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Timber Garden Shed Buying Guide

By Simon Hyatt
17th May 2018

Garden sheds are one of the most versatile aspects of any garden. Not only do garden sheds complement your garden in an aesthetic sense, but they also have a variety of uses. For example, you can use a shed for storing your outdoor tools, but you could also use it as an outdoor workspace.

There are also specialized sheds, such as potting sheds, that are great for cultivating seeds and growing plants. No matter what purpose your shed serves, they're multifunctional and a great addition to any garden.

However, with so many options in the market it can be difficult to know which kind of shed is best for you. Thankfully we're here to help you. We've provided you with a guide that's full of useful information to aid you in purchasing the perfect garden shed.

What you need to consider in the beginning

Before you whip your credit card out and buy the first shed you see, there are a few things you need to keep in mind.

What are your intentions for the shed and possible alternatives

In other words, what are you planning on using the shed for? Your intentions for your shed will greatly aid in your selection. Do you plan to use your shed for potting? Storage? An outdoor office? Knowing this information will help you determine the size of your shed, the roof type, door type and other factors.

Keep in mind there may be instances where garden sheds simply aren't the best fit for a particular job. Instead, we'll talk about viable alternatives. 

Outdoor living- nothing beats an outdoor getaway when it gets too crowded in the house. If you're looking for a cosy place to relax while admiring the beauty of your garden, a garden shed might not be the best option.

A summerhouse might be exactly what you're looking for. Summerhouses are comfortable and they sport nice big windows -- perfect for admiring your garden. These summerhouses for sale provide a fantastic backyard getaway.

Hobbies and work - if you're the type of person to take your work or hobby related project outdoors, a garden shed might not be big enough. Even if your shed is large enough, there are certainly better alternative solutions such as a garden office or garden workshop. Both accommodate your ability to work and accomplish your goal in the perfect outdoor environment.

Growing - growing seedlings? Nothing gets the job done better than a potting shed. Though we're speaking of alternatives to sheds, potting sheds are specialised enough to be recognised in their own right. The most distinguishable feature of a potting shed is its massive sloped windows -- perfect for providing your plants with enough sunlight to ensure they grow big and tall.

What are your intentions for the shed and possible alternatives

What size shed should you buy?

When determining the size of your shed, you have to consider a number of variables. As mentioned before, you have to know exactly what you plan on using your shed for. Will you use it to store a lawnmower or garden furniture? If that’s the case, you'll need a larger shed.

Are you just looking for a space to lock your bike up at night, along with a few tools? Then a smaller shed should get the job done. It's important to match up the size of the shed relative to what's being stored inside. 

Grab a measuring tape and measure the area where you want to set up your shed.  Generally, it's advised that you go for a larger garden shed.  It's better to have too much space as opposed to too little.

Where should you place your shed?

You should most certainly put thought into where you intend to place your garden shed. If you have a larger yard and subsequently a larger garden, you’ll have more options to work with, but there are still certain factors you should always keep in mind:

  • Will your shed be protected from overheating?
  • Is your shed located in a dry area that's not likely to be affected by possible flooding?
  • Is your shed located on secure ground?
  • Is your shed located in an open area away from overhanging trees (this is to protect your shed from being damaged by a fallen tree limb and also to save you the trouble of having to clean fallen leaves off the roof)?
  • Is your shed easily accessible from all sides for convenience and maintenance purposes?

Once again we turn back to our original question -- what will you be using the shed for? The answer will help you determine the proper location for your shed. Here are a few more questions you should ask:

  • Will you need access to electricity?
  • Would you prefer to have natural light? If so, you'll want to choose the optimal position in your yard. This can also influence what direction your shed will face.
  • How often do you intend on using the shed? If you plan on using it regularly, placing the shed near your home may be the best option.

Shed Materials

Though sheds can be composed of a variety of materials, timber garden sheds are the most environmentally friendly.

Wooden Sheds

Wooden sheds are easily the most popular shed type in the UK. You can add features such as shelving, paint and stain, door type, and even floor type.

Though wooden sheds tend to be durable, nature can take its toll on the timber over a long enough period of time. To combat this issue, you can purchase a shed that has been pre-treated with wood preservatives. 

Dip-treated sheds

The timber of the shed is dipped into a wood preservative, forming a shield of protection around the wood to allow it to withstand rot and decay for a longer period of time. The one downside to dip treatment is you will have to continually reapply the wood preservative throughout the lifetime of the shed, or you will eventually lose the protection of the wood preservative.

Pressure-treated sheds

A much more effective option than dip treated sheds, pressure treated sheds have wood preservative injected directly into the timber allowing for more effective protection against rot and decay.

Cladding

Ensuring that your shed is either dip treated or pressure treated is just one part of the process. Next, you should focus on which cladding you should select for your shed, which is simply the application of one material over another to provide a skin or layer.

Tongue and groove cladding

Tongue and groove cladding is made of interlocking boards and provides effective protection against the weather. Therefore, you don't have to worry about your stored items getting soaked during a passing rain shower. Thicknesses vary, and the boards tend to be precision cut to make it easier to assemble.

Loglap cladding

As the name implies, loglap cladding emulates the look of chopped logs with a curved finish. Loglap cladding is one of the best options when it comes to unique aesthetics.

Overlap cladding

Overlap cladding is the common cladding type in the market and one of the most cost-effective choices. Overlap cladding is aptly named due to its design in which timber slats are stacked on top of each other in an overlapping pattern that creates a panel. Though it's the most traditional cladding type, overlap cladding doesn't provide as much protection against the weather as other choices. Furthermore, they tend to be roughly sewn to give it a rustic appearance.

Shiplap cladding

You can think of Shiplap cladding as a modified version of the traditional tongue and groove design. However, Shiplap cladding is designed for more efficient water run-off, giving it improved resistance against the weather.

Features of your shed

The next step in your buying process is looking at the various features that are available for your shed.

Roof designs

It can be difficult to immediately choose a roof design for your shed because they each have their unique strengths and weaknesses. With that being said, there are two roof types available for you to choose from -- pent or apex.

Pent roof sheds

Pent roofs have a unique design in which one side of the roof is lower than the other. This allows rainwater to drain down one side. Keep in mind that pent roofs will make one side of the shed slightly taller than the other.

If you feel traditional pent roofs are a bit cramped, you could always go with a curved pent roof, which provides more headroom for someone standing inside. Curved pent roofs hang over the sides of the shed providing added protection for windows and doors. This type of roof design is excellent for escaping sudden rain showers.

Apex Roof

Apex roofs tend to be the most common roof type where two slants join together to meet in the middle, allowing for rainwater to run down both sides. The Apex roof style provides for more room near the centre of the room (the centre is where the two slants meet thus forming the tallest point of the roof).

There are two types of Apex roofs -- your standard apex roof and a reverse apex roof. When working with a standard apex roof, the door sits square in the middle of the apex, allowing for water to flow away from the door. While working with a reverse apex roof, the door sits on the side of the garden shed. The extra space of the side wall allows for the addition of double doors if you so desire.

Shed doors

When it comes to shed doors, the two most popular options are single doors and double doors. Both are excellent choices depending on your preference and your intentions for your shed.

Single doors work fantastically if you only need to store small items, such as gardening tools or anything else you can carry in your hands. Be mindful that your door is either going to swing in or swing out, so double check the space you'll need in terms of clearance.

As you might have guessed, double doors make it much easier to store away significantly larger items, such as larger outdoor toys or a lawnmower. Double doors also allow for easier access to your shed.

Shed Windows

Purchasing a shed with windows may or may not be necessary, depending on how you intend on using the shed.

If you plan on being inside of your shed for long periods of time (working, cleaning, gardening, etc.), then windows are highly suggested. Not only will you be able to enjoy the view of your garden from inside of the shed, but you'll also know when someone is approaching from the outside. It also doesn't hurt that you'll get plenty of natural sunlight inside of the shed.

On the other hand, if your shed is simply used for storage, you should consider going with no windows. Windowless sheds have a higher probability of deterring a thief as they will have no way of looking inside of the shed to determine its contents.  

You'll typically find two types of windows for a garden shed -- fixed and opening. The difference between the two is quite simple. Opening windows provide more ventilation throughout the shed while fixed windows do not. If you're using a potting shed or simply growing plants within the interior of the shed itself, opening windows are highly recommended.

Shed flooring

When it comes to wooden garden sheds, you can even customise the flooring. There are two flooring options for you to choose from:

Orientated Strand Board (OSB) - an engineered wood flooring composed of compressed layers of wood strands pressed together.

Tongue and groove flooring - tongue and groove flooring are made from wooden boards that interlock together. This is a much stronger option than OSB and ideal if you plan on storing heavy items within your shed.

Extra items you may need

At this point, you should have all the knowledge you need to make an informed purchase.  However, there are a few more items you may need before your project is completed.  

Shed base

If you happen to build directly on damp grass, you're just asking for trouble. Not only are you inviting rot and water damage, but you're also at risk of a bug infestation. In many cases, a professional installation team will not set up your shed without a base on the ground. 

Shed bases are essential because they raise your shed off the ground away from the damp and bugs. Shed bases should be steady and secure. Some sheds come with a base when purchased. If not, look for a suitable base that's strong and level.

There are four options when choosing your shed base:

Wooden frame shed base - a wooden frame shed base is composed of a timber frame that will lift your shed off the ground.

Paving shed base - you'll get the most use out of this base if you have material left over from another project, such as bricks or spare slabs.

Plastic shed base - this is the most versatile and portable option. As long as the ground is level, you can place a plastic shed base practically anywhere in your yard. When you're ready to move, you can take the plastic shed base with you.

Concrete shed base - where plastic shed bases are versatile and portable, concrete bases are stationary and permanent. Lay a concrete base if you intend to keep your shed for years to come. Concrete shed bases provide the firmest foundation for your shed as long as you set the concrete correctly.

Shed security

Let's say you finally purchased your shed, used the proper base and found the perfect spot in your yard to set it up. At this point, most people would assume they're finished. However, you still have to take the security of your shed into consideration.

Just because your shed is located in your backyard, locked away behind your gate, doesn't mean a criminal can't hop over and take what they want. You should take extra precautionary measures if the shed is not located on your property.

Most sheds come with a turn button or butterfly latch, but these are certainly not the most effective security measures against a determined thief. You should supplement your shed's security with a padlock.

One of the most effective security measures against thieves is motion sensor lights. Nothing will deter a thief faster than a painfully bright light. Nine times out of ten the bad guy will high tail it out of there.

Another highly effective security measure would be a siren. Sirens are perfect for sheds located on your property. It will alert you to an intruder's presence, and you can take the appropriate follow up actions from there.

Shed maintenance

The UK has an infamous reputation for its wet weather. Ensuring that your shed is protected from the elements should be your top priority. As mentioned before, dip treated or pressure treated sheds are your best course of action. However, it doesn't hurt to apply an extra layer of wood preservative on the outside of your shed every once in a while to ensure that it can continue holding strong against the weather.

That's it! Buying a shed doesn't have to be a terribly complicated process. As long as you do the proper research, you shouldn't have any problems. Whether you purchase a shed or an alternative garden building such as a summerhouse or workshop, you're now well equipped to make an informed purchase.

In Post Image 1 Credit: Joshua_Willson / Pixabay

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