Adding Windows and Doors to Your Wooden Backyard Shed

Finish your wooden shed by installing a plank door or sliding windows.

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    Finish your shed with a sliding window.
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    Doors take a rough beating. Build with sturdy wood.

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See "How to Build a Backyard Shed" if you are starting from the beginning.

So summer has passed (along with your sunburn), you've recuperated from building your shed with last issue's plans, and you're rarin' to install those doors and windows. Or perhaps you're looking to replace the ones on your barn or other wooden-frame building. Good news: The plan below can save you from $100 to $600.

The door is the sort you see in photos of pioneer cabins—made of vertical wood planks held together by a boxed Z-brace. The window, a glazed sash or solid shutter, slides in a simple frame. Both are made with straight cuts in stock materials and are surface-mounted; neither requires precision carpentry. Although they can be fastened with nails, self-tapping deck screws installed with a power driver are easier to use and can be removed if necessary.

The Rough Opening

Doors and windows fit into a rough opening designed in (or sawed through) wall sheathing and the vertical frame members, or studs, that support it. A 15" window will fit between conventional studs placed with centers 16" apart, and a 30" door or window will fill the space left after removing one.

If you're only interested in building a door for people to enter and exit through, your door can be as narrow as 24"; however you're better off with an opening that's 30" to 33" wide, and larger if you're planning to admit a walking tractor or garden cart. Make double doors for an opening wider than 36" and up to 60" across. The door should be high enough so you can get through without knocking your hat off (6' 8" is the most common house door height, but 6' 4" is ample for most people).

The structural support provided by studs removed for the rough is replaced by a header of two sandwiched 2 x 4s or 2 x 6 boards. These are placed on edge above the opening, which is supported by posts of paired 2 x 4s at each side. When cutting, make sure you won't be severing corner posts or studs that support a horizontal carrying beam for the roof or an upper story. If in doubt, call in a pro to advise whether you should install A-frame supports. If wall is sheathed inside and studs are hidden, use a magnetic needle to locate the vertical nail line. If possible, use existing studs to frame the door; cut sheathing so it is the size of one new frame board's width (1 1/2" if using 2 x 4s), from existing stud so door frame will be covered.

When sawing into walls, use cheap throwaway blades (no loss if ruined on a nail). A reciprocating saw is made for rough cutting, but its narrow, easily deflected blade can leave a ragged edge. To guide it, tack (fasten temporarily with a partly sunk nail) a straight board with one edge that's half the width of the saw's foot plate from the cut line. Drill holes in corners of the cutout to admit the blade.

6/13/2013 7:41:00 PM

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