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Sheds And Garages: Defining 8 Construction Terms

Jared Reiff - January 12, 2024

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The process of buying sheds and garages can be a little intimidating, especially if you have a limited understanding of construction-related vocabulary. If you find yourself in this category we’ve prepared this article to help you understand construction terms so that you can be a smarter shopper for your next shed or garage.

The first step to successfully buying your outdoor building is to understand the terms used to describe the features of a backyard shed or garage. We’ve compiled a list of the most common terms along with simple definitions.

Pressure Treated Sheds And Garages

This refers to the treatment process used to protect wood against rot and decay. The wood is placed into a tank filled with chemical preservatives. The tanks are highly pressurized which forces the chemicals deep into the wood fibers. Pressure-treated wood can usually be identified by a slightly darker and sometimes green-tinted color and withstands rot and decay for many years. It makes excellent foundation and floor material for portable wood buildings.

Floor Joists 16” on Center

Floor joists are the pieces of lumber that run through the floor which are then covered with sheets of plywood. Think of floor joists as the skeleton of a floor and the plywood as the skin. 16” on center refers to the distance between the center of one joist to the center of the joist beside it. The floor of a wood storage shed, with floor joists that are 16″ on center will easily be able to support your lawn and garden equipment and many other items. If you’re planning to use your shed for vehicle storage, you’ll want the floor joists at 12″ on-center.

Wall Studs 16” on Center

Wall studs are to the walls what floor joists are to the floor. The studs provide the skeleton of the wall over which the siding panels are installed. 16” on center refers to the distance between the center of one stud to the center of the stud beside it. If you’d like more info on exterior options for sheds, we have an entire article on exterior shed wall materials.

(Note: spacing of 16” on center between wall studs or floor joists is the standard used in residential construction)

garages and sheds double top plate

Double Top Plate

A double top plate refers to the two pieces of lumber that run across the top of the wall. Using a double instead of a single top plate significantly strengthens the wall of the prefabricated shed. While many builders use a double 2×4 plate, we use a 2×4 plate topped with a 2×8 plate (except on 8′ wide utility buildings). This adds to the stiffness and quality of the wall and construction.

garages and sheds wall studs

Rafters In Sheds And Garages

Rafters create the skeleton of the roof which is then covered with radiant barrier roof sheathing (see below). Our portable storage buildings feature premium rafters with steel connectors that are spaced at 24″ on center.

sheds and garages rafters

Radiant Barrier OSB Roof Sheathing

OSB stands for “oriented strand board” and is comprised of wood strands or fibers that are compressed together into sheets. This creates a very strong and stable sheet of wood which is widely used in construction. Roof sheathing refers to the sheets of plywood or OSB which are attached to the rafters and form the “skin” of the roof surface. Radiant barrier refers to the reflective layer that is built into the underside of the roof sheathing. This reflective layer effectively reduces the air temperature in a building by as much as 30 degrees on a hot sunny day. Click here for a video on the radiant barrier feature of our sheathing.

sheds and garages roof sheathing

Gable Vents and Ridge Vent

Gable refers to the part of a wall that encloses the end of a pitched roof. This is a good location for a vent since it allows the hot air that rises inside the shed to escape. The ridge vent is located along the ridge of the roof and also serves the function of allowing hot air to escape. Vents play an important part in keeping a custom shed cool during hot weather.

sheds and garages gable vent

Does That Help You?

Understanding terms is only the first step but it’s an important one since not all sheds and garages are constructed using the same standards (see our article on portable storable building prices.) Now you’ll be a smarter shopper as you compare backyard sheds to find the one that will serve you well for a lifetime. If you still have questions, please reach out to us.

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