Introduction: Shelf Made Shed

Picture of Shelf Made Shed

I have not found any other Instructable or online guide that suggests this method of building .

I think that this is an amazing new way to build a shed using shelving as the core, which saves a lot of work and money.

Step 1: The Need

Picture of The Need

When I retired I had to move out of my offices. That meant I suddenly had to find a home for 20 years of accumulated stuff.

Not only that, but I had to do it fast and at the lowest possible cost.
I looked at using local storage facilities or buying a big shed, but both were way out of my budget.

Step 2: The Idea

Picture of The Idea

I had all the plastic shelving from my now vacated premises.... but no room or shed to put the shelving in.
Then I had that amazing AHA moment. I could use the shelving as the very core of a new building.

I was not sure that the shelving would be strong enough and firm enough to support the structure, so I needed to do a trial. For that I cleared a suitable area at the back of the garden , and laid them out.

Step 3: Preparation

Picture of Preparation

The layout clearly showed that the shelving would fit neatly into the space. It was strong and I was pleased to confirm that they would be a great basis for a building.
Unfortunately, It also showed that I would need to do a lot of preparatory hacking.

Step 4: How to Get It All Together?

Picture of How to Get It All Together?

Ok... so I would have a core, but I needed to hold it all together and find the cheapest components that would protect the contents from the elements.

I considered just throwing a tarp' over the lot, but that was not really going to give me the protection needed.

I experimented and came up with the idea of strapping the shelving together with good old Zip ties. This was very effective in stabilising the groups of shelves but then I needed to attach a frame to hold some form of cladding, and support a roof.

I had a large number of thin interior cladding boards which I decided could be screwed onto the outside junctions of the shelves.

This would provide further strengthening to the core and give me the height I needed to construct the roof.

I originally thought of covering the outside with plywood or even OSB board, but the cost was too high...Then on an expedition to my local Wickes I saw a plastic sheet material similar to Correx. The sheeting is designed to protect floors during building work. It is VERY cheap at around £4 per 8ft by 4ft sheet. This could be my rain-proof, rot-proof cladding.

The final requirement was for the roof. Since I did not want windows taking up valuable storage space , I decided that clear corrugated PVC roof panels would be the best way to go.

Step 5: Starting the Build

Picture of Starting the Build

I was lucky to have pavings already in place and so I just covered them with a tough plastic sheet to act as a damp-proof membrane. My wife and I assembled all the shelves and then realised that we would not have access to the end, once everything was in place.

Consequently the far end was first zip tied together, the battens screwed in and cladding fastened on. Then the pre-assembled end was pushed into place.

Step 6: The Cladding

Picture of The Cladding

The sheets were simply laid over the backs of the shelves and screwed to the battens. Next a knife was used to cut the sheets to size.

All screws were inserted in little plastic covers so that they would be waterproof. At the ends another vertical layer was added for extra protection, to cover the open ends and to make it look better.

Step 7: The Door

Picture of The Door

I had an old door frame and door, which was way too good for the job, but was the cheapest solution. I placed it into the gap. Then secured it direct to the plastic shelving. At one side I needed to cut filling blocks which I reinforced with metal brackets.

Of course everything had to be constantly checked for level and verticality.

Step 8: The Roof

Picture of The Roof

I decided that a shallow 10 degree slope would be enough to allow rain to drain, and would maximise the internal storage height.

At first I tried to cut the lengths of PVC roofing with a jig-saw and a fine toothed blade but that was an epic fail, smashing the plastic AND the blade. Next I tried using a cutting disc on an angle grinder which is DEFINITELY the best way to do that job.

I used the wavy foam inserts that are sold along with the sheets, for extra support and sealing.

The little plastic covers were also used to prevent water leaking into the structure.

Step 9: The Finished Project

Picture of The Finished Project

I was very pleased with the result. It is a great shed made from shelving and perfectly strong and dry.

I estimate that it has given me over 100 sq ft of storage.

I have subsequently added a door surround and a bottom board to neaten appearance.

Since using the plastic shelving as the structural support for the shed, I have been looking at other shelving systems.

I am sure that using metal, heavy duty shelving would produce an even stronger permanent structure. It could be clad with the plastic or with exterior quality ply and maybe then rendered to produce a superb building.

I definitely recommend that you try such methods yourselves.


SabinaCowan (author)2016-07-29

thinking about making a chicken coup.

Deltic (author)2016-07-28

B*ll*cks! - I just gave away 5 of these shelving units - I'll never make a comedian; my timing sucks! Great idea btw.

jam1701 (author)2015-10-26

that's pretty & practical.
can you provide more info on the material that you used for the walls ?

we call it corflute in Australia

Gregarious (author)jam17012015-10-26

Hi...thanks for asking.

As I say in the 'ible , I got it from Wickes who I believe operate in the US as well as the UK. It is branded as Antinox. I have also used it as a great roofing material on another garden shed.

rledsom (author)Gregarious2015-10-28

Really great idea I might give it a go if I can get the parts cheap.

Gregarious (author)rledsom2015-10-29

Thanks for your compliment.

As I say, the plastic sheets and linking materials are cheap, since the shed is primarily supported by the shelving, (that I already had).

If you need to buy shelving then that could be a major cost component.

My concept is the reverse of the usual method whereby you build a shed then buy or build shelving to put into it.

It is overall a cost effective method of having both a shed AND shelving.

Using just the plastic sheet material with traditional 2x4s and cross members would still save money over cladding with ply, OSB or feather boards.

If you just want to build a regular standard shed then the traditional method is perhaps the cheapest way to build.

Gregarious (author)jam17012015-10-28

Hi, thanks for your comments.
I mentioned the product in another reply and the name Antinox.
It is very similar to Correx the fluted plastic sheeting that is often used for signs.
If you (or anyone) wants to read up on it then this is the link is to the place I bought it:
I searched for a source in the USA but have not found one. I thought that Wickes still operated in the states, as I have visited a store there in the past, but I have not found any addresses.
Hope this helps. Cheers.

mbusby (author)2015-11-01

Nice solution for your area. Just a quick point about cable ties. Use solid colour ones as the clear or white degrade very quickly when exposed to direct sunlight. I know you are in the UK and you don't have the same sort of sun exposure as I do in northern Queensland but clear cable ties will fail here within 6 months black or any other solid colour will hang in there for 2 to 3 years, but they will all fail eventually.

PamG10 (author)mbusby2015-11-05

I have to agree. This would never stand up to the sun in Oz, as plastic quickly perishes as the roof on this shed will eventually.I also don't see this standing up to the storm that we have here either.

Gregarious (author)PamG102015-11-11

Thanks for the contributions above which I am sure friends in differing climates will take note of.

Here in the North of England, we have just had a great storm, with 80 mph winds and near horizontal heavy rain. My poor little shed remained unaffected and there was no ingress of water. That was not quite the same story with my concrete garage that has a solid roof and DID let water in.

Please all note that I have never said, nor would I say, that my method is suitable for every weather condition or location.

My basic idea it that instead of building a frame then putting in shelves, it is possible to use shelving as the frame. That shelving could be super strong metal or the simple plastic as I used. The end result is perfect, but only if you wanted shelving in your shed. You should then use whatever is best in your area for covering the sides and roof.

With regard to the discussions regarding the cladding and roof then I would simply say that everyone just needs to use their local knowledge and choose the best materials that match their budget.

I went for really cheap materials because I had to have a waterproof storage shed fast and cheap. Having said that I can confirm that the fluted plastic sheet cladding is performing far better than past projects where I used marine ply or feather boards.

As for the roof and my use of the corrugated PVC I can also confirm that where I have used it elsewhere in my garden it has gone opaque, but is still doing the job. That is after up to 10 years and a lot of UV exposure.

Of course different climates and locales will produce their own results.

Gregarious (author)mbusby2015-11-01

Wow..I had no idea that they failed as you say.
The ones in my shed are not really exposed to sunlight and in any event the main reason for using them was during the early construction to keep everything together. Once the battens were on and everything screwed together they were not really needed.
However despite our 'inferior' weather, I will certainly heed you warning and will not use them in mission critical projects in future.
Thanks for the info.

PamG10 (author)Gregarious2015-11-05

NO one said that the weather in the UK was inferior but rather that Australia being closer to the sun in summer is far too punishing. Were this to be made of steel it would hold up brilliantly. The poor attitude is your own dear author, whilst you may believe that down under is a paradise, it is in fact very punishing.

BethanyH4 (author)2015-11-01

Does it get pretty warm in there? I like the design, but I wonder about ventilation.

Gregarious (author)BethanyH42015-11-01

Hi and thanks for commenting.
We have had some pretty hot sunny days after it was built and it was not at all bad. I have not taken measurements but I did pop in specifically to see how hot it got since it has black plastic sheeting.
It was just as you would expect any outhouse or shed to be.
I too was worried about ventilation since I was concerned that the door would not close or if I shut I fast the air pressure would bust the roof off!
For that reason I have left a few gaps under the roof which are still waterproof but do let air in/out.
I keep a lot of documents and art materials in there and so far they are not adversely affected.
I will keep checking though, since we have not had a frost yet.

dmagryta124 (author)2015-11-01

I really appreciate this! So resourceful and clever! I want to build a compact cabin like this kinda but with insulating foam panels over the shelving covered or coated with a shell material like you used or even something like tar paper. The clear PVC skylight is really clever! How could I design it so that the transparent sheeting is insulated better? two layers separated by air or a gas of some sort? Also, does the transparent plastic turn yellow over time?

Gregarious (author)dmagryta1242015-11-01

Hi, thanks for your comments and questions.
This was designed to be a waterproof safe place for me to store a range of items. I certainly would not move in or rent it out as accommodation.
There are many other materials that you can use to give better insulation if required. The triple walled polycarbonate sheeting used for conservatories would be pretty good for the roof...if a lot more expensive,
The PVC sheeting does not yellow but it does go more opaque.

Octdelta (author)2015-11-01

I saw this furnitures around 30 a right?

Gregarious (author)Octdelta2015-11-01

I originally bought the shelving from Costco for around £10 each. There are many similar styles available from many sources. The solution that I described is really only viable if you already have shelving our intend to buy it to put into a shed.
Thanks for your question.

LauraB11 (author)2015-10-31

This tickled me! I have the beginning of a shed in my back yard. I did go the tarp route for lack of a better plan. And you are right. Just doesn't give me the coverage I need. Ours also sits on the ground, not concrete. Using Milk crates, but stacked and put together with zip ties. Thought I was being brilliant. Thanks for sharing this. Now I can use your ideas to finish mine!

Gregarious (author)LauraB112015-10-31

Glad I inspired you.
Your use of milk crates is interesting. Over there in the US they seem to be as abundant as pallets. Here in the UK they are usually returned. Maybe Instructables should have a contest that is based on milk crates or Zip ties. They are certainly both strong muti-use items.

aallen33 (author)2015-10-30

I think this setup would work well for a greenhouse. Just use greenhouse sheeting instead. Thanks for the idea!

Gregarious (author)aallen332015-10-30

Yes you are correct...thanks for mentioning it.

The plastic shelving would also be best as staging since it can be watered without bothering about rot and also even steam cleaned if you get an infection in your greenhouse.

Hope you post a picture when you make it.


pfred2 (author)2015-10-28

When I moved I needed some cheap storage space myself. I just went with a more traditional shed that I built myself pretty cheaply. I think it cost $200? I used OSB and 2x4s for framing it. Then I covered it in tar paper. 10 years on it is still up. I sure did not build it to any building codes though. Like the 2x4s are 24" on center. Place is a real shack.

Gregarious (author)pfred22015-10-28

Oh the joys of shed building... I will let you know how this one is doing in 10 years time.

Thanks for commenting.

Razor 911 (author)2015-10-28

this is awesome would love to try it but the hail in RSA would just damage the roof plates

Gregarious (author)Razor 9112015-10-28

Not sure where you are (Is RSA South Africa?)
BUT Hail is hail and not good anywhere.
The main point of my 'ible is not the roof , which could be any suitable material. The 'unique' aspect is the use of shelving as the main support system, combined with the plastic fluted covering that is weatherproof and cheap.
Hope your weather improves.
Thanks for stopping by.

AndrewE20 (author)Gregarious2015-10-28

RSA = Republic of South Africa

Najn_arte (author)2015-10-28

I have an identical set of shelves sitting around. I might as well make something like that.

Gregarious (author)Najn_arte2015-10-28

Yeh! Go for it and be sure to post up a picture as 'I made it'. Cheers.

cwillis4 (author)2015-10-28

Fantastic! well thought out . I think this would work even with lighter weight metal shelving if you had less space. The shelving gives fantastic integrity to the building. Love the roof and would love to try something like this.

Gregarious (author)cwillis42015-10-28

Good to hear. My neighbours are now building their own versions. Soon we may take over the world with shelving sheds.

Razor 911 (author)2015-10-28

yes it is South Africa it is a cool instructable job well done

Big Projects (author)2015-10-27

Really cool idea! Keep it up Gregarious!

Gregarious (author)Big Projects2015-10-27


I am just a little gutted that I could not get it into the Shelving contest :-(

Gregarious (author)Gregarious2015-10-28 did get into the Shelving contest,

so please do vote for it. Thanks.

GabrielaH3 (author)2015-10-27

Brilliant, but could encourage hoarding!


Gregarious (author)GabrielaH32015-10-27

Hey! Have you been talking to my wife?
You are very perceptive but I have to say in my defence that 'most' of it will eventually end up on eBay....probably.

GabrielaH3 (author)Gregarious2015-10-27

Yeah, yeah, that's what we all say!

Watch me make (author)2015-10-27

I saw you used the drill you revived in your other ible

Gregarious (author)Watch me make2015-10-27

Hey that is very observant of you sir!

Yes indeed it is still going strong and has managed to garner over 100,000 views, which I find very pleasing. It has also been Favorited over 300 times which is nice too.

It was always a disappointment to me that it was not able to be entered into the' Before and After ' contest. Indeed this current shed 'ible was not allowed into the shelving contest that was also annoying for me.

(If you are reading this and wonder what we are discussing then please visit this link: )

Gregarious (author)Gregarious2015-10-27

Great update to my comments. Those lovely guardians of the Instructables metaverse have let my super shelving based shed into the contest.
I do hope that everyone will now use your valuable vote for my entry.

livichris (author)2015-10-27

brilliant idea and looks like a proper permanent shed, not the hotch-potch bodge of a shed I've got at the moment.

Gregarious (author)livichris2015-10-27

Thanks for your feedback. I reckon that even if I had bought all the materials instead of using the wood and door that I already had, the total cost would still be several hundred pounds less than buying the same sized shed.

MrJanuary (author)2015-10-26

this is an awesome idea!! I just built a pallet shed myself but I wish I had thought of this instead. Luckily I still need one more shed. I'm totally going to do this for my next one.

Gregarious (author)MrJanuary2015-10-26

Glad you like it. I too am now building another one . This time I am using some Ikea shelving, that I have, as the supports. I will still use the plastic sheeting for the outer.

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Bio: A long time Instructables lurker.. now pleased to be an Instructables worker, in; doing instead of doodling. This is easier now that I am ... More »
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