Buying guide to Sheds
No matter what size your garden, a Shed is the most practical of garden structures. It will protect your tools and other outdoor equipment from the weather whilst keeping them secure and tidy, it can be used for storing bikes and lawnmowers, as a workshop or potting Shed. A garden Shed can be a practical or pretty addition to your garden.
Garden Sheds come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and it’s sometimes hard to know where to start when choosing a new one. Here are some handy tips on everything you need to know when you’re shopping for a new Shed.
What size Shed do you need?
Think about what you’re going to store in your garden Shed and what you want to use it for. Is it for storing and organising smaller items like tools and children’s toys, do you need something larger for lawn mowers and bikes, or do you need something that lets in light and that you can walk around inside, maybe you want to have a potting bench, storage racking or space for a workbench. Measure the space you’ve got available in your garden. If in doubt, opt for a slightly larger Shed as it’s always best to have too much space than too little.
When shopping for a Shed make sure you look at the specification details – you’ll need to know the footprint of the Shed so you can get the base correct but make sure you take into account extra dimensions such as any roof overhangs. It’s also a good idea to check the ridge and eaves height of the Sheds you’re looking at, as well as the height of the door. Some Sheds are lower than others and it’s important that you get a practical building that you can use and stand up in. All Forest Garden Sheds have extended door and eaves heights.
When shopping for Sheds make sure you check the dimensions, the majority of Sheds are quoted in Feet and sometimes figures can be rounded up so check the metric equivalent for the exact size of the Shed you’re interested in. Also make sure you’re clear on the width and the depth of your Shed. Depending on where you shop terms can be interchangeable e.g. a 6’x4’ Shed is generally a Shed which is 4ft wide and 6ft deep but it’s always worth checking in the specification details.
What style of Shed best suits your available space?
You may be faced with a choice of an Apex Shed or a Pent Shed. This actually refers to the style and shape of the roof. There are also Reverse Apex and Corner Sheds available. Once you understand these styles you can make a choice based on the shape of your garden and what you’re going to use the Shed for.
A Shed with an Apex roof means there is a ridge running along the length of the Shed with the roof sections sloping upwards from either side of the eaves meeting at the ridge. This type of Shed is a popular choice because of its versatility and practicality as well as its traditional and attractive appearance. Typically, this style of Shed will be used for storing equipment at the back and sides whilst keeping an aisle clear in the middle. An 8’ x 6 ‘Apex Shed is big enough to store a family’s bikes, have some storage shelving at the back and still have space left for tools. When you’re thinking about what the Shed will be used for the highest point will be in the centre. Forest Apex Sheds are finished with barge boards and a decorative finial, it’s also useful to know that if you purchase an Apex Shed with a window panel, this panel can be fitted on either side to suit your garden.
A Pent Shed has a single sloping roof section usually sloping down towards the back, allowing rain water to run off the building. This creates generous head room at the front of the Shed. This style of Shed lends itself well to being put up against a wall or fence and can be a good option if the main use of the Shed is for storage. They can also be a good choice if you want to have a work bench or potting bench at the front, particularly if you choose a windowed option.
Reverse Apex Sheds
A Reverse Apex Shed is similar to an Apex Shed, the main difference is that the door and any windows are situated on the wider side of the building, rather than at the end underneath the ridge. The highest point of the Shed will run lengthways. This is an efficient layout particularly for smaller Sheds where a smaller width makes it difficult to keep a centre aisle clear for access as well as using the sides and back for storage.
A corner Shed is effectively a 5-sided garden building which tapers back to fit neatly into a corner of your garden. With a pitched roof for water to run off these buildings make effective use of space which may otherwise have gone to waste. Having the additional 5th panel for the door leaves 4-walls against which you can store large items, install shelves and position a workbench. Good access to all sides is maintained without having to keep a long aisle clear.
What type of construction best suit your needs?
Depending on the use of your Shed, how much time you will be spending in there and your budget it is worth considering the differences in the way Sheds are constructed and what that means for the building.
This traditional rustic style Shed is created with overlapping boards to allow rainwater to run off. A square cut overlap timber board construction allows flexibility and movement of the timber. As temperature and humidity levels change from season to season the boards will shrink and expand. Often the most cost-effective style of wooden shed, it is reliable and long-lasting. Overlap boards do not form a closed seal so they are more prone to moisture and draughts. This is not a problem if the shed is to be used for garden storage. Forest Garden Overlap Sheds are made with 7mm thick boards.
Designed to last and made of smooth-planed slow grown kiln dried timber. Shiplap Sheds use interlocking Tongue & Groove boards that feature a scalloped profile at the top of each board which gives a distinctive and traditional aesthetic. The tongue and grooves slot into each other to create a reliable weatherproof joint, less likely to bend and warp. Forest Garden Shiplap Sheds are made with 12mm thick boards.
Tongue & Groove Sheds
Designed to last, these premium Sheds feature interlocking Tongue & Groove boards that have a flat profile for a contemporary look. The tight-fitting nature of the construction offers good protection from wind and rain penetration. This cladding is secure and durable and boards will often be thicker than other types of construction. Forest Garden Tongue & Groove Sheds use 12mm, smooth-planed slow grown kiln dried timber boards.
What’s the difference between Timber Treatments?
Dip Treated Sheds
The timber used in these Shed constructions is usually finished with a factory applied treatment which provides some initial protection against fungal decay. This is often a dip treatment which means the timber has been immersed in the treatment solution – timber is dipped into a tank containing a preservative which is absorbed into its surface. The timber is removed and left to dry.
A Shed with this type of finish will need to be re-treated every year to protect the timber from rotting. Dip treated products normally have a golden brown/amber appearance when new, but this will fade over time. Forest Garden Dip Treated Sheds come with a 10-year Anti-Rot guarantee.
Pressure Treated Sheds
If you’re looking for a Shed that requires less maintenance then Pressure Treated Sheds are a great option, there is no need for annual re-treatment. These Sheds have the anti-rot solution forced into the cellular structure of the timber at high pressure to give them greater resistance to rot. Timber is loaded into a tank and a vacuum empties it of air. The tank is then flooded under pressure with preservative, the preservative is drawn deep into the timber before it is left to dry.
Pressure Treated Sheds have a more natural timber colouration and will blend into their surroundings. The treatment can leave a greenish tinge on the timber when new, this is normal and will grey over time. Forest Garden Pressure Treated Sheds come with a 15-year Anti-Rot guarantee.
What other features should you look out for?
Roofs & Floors
Many garden Sheds use hardwearing sheet material such as OSB (Orientated Strand Board) for roofs and floors, but some of the more expensive models have boarded floors and roofs which make for stronger construction and mean the floor can bear more weight, which is useful if you’re storing heavier equipment.
The majority of timber Sheds will be finished off with sand or mineral felt to ensure that the structure is waterproof. This material is supplied on a roll and is fixed to the roof with nails. As an alternative, Onduline is a tough, lightweight, corrugated sheet made up of cellulose fibres that have been soaked in bitumen. This is a long lasting material that is cut to size and offers both waterproofing and insulation.
Dip Treated Overlap Sheds from Forest Garden come with sheet material floors, whereas Pressure Treated Overlap Sheds and Shiplap Sheds come with fully boarded floors. Premium Tongue & Groove Sheds also come with a Tongue & Groove boarded floor and roof.
Sheds should always be installed onto Pressure Treated bearers which enable air circulation under the Shed floor and prevent the floor itself from coming into direct contact with the ground. Without them, damp would penetrate the floor and rise through the timbers causing the wood to rot. When shopping check that bearers are included with your Shed or if they need to be added in as an extra. Forest Garden Sheds all come with Pressure Treated bearers.
When shopping for a Shed consider the number of windows you require – do you need light or would you prefer a securer building with no windows and your possessions out of sight. It’s worth checking if there’s flexibility on where windows can be located or whether you need them to be able to open for ventilation.
The majority of Forest Garden Sheds include shatter-resistant polycarbonate glazing, which will not become yellow or brittle over time. For added security, they are fixed with security screws which cannot be unscrewed once fixed. Premium Tongue & Groove Sheds come with high-quality acrylic glazing and opening windows.
Think about access: which would be the easiest way to enter your Shed and how much surrounding space do you have in your garden? Think about if you require single or double doors? Will you be moving large objects in and out? If you are thinking about storing larger objects in your garden building, such as furniture, large lawn mowers or gym equipment, you may need to think about double door access. This will make moving bulky pieces in and out of your Shed much easier.
How secure is a Shed?
Obviously, a wooden Shed can only be so secure but there are some features that can act as a deterrent, it’s worth looking out for extra security features that manufacturers add. Does it come with a latch that can be used with a padlock? Or some higher spec models will come with a rim-lock door with a key. Hidden hinges mean the door hinges aren’t visible and can’t be unscrewed to gain entry.
What should you consider when locating your Shed?
When positioning your Shed you need to consider a number of different factors. If you intend to access it frequently you may want to consider building it close to your house. You may want your Shed to be in the shade to avoid overheating in the height of summer, however, you also need to consider the risks of falling branches and rotting leaves on your Shed over the years.
Never locate your Shed in an area that could flood with heavy rainfall. Standing water will accelerate the rotting process which may affect the stability of your Shed in the long run.
You don’t usually need planning permission for domestic outbuildings, as long as they are used for a domestic purpose related to your house. However, please check with your local planning authority before installing any garden buildings.
Is the Shed easy to install?
The majority of Sheds require self-assembly and you’ll usually need at least two people to install it safely, ensuring you always follow the instructions provided with your Shed. Assembly is relatively straightforward for someone with competent DIY skills though it is important to get everything aligned properly before screwing it together and screw holes should be pre-drilled to avoid splitting the timber. Forest Garden also offer an installation service for all Sheds in the range.
You’ll need a solid, level base before installing your Shed. Concrete, paving slabs laid on sharp sand and hardcore, or timber foundations, can all be used. See our Base Preparation Guide for more information.
Will the Shed need a power supply?
If you plan on using the Shed as a workshop or office, you’ll probably want to have mains power installed – this will need to be done by a professional electrician.
Top tips for buying a garden Shed
- Select the size and shape that best suits your garden, think of its position and where you want any windows to face.
- Always check the exact size and technical spec of a Shed, especially if you’re buying online – check the height of the ridge (if the overall height is quoted it may include finials and may appear taller than it is). It’s also worth checking the height of the doors and their opening width.
- When making your purchase, think long term. A cheaper Shed might be tempting in the short run but you may end up needing to replace it sooner, so go for the best Shed you can afford.
- Think about what you will be using the building for and how much time you’ll be spending in there – understand the different styles of construction and how the timber in your Shed will behave as the seasons change.
- Pay attention to the treatment on your Shed and understand if it means you’ll need to re-treat annually.
- Make sure that the Shed comes with a guarantee.
- Before you start to build your Shed you need to ensure that you have a firm and level base on which to build it.
- Consider if you have the relevant DIY skills and equipment to build your Shed. If not consider a tradesman or an installation service.