Complete guide to garden sheds
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The Best Guiden Shed Guide To Hep Choose The Right One
Giude to garden sheds helps to be knowledgeable when deciding on one to purchase. Buying a shed is a big decision. You’ve probably already taken a look at what’s out there, and been faced with a dizzying list of options.
Varying sizes, materials, structural decisions, security options. There’s so much information out there that it can be hard to sift through and focus on what’s actually important.
That’s why we wrote this guide. By the time you get to the end, you’ll know everything you need about sheds, and hopefully have a much better idea of which type of shed is right for you.
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Planning out the dream:
Read The guide to Garden Sheds to choose the right shed
When you first sit down to decide which shed you want, the main question that should be running through your head over and over again is:
What am I going to use this for?
After all, there’s a huge difference in a shed that’s just going to hold your tools and assorted household junk when it’s not in use, rather than a shed that’s going to be used a workshop/personal retreat when the kids are getting hyper.
The best thing to do, in our opinion, is to make a list of everything that the shed’s going to be used for. We mean that literally. Grab a pen and consider things like:
What’s going to go in your shed and how often is it going to be used? How often are you going to be in there?
After all, a shed with barely enough space for everything you need is fine if you’re just going to poke your head in the door once a week and grab a tool or two.
But extra floorspace even just to manoeuvrer around and get what you need is always greatly appreciated. You’ll soon get sick and tired of squeezing past your lawnmower five times a weekend
Besides. We both know that as soon as you’ve got more storage space, you’re immediately going to find things to put in it. How much space you think you need? You need more. Always.
This is different to storage. You can get a lot of sheds, with a lot of different shapes and heights. If you’re going to be using your shed for a workshop, for example, then more height is something that will end up being incredibly useful.
One thing that’s worked for a lot of people is sketching out the shed plan before you buy. Literally grab a piece of paper, or use software like Google’s free drawing tool to sketch out the internals of your shed.
Plan out everything. Where storage will be. Where you’d want doors and windows. How much space you’re going to have to move around inside.
It’s also good to consider how it’s going to fit in and around your existing garden. Remember, 3 feet of space should be given from existing walls and hedges to allow for airflow and access.
Titan metal shed range are highly secure
Sheds, especially free standing sheds away from your property, make tempting targets to thieves. After all, they tend to be full of expensive tools that are generally pretty portable.
Whether it’s just a few hundred quids worth of garden tools, or several thousand pounds of expensive equipment and electronics, it’s not something you want to lose.
Most good quality sheds have security features built in, but adding extra is generally pretty easy. Still, it’s worth considering, and perhaps adding to the budget.
You can basically skip this section if it’s just being used for storage, but if you’re going to be spending time inside your new shed, you’ll need to think about things like power, lighting, heating for cold nights and winters days, and possibly even hooking it up to your water system.
Even if you’re just storing garden tools, having a couple of cupboards to organise everything makes the world of difference.
Besides that, if you’re making a man cave, you’re going to need seating, benches, cupboards, the works. How is it going to fit?
Is the shed strong enough for you to secure it directly to the frame? Is the floor thick enough and stable enough to hold the weight of what you’re putting inside?
Last thing to consider is access. A single door might be enough for smaller sheds, but workshops and summer houses might appreciate something larger.
The anatomy of a shed
Not all sheds are made equal. That’ll be obvious to you if you’ve even spent five minutes looking at the options out there.
It all starts with what it’s built out of. In a way, the choice you make here affects everything else to do with the shed you’ll end up with.
These days, you’ll find three main materials are used for shed construction. Wood, plastic and metal.
Whilst it’s easy to think that there might be no real difference between them, the uses of each material are actually quite distinct, which makes it a vitally important choice when you’re deciding on your shed.
When you think of a shed, you’re probably going to think of a small wooden hut out in your garden. Wood is the main choice of shed material for a reason.
First, it’s reasonably priced, with wooden sheds running through the entire price tree. From budget models to expensive, thick logged cabins, there’s a choice for everyone out there.
Second, in terms of security, wood is as good as anything else, and because wood sheds are incredibly modular and easy to modify, adding extra security measures is ridiculously simple. (Who can’t bolt on another lock?)
Third, that adaptability extends to everything you might want to use it for. Want to extend it out?
Sure. Add some internal furniture? Sure. Paint it any colour you want? Sure. Buy a second shed, screw them together and cut a doorway between them? …..sure, I guess you can do that too.
The only real downside with a wooden shed is the fact that it requires regular treatment for rot and weathering.
When you’re buying a wooden shed, you can check if the wood is pressure treated beforehand.
If it is, it’s far less likely to have issues with rot. It still requires maintenance, but you won’t have to worry, and it pressure treated sheds usually come with a better guarantee.
Apart from that, it’s hard to go wrong with a wooden shed.
An overlap wooden apex shed
Plastic sheds are great if you’re looking for cheap and easy storage that can essentially be put up then forgotten about.
Because they’re budget friendly and easy to assemble, plastic sheds are incredibly popular to use as secondary storage, or for people who only want something to stick at the end of the garden to throw tools in.
Plastic is also quite secure and hard to damage, both from intruders and animals.
Downsides of plastic are susceptibility to temperature changes and difficulty insulating and being generally less attractive and customisable than other options which is why plastic sheds lean on the smaller side of things.
We do not recommend using a plastic shed as a structure you’re going to spend time in. Storage only.
Metal sheds are by far the most secure, when put together correctly. Metal is not only robust and proof to most forms of aggressive entry that aren’t going to wake up the whole street, it’s also resistant to intrusion from most forms of animal life, including rodents and destructive insects.
A typical small metal storage shed
Metal sheds are also usually relatively easy to put up, with a strong structure that holds together well even on larger models, which means metal sheds can be great workshops or even impromptu garages.
Metal does come with several downsides, though.
One, it’s vulnerable to temperature change again, especially without insulation. Expect to freeze in winter and cook in summer unless you do something to deal with it.
Two, metal sheds need concrete footings, so it’s a hefty investment and taking it down leaves you with an unattractive lump of concrete in your garden.
Three, they’re pretty ugly, generally resembling a small industrial warehouse.
Putting a cap on it:
Different roofing types
The shape of your roof isn’t just some petty aesthetic decision. There’s two huge reasons why you’d consider differing roof shapes. Firstly, the different roof shapes actually offer differences in how your shed stands up to the outside world, as well as how it looks and feels inside.
Second, and perhaps more importantly, there are important planning permission considerations. Structures over a certain height can generally require planning permission, so this might be something you face. We’ll go into that a little bit later.
Apex roof the most common roof structure
Apex roofs are what you might think of as a normal roof type. An A sloped structure that comes to a central point.
With plenty of headroom and a strong, water shedding structure, Apex roofs are a good general purpose choice.
Pent or Curved
Pent roof is a sloping roof style
Built like a single side of a roof, with a single panel that starts high above the door and sloped down to the rear of the structure, pent roofs are simple and easy to build.
Obviously, roofs of this type cause internal space to suffer, and can have water build up if not maintained.
A flat or very gently sloped single plane roof. Flat roofs are only good for smaller structures because of weight concerns and fluid build up.
Barn style shed roof hence the name barn shed
A curved design, like a rough semi circle, barn roofs are excellent structurally, strong and provide a huge amount of internal room, but also take up the largest mount of both space and height, so might not be suitable for all gardens.
Roof covering: What to top it off with
Just as there are multiple options for building your shed structure, there’s also multiple ways for it to be roofed.
Replacing standard shed felt with a heavy duty variety
Felt is the standard roofing material for most sheds you’ll find on the market, for damn good reason.
Simple to fit, easy to maintain and cheap. Really cheap, compared to the other choices.
Felt needs changing every few years. Generally between 3 and 5. It’s worth checking it at the start of every year, because adverse weather can cause damage.
Your shed might also come with heavy duty felt, which is thicker, tougher and has a weather resistant base to it. It’s more expensive, but can last twice as long.
EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer rubber) is a thicker layer of rubber that’s designed to be near impervious to the elements.
EPDM Old roof covering fast & simple
It’s hard to lay, and normally requires and experienced workman to install, and it’s not cheap compared to felt, but once it’s installed it can last anywhere up to multiple decades of use, so it’s a great choice for long term structures or buildings that are going to be exposed to heavy rainfall/snow.
Tiles, usually made of glass fibre and bitumen, which is laid over the top of the standard felt covering.
How to roof a shed with shingles
Shingles are easy to lay, don’t require much maintenance and last anywhere up to 8 years after application.
Shingles are also really attractive, which might be one of the main reasons for purchase as they’re by far the most expensive option.
Basing your shed.
A strong base is the structure that your shed will be built on. It keeps you shed safe, raising it from the ground to protect from groundwater penetration and damp, whilst allowing air to circulate through the structure.
There’s three major types of base that are in general use; portabases, paving slabs and concrete.
If you need electricity or water lines installed into your shed, discuss this with the relevant tradesman before you lay your base down.
A flat base of pressure treated wood, the portabase is the simplest and least structurally sound type of base for a shed, but it’s nevertheless completely sufficient for small to medium sized structures that aren’t going to be under a lot of stress.
Assembly of a portabase wooden frame
Cheap and easy to install with four corner anchoring points, portabases are by far the easiest option.
Just like paving in other parts of your garden, paving slabs are concrete slabs on mortar and hardcore basing.
How to lay a slab shed base
Slabs require a lot more work to lay down than a portabase, but it’s a much more solid footing and for that reason it’s generally used for longer term or larger structures, especially structures that can integrate the paving slabs into their design, for example a summer house with a paving area in front.
Concrete is the toughest base available for a shed, but it’s also the most permanent. One layer of poured concrete will hold almost any structure, despite the size, and it’s perfect for workshops,
Building a concrete shed base
garages and other structures that will experience a lot of stress and weight.
It’s worth bearing in mind that most metal sheds require a concrete base, if you were thinking of purchasing one.
Security: Keeping your shed safe
No structure is 100% secure, but smart choices can go a long way in keeping your shed safe from thieves and other ne’er-do-wells.
The first thing to bear in mind is most thievery is opportunistic. What this means is, if it’s easy to steal something, it’s far more likely to get stolen. This sounds obvious, but when you see how simple it is to deter possible thieves, you’ll wonder why you weren’t already doing it.
First off, consider concealing your valuables. Breaking into a shed is a loud and risky business, and a thief is far less likely to do so if they’re not sure that it’s even worth the risk. A simple blind or curtain over the window so no one can peek inside could be all that’s standing between you and loss.
Second, install toughened windows made of safety glass or styrene, and secure doors with strong locks. The extra 60 seconds it would take to break through a heavy duty padlock rather than a cheap, flimsy one is a strong deterrent.
It’s also worth looking at the structure of your shed itself. A door with coach bolts and internal hinges is far harder to break into than one that doesn’t have these things.
Finally, there’s the ever popular extra security options. Things like motion activated lights and legitimate burglar alarms can give you the warning you need to deal with the problem. If you’re unlucky enough to catch thieves in the act, we do not recommend confronting them. Please just call the police and stay in your home.
Planning permission and you
If you’re using your shed for domestic purposes and purchasing it pre-built, you shouldn’t have to worry about planning permission.
In general, as long as your shed isn’t obstructing access to anything, doesn’t take up more than half of your property grounds, isn’t within 3.5m of a road and doesn’t exceed 4m in height, (2.5m if it’s within 2m of your property boundary) you won’t have a problem with planning permission.
If you’re concerned, we would recommend taking a look at the Gov. regulations on sheds, or contact your local council.
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