Converting a shed to living space: Walls ceilings and floors

Part 2 of ConvertingĀ  a shed to living space.

Part 1, Converting a shed to living space: Getting started , covered the basics of planning, preparing a proper foundation, rough in plumbing, and insulation. Part 2 picks up where we left off.


Be certain to measure properly, and not forget about the plumbing and electrical outlets. It is a good idea to draw an arrow on the floor for each outlet, and write the distance from the floor to the outlet just in case. By doing this, you can even cut them out after the wallboard is in place, just be careful not to nick any wiring. The Drywall should be nailed into place using the proper cup nails for the job, or drywall screws. Either way, be sure not to damage the drywall by breaking the outer cardboard layer. A nail driven flush with a slight hammer dimple is ideal. A screw set just bellow flush is great.

Tape and bed

Once the drywall on the walls and ceiling is in place, you can begin to add the tape and bedding. This is the process of covering the seams and dimples in the drywall. There are usually instructions for doing this in the package. It is simply a matter of spreading a thin layer of bedding material down the seam, and pressing the tape into it by running a trowel over the top, and then applying another thin layer on top. this is a good time to fill any stray nail or screw holes and other imperfections, trowel off any excess.


Once the walls and ceiling are dry, you may have to use a damp sponge or sanding block to smooth any rough spots. When the surface is smooth, you can apply texture to the ceiling first. I suggest this because it is a little messy, and doing it first may save you the trouble of having to clean and redo your walls. If you plan to use paneling on the walls, you can do that next, if not, it is time to texture the walls. Professionals do this in a number of ways. Some trowel a thin layer of bedding material over the walls, and use a “crows foot” to add texture. Some spray out texture from a hopper. My favorite way is to take a medium to long nap roller cover, mix the texture materials to a medium consistency, and thin roll this onto the wall like paint. After you do it for a bit, you will develop a good method that works for you and appears consistent.

Door and window trim

The simplest way to do the windows this is to create a simple window stool, and fill in around the window with drywall, then tape bed and texture as you do the walls and ceiling. The door trim is a simple matter of cutting the trim to size, and nailing it in place. Remember to measure carefully, and get the angles right. Counter sink the trim nails, caulk the holes, and use caulk to fill in any mistakes or imperfections, and you are ready to paint the trim.


Once the texture has dried, and you are satisfied with the job, apply paint in your favorite way. Apply as many coats as needed to reach a consistent finish.


Whatever type of flooring you like can be applied at this point. If you choose linoleum you may want to smooth the floor out a bit, and make sure that all nails are properly seated flush or slightly below the surface. Use an appropriate seam filler. Carpet is one of the easiest floor coverings for such a structure, and most other coverings, like ceramic tile, will require a substantial amount of preparation to get the right results.

Finish plumbing and electrical

You can now finish the plumbing and electrical. Add the fittings and fixtures in their proper places, check for leaks and shorts, and add whatever other cosmetic touches you desire.

This is a slight oversimplification of the process, but all the basic steps are included. This assumes that you already know basic construction techniques, or can learn them from the many sources online or elsewhere.

See also: Converting a shed to living space: Getting started

Converting a shed to living space: Getting started


There are as many reasons for turning a shed into living or working space as there are people who choose to do it. Some people are having to downsize as a result of economic difficulties, some folks just want to add a nice garden cottage for guests, some people want to create a presentable and comfortable office space, and some may want a little backyard get away or a pleasant game room or reading room. No matter what angle you approach it from, the steps to converting a shed to livable space are about the same, and they all start with the same thing:


Plan ahead. Check with local officials, and get any permissions or permits you will need ahead of time. Make a working drawing of the project. Lay out the work that you will do, what materials you will need, and how you plan to approach the work. If your local codes require a licensed plumber and electrician to do the plumbing and electrical work, it is better to know that early, and make the appropriate contacts. Make sure you know exactly where you want plumbing and electrical fixtures to be. Make sure that you can adequately heat and cool the building. If this is to be done with a window unit, do you have enough windows, and that one of them is sufficient for the job. If not, you may have to cut a hole in the side of the building to accommodate it, and that is good to know early in the process. Plan for the materials that you will need such as insulation, drywall, fasteners, bedding and texture materials, and of course all the wiring, pipes, and fixtures.

The foundation

Before you start any of the work, you should insure that your building has a firm foundation. Depending on what part of the world your shed resides, that will mean different things. If you live in a very cold part of the world, you may want, or even need to dig as much as 50 inches deep and pour a concrete footer, or install a concrete slab. In most places in the southern half of the U.S. this is not needed. A concrete slab is a good way to go in almost any part of the world, but in moderate climates, a firm base of compacted crushed rock and perimeter blocking will do the job nicely. Once that is done, we strongly suggest underpinning the building.

Plumbing and electrical rough in

With a secure foundation in place, you will be ready to take the next step, and that should be plumbing and electrical. Please be sure to check for local regulations and permits needed before embarking on this. Some areas may require that the work be done by licensed professionals. Be sure to do this before you insulate and drywall. It will save a lot of frustration.


Is your electrical done, including all the switch and outlet boxes? Is the plumbing roughed in, including all piping through the walls and floors? If so, you are ready to insulate. Depending on the type of insulation you have chosen to use, it will be a simple matter of either placing the bats in the cavity between the studs and stapling the edges in place, or rolling it out over the studs, and stapling this to the studs. Make sure that the switch boxes, outlet boxes, and plumbing openings are left accessible. See also: Converting a shed to living space: Walls ceilings and floors

Sheds For Living

Depending on when you are reading this, and what news stories you have been following, the economy is probably in poor condition. It is worse sometimes than other times, but the first quarter of 2011 does not look good by anyone’s standards on either side of the political mainstream. We have gone through a housing crisis, due in large, to a banking crisis due to poor policies, dating back several administrations, and those poor policies were based on poor policies several administrations before, and so on.

No matter what goes on in Washington, the lives of the people that our government was meant to serve go on, and most of us have had to cut back in some ways, often pretty severely.

Why bring this up on a site about sheds?

Why do I bring this up on a website about sheds and small buildings? Simple. When things started going down hill with the economy, one of the first things we noticed was that people were beginning to order very large portable buildings, and although it may be a sad commentary on the state of our economic affairs, the purpose was for living.

Seeing this trend, shed and portable building manufacturers kicked their creative powers into gear and began manufacturing larger versions of their hunting and fishing cabin models, and making other innovations to meet these needs. Many of these converted sheds have more in common with a house than a storage building. The gap between home construction and portable building construction has begun to close, and there are many people living in very nice, albeit small utility building structures until such time as economic conditions improve. We have re-engaged the innovative spirit that brought us through our most difficult times, and which will bring us through this one.

Larger utility sheds built on site

Many shed manufacturers will build a larger version of their product on site, and that for a fraction of the cost of standard home construction. Some will even do the plumbing and electrical work, as well as insulation and drywall, and when it is done, you have a nice little bungalow.

Dried in

Most storage sheds and utility buildings are shipped or built in what would be the “dried in” phase of construction. That means that they are the shell of a living space, and the work remaining to make the space livable is all on the inside of the structure. Many people choose to do this work themselves. I would caution anyone who plans to do this, to check local building codes, and get any permits required before starting such a project, and to leave the electrical work to a licensed electrician.

It may be difficult, but it can be done, and when we get through this crisis, and the belt tightening days are over, you will still have a nice little cottage that you can use for other purposes, or rent to someone else for extra income.

To learn more about using sheds for living, and converting sheds into usable living space, see: