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The Backyard Works Blog

Here you’ll find articles of interest to all Backyard Works customers, shed owners/lovers and those interested in adding a Backyard solution to their own backyard be it a shed, studio or Backyard Laneway House.

If you have any questions regarding Backyard Sheds construction or features or even DIY advice please let me know – leave a comment below or email your question through the Contact Us page. I’ll get back to you right away and you may even see your question featured here on the Backyard Works blog.

Best Regards,
Steve Curtis

How to turn your Backyard Shed into a Backyard Studio or Office – Last 4 Steps Added May 30th

Posted by: Steve | Posted on: May 3rd, 2012 | 0 Comments


Standard Feature 8×12 Shed

10 Steps on how to turn your Shed into a Backyard Studio or Office:

If you want to turn your shed into a studio complete with insulation, electricity, heat, interior wall panels and trim here’s how;

1. You need to determine if your shed is in good enough condition and built properly before you invest the time and materials into converting the shed into a backyard office or studio. Check all of the framing to make sure it is in good condition and there is no rot. Make sure water does not penetrate into the shed via the siding, floor or roof, if so all of these issues must be address first prior to proceeding.

2. If you want to install additional windows or a new door now is the time. You can pick up reasonable priced vinyl windows and doors at a big box store. If you have a small shed I recommend ordering a outswing door from your local lumber/window door store. They can get a special order in more quickly than a big box store.  An outswing door will give you additional space that an in-swing door takes up and only costs about $75 more.

Cut out and frame in the new openings, install the window or door and install the exterior trim. It is important that you use spray foam insulation between the gaps of the window or door frames and the wall framing. Let the foam harden and then cut the excess away.  Any alterations to the shed should completed first before proceed to the next step.

3. Electrical Installation: There are two phases to the installation of the electrical. The first phase of any electrical installation is called the Rough In and the second phase is the Finishing. The Rough In is where the electrician will run the wires for your plugs, lights, switches and heater and install the appropriate boxes for each type. He may also install a sub panel in the shed at this time.  Make sure the electrician installs plastic covers behind all for boxes for the vapour barrier. Once you have completed the shed to studio conversion and have all the insulation and interior panels installed the electrician will return to do the Finishing phase and install all the plugs, switches and heater and connect the shed wiring to you home fuss box.

Don’t forget to consider telephone, cable and internet connections as well.

Make sure your electrician is aware of the thickness of the wall and ceiling panels you are going to install so that he can install the electrical boxes with the correct exposure in relation to the panel thickness

4. Ventilation: First and for most your shed’s roof will require proper ventilation and moisture protection to ensure the insulation you install in the shed will not reduce the life of your roof shingles and will not allow moisture to be absorbed by the ceiling insulation. This would reduce the insulating value of the insulation and could create mold.  

Plastic Dome Roof Vent

 Therefore, you must install roof vents near the peak of the roof and continuous soffit vents in eave overhangs of the shed. You have two options either install a standard plastic dome vent or a continuous roof vent. The type installed would be based on the type of ceiling you are going to have in your shed.

 A) Cathedral Ceiling:  If the insulation is installed between the rafters all the way up to the peak, then a continuous roof vent must be installed.

B) Flat Ceiling or Sloped Ceiling with a flat top ceiling before the peak with attic space above it. In these types a ceilings one or two standard plastic dome roof vents can be install near the roof peak, see photo.

Roof Vent Installation: go to a roof shingle manufacturers website and they should have installation instructions on both styles of vents. 

Continuous Soffit Vent Installation

Next you need to consider eave ventilation. This is really the only way to go, because you are going to insulate the individual rafter cavities inside the shed next to the wall. If there are soffit boards under the eave you will have to remove them and if there are boards installed between the rafters on top of the wall framing they will also have to be removed. If you can not remove them drill 2) 2” holes in each one through to the inside of the shed. Now you can install a 2” wide continuous soffit vent in the eave.

Here’s How: Let say your shed’s soffit is 6” wide, cut a piece of ¾” trim board  2” wide and the length of the eave. Then tack the trim board into place nailed to the overhanging rafter tails and up against the shed wall. Make sure you leave the board loose enough so that you can slide the edge of the soffit vent underneath the trim board.  Next take the 2” wide vinyl continuous soffit vent and tuck its edge under the trim board, then tack the outer edge of the vent with a 1 ¼” common galvanized nails to hold it in place. Next install the other trim board between the soffit vent and the outer edge of the eave board. Then finish nailing the first board into place. (see photo)


 5. Insulation: Wearing a mask and white painters suit is a must when insulating the ceiling and walls.

Ceiling Insulation: Once you will have installed the soffit vents you will have to install foam rafter vent channels. These typically come in 4’ lengths and 22” or 14” wide. Cut then into 12” long pieces and staple them to the under side of the roof sheathing between the rafters where the wall meets the roof. Make sure the vents are installed 4” past the edge of the inside of the wall towards the soffit. You are installing these vents so the when you install the ceiling insulation it will not block the air from coming in from the soffit vent. 

A) If your shed has ceiling joists that are installed horizontally from one side of the walls to the other side you can go head and insulate between them. If the spacing is 24” on centre you will need to purchase a box of wire holders.  This is a stiff piece of wire that pressure fits between the ceiling joist to hold the insulation in place after it has been installed. Because you have an attic area above the ceiling joist you can use 6” thick insulation which is typically plenty for a standard size shed. If the joists are 16” on centre you will not have to use the wire holders as the pressure fit of the insulation is usually tight enough to hold it in place.

 B) If your shed has more of a cathedral ceiling style framing then you will have to install 2×2 wood strips on the under side of the rafters that have the roof sheathing attached to them. These strips will help create a 1 ½” air space between the roof sheathing and the insulation when you install 3 1/2″ insulation in a ceiling with 2×4 rafters or 5 1/2″ insulation with 2×6 rafters.

  Wall Insulation; Now install the insulation in the walls, typically you will use a 3 ½” thick insulation. Use insulation the will completely fill the depth of the wall cavities. Make sure that you install the insulation in all spaces leaving no gaps for air, even behind the plugs and switch boxes.

 6. Vapour Barrier: Once all the insulation is installed you will then cover the insulation with a vapour barrier. Staple the vapour barrier to the ceiling joists or rafters and wall studs.  Then tape all the seams with a vapour barrier tape, such as the red tuck tape and tape around of out the outlets and fixtures. On the bottom plate of the wall framing or on the floor at the edge of the wall framing apply a bead of acoustical caulking to seal the vapour barrier to the wall plate or floor and staple the vapour barrier in place.

 7.  Floor Insulation/Thermal Break: Once a shed is built it is typically not possible to install insulation under the floor of the shed, due to the lack of access. Therefore, the best you can do is install ½” to ¾” rigid styrofoam blue board on top of the existing floor. Before installing the foam board apply a bead of acoustical caulking along for the outer edge of the floor next to the walls. This will seal the foam’s outer edge. After laying down the foam board tape all seams with red tuck tape.  Then install ½” or 5/8” plywood over the foam. Before you install the foam make sure you mark the location of the floor joists on the walls so that you know where to nail or screw the plywood.  Another alternative is to use the Barricade Sub floor panel system. 

While the foam will not add a lot of insulation value to the floor surface it will help take the chill off of the floor and most importantly act as a thermal break between the outside and the inside of the shed and will help stop the infiltration of moisture, which will prevent interior condensation from occurring during the winter months.

 8. Panel Installation: This part of the conversion requires good concentration and double or triple checking of your measurements. Once you make the cuts in your panels you cannot fix any mistakes. I use a 3/8” thick smooth pine finished plywood panel. This is the most economical panel I have found to date that is stiff enough for the ceiling and walls and they will take stain or paint very well.

a) First you want to install the ceiling panels. Before doing so you need to determine the layout of all of the panels you are going to install in your new studio. You want to line up the seams of the wall panels with the ceiling planes, if possible. Therefore, I typically determine the location of the center panel of the ceiling and centre panel on the walls to see if they can be lined up together. This way the corner panels should be equal width at each end and will look better when you install the narrow wood strips to cover the panel seams. (see photo)

Pine Panels Installed

b) When installing the ceiling panels you will need another person to help hold up the panel while you nail it in place. Using a finish air gun nailer makes this process much easier and worth the cost of the rental. But, you can also hand nail the panels in place. I nail the edges of the panels every 12” to the framing and every 16” on the framing between the edges.

 9) Flooring: Now you want to install your flooring. I typically use laminate wood flooring. I have installed peal and stick vinyl tiles and you can also install carpeting. These are all personal choices and you should follow the manufactures instructions.

Laminate Flooring & 1"x3" Baseboard Trim

 10) Trim Installation: Next install the window and door trim; I use a 1” x 3” natural wood or pre-primed trim.

a) Windows: First you want to install the window casing, which is the trim that is installed from the inside edge of the windows over the framing and comes out flush to the wall panels. You may need to purchase wider trim and cut it down to the actual width of the area you are covering. Then install the trim around the window leaving a ¼” reveal on the window casing. You can butt the trim at the corners are a cut them at a 45 degree angle.

 b) Baseboard: Install the baseboard trim around the perimeter of the studio interior walls and butt joint them where they meet the door trim and corners. If you are comfortable, you can put a 45 degree cut at the corners.

 Note: When nailing the trim you want to nail to the framing behind the wall panels. So look for the location of the wall framing on the panels and nail the trim there.

 c) Seams & Corners: Next you want to cover the seams and corners of the wall and ceiling panels with wood strips. If you are going to stain the panels you want to purchase pine or hem-fir. If you are going to paint the panels you can purchase pre-primed trim, which is typically less expensive. The seam trim is a flat piece of ¾” x ¼” trim and the corner trim is ¾” quarter round. Install the corner trim first as you are going to butt the seam trim up against it. Again a finish air gun nailer works much better than hand nailing in this case.

Panels with Seam & Corner Trim Installed

11) Staining or Painting: Once you have all of the trim installed you can go ahead and apply your stain or paint.

a) Stain: Apply one or two coats of stain depending on the colour and shade you are looking for and then apply a coat of clear polyurethane. If you are going to apply a second clear coat you may want to lightly sand the first coat.

b) Paint: First apply a coat of interior primer. If you have picked a darker colour you may want to have the primer tinted for that wall colour. Then apply the first coat of paint. If you are going to apply a second coat you may want to lightly sand the panels as the paint will raise the grain of the pine panel.

c) Trim as above.

 12) Finish Electrical: Once you have all of the other steps completed it is time to have your electrician return to complete the installation of all of the electrical components. 

Things to consider: types & style of light fixtures, plugs, switches and heater thermostat. If you are hooking up internet, telephone or cable tv; are you going to have your electrician do this or have your service provider complete this part of the install?

 I hope you have found this article informative and helpful with your shed to studio conversion. If you have any questions or need any help please feel free to contact me or provide me with any comments you may have.

 Good Luck, Steve