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How to Build an Outdoor Storage Bench

Hide Outdoor Clutter in a DIY Storage Bench

Our front porch has been a cluttered, embarrassing mess for too long! It's always covered with our son's foam sword armory, umbrellas, bike helmets and half-dead plants. Nothing says "Welcome to our home" quite like the decor of an abandoned yard sale.

front porch before 1

I wanted this collection of random outdoor things to stay outdoors, but contained and hidden away. Some seating would also be nice, so I can watch the sword fights from something a bit more comfortable than the concrete steps. What I really needed was a bench storage box.

I started looking around at various options, but there's not a ton of choices out there. Plastic deck boxes are fairly inexpensive but don't do much for the curb appeal. On the other hand, nice wooden ones are soooo expensive! Then I found this fabulous DIY outdoor storage box plan made by Kim from the fantastic blog Sand and Sisal.

Sand and Sisal's storage bench

Isn't it gorgeous? And exactly what I was looking for! The trim would echo back to our huge 9-pane picture window at the front of the house, and the dimensions were perfect for the space. I love the pop of color under the lid, but I'll stick with boring white for now.

I won't go through the step by step building process, since Kim did such a great job with her tutorial. But I'll show you some changes I made along the way, and some mistakes you can hopefully avoid!

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My first change was to assemble the box with pocket holes and screws, rather than glue and nails. I was worried that nails wouldn't hold up to constant abuse from our son and his friends grabbing toys out of the box. I used my Kreg pocket hole jig to make the holes, then the Kreg right angle clamp to hold the pieces in place while I screwed them together.

assemble the bench storage box with pocket holes and screws for added stability

My trim turned out slightly different on the ends of the box. I wrapped the top and bottom of the box with 1x2 primed trim boards. I left a ¾" overhang on the front and back trim, and cut the side pieces to fit.

wood trim before and after

Clamps acted as a second set of hands to make sure the long trim pieces were nailed in place straight.

clamp the top trim to hold it in place

I cut each vertical trim piece to fit, making sure each one was at a perfect 90 degree angle when nailing it in place.

perfect 90 degree angle when nailing the vertical trim pieces

I didn't add any vertical trim pieces to the ends of the box. I offset the front edge pieces by ¾", so they frame out the side panels without any additional trim. That resulted in slightly narrower trim on the sides than the top and bottom, but I liked the lighter look. Once the trim was in place, I filled every crack and hole with wood filler to create a nice smooth surface. Be sure to also use the wood filler on the quarter round trim around the lid so that when it's painted, it looks like one solid piece.

apply wood filler to all the cracks and holes

After all the wood filler was sanded down and the dust cleaned up with a tack cloth, I filled every seam with paintable caulk. It seemed like it took forever to caulk around every one of those squares, but it gave the final product a much more finished look.

caulk all inside and outside seams

After primer and two coats of white outdoor paint, it was time to attach the lid to the box. This turned out to be easier said than done. First, I tried installing a 30" continuous hinge, like you'd find in a piano bench. But it creaked so loudly when you opened the lid, and the screws started to pull out of the wood. I switched the long hinge out for three door hinges, and the lid now opens quietly and smoothly. The door hinges raise up the back of the lid slightly, but this turned out to be a good thing. Rain will now flow off the lid, rather than pool in the middle. Yay for happy accidents!

outdoor storage bench open

I also wanted to install a soft-close lid support so the lid wouldn't slam down on little fingers. However, the instructions for installing the lid support were insanely un-helpful, and I ended up having to reinstall it a few times to get it to function correctly. Pay no attention to those extra holes!

holes from multiple attempts at installing the soft close lid support in my storage bench

I am so excited to finally get this project completed and in place. It has a ton of room for all my son's outdoor toys, and I can even put a few pillows and cushions in there to make more comfortable seating. I also changed out our old door mat for a cheerful new one, and our beat up brass kick plate for sleek brushed aluminum. Our front porch looks so much better already! I have a few more projects I'm working on to boost the curb appeal, but you'll have to wait until next week to see how they turn out!

front porch after

UPDATE: Our super wet winter totally destroyed the lid of my storage bench. You can see how I created a new one out of weather resistant cedar here.

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Kenny Gavaldon

Tuesday 14th of June 2016

Very nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I've truly enjoyed surfing around your blog posts. After all I will be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again soon!

Antonia Cruz

Friday 27th of November 2015

Great job! It looks perfect! I hope that my husband will be enthusiastic about it as much as I am! Such a storage bench is good for storing everything you need to be stored away! I was considering buying an old trunk that can be used as storage but making our own bench like this sounds like a wonderful family project! Thanks for sharing!

The Handyman's Daughter

Friday 27th of November 2015

It would be a great family project! Let me know how it turns out.


Wednesday 4th of November 2015

I love this finished product but not just for the proposed idea. When we have packages delivered, they are always left on the front steps, behind a plant pot or balanced against the door-exposed to the elements. BUT THIS-WOW! It would be perfect for the delivery men to leave or packages protected from the snow and rain. Thank you!

The Handyman's Daughter

Wednesday 4th of November 2015

Yes, we're going to start using the storage bench for this purpose too. Just need to corner the delivery guys and let them know they can leave packages in it. Especially with Christmas coming, we get a ton of packages!

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