What Size And Type Of Shed Should I Choose

Sheds of any kind are ubiquitous in the British garden and, due to their popularity, there are plenty to choose from. Nathan James Dodd explores the basic considerations that need to be taken into account before purchasing one.

Created by Nathan James Dodd on Thursday, 20th of August, 2015.
Updated on Thursday, 9th of February, 2017.


Shed

A shed might not be for life, but buy a good one and it will be with you for many years. The choice of construction material and style is quite varied and there's certain to be one that exactly fits your requirements.

Construction Material

Timber is still the most popular construction material, it is weather proof, watertight and when treated will last for many years. People like its rustic, traditional appearance and, as a natural material, it seems to fit into a garden landscape very easily.

Metal sheds need little maintenance due their coated galvanised steel construction, and offer great security if you store expensive garden equipment and cycles. Modern metal sheds are extremely rot resistant with stainless fixtures and fittings. They may not look quite as traditional as timber sheds but wood effect cladding is available.

Plastic sheds are easily and quickly assembled. They are low maintenance since they won't rot or rust and need no painting. If not quite as rigid as wooden and metal sheds, they are highly durable using the latest plastics and resin building techniques. As with metal sheds, wood effect cladding is available.

Style

Apex roofs resemble a triangle. Hence there is lots of headroom in the centre running the length of the shed but restricted either side.

Pent roofs just have one sloping surface with the highest point over the entrance and any rain will run off the back. All the headroom is therefore at the front of the shed and diminishes towards the rear.

The cladding, or walls, of a shed comes in four main styles.

Overlap is the most common. Nailed to a frame the boards overlap each other slightly, similar to feather edged fencing but horizontal, and creates a 'rustic' look. This is the most cost effective option. Over a long period of time some distortion might take place.

Tongue and Groove cladding features interlocking boards where the 'tongue' on one side of the board fits securely into the 'groove' of the adjacent board. This is a more rigid construction that looks very neat and there is a much smaller chance that it will distort.

Shiplap is very similar to tongue and groove but is shaped so that rain runs off more effectively, meaning there is little chance of water getting into the joints that might result in expansion, distortion or rot. This cladding is more expensive but offers the best rigidity and longevity.

Loglap has grown in popularity due to its appearance rather than any added strength. This cladding has smoothly planed rounded timbers that interlock using tongue and groove. Rain disperses quickly and the shed has the look of a log cabin rather than a rustic shed.

Treatment

The timber will be dip or pressure treated.

Dip Treatment takes less time and is a less expensive procedure, hence these sheds are generally cheaper. However you will need to treat it annually with a preservative (this will also help retain the original colour) and also keep it off the ground.

Pressure Treatment is also known as Vacuum Pressure Impregnation. The wood is dried naturally and then placed into a pressure treatment tank where air is removed via a vacuum. Then the tank is flooded with preservative liquid and the wood draws the preservative deep into the grain.

Pressure treated products can usually be identified by their green tinged finish when new, but this will fade to a honey brown colour over time, naturally blending into your garden. As the treatment has penetrated so deeply into the timber, it will last much longer without further attention.

Usage

Many different sizes and styles are available, some designed for cycles or motorbikes, others catering for gardening and other equipment.

Purchasing a 6ft x 4ft shed will give you storage space in addition to a small amount of room for other usage. As the square footage increases there Is obviously much more space that can be used for DIY, gardening or hobbies, until you reach the large workshop type constructions. Increasing the size gives you more options as to the use the shed is put to, larger projects can be undertaken, garden equipment can be repaired etc.

Sheds that double up as a potting shed or greenhouse are particularly useful for a gardener who likes to propagate their own plants. There might be not enough room in your garden for a greenhouse and a shed, so this is a good compromise with one section suitable for storage while the half is well glazed, letting in all the light that your seedlings and plants require. The good lighting may also be useful for hobbies such as painting and modelling.

Summer houses are a great addition to any garden, a relaxing space that looks elegant. It can of course be used for storage, but in the heat of the summer it will prove to be a restful place in the shade to solve a crossword, watch the children from or just have a nap.

Size

The smart advice is to buy the largest shed you can afford and which looks right in your garden. You will be so annoyed and frustrated if in time your needs change and it proves too small. Consider the use that it is going to get, now and in the future.

Measure out the available space, never do it by eye, especially if there's not much of it. Make sure there is enough access space. Go to a garden centre to see the choice, go inside and check the headroom is adequate. While you are inside, imagine what equipment, shelves, work benches are going where and whether it can be configured to your satisfaction.

Remember the larger a shed, the more possibilities there are, more storage space and more room in which to work.

What's Your Budget?

A further aspect to consider is of course price. Most people have a budget but, however much you can afford, you should be able to find a shed that satisfies most your requirements in a selection of sheds that start at a modest 6ft x 6ft model manufactured by Halls and range upwards to the impressive Corner Potting Store by Rowlinson that combines a spacious storage area with a greenhouse section.

Conclusion

Whatever you decide, there will be scope for further improvement and improvisation. Extra staging, potting benches and work stations, wall hooks for secateurs and small tools, close to hand containers with labels, pencils and twine, perhaps a shelf for books and odds & ends.

You can also think about hooking up electric cable for lighting and even plumbing for a water supply. You might well end up spending more time in there than you imagined, so make sure the potting shed will satisfy your future as well as current needs.   

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