Summerhouse Buying Guide
If you love to spend time in your garden, a summer house will enhance the experience. Whether a garden sanctuary to relax in or a sheltered area in which to entertain, a summer house provides the space and comfort that will really allow you to make the most of your garden.
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 summerhouse that will improve your space not take over.
Remember to leave 1-2ft of space around the summer house for maintenance. Also, consider the space available to open the doors and any windows.
What will you use your summer house for?
Think about how you want to spend your time inside your new garden building?
Will you want to add a bistro set for morning coffee or a larger table to entertain friends?
Do you want a desk for crafting or a table for board games?
Will the children prefer a sofa and bean bags?
Where is the best space?
Make sure the summerhouse is facing the best direction for your lifestyle.
Will the summerhouse get the best of the sun throughout the day? If you work, you’ll want the best sun later in the day. Or perhaps full day sun on the weekends is your priority? You may want to avoid direct sun if using a laptop or other devices that become hard to see in the sun. Take time to monitor where the sun is in your garden.
To really maximise your garden’s space, consider a corner summer house. This will make the most of the space outside and will often give you the best vantage point from which to enjoy views of your whole garden.
Top Tip: Check the precise measurements in the specification
Not all 8x8 summer houses are exactly 8x8. 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 summer houses have attached storage 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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What is Dip Treatment?
Dip-treated summer houses 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 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 garden buildings will offer a 10 year guarantee if supported by annual retreatment.
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What is Pressure Treatment?
Pressure-treated summer houses 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 garden buildings 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 summer house 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 garden building.
A pressure-treated summer house 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 construction is how the timber boards are constructed to form the walls of the summer house. There are three main types of cladding: Overlap, Shiplap and Tongue & Groove. Overlap is the most economical of the three.
- sawn timber boards are nailed to the frame of the building and overlapped
- allows the timber to shrink and expand easily, a natural occurrence through the year
- also allows the rain to run off
- does not form a closed seal so more prone to moisture and draughts. This is not an issue if the summer house is to be used during the height of summer. However, if you intend to spend a lot of time in your summer house, you should consider shiplap or tongue & groove.
- 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
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Why is cladding thickness important?
The thickness of the boards used in cladding is important as the thicker the board, the greater the insulation provided. This will make time in your summerhouse more comfortable.
The walls of a standard summer house are usually 12mm thick. This is suitable for use during the warmer summer months. If the weather is particularly warm in spring or autumn, then you will still be comfortable.
Top Tip: Look out for interior upgrades on some of our Summer Houses
Some of our more premium summer houses, such as the Ultimate Harvington Summer House, offer interior lining upgrades for a cosier summerhouse.
Can I heat my summer house?
Yes. You have a few options: using a portable gas heater; powering your summer house with a solar power hub and using a 12v heater; or having an electrician connect your summer house to the mains so you can use an electric heater.
If you do add a heater, make sure you follow all manufacturer recommended safety instructions including those regarding space and aeration. Never leave heat sources unattended.
What if I want to use my summer house throughout the year?
If you require an all year garden room - for a home office, garden gym or simply extra living space - we recommend you take a look at our log cabins.
With cladding thickness generally starting from 28mm, a log cabin offers better insulation. If you want a garden room that will withstand winter, aim for a log cabin with cladding from 42-70mm or with logs instead of boards.
OSB or Timber?
You will need to consider the material used to make the roof and the floor. OSB (oriented strand board) is the most common material for both floors and roofs on cheaper summer houses. 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.
An apex roof has a peak running from one gable end to the other which offers increased headroom along the entire middle of the building. The doors will be on one gable end. Apex is the most traditional design.
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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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The Roof Covering
The majority of summer houses will have roof felt as their standard roof covering. 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.
Of course, you will want windows or, at the very least, glazed doors in your summer house. You need to consider how many windows you would prefer – the more glazing, the more natural light that will reach the interior.
Do I need opening windows?
Opening windows are a definite bonus as ventilation can help regulate the temperature of the summer house. However, leaving your doors open can achieve this too.
Remember to take into account the opening distance of windows when planning your space. Some windows open at the bottom rather than the side.
What makes bifold doors so popular?
Bifold doors are on-trend in the garden as well as in the home. Bifold doors are usually fully glazed so allow significant light into the summer house. Their greatest benefit, however, is that they open fully and fold back.
The result is a sense of continuity between the building and the garden, allowing you to enjoy the shelter of your summer house while being in your garden.
What will my windows and doors be glazed with?
Styrene or polycarbonate is more common now as they are both 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 glazing provided with some models. This has better insulation properties, especially if double glazed. It is, however, more common with log cabins where insulation is a greater priority.
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. If you are going to have valuable furniture, devices or other possessions inside your summerhouse, this will be your best choice.
Top Tip: Add style touches such as curtains or window boxes.
Add style touches such as curtains or window boxes to make your summer house extra special. Pretty fabric at the windows, window boxes full of flowers and a door mat will all give your summer house extra character and make it feel like an extension of your home.
Summer houses are more than a practical and economical way to add living space to your garden. They are also beautiful features. The crafted wooden build lends itself to decorative elements and those charming finishing touches that will enhance your garden.
With so many designs and styles to choose from, there really is a summer house for every taste, purpose and garden.
A veranda offers more space, more shelter and more charm. It is the ideal spot for kicking off shoes before heading into the summer house or for displaying planters. Pop a deck chair on the veranda and make the most of this vantage point from which to enjoy your garden.
Much like a veranda, an overhanging roof provides more sheltered space for you to enjoy. It also protects the interior from glare and the facade from the weather. As a design feature, an overhang adds dramatic impact.
Traditional Summer Houses
Octagonal summer houses tick all the right boxes if you prefer a more traditional style. Partially or fully glazed, these pretty garden buildings will offer you super views of your garden. Look out for Georgian-style windows, roof acorns and antique-style door furniture for maximum effect.
Scalloped barge boards also provide a traditional touch. Barge boards run along the gable edges of a garden buildings. Often completed with a finial shape at the peak, barge boards add a sense of quality. When scalloped, they add traditional charm too.
Contemporary Summer Houses
With features such as sleek pent roofs, tall glazing and bifold doors, a contemporary summer house will be perfect for your modern garden. With an emphasis on light and space, these modern garden rooms offer a calm, clutter free space in which to relax, entertain or work.
Corner Summer Houses
As mentioned previously, a corner summer house is a great space saving choice. It offers excellent views of your garden without sacrificing too much outdoor space. With modern and traditional models to choose from, that neglected corner could soon be a garden hideaway.
Summer Houses with Shed Storage
Who said you could only have a shed or a summer house? The ultimate combination of style and practicality, a summer house with a dedicated storage area is the best multi-purpose option. Store those cushions, outdoor games and tools out of sight while you relax in your new garden sanctuary.
A well-chosen colour scheme can transform a summer house, personalising it to suit you and your garden. You’ll find a whole rainbow of colours at DIY stores. Plus, some exterior timber paint includes preservative that will protect your summer house too.
Why not take a look at our Ultimate range of summer houses which offer an upgrade to a painted finish? Simply select from their choice of stylish colours and they'll deliver your summer house already painted just for you
Top Tip: Add Solar Lighting to Your Summer House
Our Solar Lighting Kits include a choice of floor lamps, table lamps, pendant lights and strip lights – all designed to extend your time in your summer house and make you feel at home!
Other things to consider.
All summer houses need to be installed on a reliable, level surface. If not, the summer house will shift, doors and windows will misalign, and the integrity of the garden building 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 base. A level hard surface, such as slabs or concrete, does not require a separate base.
Please note that base installation is not included with summer house installation services.
What type of base should I use?
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.
A Probase Plastic Base is an easy to assemble kit which allows ventilation under your summer house and keeps it raised above any damp.
Our ProBase plastic bases are 100% recycled plastic, making them eco-friendly. Plus, the base can be reused if you wish to reposition your summer house 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 summer house. 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 summer house suggests. Once installed, the plastic base must be level.
Do I need to use damp membrane?
With a plastic base, it is essential to use damp membrane. This will be included with the Probase kit.
If you are laying a concrete base or concrete slabs, it is highly recommended that you use membrane as part of the process.
What if I am still not sure?
On the product pages at Buy Sheds Direct, you can look in the options menu to see if a plastic 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 summer house cannot be placed directly on soil, grass or sand. We also recommend that all bases are constructed by a qualified trades person.
Fortunately, planning permission is not required for most summer houses.
However, there are a few circumstances under which planning permission is required:
- it is over 3 metres high with a pent roof
- it is over 4 metres high with an apex roof
- the summer house is not for domestic use
- it is within 2 metres of the main building and over 2.5m high
- the location is forward of a wall forming the principal elevation
- the summer house will cover over half the garden or result in over half the house’s surrounding land being covered
There may also be other restrictions on listed buildings or buildings in national parks, conservation areas etc.
If you are in any doubt, we recommend that you contact your local planning authority.
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 Postcodes
For 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 summer house! Exciting times ahead…