How to Build a Shed Roof

By Amanda Lutz Updated March 15, 2024

Building a shed with a do-it-yourself (DIY) approach is a great way to add a workshop or storage space to your home. Building the roof of a shed can be challenging, though, and could leave some homeowners scratching their heads. Read our step-by-step guide on how to build a shed roof to protect your shed’s newly constructed interior spaces.


Planning Out a Shed Roof

Put together a solid plan for your shed roof before picking up a hammer or nail to avoid making costly mistakes during construction. Ask yourself the following questions:


Gather Necessary Materials

Start the DIY shed-building process by gathering the following roofing materials:

While building a shed roof can be a DIY project, you must have the correct materials to successfully move through the process from start to finish.


Building the Roof Frame

Shed roof framing creates a solid base for the rest of the roof, so be sure to build it accurately and securely. Double-check your measurements and use a level and square throughout the process to keep the frame straight. Taking extra time to build the frame correctly will make it sturdier and more durable.

Follow the steps below to create a frame for a gable roof, the most common type of shed roof:

Cutting the Rafters

When building a shed roof, you’ll need to cut rafters for your building. Alternatively, you can purchase roof trusses that already fit your shed roof design.

  1. Measure your roof: Measure the width of your shed from the outside edges of its exterior walls. You’ll also need to know the roof pitch. Then, you can use a roofing calculator to determine any rafter lengths and angle cuts.
  2. Calculate how many rafters you’ll need: Most shed roofs are framed with rafters that are spaced every 16 inches on center.
  3. Cut the rafter tails: Use a square, jig, and circular saw to cut rafters for your chosen roof pitch and shed width. Be sure to keep everything straight.
  4. Cut the bird’s mouths: Bird’s mouths are notches in the bottom of the rafter tail. These 90-degree angled cuts allow the rafter to sit flush with the top plate for the shed wall.

Assembling the Frame

  1. Cut and build a top ridge: Use 2-x-6 lumber to cut a top ridge board and supports that run the length of your roof. The top ridge will form your roof’s apex or peak.
  2. Assemble your first rafter: Connect a pair of rafters to your ridge board using galvanized screws or nails. Make sure that the rafter pairs line up with each other.
  3. Continue adding rafters: Continue placing your rafter pairs along the top wall plate and attach them to the ridge. Space the rafter pairs out every 16 inches.

Installing the Decking

Once your frame is complete, you’ll need to add roof decking or sheathing, which creates a flat base onto which you can attach roofing materials. You can use plywood or oriented strand board (OSB) for most shed roofs. Here’s how to install roof sheathing:

  1. Measure your decking: Measure the length and width of the roof, then cut plywood or OSB to size. Be sure to account for your roof dimensions and any overhang.
  2. Secure the boards: Use galvanized nails or screws to fasten boards to the roof rafters. Start at the edge of your roof and work inward, leaving a 1/8-inch gap between boards for expansion and contraction.
  3. Cut out any openings: Add flashing around openings that will host vents or skylights before you install the decking.
  4. Add your ridge board: Install this once all of the decking is in place.
  5. Seal edges: You can add sealant to gaps, edges, and even nail holes to add an extra waterproofing layer to the shed roof.

Covering the Roof

Once decking is in place, cover the roof with felt and your chosen roofing material. Roofing material is responsible for waterproofing the shed roof, so picking the right type is crucial. The most common roofing materials for a shed roof include the following:

Asphalt Shingles

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Easy to install
  • Available in various colors and styles

Cons

  • Has a shorter life span than other materials
  • Susceptible to damage from high winds

Metal Roofing

Pros

  • Durable
  • Low maintenance
  • Weather-resistant
  • Can withstand heavy rains and snow

Cons

  • Pricier than asphalt shingles
  • Can be more difficult to install

Wood Shingles

Pros

  • Durable
  • Aesthetically pleasing

Cons

  • High maintenance
  • Costlier than asphalt shingles

Rubber Roofing

Pros

  • Durable
  • Waterproof
  • Easy to install
  • Low maintenance
  • Budget-friendly
  • Suitable option for a flat roof

Cons

  • Limited style options
  • Isn’t aesthetically appealing

Choose a roofing material based on your budget, climate, and roof type. Below are steps for installing asphalt shingles, the most common roofing material for sheds.

Installing the Underlayment

Roofing felt, also called underlayment, protects your decking from moisture. Good roofing felt can extend the life span of your roof.

To install roofing underlayment:

Installing Shingles

Installing shingles is the final step in waterproofing your new shed roof. Follow these steps:


Finishing Touches

Complete your roof with a few finishing touches to make it look better and enhance its durability.

Painting

If you’ve installed a metal roof, consider painting it. This can enhance the roof’s appearance and help to protect it from UV rays. Painting the metal a lighter color can reflect heat and keep your storage shed cool in warm temperatures.

Sealing

Using sealant to fill small gaps in your roof could prevent potential leaks and water damage. Use a quality sealant designed for your roofing material and apply it around eaves, openings, and any areas where water could accumulate.

Decorating

Add ridge caps, fascia boards, and soffits to make your shed roof look neat and finished.


Our Recommendation

A shed can add room for storage, hobbies, or even a kids’ playroom. Building and installing a shed roof is the most challenging part of building a shed, but you can create a sturdy, durable roof with careful planning.

Gather the right materials, measure everything carefully, and use the proper techniques to create a beautiful, weatherproof shed roof that lasts for years.


How to Build a Shed Roof FAQ

What is the easiest shed roof to build?

A lean-to roof is the easiest shed roof to build since it only has a single slope. Gable roofs are the most common type of shed roof, however, and aren’t much more difficult to construct.

Are two-by-fours strong enough for a shed roof?

Most two-by-fours are strong enough for a shed roof. If you’re building a large shed roof or live in an area that experiences a lot of extreme weather, you may want to use two-by-sixes instead.

What is the cheapest way to put a roof on a shed?

The cheapest way to put a roof on a shed is by using inexpensive materials such as two-by-fours, plywood, and asphalt shingles. Remember that your roof protects the shed’s contents from the elements, so investing in quality materials will extend its life span.

What is the cheapest roof option for a shed?

The cheapest roof options for a shed are asphalt shingles. These shingles only last about 15 years, but they’re inexpensive and easy to install.

How do you install shingles on a shed roof?

To install shingles on a shed roof, place the specialty starter strip along the eaves and then nail the first row of shingles into place, overlapping the starter strip by a few inches. Continue nailing in straight rows of shingles, staggering the alignment to create better drainage. Work your way from the bottom edge of the roof to the ridge board.