How to Build a Camping Cabin

Constructing a camping cabin not only creates a quiet retreat, but also strengthens family relationships.

Building a camping cabin leaves a lasting memory.Building a camping cabin leaves a lasting memory.
Make this cabin a family project and make everyone a part of this lasting experience. With some careful preparation and a little patience, anyone can build a place to escape.

Call local officials and ask about any building codes and required permits. Sketch the site plan for a 8x12 foot cabin. Place the building, on the property sketch, with consideration of the view. Mark the placement of the door and any windows.

Visit the cabin's location with the site plans. Use spray paint to mark any trees which need to be cleared along with the cabin's outline. The cabin foundation requires a level surface. If the site is uneven, decide whether to level the area with excavating, stamped gravel and/or a poured concrete foundation.

Place one prefabricated, concrete deck block at each corner of the cabin's foundation. Center another block at the halfway mark between any two corners. Follow suit with the last three blocks, centering these blocks along the remaining three sides of the cabin's perimeter.

Set one board, 2x4x8 feet, horizontally into the notches of the concrete blocks along one of the cabin's shorter sides. Place a 2x4x12 in the notches of the concrete blocks on one of the longer sides with the end of the board meeting the end of the 2x4x8 at the corner. Nail the boards together at this corner with galvanized framing nails. Repeat this step until all four sides of the cabin's frame are complete.

Place five boards, 2x4x8's, in the center of the cabin's perimeter, laying the boards sideways between the two longer sides of the cabin. Use joist hangers to evenly space the boards approximately 18 inches apart. Lay 5/8-inch sheets of plywood on top of the floor frame. Attach the plywood to the floor frame joists at 8-inch intervals.

Construct the frame for one 12-foot-long wall, on the cabin's floor, by nailing two of the 2x4x12's and two of the 2x4x8's to the height and width of the wall's dimensions. Within the frame, add vertical boards, also called studs, every 24 inches. Leave space for any doors or windows which require at least an 1/2-inch opening between the window/door frame and the wall frame. Place one or two cross braces horizontally between every two studs. Repeat this step for the other 12-foot long wall and the 8-foot long walls.

Lift and place one wall, once all four are complete, upright. Nail the entire wall to one side of the cabin by nailing the wall's bottom board to the floor.Repeat this step for the other three walls. Nail each wall to the other at every corner.

Mark two-foot intervals, along the top of the 12-foot-long walls, where the trusses should lay horizontally. Trusses will be delivered and lowered with a crane (by the lumberyard) onto these designated marks. Follow the truss manufacturer's instructions on installation.

Lay 3/8-inch sheets of plywood on the trusses. Allow one inch of plywood to hang over each side of the roof. Cover this plywood with felt roofing paper in overlapping, horizontal layers nailed in place. Nail the asphalt shingles over the roof paper according to the shingle manufacturer's instructions.

Staple moisture-repellent house wrap to the exterior walls by stapling the fabric to the studs. Add tape to seal the house wrap at each corner. Over the house wrap, nail sheets of wall panels (or other siding) to the studs. Space galvanized nails 12 inches apart when attaching the panels. Cover panel seams with 1x2x8's.

Install the door and windows inside the wooden frames you created previously. Add weather sealant caulk to the door frame and window frames. Paint the cabin's exterior paneling and add fascia around the perimeter of the roof.

Things You Will Need

  • Paper
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • 1 can black spray paint
  • Gravel and stamper for leveling foundation site (optional)
  • 8 prefabricated concrete "4-way" deck blocks (each measuring 8 inches high and 11 inches square)
  • Hammer
  • Nails (variety of types for framing, roofing and siding)
  • 6 pressure-treated boards measuring 2x4x12 foot
  • 42 pressure-treated boards measuring 2x4x8 foot
  • 14 joist hangers
  • 3 sheets 5/8-inch by 4x8 pressure-treated plywood
  • Roof trusses (ask lumberyard for the correct number, measurements and pitch)
  • 5 sheets 3/8-inch by 4x8 pressure-treated plywood
  • 1 roll of felt roofing paper
  • 5 boxes asphalt shingles
  • 1 roll moisture repelling house wrap
  • Construction staples
  • 1 roll house-wrap tape
  • 10 exterior paneling sheets or exterior siding panels of your choice
  • Exterior paint
  • 5 fascia boards


  • Take the project slowly and ask for help from friends or the nearby lumberyard when you feel stuck. Undoing a mistake takes longer than preventing one in the first place.


  • Don't attempt to lift the wall frames, lay the roof plywood or nail shingles in place without the help of at least one other person.

About the Author

Jennifer Marlowe is a seasoned journalist with experience since 1994. As a former reporter and columnist, she has written for a variety of publications including "The Cleveland Plain Dealer," "Sew Simple Magazine," "Northern Ohio Live," "Ohio Game & Fish" and "The Country's Best Log Homes." Marlowe holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from the University of Akron.