Convert a Shed Into A Home Office

How to turn a shed into a office, or build a shed office from scratch.

office shed

If you are considering converting a storage shed into an office shed then there are some important things to do before moving your computer in. Converting a shed to office space represents a considerable investment so you want to be sure that the shed is structurally sound and waterproof before installing finishes like drywall and floorings. This article discusses the steps to convert a shed to a office.

brief how to

In this article, you will find information about:

  1. Inspect The Shed

  2. Install Framing

  3. Install Doors and Windows In The Shed Office

  4. Install Electrical In The Shed Office

  5. Install Insulation If Necessary

  6. Install Drywall

  7. Install Trimwork

  8. Paint Your Shed Office

  9. Install The Finishes

step 1 Inspect The Shed

The first step to converting a shed to a office is to verify that the shed is ready to have finishes installed inside. These are the major parts of a shed and the things to inspect and a brief remedy if there are problems with that part: (of course if you are not worried about these items or are doing a more rustic shed office conversion then you may skip these items and go directly to the Installing Shed Finishes section.)

  1. Foundation: Is there a slope to the floor? You will need to shore up and support the foundation so the floor becomes level. There is nothing more irritating than a pen rolling off a desk every time you set it down.
  2. Floor: Is the floor solid enough to hold floor finishes like carpet, wood or laminate? Bouncy floors are caused by two things. Either the floor joists are too long or the subfloor, decking, is too thin. Sometimes shed floors are built using 1/2" plywood or O.S.B. which is very flimsy as a sub floor. You can beef up a floor by installing a layer of 3/4in. O.S.B. on top of the existing sub floor. If the floor joists are bouncy then you can add another rail down the center of the shed under the floor joists between the ground and the bottom of the floor joists.
  3. Walls: Most sheds are built with wood studs at 16" or 24" on center and with a plywood or O.S.B. sheeting that acts as a siding on the outside. Some sheds have an additional layer of siding on top of this sheeting or simply have horizontal siding attached to the wall studs. Whatever you have the most important part of your shed walls is to make sure that they don't leak when it rains. You can look for evidence of leaks on the shed walls by looking for dark stains that streak down the walls. If you have a leak in a shed wall you will need to find the source and fix it. It may need flashing between a siding joint or a whole new piece of siding. Whatever you do, don't ignore it.
  4. Roof: Use your garden hose and have someone spray water on the shed roof while you go inside and inspect for leaks. If there are leaks in the shed roof then you will either need to replace a few shingles or re roof the whole shed. Most sheds are small and the cost of putting a new roof on is under a few hundred dollars.
  5. Door: Is the door acceptable for the level of finish you intend to build into the rest of the shed upgrade? Most sheds are built with a simple door that is not weather proof. If you intend to make a nicer shed office then you may consider installing a pre-hung house door with weather stripping and a regular door knob and lock. Office sheds feel more roomy and open when a door that has a lot of glass is installed. If your shed wall is too short for a regular 6'-8" residential door then you may order a special door height. The door shop simply cuts the door down and moves the hinges. Call and talk to your local door shop to find out your options.
  6. Windows: Are there windows? Are they weather proof? You may need to replace any existing windows with a weather proof window. Most window companies will build a window to any size or if you want to put in a new window or larger window then you will need to frame an opening on the wall for the window and order a new window for the opening.
  7. Electrical: Is there electricity to the shed? How will you get electricity to the shed? If you run new power to the shed you may need to get a permit.

step 2 Install Framing

If all the structural items discussed above are up to your liking then you are ready to start building your shed office. If you are modifying the doorway or adding windows then the first step is to install framing so the doors and windows will fit. The best way to get the rough openings correct is to have the doors and windows on site when you are framing then you can double check your measurements.

Door Framing: The rough opening for a doorway will be 2" wider than your door and 2 1/2" taller than your door. If you are installing a 3068 door (3ft. - 0" wide by 6ft. - 8" tall) the rough opening will be 38in. wide by 6ft. 10-1/2in. tall)

Window Framing: Most common vinyl windows are built to be 1/2" smaller than the stated size of the window. This means that a 4020 window, which is 4'-0" wide and 2'-0" tall will need a framed opening exactly 4'-0" x 2'-0" because it will be a 1/2" smaller on each dimension. But you should check with your window supplier before framing.

step 3 Install Doors and Windows In The Shed Office

Install the windows and doors. Use a level to make sure they are plumb and level in the openings and use shims to get them perfect.

step 4 Install Electrical In The Shed Office

After the doors and windows are in you will be ready to install any electrical that you want in your shed office. Install outlet boxes along the walls where you plan to use them. Building codes require outlets every 12ft. along a wall and within 2ft. of a doorway, but most sheds are so small that you will have more than enough outlets if you put them where you need them. The top of the outlet boxes should be at 14" above the floor. Read about installing outlet boxes at How To Install A Outlet Box.

Running Power To A Shed Office: You can run a single 20 amp circuit to your shed and put all the lights and outlets on the single circuit. This circuit does not require a sub panel in the shed. If you want more than one circuit in the shed you will need to run a higher amp circuit and install a sub panel in the shed. Always bury the cable underground. You can purchase direct bury cable at any place that sells electrical wire. DO NOT BURY regular romex house wiring cable.

To do this you will need a free space in your existing electrical panel so that a 20 amp breaker can fit in. Running electricity to a shed includes the following steps.

  1. Verify that there is a 20 amp circuit slot in your home breaker panel
  2. Install a electrical box in the shed that you will run into. This box will be the starting box for the electrical in the shed.
  3. Run a direct bury cable from the home panel to the new sub panel. It will need to be burried 20 inches deep when running through the yard. It will need to be in conduit when running up a wall. Inside walls it does not need conduit.
  4. Install a new 20 amp breaker in the home panel and attach the wires to it.
  5. Install your lighting and outlets.

If you want more circuits you should read the article How To Install A Sub Panel to learn more about installing an electrical sub panel.

Read more about installing and wiring electrical outlets at How To Install An Electrical Outlet.

Read more about installing and wiring light switches at How To Install A Light Switch.

If you are installing a light on the ceiling then read Installing A Ceiling Light Fixture.

step 5 Install Insulation If Necessary

If you are planning on using your office year round then you may consider installing insulation in the walls of your office shed. To install insulation you will need to verify the stud spacing and stud depth on your walls and then purchase the proper insulation from your local home store. There is 3 1/2" deep and 5 1/2" deep insulation and widths for 16" on center and 24" on center wall studs. To install insulation you will:

  1. Use expandable spray foam to fill any gaps in the walls that you can see daylight through.
  2. Purchase faced batts (insulation with paper backing) and stuff them from the floor to the ceiling, make sure there are no gaps at the top or bottom, or any where. Make sure that pieces of insulation are not overhanging onto the face of the wall studs to get in the way of the drywall.
  3. Staple the paper tabs to the inside of the stud, not on the face that the drywall will be nailed onto.

Note: There are other ways to insulate walls that more thoroughly seal the walls. The process described above is adequate for most office shed conversions.

step 6 Install Drywall

Drywall is installed after the insulation work is complete. Try to use sheets of drywall that go all the way across the floor or ceiling so you have less joints to tape and mud. You will hang the ceiling first and then the walls.

Read the article Installing Drywall to learn more about how to install drywall

step 7 Install Trimwork

Install trim around the windows and doors after the drywall mud is dry. Shed offices are pretty simple since there is usually only a door and a window. The normal order of installing trim is determined by the type of flooring being installed:

Trimming when carpeting is going on the floors: Install the door trim first then the base on the floor, held up 3/8" so the carpet can tuck under it, and finally the window trim.

Trimming when installing wood or laminate or tile floors: Install the door and window trim. Wait until after the floors are installed to install the base on top of the floorings.

step 8 Paint Your Shed Office

You know what to do here. If you are installing hard floors like wood or tile or laminate then you should install the floors and base first and then cover the floors up with a heavy painting paper as a protection. If you are installing carpet then you will want to paint before the carpet is installed.

The basic steps to painting a shed office, or any space are to:

  1. Tape off things you don't want painted
  2. Caulk all the trim work joints
  3. Putty and sand all the nail holes in the trim
  4. Clean all the dust off the walls
  5. Prime the drywall with a drywall primer
  6. Prime the wood trim if it was not pre-primed
  7. Paint with the favorite paint you like to use when converting your shed to a office.

step 9 Install The Finishes

Finish your shed to office conversion by doing some or all of the following:

  • Install light switches, lights and outlets and cover plates to all electrical.
  • Install door knobs and locks
  • Clean your new home office
  • Decorate to taste

related articles

  • Many of the steps to convert a shed to a office are similar to finishing a basement there are some great articles on finishing basements in Finishing A Basement.
  • If you need to build a shed you can find shed plans and ideas at Building A Shed.


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