Shed Buying Guide
A shed is a sizeable investment for most homeowners. Whether you are buying a new shed for the first time or replacing an old shed, you want to make the right choice and get the best value for your money.
At Buy Sheds Direct, we are experts in all things “sheddy” and are here to guide you through the process of picking the best shed for you and your garden.
Follow our advice and your new shed will soon be sitting pretty and working hard in your garden.
Before you start, take time to think about what you want to use your shed for.
Is it purely for storage? If so, how much do you need to store? Do you have a ride-on mower or just a range of garden tools?
Is it for DIY and workshop activities? Do you have heavy equipment you need to store? Do you need space and light to move around as you carry out your tasks?
If you want to combine growing plants with garden storage, take a look at our Potting Sheds. We have a wide range of sheds to choose from and to meet your different needs.
This guide will cover the topics below. Click a topic to go straight to the information you need.
How much space do you have?
Your garden only has a certain amount of room. You want a shed that won’t dominate the space but will still offer ample storage space for your garden equipment, lawn mower and other garden accessories.
Remember to leave 1-2ft of space around the shed for maintenance. Also, consider the space available to open the door and any windows.
The space above the shed is also a consideration. Do you need a pent roof to snuggle in under low hanging branches or is there room for an apex roof and the extra headroom it provides?
If the space available is in a corner of your garden, you may want to consider a corner shed. This will maximise the room you have.
Be realistic on the size of the area that is available for your garden shed.
Don't guess - get out the measuring tape and mark the space with string and bamboo canes.
What do you need to store?
Are you an occasional gardener with just a collection of basic tools or a gardening fan with an arsenal of equipment including a ride-on mower?
If you have specialist storage needs such as for wheelie bins, bikes or even a mobility scooter, you should check out our purpose-built storage units.
Do you need space to work inside the shed? To add a workbench or seating? To store ladders? How tall are you?
These will all factor into your size decisions.
What is your budget?
Size is one of the factors that influences the cost of a shed. Have a budget in mind before you start looking. This will narrow down what size is affordable for you.
Do think ahead as well - you don't want to buy a shed so small that you have to cram everything in, leaving no room for future purchases.
Top Tip: Check the precise measurements in the specification
Not all 6x4 sheds are exactly 6x4. The same goes for all other sizes. These are just approximate measurements that act as a general starting point. Always check the specification guide on each product page for precise, detailed measurements.
Look out for overhanging roofs and other features that may make measurements more complicated. Where sheds have attached log stores or verandas, make sure you know if these are included in the measurements. Our friendly UK-based call centre will be happy to answer any queries you may have.
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There are three key materials used to make garden sheds: wood, plastic and metal.
Why choose wood?
Wooden sheds are the traditional garden shed. A natural material, they blend in perfectly with your garden. They are often customisable, allowing you to place doors and windows where you wish. Shelves and hooks are easier to install, plus extra insulation is also easier to add if you find you are spending more time in your shed. Be aware that wood may need annual maintenance depending on the treatment used on the timber.Shop wooden sheds
Why choose plastic?
Plastic sheds are the lowest maintenance sheds. New technology means the plastic used is UV-protected so will not fade or become brittle under different temperatures. Plastic sheds are also the easiest to assemble. Their parts interlock and result in a strong construction. Look out for plastic sheds with metal reinforcement for even greater strength. Be aware that plastic sheds may need anchoring to keep them sturdy during winds.
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Why choose metal?
Metal sheds are renowned for their security. Solid and impenetrable by pests and thieves alike, a metal shed is ideal for storing expensive garden equipment or that ride-on lawn mower. Metal sheds often offer the longest guarantees – so keep an eye out for these. Be aware that metal sheds can take longer to assemble.
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With advancements in design, you’ll see both plastic and metal sheds that mimic the appearance of wooden sheds. Metal and plastic sheds also come in a select range of colours. While you’ll need to get your paint brush out for your wooden shed, the range of paint colours will be wider.
There are two treatments available for wooden sheds: dip treated and pressure treated.
What is Dip Treatment?
Dip treated sheds are the most common and they can be recognised by their orange/amber colour finish. Dip-treating is the quickest and cheapest method of applying preservative to the shed’s timber. The wood is dipped in the preservative, providing it with a surface covering. However, it is not as long-lasting as pressure treatment and so requires annual applications of preservative to maintain protection. The majority of dip-treated sheds will offer a 10 year guarantee if supported by annual retreatment.Shop dip treated sheds
What is Pressure Treatment?
Pressure-treated sheds have the preservative forced deep into the heart of the grain of the wood under great pressure. They can be recognised by their lighter colour which may appear slightly green or have greeny-blue patches. This is simply the preservative residue and will fade with time. In effect, the preservative becomes an integral part of the timber giving it a long life and effective protection against rot. Anti-rot guarantees with pressure treated sheds can be as much as 15 years, saving you both time and money as there’s no need to buy and apply treatment every couple of years.
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Which treatment should I choose?
This is mainly a budget issue.
A dip-treated shed will cost less initially as the process is not as costly for the manufacturer. However, you will end up spending more money on tubs of treatment, brushes etc and spend time reapplying each year. If you forget to re-treat, you are risking the integrity of your shed.
A pressure-treated shed will cost a little more at first but you can just put it up and leave it, knowing it will resist the weather without more treatments for another decade and a half.
What is the difference between Overlap, Shiplap and Tongue & Groove construction?
The cladding is how the timber boards are constructed to form the walls of the shed. There are three main types of shed cladding: Overlap, Shiplap and Tongue & Groove. Overlap is the most economical of the three.
- sawn timber boards are nailed to the frame of the shed and overlapped
- allows the timber to shrink and expand easily, a natural occurrence through the year
- also allows the rain to run off the shed
- does not form a closed seal so more prone to moisture and draughts. This is not an issue if the shed is to be used for garden storage. However, if you intend to spend a lot of time in your wooden shed, for example for a hobby or leisure activity, you should consider a tongue & groove or shiplap shed
- boards interlock tightly for a weather-resistant, robust construction
- lack of gaps provides better protection from rain and wind
- thicker boards mean they are less susceptible to movement under different weather conditions
- has a scalloped profile which enhances rain run-off, moving water away from joins
Tongue and Groove Cladding
- boasts all the same excellent benefits of shiplap cladding
- rather than scalloped, the boards are flat
- the sleek finish is often considered more modern
- handcrafted Forest Premium Sheds feature a modular design, ensuring an easier assembly, greater flexibility and even stronger build than other tongue and groove sheds
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Also, check the thickness of the cladding. Many sheds start at 7mm thick while tongue & groove and more premium sheds can be 12-16mm thick. The thickness will contribute to the solidity and the insulation.
OSB or Timber?
If you have chosen a wooden shed, you will also need to consider the material used to make the roof and, if available, the floor. OSB (oriented strand board) is the most common material for both floors and roofs on cheaper sheds. Timber boarded or tongue & groove floors and roofs will vary in thickness but will be stronger, more resistant to sagging and more durable than OSB.
Always check the thicknesses and materials in the specification.
The Roof Design
The main three roof types are apex, pent and reverse apex. Look out for a curved roof or a Dutch barn roof for more unique silhouettes.
An apex roof has a peak running from one gable end to the other which offers increased headroom along the entire middle of the shed. The door/s will be on one gable end. Apex is the most traditional design.Shop apex sheds
A pent roof is a sloping roof so rain will run off one side. It is now considered a modern option due to its sleek lines. The lower section of its height makes it ideal for under trees or up against a wall or fence.
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A reverse apex design is an apex shed with the door and/or window on the longer side, not the gable end. This creates a useful change of layout with more wall space for work benches; therefore, it is well-suited for workshop sheds.
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The Roof Covering
The three main types of roof covering are felt and EPDM.
Felt is the standard covering for most garden building roofs. Black sand felt is the cheapest with an average life span of 5 years. Green or red mineral felt is stronger. Polyester backed felt has extra fibre support for an even stronger felt with a lifespan between 15 and 25 years. Felt is tacked onto the roof of your shed, though it can sometimes be glued. In high winds, and over time, patches may become loose and need re-tacking or replacing. Some manufacturers will offer felt shingles for a premium aesthetic.
EPDM is a lifetime roofing option using a synthetic rubber-like membrane. The brand offered at Buys Sheds Direct is SkyGuard. You apply it once with glue and it will last at least 25 years, often twice as long.
There are also wooden roof upgrades available on some garden buildings such as wooden slats or cedar shingles which are more durable and considered more attractive.
Not all sheds come with a floor. If not, your solid surface – such as concrete or slabs – can act as the floor.
For wooden sheds with floors, see the section on OSB or Timber above.
If you have chosen a plastic or metal shed, you will need to confirm if a floor is included with the shed. Some models offer floor support kits. These are frames which allow you to add your own wooden floor. You must provide the timber. Other sheds provide a metal or plastic floor – look out for it being anti-slip.
Do I need a single or double doors?
Bear in mind where your shed is situated. Will you have space for opening one or two doors? For ultimate space saving, look out for plastic or metal sheds with sliding doors.
If you are going to be manoeuvring larger items in and out - such as ride-on mowers and furniture- double doors will be best for you. Bear in mind, however, that a single door maximises internal storage space as it takes up less wall space.
Some sheds have dual entrances or stable door options.
Top Tip: Check the construction of wooden doors
A basic shed door is ledged which means horizontal boards are used to support the vertical boards. A double Z braced door has the addition of diagonal boards which further strengthen the door for security and combats boards ‘dropping’.
How will my door or doors be secured?
A turn button closure is a small metal catch which twists to stop the door swinging open. A door will often be fitted with one at the top and one at the bottom.
A hasp & staple is a latch which closes over a loop, ready for you to add your own padlock. The door may also have internal bolts, especially if it is a set of double doors.
A mortice lock and a rim lock are both key-operated locks for increased security.
Look out for tamper-proof or hidden hinges as an extra security measure. If security is your main concern, look out for our Police Approved Asgard metal sheds with their 5-point locking systems including deadbolts.
Do I need windows in my shed?
If you are using your shed simply for storage, you may not need windows. If you are happy to use a torch or install a solar light, you'll be able to find what you need. A windowless shed also makes a better security shed. Windows are an access point and a way for thieves to see your valuables. If security is your priority then a windowless shed is your best option.
However, if you are planning on working in your shed or simply want a brighter, more pleasant storage space with natural light that makes locating your equipment easier, then you will need windows. Workshops, potting sheds, 'man caves', 'she sheds' and hideaways for a chair and newspaper will all require at least one window.
You can also buy sheds with skylights. These are polycarbonate panels in the roof which provide light from above, providing another option for meeting your light requirements.
Do I need my windows to open?
Opening windows can help maintain better ventilated storage but this isn't usually a main concern. Opening windows are good for workshops and potting sheds where you may be spending extended periods in your shed. A shed on a hot day can warm up quickly, so an open window will be a welcome feature.
Do think about which direction your shed’s windows will be facing. If you are buying a potting shed, the sunnier the better. If not, you may want your windows facing away from direct sunlight. Again, an open window is a security concern so bear this in mind too.
What will my windows by glazed with?
Most sheds now come with styrene or polycarbonate windows. This is because they are a much safer alternative to glass and easier to handle during assembly. These alternatives will not shatter - something to consider if you have children, grandchildren or are likely to have a wild football come across the fence. Today's glass alternatives are almost always UV protected to prevent yellowing over time.
You may find real glass in some summer houses or log cabins where it is used for its insulating qualities.
Can I choose my door or window positions?
Many of our sheds have the ability to hang the door on either side of the frame. Other sheds are even more flexible when it comes to where your windows and doors will go. For example, you may want the door at a particular end of the shed. Sometimes these adaptations are free; other times a cost is incurred.
Call our friendly, UK-based Customer Service Team who will be happy to direct you to the sheds that have configurable options.
Other things to consider.
All sheds need to be installed on a reliable, level surface. If not, the shed will shift, doors and windows will misalign, and the integrity of the shed will be undermined. The ground must be level and free from debris such as stones, tree roots and other disruptive materials. A level grassed surface will require a shed base. A level hard surface, such as slabs or concrete does not require a shed base.
What type of shed base should I get?
Wooden bases are constructed from pressure treated timber joists, joined together to make a frame. The frame protects the shed from direct contact with the ground. It must be level when installed. We have pre-made wooden bases available to purchase with most of our wooden sheds. The menu on the shed’s product page will offer the appropriate bases available for the shed.
Please note: Our Pro-Installation Service offers installation of our pre-made timber bases if purchased from us with the shed and if you purchase both the shed and base installation. You will still need to ensure that the ground is level with no more than a 65mm gradient across the width of length of the area, that it is clear from obstructions and that the area is not saturated.
Concrete is the best material for creating a base though it can be the most expensive.
Concrete slabs are the next best alternative to a concrete base. The slabs should be laid in such a way to form a continuous base with no large gaps between each slab.
Both of these options should ideally sit on a good dressing of sharp sand and hardcore to allow for adequate drainage of rainwater. The concrete base/slabs must be level.
Probase plastic bases are an easy to assembly kit which allow ventilation under your shed and keep your shed raised above any damp.
Our ProBase plastic bases are 100% recycled plastic, making them eco-friendly. Plus, it can be reused if you wish to reposition your shed in your garden.
Its interlocking design makes it easy to put together and, although it is lightweight, it provides a very strong and durable base for your shed. The ProBase should be laid according to the instructions which will include proper ground preparation, use of the provided membrane and inclusion of pea gravel where the size of the shed suggests. Once installed, the plastic base must be level.
The installation service is only available on the wooden shed base kits. This service is not currently available on the plastic probases. If you have ordered a plastic probase you will need to prepare and install this base prior to the shed installation.
Do I need to use damp membrane?
For plastic and metal sheds and for use with plastic shed bases, this is highly recommended. Though not always required with wooden sheds and bases, it is good practice to use the membrane to minimise damp and to also deter weeds under the shed.
What if I am still not sure?
On the product pages at Buy Sheds Direct, you can look in the options menu to see which base is recommended for the garden building you are purchasing. If in doubt, call our friendly, UK-based Customer Service Team and they will be happy to help.
We do not recommend any other materials other than the above for the construction of your base as these may not cope with UK weather conditions and potential subsoil erosion. A shed cannot be placed directly on soil, grass or sand. We also recommend that all bases are constructed by a qualified trades person.Shop shed bases
You can add lots of different accessories to maximise the practical nature of your shed. Add guttering to gather rainwater, add shelving for optimum organisation or add solar lighting to make a workshop work even harder.
How soon will delivery be available?
Many of our products are available on pick-a-day delivery. This means you will be able to select your delivery day before you purchase. This will be shown on the product page if available.
If pick-a-day is not available, look for lead times on individual products as these will tell you when a product will be available for dispatch. You will then be contacted by the manufacturer who will arrange a delivery date with you.
If you make any changes to your order once paid for, this can change your delivery date. Therefore, please check you have ordered everything you need.
What are the delivery charges?
Many of our products include free delivery. However, some more remote postcodes do incur delivery surcharges even where free delivery is available to others. Use the postcode checker to ensure we deliver to your area and to identify any possible surcharges.
If you're not a DIY expert then why not let our professional installation team build it for you leaving you with more time to spare for other activities?
We offer our Pro-Installation Service on a wide range of our garden products. Please refer to individual product pages for availability. To add installation for Forest sheds, please select it from the drop-down selection box on the product page. To add installation for Forest summer houses or other Forest garden buildings, please select it from the 'Installation Services' tab on the product, where it will appear if available.
We offer our Pro-Installation Service to most UK mainland postcodes. Please see the map to check if this service is available in your area. Any orders placed for installation outside of these postcode areas will not be accepted.
Postcode Areas not covered by our Pro-Installation Service: BT Postcodes, GY Postcodes, HS Postcodes, IV Postcodes, KW Postcodes, IM Postcodes, JE Postcodes and ZE PostcodesFor more information visit our pro-installation service page here
If you have any other questions or require any clarification on any of the information above, please call our friendly, knowledgeable, UK-based Customer Service Team. We are always happy to help.
So, have you measured your space yet? Yes? Right, you are ready to shop for your new shed! Exciting times ahead…