Your roof will look the same way on the other side. On the top, there is one more horizontal beam that connects the two verticals.


Step 3 - Prepare Roof Rafters

 The roof now needs diagonal rafters which will support the plywood, plastic or whatever coverage you choose for the roof.

See carefully how each rafter has a diagonally cut stopper at the bottom. This will ensure maximum stability.


Step 4 - Attach The Rafters

 This step is very important. The rafters need to be attached carefully to form a robust construction of triangles. This is a very unbreakable shape!

Make sure that there is rafter on each side exactly in front of the opposite one. See the picture for more clarity.


Final Step - Cover it!

 Your construction is good and stable. You can add even more horizontal joists, but it's good enough as is. Now all you need to do is to get pieces of thick plywood, plastic or sheet iron and cover the roof.

That's it! For more cool guides like this, visit my site with tutorials and guides for building a shed.


michaelhimpson on June 23, 2012:

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hello matt i got it from a mate so this is the site

and details, they have a wealth of knowledge ,tell them mick give you there number

voyo (author) on June 18, 2012:

Sorry I have not noticed your response. Do you mean length? or thickness? If thickness, the rafters should be thicker than your wall

Ben on June 07, 2012:

Thanks, that info will help greatly! What I meant by the size of the wood is, would you recommend using 2x6's for the rafters or can it be made with something smaller like 2x4's or is that not a good idea? I want it to be strong but I also want to be mindful of the weight.

voyo (author) on June 07, 2012:

The size would depend on the roof pitch. You can use this and play with it to get the rise (try to get a pitch of 3 or more). Then the rafter size comes easily by just measuring in place or using the Pythagorean equation where (rafter size * rafter size) = (half base * roof rise). Of course the rafters will need to be slightly longer to allow eaves

Ben on June 05, 2012:

I'm building a roof for my kids' playhouse (think elevated shed/deck) that is 5' x 6'. The roof frame or four beams as you show in step 1 are 2x6's. What size wood would you recommend for the vertical beams, horizontal beam and rafters? I plan on covering the roof with plywood and shingles.

shedsnhomes on September 22, 2011:

Great information on building a shed . Thanks for sharing keep on updating guys

voyo (author) on September 08, 2011:

I guess both are good options, Red

Red on September 06, 2011:

How long is a piece of string, John?

Useful info. How do you go about sealing the ends of the rafters, Voyo? What I mean is, just covering the roof would still allow you to see daylight between the rafters. Which is best - putting a soffit across the ends/bottoms of the rafters or filling the spaces where the wall beams are?

John on July 06, 2011:


Dothan Roofing on October 13, 2010:

Great tips on roofing...this illustrated guide would help a lot!Thanks :)

building a shed on May 27, 2010:

Thanks for sharing your insight, Voyo!

That instruction is indeed easy to understand and very helpful :)

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