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How to Decide Which Shed is Suitable for You

Wednesday, Jun 06, 2018 12:14PM BST

There are many questions you should ask yourself before you even start looking at the different types of sheds and garden buildings available. If you don’t spend the time to consider every option, you may find yourself either with a shed which doesn’t meet your requirements or looking for an additional outbuilding. 

Of course, you will want to get the most out of your shed for the money paid, which it is why it is intrinsically important to carefully evaluate the quality of your chosen shed. However, before you can choose a shed, you should think of the intended purpose of your shed, that is, how it will most likely used once it sits proudly in your garden. 

Will your building be somewhere you can escape to and relax alone or with friends, somewhere to organise and safely store your garden equipment, or a place where you can work in the relative tranquillity of your garden without imposing on your home life?

Why choose a wooden shed?

Wood is regarded as the material of choice for shed builders and consumers alike because it’s natural, attractive and, when pressure treated, ensures the longevity of your shed.

What kind of budget will I need?

You should always buy from a reputable, reliable company in order to receive the quality of product and service you rightly expect. It’s imperative that you think long term; buying a cheap shed may be tempting but you may find that it needs to be replaced in just a couple of years. In this situation, it pays to buy the best you can afford, so make sure you set yourself a realistic and affordable budget. 

Now is the prime time for you to decide whether you are of the persuasion that ‘you get what you pay for’ and will pay more in order to receive more or if you would rather not dent your bank balance too much. It’s worth remembering that you need to take materials, the shed’s size, treatment options, and the quality of the construction, windows and base into account. 

What size shed should I look at?

The dimensions of a new shed are usually dictated by the size of your garden. You will have to deliberate what you are likely to store in it and measure the available space. Depending on the projected size of the building, checking whether planning permission will be required may save you problems further down the line.   

We recommend opting for a shed measuring at least 6ft x 8ft as this affords you twice the floor space of a 6ft x 4ft shed and leaves room for workbenches and/or shelves. Make sure you know precise dimensions if your shed is intended for a confined space. 

Always remember to check the height of the building; does it make allowances for standing space and storage? Often overlooked, the height of the building is instrumental in defining how well it measures up to your expectations. Please note that the manufacturer’s dimensions may or may not include roof overhang or window openings. 

We advise that you look to buy the biggest shed you can afford, simply because it’s always best to have too much space rather than too little. Underestimating or going for the cheaper alternative could be the root of regret a few years down the line. Not only are there the bits and pieces you have at the moment to consider, but also what you are likely to need to store in the future. 

Where’s the best place to put my new shed?

Again, where you site your new addition is usually defined by the size of your garden and the intended purpose of the building. For example, summer houses are best positioned where they will receive the most sun, however, garden sheds and workshops are better out of the sun, as this prevents them from reaching excessively high temperatures in the summer. 

If there’s a path in your garden, it’s wise to try and place the door where the path meets the shed as, even though this may seem obvious, it can easily be overlooked. If anything, it simply prevents taking mud indoors and inside the shed. 

If your garden is filled with stunning trees and sprawling shrubbery, consider choosing a spot where greenery won’t overhang the shed. This helps to avoid damage caused by leaks and damp. In the interest of maintaining a damp-free shed, we recommend regularly removing leaf build ups and perhaps adding gutters to the shed which can help in this situation. 

When it comes to positioning your shed, if you leave a gap of 6 inches between the shed and hedges, walls etc. you will be able to accommodate for roof overhang. If you need to install a phone line to the shed/building, site it nearer to the house. 

How do I prepare the space for my shed?

It’s vital to have a solid base for your shed to sit on. The first thing you will need to do is find out whether the ground is level. If not, you will need to do what you can to make it more suitable for the preparation of a base. 

A shed should always sit level on a base of concrete, raised concrete, tarmac, paving slabs or timber. Bear in mind that pressure-treated wooden shed bases and plastic shed bases are widely available in a range of sizes. 

What is the best type of flooring for a shed?

What will you be storing within your shed? Your answer to this question will highlight that the flooring within should also be deliberated. After all, poor foundations will only cause you moisture problems which could not only damage the equipment stored in the shed but also attract insects which will have no qualms about compromising the structural integrity of the building. 

Cheap sheds are supplied with chip board flooring which, due to being thin, weak and not water resistant, is not well suited to garden sheds. You will likely find that the chip board breaks up if it gets wet. OSB flooring is the better, yet pocket-friendly option; 50 layers of wood are compacted into sheets which are sealed together using phenolic resins. 

Tongue & groove flooring is ideal if you are going to be putting heavy items into your shed as it offers more strength than OSB flooring. The thicker, interlocked boards are better suited to spreading the weight of the building. Raising your shed a few centimetres above ground, using treated floor bearings, will also ensure the area beneath is properly ventilated and help to avoid rot. 

Which method of construction is best?

The answer to this question depends very much on both your budget and your intentions for the finished structure. We will introduce three options below and allow you to make the decision. 

Overlap

A shed which is constructed using overlap timber comprises sawn timber boards nailed to a frame and overlapped. This approach allows for expansion and shrinkage throughout the changing seasons whilst also offering a channel for rain to run off the shed. 

As overlapped timber isn’t a closed seal, it is prone to moisture and draughts, making it generally suitable for storage buildings. Shiplap and tongue and groove timber are much better alternatives for office space or buildings intended for leisure activities.  

Shiplap 

Shiplap timber uses thicker, smoother and kiln dried board which is best for premium sheds and outbuildings. The material used combined with interlocking tongue and groove construction techniques makes for a draught and rain-proof shed with smooth cladding which is less likely to bend and warp. 

Tongue & groove

Tongue and groove timber is generally utilised for large sheds which are going to be used as workshops. The thicker, interlocking boards leave no gaps, protecting from draughts and rain whilst affording the building a robust, stable structure. Tongue and groove timber is also less susceptible to a movement which is caused by variations in temperature as the seasons change. 

To recap, only you can make this decision as it is one which is heavily dependent on your budget, the possessions to be contained within the shed and the standard of finish you wish to achieve.  

How do I make sure that my shed stands the test of time?

If you want a shed which will serve you well in the years to come, it’s important to understand that it’s not wise to compromise on quality. Flimsy, inexpensive sheds will develop a sagging roof, distorted sides and, as such, a door which won’t shut properly. 

The walls, floor and ceiling of your wooden shed should firmly resist pressure rather than flex. When you step inside the shed you are considering, you should make sure that the wooden timbers which support the roof have no large knots; otherwise, you may discover the hard way that they are liable to fall out.

Shed bases are worth the additional investment as they are widely recognised for their ability to bolster structural integrity and prolong the life of the shed.

How will I know if my shed is resistant to changing weather?

It may or may not come as a surprise to you that some sheds are not 100% waterproof. In this instance, you should always look for a pressure treated shed. 

To minimise the likelihood of leaks, the roof should overhang the sides by at least 5cm and by 7.5cm at the front and back. Tip: measure from the inside edge of the roof. A roof overhang prevents rain from running down the walls which, in turn, causes leaks and rot. 

Does your favoured shed have weather bars? Weather bars are strips of wood which are fitted at the top and bottom of the shed door in order to deflect water. Sloping window sills with a drip groove also assist water in its journey to the ground. 

A general rule of thumb is to avoid sheds with gaps; if they let in light, they’ll let in rain too!

I don’t know which method of access is best… 

You will be presented with sheds which feature various entry methods. To choose the one which is right for you, you need to think about which will provide the easiest way for you and your equipment to enter the shed. Maybe consider which way the door should hang and how many you might need. 

Will large objects be moving in and out?

Double doors will make it easier for you to store furniture and equipment, however, single doors maximise internal space by taking up less wall space. You might also wish to look further into stable doors or sliding patio doors.

Whichever you choose, make sure that those who need to enter the shed will not trip over the doorway or bang their head. You will need to check that the doorway is wide enough to cater to the intended use. Generally, choosing the biggest door possible is best if you want the most storage options. 

You could also check with your supplier to see if the shed you like has higher eaves or maybe a wider door available as optional extras. 

Are windows necessary?

We have previously established that outlining the intended use of your shed is crucial. It will influence almost every decision you make, including whether or not windows are required. Sheds used for storage may not need windows, especially since solar or shed lighting could be installed instead. 

On the other hand, sheds which will become offices or relaxing spaces will need windows in order to offer the occupant ample natural light. If you determine that windows are required, it’s also up to you to decide how many you might need. For example, if you intend to use your new addition to the garden as a potting shed, it will clearly benefit from natural light. Furthermore, windows which can open will ventilate the shed effectively, which can be a godsend on warmer days. 

Something you may not have considered is where the windows should be positioned. The level of privacy needed for the shed should be contemplated just as intently as whether or not a view of the garden is desired. 

How can I secure my garden shed?

Protecting the contents of your garden shed is essential, especially if you are going to be storing valuables in there. With this in mind, you will need to ask yourself what kind of locking system will be needed and whether a padlock will be beneficial. 

It will be worth your while investing in hidden hinges as they cannot be unscrewed from the outside, potentially stopping would-be thieves in their tracks. Such individuals are also likely to be deterred by sheds without windows as they are won’t be able to see anything which takes their fancy.    

I have been considering running power to my shed…  

If the new shed is going to need a power supply in order for it to be an office or leisure space, mains power will have to be installed by a professional electrician. Please do not attempt to do this yourself if you do not have the qualifications, skills, equipment or experience to do so. 

My new shed looks great! How can I keep it looking like new?

The best way to make sure that your shed will continue to offer the necessary protection in the years to come is to consider the long-term cost and your budget from the very start. Will you buy treated wood, treat it yourself or decide against treatment?

Ideally, a shed should be treated annually with a wood preserver as, without it, wood can shrink or split due to the varying temperatures and weather conditions across the year. Pressure treated sheds are already treated and are usually provided with a conditional manufacturer’s guarantee against rot which can last for up to 15 years. During the pressure treatment process, a preservative is forced deep into the grain of the wood with great pressure. This rewards your shed with a long life and effective protection against rot. 

We suggest oiling all hinges and locks on a regular basis to ensure effective protection and also removing leaves from the roof which, if left for a long period of time, could cause damp. 

Take your time!

Don’t worry if it feels like there’s a lot to take in. If you plan the purchase of your garden shed in advance, you can use the time it takes to accrue the funds to do your research. Perhaps take each element in your stride until you are confident in the kind of shed you are going to need and what kind of budget will be required to deliver you the shed or outbuilding which will cater to your needs both now and in the future.