How to Build a Lean-To Shed

Lean-To Shed

The Spruce / Lee Wallender

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 10 hrs
  • Total Time: 16 hrs
  • Skill Level: Advanced
  • Estimated Cost: $600 to $1,200

A lean-to shed is a great convenience for anyone who has a yard or loves to garden. This lean-to shed can be your main garden shed since it is large enough and secure enough to store a lawnmower and other large items. If you already have a full-size garden shed, you'll enjoy the supplementary storage provided by this shed.

What Is a Lean-To Shed?

A lean-to shed is a small structure usually located next to a house, fence, or other structure. The back wall is taller than the other walls to allow for the roof to pitch downwards toward the front.

Since lean-to sheds are rather shallow, they are mostly used for storing small tools or garden supplies such as bags of mulch, pots, and garden hoses. Larger tools such as shovels and rakes can be hung from the walls. If space permits, you can even store a pressure washer or lawnmower.

Codes and Regulations

A lean-to shed is a special type of garden shed classified as an attached accessory structure. Because of the shed's location, zoning issues may come into play. Sheds often cannot be placed within 5 feet of side property lines.

Property easements, too, may affect your ability to build a shed. As an attached structure, the lean-to shed likely will require a building permit. Speak to your local permitting department for clarification.

Safety Considerations

If the lean-to shed is attached to the house, never store flammable liquids, firewood, or any accelerant in the shed. Besides being a fire danger, firewood attracts wood-boring insects that can be harmful to your home.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Shovel
  • Electric miter saw
  • Carpenter's square or Speed Square
  • Socket wrench set
  • Hammer
  • Cordless drill
  • Circular saw


  • 10 1/2-inch exterior grade plywood sheets
  • 32 two-by-fours, pressure-treated
  • All-purpose gravel
  • 1 3/4-inch exterior grade plywood sheet, 4-foot by 8-foot
  • 6 4-inch bolts with washers and nuts
  • Wood clamps
  • Hinges
  • Roofing underlayment
  • Roofing nails
  • Composite shingles


This lean-to shed is 8 feet wide by 4 feet deep. Its roof at the back is 8 feet tall, sloping down to 7 feet tall in front. The doorway is on the side of the shed. The shed is roofed with composite shingles, but you may wish to save time and money by installing rolled roofing.

  1. Find and Prepare a Location for the Shed

    The location should be adjacent to a solid wall or fence. There should be sufficient room (at least 3 feet) around the lean-to shed for access to items within the shed. Clear out turf and other plant material and level the area.

  2. Pour a Gravel Bed for the Shed

    Mark off an area 4 feet by 8 feet and dig down 3 to 4 inches. Pour a base of all-purpose gravel to fill this area.

  3. Build the Shed Foundation

    Frame the floor with two 8-foot two-by-fours as the rim joists. Cut four more of the two-by-fours in half to produce eight 48-inch two-by-fours. Nail seven of these 48-inch boards between the two rim joists. Laid on edge and spaced equally, these seven two-by-fours will be the floor joists. Square up the foundation frame, then nail the sheet of 3/4-inch exterior grade plywood down as the flooring.

  4. Build the Front and Back Walls

    Each wall will be 7 feet tall by 8 feet wide. Frame each wall with two 8-foot two-by-fours as the top and bottom wall plates. Seven 7-foot two-by-fours will be the wall studs nailed between the top and bottom plates. Space these studs 16 inches on-center apart from each other.

  5. Erect the Front and Back Walls

    Nail the front and the back wall into place on the foundation. Keep the bottom of the wall flush with the foundation edge. Nail two temporary two-by-fours between the front and back walls to keep them stable for now.

  6. Build and Erect the Solid Side Wall

    The one solid side wall (the one without the door) will be 7 feet tall by 41 inches wide. Cut two 41-inch top and bottom plates. Nail the four 7 foot studs at 16 inches on-center apart from each other. Nail the side wall into place on the foundation and nail it to the front and back walls.

  7. Build and Erect the Doorway Side Wall

    The doorway side wall is built the same as the solid side wall but with two alterations. The two middle studs will be pushed to each side to double up the end studs. Also, the top wall plate will be doubled up. Both changes are necessary for structural support.

  8. Build and Install the Back Wall Extension

    The back wall must be taller than the front wall to create a 1:4 pitch for the roof. Build the extension out of two 8-foot two-by-fours spaced by seven 1-foot studs. Clamp the extension on the top plate of the back wall. Drill one hole between every pair of studs for a total of six holes. Insert with the bolts, washers, and bolts. Tighten with the socket wrench set.

  9. Install the Siding

    Install the 1/2-inch plywood on the two sides and back as siding. Keep the plywood on the sides at 8 feet long for now. It will be cut down later.

  10. Double up the Top Wall Plates

    The front, back, and solid walls should receive a second wall plate. The purpose is both structural support and to match the door-side double wall plate.

  11. Create and Install the Rafters

    The seven rafters will each be 6 feet long. After these boards have been cut, use the Speed Square to determine the size and shape of the two cut-outs needed for the rafters to seat properly. Toe-nail the rafters into place.


    Speed Square has extensive instructions on creating rafter cut-outs. Follow these angles for the proper fit.

  12. Install the Roof

    Install 1/2-inch plywood over the rafters. Install the roofing underlayment, then nail down the composite shingles.

  13. Finish the Siding

    With the circular saw, cut down the two side pieces to match the slope of the rafters. Add siding to the front, as well.

  14. Create the Side Door

    Cut out a door from the side with the circular saw. Use the cut-out portion as a door by attaching it to the shed's doorframe with hinges.

  15. Prime and Paint the Shed

    Use a paint roller and tray or a paint sprayer to paint your lean-to shed with exterior-grade latex paint. Wait for at least two to three hours between coats.