Sleep Easy – Building An A-Frame Shelter

Following on from our earlier general tips on shelter building for Sleep Easy fundraisers, a few more specific thoughts on building an A-Frame.

A-Frames are a common way of constructing a shelter. The triangular shape is strong, and it’s extremely easy to make with cardboard.


Determine how many people need to fit in the shelter.

A little A-frame is perfect to keep one person warm. You will need a single (older) TV or refrigerator box as they will usually fit one person. Smaller boxes can be used; they will just need to be taped together.


Fold your boxes into a rough triangular shape.

If you’re using flat sheets of cardboard you’ll need to tape them into the proper shape, while reused boxes will need to have a single side cut free to fold in and make the triangle.


Cut a triangular piece for the back of the shelter and cover it in insulating materialAttach by taping it to the back of your shelter.

It doesn’t have to be removable if you don’t need it to open, but it does need some newspaper attached to the inside to insulate it thoroughly. If you would like it to open, make sure you only tape one side to form a “hinge”, and make a handle out of cord or rope for easy opening/closing.


Cover the outside in carrier bags, bin bags, or other water resistant material. 

The plastic can help maintain some of the heat, and protects the cardboard from rain and snow.


Attach insulating materials to the inside of the walls.

Large pieces of foam can be stapled or taped directly. For smaller insulators like newspaper, why not try taping some plastic bags to the inside walls, leaving the openings to be filled with the smaller pieces of crumpled up newspaper before sealing them shut with tape as well.


Cover the floor in a layer of insulation.

Put a layer of newspaper or plastic bags underneath your blankets and cover the floor of your shelter. Remember, you can lose a great deal of heat via the floor when you’re sleeping, so protect yourself thoroughly.


Cut a front door to your new shelter.

Don’t add insulation to the front door as you need a place for moisture from your breath to escape, so you want a few small cracks and drafts by the front door to cycle some fresh air inside. Use some tough cord or rope for a handle on the inside and outside of the door so you don’t keep bending the cardboard to open and close it.


Reinforce all joints with tape for durability!