Last modified: November 20, 2023

How to Easily Build a Shed Roof: Fast and Leak-Proof Guide

Men standing in between roof rafters of house frame


Men standing in between roof rafters of house frame

How to Easily Build a Shed Roof: Fast and Leak-Proof Guide

Written by Garden Buildings Direct
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Are you thinking about building a shed? If so, then it’s a good idea to make a checklist of what needs to be included in the planning.
And before you even do that, you might want to check the rules on planning permission for your garden building. Depending on your style of roof, there’s a wide range of roofing and building materials you could use.
That’s why we’ve put together this resource with step by step guide on how to roof your garden shed for extra protection in all weather conditions.
From; pent, gable, and hip to gambrel, saltbox and more, all have standards for planning your build. When you decide to build your own shed, choosing the right roofing is essential, and there are a few important factors to consider when doing this.

Shed roof the style with top half of a reverse apex shed

Step 1 – The Style

First of all, you need to know whether your roof style will actually fit. And then, whether or not it will be in-fitting with your shed’s style. For example, a pent roof for a large workshop might not be the best idea if you want to move tall equipment in and out. Similarly, a reverse apex roof might not suit a space-saving corner summer house.

Waterproof cross-section of a shed roof

Step 2 – Is It Waterproof & Weather Resistant?

Will your choice of roofing style and materials prevent the contents from getting wet and keep them dry? The right materials and construction are important.

Ultimately, all styles from a gable roof to fancy skillion roofs are designed to allow for adequate runoff. This means they should keep your shed’s interior dry and be resistant to pooling. But the materials you choose may differ.

The budget with two sets of apex sheds facing each other

Step 3 – The Budget

Will the construction of the roof design be cost-effective for its lifecycle? What materials will be needed? Traditional felt style, wooden, or clay shingles?

You may even opt for a more modern green ‘living plant’ roof. This could be an attractive low-cost and low-maintenance alternative when building a shed roof. Think about the durability of the materials when choosing them.

Will you want to change out the roofing material? With something like green roof felt or bitumen shingles, this is a lot easier to do. How often will the roofing need to be replaced to maintain it properly? Would it be more cost-effective to fork out for an EPDM rubber roof that’s waterproof?

Without careful material selection, building an economic and waterproof roof that looks beautiful is possible.

Step 4 – Roof Styles – What Type of Roof?

Roofs have three broad pitch groups, meaning the angle or slope for water runoff. Depending on the desired pitch, the right materials need to be chosen to follow the targeted slant.
A popular misconception about water is it only flows downhill and this is not always true when it comes to a roof level. Wind gusts can blow water upwards and defy gravity, forcing water in between tile overlaps and into the roof’s structure.
Minimum pitch standards, for any roofing system, help ensure resistance against water ingress. Still, something like clay tiles on top of a waterproof underlay may offer even more protection.
Flat Roof 0-10 degrees pent roof shed with clock

The Flat Roof – Pitch 0 to 10 degrees

A flatter roof is likely to be a pent style with a bit of roof overhang at the front. Perfect for a shady little veranda in front of a garden summer house.

A flat roof has a pitch of 10 degrees or lower. The main material used for a shed with a flat roof is bitumen mineral felt on top of sheet metal or plywood roofing boards. If choosing a flat roof, keep in mind this will most likely require more frequent maintenance to prevent leaking. Check out the infographic below for more info on vapour membranes.

Vapour Barrier Infographic GBD

The building industry has an old saying when it comes to flat roofs: ‘There are those that leak and those that will at some point.’ Still, don’t let this put you off a lovely contemporary pent-roof shed.

The maintenance cycle will be less regular if the slant is closer to a 10-degree pitch, but it will still occur more regularly than if using a higher pitch.

An important thing to remember: if an insulated roof is being installed, be sure to allow for an air gap between the roof deck and the insulation for ventilation purposes. This will help prevent moisture build-up and the encouragement of mould growth. In addition, it is always a good idea to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.

It is also recommended by some local authorities to add an additional 5 degrees to the manufacturer’s minimum pitch for good measure. This helps ensure ‘water tightness’.

The low pitch roof 10-20 degrees with apex shed with hanging plant

The Low Pitch Roof – 10 to 20 degrees

A low-pitched roof is sloped at 10 to 20 degrees and the most common materials used are tiles and shingles. Extra care and caution need to be taken to use a waterproof underlay when installing, and it is important to follow manufacturer recommendations.

The pitched roof 20 degrees and higher with apex shed

The Pitched Roof – 20 degrees and higher

With a steep pitch, this is the common style we see on apex roofs, with a central peak at the ridge.

A pitched roof is sloped at 20 degrees or higher. Materials commonly used for this degree of slope come with their own important ‘rules of thumb’.

Step 5 – Roof Covering and Roof Material

Have a look below at your choices for roof material.

concrete interlocking tiles with shed rof

Concrete interlocking tiles

  • Best suited material for a 20-degree or higher pitch.
  • Heavy weighted material. For safety reasons, the supporting roof and wall strength and supportability must be considered and included in structure planning.
  • Concrete interlocking tiles are more common on larger timber structures as opposed to smaller ones due to their weight.

clay tiles on a shed roof

Clay tiles

  • For a general pitch of 35 degrees minimum.
  • Hard outer shell – waterproof.
  • Available in a huge range of colours, sizes, and shapes.

Whatever the materials you choose to build your shed roof with, always get the manufacturer’s datasheets for the products. These will include the roof pitch minimum to keep the shed waterproof.


Asphalt shingles and green roof felt

Bitumen or asphalt shingles and green roofing felt are budget-friendly and easy to install whilst offering excellent protection. They’re also easily replaced if need be. That’s why our garden sheds come with roofing and felt included as standard.

Step 6 – Shed Roofing Materials Costs

A roll of mineral roof felt comes with our standard garden sheds, summerhouses, and log cabins. These will generally still have a short life expectancy no matter what. Consider replacing after 3 to 5 years. Remember, any damage to the shed roofing may allow water in and damage the shed’s structure.

For a more secure (but more expensive) choice over mineral roof felt, the next step up is felt tiles or roofing shingles with a 15-year life expectancy. Starting at the bottom of the roof, the tiles are laid overlapping each other by roughly 50 mm with a 150mm overlap on either side of the ridge. Fix this strip with ridge capping or bitumen adhesive.

Wooden shingles – a 30-year life expectancy and have a layer of underlay on the bottom and are fixed to battens.

roof rafters vs trusses

Step 7 – Roof Rafters vs Trusses

Which is better for your roof frame, roof rafters or roof trusses? It depends on whose opinion you are listening to!

Some old school framers prefer rafters, but new school framers like that trusses can be built in less time and are more cost and time effective; less time to build means fewer hours.

What are rafters? Rafters support a roof deck and are a series of sloped beams extending from the hip or ridge to the wall plate (eave or downslope). Two rafters make up a couple. Rafters are prone to collapsing if there is horizontal movement; this is known as racking.

What are trusses? Timber roof trusses are structural frames that provide support to a roof by bridging the space (known as the bay) above a room. Trusses provide longitudinal support because of the added beams used in the truss structural design.

Building and setting a shed roof with a reverse apex shed and roof cross-section

Step 8 – How to Build Shed Roof Trusses

Build the Shed Trusses

How to Build Barn Style Shed Roof Trusses

Mega Shed: Building and Setting the Roof Trusses

Building Roof Truss System for Shed, Barn or Tiny House

Installing Trusses on the Shed

Step 9 – How to Build Shed Roof Rafters

How to Cut a Roof Rafter

How to Layout Roof Rafters

Gable Roof Pattern Rafter Board

Gable Roof Rafters – Learn How to Build a Barn Roof

Ridge and Beam Rafters

Hip Roof Pattern Rafter

Building Roof Rafters

Ridge Beam and Rafters

Building and Installing Rafters

Jack Rafters

Frame a Hip Roof, Fast and Easy

No matter what type of shed you are building – small, medium or large- well-thought-out planning is a must!

The shed roof framing design will also inform:

  • The type of shed roof finish: traditional shingles, clay, wood, sheet metal or eco-living
  • The type of support: rafter or truss
  • The time involved
  • The cost.
Once you’ve successfully built, weatherproofed, and even insulated your shed’s roof, you can think about heating it.

There are many design plans available to download and videos online to guide you. Deciding which one you want to have in your yard is the first step. So check out the links to videos and resources or move on to our guide on how to damp proof and insulate your shed.

(Image Credit: Conor Brown/Unsplash)

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