Which Size & Type Of Shed To Buy

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

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

Construction Material

Timber sheds are still the most popular construction material, they're weatherproof, watertight and when treated will last for many years. People like their rustic, traditional appearance and, as a natural material, it seems to fit into a garden landscape very easily.

Metal sheds need little maintenance due to 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. If the wood has been dip treated, there should be at least a ten-year anti-rot guarantee; pressure treated timber will normally be guaranteed for at least fifteen years. With proper care and attention, their lifespan will be much longer.

Location

Choose a location that is preferably slightly higher than the surrounding ground so that rainwater drain away from rather than towards the shed.

A solid, level base is essential. If you're thinking of using a concrete base, read our guide on How to Build a Concrete Shed Base here. Paving Slabs can also be used, ensure that the ground is level and then lay the slabs using a mixture of sand and cement. Runners attached under the shed floor should lift the structure off the prepared base by 1.5ins allowing a clear passage of air. Alternatively, some sheds manufactured by Forest Garden have the option of a ready-made base with spikes that secure it to the ground.

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.

Most sheds will have some type of glazing window or skylights, either acrylic or glass, so that the interior is filled with light. However, if you have valuable equipment inside you may choose a 'security shed' which has very small high windows or none at all. These sheds will also be fitted with pad bolts and boast other specifications that lessen the chance of a break-in.

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, workbenches 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.

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 4ft model manufactured by Forest Garden 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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