How to Build a Lean-To Cabin

| December 22, 2010 | Comments (0)

How to Build a Lean-To Cabin


Lean to cabins are basically used for storage or as an addition to a main cabin’s living space, lean-to cabins typically are attached to or “leaning” against another structure for support. Small in size, a lean-to cabin does not require the foundational support of a freestanding cabin. If you need a garden shed, a child’s play cabin or another storage spot, building a simple lean-to cabin is a fun weekend project for the do-it-yourself homeowner.

  • Locate a suitable place where the cabin is going to be built. Secure a construction permit if required in your location.Calculate the amount of lumber required for your project. Level the construction site.
  • Construct a footing or foundation for the cabin or shed from treated timbers. Used railroad ties work well. Because the lean-to relies on the attached building for support, a traditional foundation is not required. If you are building the lean-to to be freestanding, use four-way deck blocks or concrete blocks for support. Do not place the ties or blocks directly on the ground. The foundation support should rest on a 6-inch to 8-inch layer of compacted gravel.
  • Prepare the floor frame from 2-inch by 8-inch pressure-treated lumber, using 16-inch spacing. Nail the floor joists together, using joist hangers and 2-inch nails. Measure carefully, and make sure the corners are squared and true. Position the floor frame on the lean-to foundation. Cover the floor frame with 5/8-inch pressure-treated plywood. Attach the plywood to the floor joists with nails or wood screws positioned 8 inches apart.
  • Construct the lean-to’s wall frames from 2-inch by 4-inch boards spaced 16 inches apart. Position door and window placement to allow for cross-ventilation. Raise the wall frames one at a time, positioning them squarely on the floor frame. Firmly attach the wall frames to the flooring joists, using 2-inch nails.
  • Build the roof out of 2-inch by 8-inch pressure-treated lumber. Position the joists 16 inches apart. Nail the joist together, using joist hangers and 2-inch spiral shank nails. Position the roof frame on top of the wall frame, and secure with 2-inch nails driven into the wall studs. Cover the roof with 5/8-inch pressure-treated plywood. Attach the plywood to the roof joists with nails or wood screws placed no farther than 8 inches apart. Cover the plywood with a layer of tar paper or plastic weatherproof sheeting. Staple or nail the covering to the plywood. Complete the roof by installing shingles or metal roofing.
  • Cover the exterior walls with 5/8-inch pressure-treated plywood. Cover the plywood with tar paper or plastic sheeting. Complete the outside of the lean-to by covering with T-1-11 siding, wood shakes or composition shingles. Install the windows. Seal around the window frames with weatherproof caulking. Install the door hinges, and hang the lean-to’s door.

Things you are going to need;

  • Foundation stone, cement blocks or four-way deck blocks
  • 5/8-inch pressure treated plywood
  • Roofing materials (wood shingles, composition shingles or metal sheeting)
  • Tar paper or plastic sheeting
  • Insulation
  • Windows and door
  • Railroad ties or foundation supports
  • 2-inch by 4-inch spruce studs
  • 2-inch by 8-inch pressure-treated lumber
  • Joist hangers
  • Nails
  • Wood screws
  • Screwdriver
  • Hammer
  • Hand saw
  • Table saw (circular)


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