#1 Guide to Buying a New Storage Shed
Buying a shed is a major purchase for some. As with any major purchase it is important to do your homework before you sign on the dotted line. The following are some basic guidelines, which will assist you in your shed purchase.
How much space do I need?
A tough question to answer because you never know how much more “stuff” you may accumulate but there is a relatively simple way to determine what size shed will fit the “stuff” you currently have.
First decide what items you are going to store in your new shed. Of these items, which will take up floor space in your new shed and which, will be leaning against or hung from the wall. Bring, drive or roll the items, which are going to be stored on the floor of the shed into your yard or onto your driveway.
Next position these items as you imagine them being positioned in your shed.
Use some string and outline the area and measure the length and the width.
Remember you will have additional space in your shed for hanging or placing items against the walls. In all cases other than sheds with low walls you will have the ability to store items overhead.
Once you have the measurements add 2 feet to either the length or width or 1 foot to each and you have a good indication of the size shed you need.
What is the best shed siding material?
Years ago sheds were available with just a few different siding types some of which were. Tin/aluminum, pine, cedar and wafer board/particle board. The shed industry has evolved over the years, as have the sidings available. Today you can find sheds with sidings ranging from rough sawn pine, cedar shake and clapboard to vinyl and Duratemp™ siding.
It’s hard to say which is the best siding however here are the pros and cons of each:
Rough sawn pine
Rough sawn pine commonly used for “board and baton” construction – Rough sawn pine is one of the oldest siding utilized by shed manufacturers in the northeast. It is abundant and relatively inexpensive. It is rustic in appearance and doesn’t damage easily. Unfortunately, unless kiln dried, pine will experience considerable shrinkage. In the case of board and baton construction it is not uncommon for the baton strips to warp or fall off leaving larger than acceptable gaps in the siding.
Rough sawn pine requires more maintenance than most siding types and typically needs to be repainted or stained every few years. Even with the drawbacks to rough sawn pine siding the lower price tag and rustic appearance make it a popular choice.
When buying a rough sawn pine shed be sure to ask if the pine is kiln dried. Also ask if they will replace fallen baton strips and if so for how long.
Vinyl siding – Vinyl sided sheds are a great choice for the homeowner who is not fond of maintenance. It is also a good choice for those who would like to match their vinyl sided homes. Although vinyl siding is for the most part impervious to weathering and requires little maintenance it is not the right siding choice for everyone.
Unlike wooden sheds a simple mar in the siding cannot be touched up with paint. The metal wrapping is also susceptible to dents and dings.
In the event you crack a corner with your line trimmer or dent the metal with an errant baseball throw the repairs can be more costly than that of a wooden shed.
Will you incur more cost in minor repairs over the lifetime of the shed or would you spend more painting a wooden shed? Unless you host daily baseball games you would probably spend more on paint.
Cedar siding – Cedar has been a popular siding for years. Although most sheds are sided with red cedar some manufacturers utilize the less expensive “white cedar”.
Red Cedar is naturally rot and insect resistant. It is aesthetically pleasing and is easy to work with. Many homeowners opt for cedar to compliment their home or yard.
Red Cedar is one of the more expensive sidings. Red Cedar must be primed well before painting and in some the knots will still bleed through the paint. This makes it harder to maintain than some of the other sidings available. When choosing a Red Cedar shed be sure that it is not constructed with “cut-offs” or “shorts”. These are smallish pieces of wood which will look almost “puzzle pieced” together. Although these pieces are inexpensive and cause the shed price to be vastly lowered they also cause the shed to be substantially weaker than a shed utilizing standard lengths of wood. Sheds sided with cedar need to be fortified either by adding additional wall studs and metal straps or using a rigid piece of material between the wall studs and the siding.
Duratemp™ siding is a plywood siding with 1/8″ tempered hardboard face. Duratemp™ looks natural, resists dents, checks and cracks and is 100% clear (no wood or synthetic patches). It also holds paint exceptionally well. Duratemp™ tends to be less costly than Red Cedar and vinyl. In terms of maintenance and longevity Duratemp™ would be the next best thing to vinyl.
Duratemp™ sheds almost always come with the siding running vertically. This may be a drawback for some homeowners.
Inner seal siding
Innerseal – Innerseal is a popular siding for economy or low cost sheds. Its exterior appearance is very similar to Duratemp™ siding however you’ll know the difference when you step inside and see that it resembles wafer board.
Innerseal was involved in a class action lawsuit brought about due to rapid deterioration among other things.
Tin or aluminum siding
Tin sheds were a staple for several years. Today many tins sheds can be seen with a tarp over the roof to keep the water out or a piece of plywood acting as a make shift door. The lowest end of the spectrum in terms of cost, tin sheds are a good choice for the homeowner or renter on a limited budget.
Unfortunately tin rusts and aluminum for the most part is no longer used.
When purchasing a tin shed be sure it is rust resistant and carries a warranty against rust.
How long can I expect my shed to last?
With the exception of tin sheds your shed should last 20+ years assuming you maintain it properly by applying paint when needed, don’t store firewood against it and keep grass and weeds from growing up against the siding.
Where should I place my shed?
Your sheds’ site can be important to the sheds longevity. Here are a few tips.
It is important to choose a site that is relatively level and is free from low hanging branches. The ground should be firm and free of leaves and other debris, which may deteriorate and become unstable. If your yard becomes very wet during the spring thaw be sure that your shed is not in an area where there may be standing water for several days. If you have an in ground sprinkler system be sure to divert sprinkler heads away from the shed. When selecting the location of your shed be sure it is convenient to access. Although you may not want it next to your house you may want it on the same side of the yard as the garage or near the pool etc.
How should I prepare my site?
A common misconception is that a shed should be elevated on cinder blocks to help prevent rot and insect damage. This may have been the case 30 years ago however since the introduction of pressure treated lumber and today’s more durable sidings this is no longer necessary.
A crushed stone base, 4-6″ deep, is one of the best ways to prepare your site. Be sure and use “crushed” stone as opposed to “pea” stone. 1/2″ is a good diameter and is relatively inexpensive.
When preparing the site with crushed stone be sure and extend the size of your base 2′ longer and wider than the actual size of the shed. This will prevent roof runoff from splashing dirt back up on the siding causing what we like to refer to as “ring around the shed”.
When digging out the area to accept the stone, start at the lowest area and establish the grade by digging down 4″. You can now excavate the rest of the site keeping in mind the site should be level when finished.
Also known as concrete piers are recommended or even required by some towns.
10″ diameter tubes are recommended. You should contact the shed builder or retailer for recommended placement.
A cement slab is one of the more expensive ways to prepare your site however if done correctly it can also be the best. A slab will keep the shed level and prevent grass and weeds from growing both under and around your shed.
Most companies will place your shed on cement blocks or patio blocks in order to level it. Cement blocks have a tendency to settle into the ground over time and can cause the shed to fall out of level, which can hinder the use of the shed doors.
If you choose to utilize patio blocks it is a good idea to dig a trench 1 foot wide and 4-6 inches deep around the perimeter of the shed and fill it with some type of stone or gravel. This will prevent roof runoff from splashing dirt onto the siding and also keep grass and weeds from growing against the siding.
You may also decide to simply place you shed directly on the ground. Depending on the shed construction this should be fine. Be sure that the shed has a pressure treated floor system and base. It is also important that the shed has pressure treated timbers running underneath and perpendicular to the floor joists in order to elevate the shed and allow adequate ventilation.
Should I have a carpenter build my shed, buy a prefab kit or have a shed delivered to me fully assembled?
Your carpenter will probably do a great job building your shed however if the completed shed is not exactly what you had in mind it is tough to change it. It is much easier to visit a place where you can see several styles and sizes and select one that fits your budget and taste. You will know exactly what you are getting and the price won’t change.
Prefab kits are great for the homeowner who is looking for a project to do over a couple of weekends.
Sheds, which can be delivered, fully assembled are the most popular selection. You can see the finished product before it is in your yard and when it arrives all you have to do is put your stuff inside.
What type of construction should I look for or stay away from?
A typical shed will be framed with 2″x4″s and come standard with a floor and shingles. After that shed construction can vary dramatically.
* If the shed is framed with 2″x4″s it is recommended that you be sure that the wall studs are 16″ apart or 16″ on center.
* There should be a sill plate or a 2″x4″ running between the wall studs and the deck or floor of the shed.
* The rafters should also be 16″ apart and fortified with wooden gussets on both sides of the rafter at the peak. Some economy sheds will have metal brackets, as they are quicker and easier to install. These are not as strong as wooden gussets.
* On wooden sheds be sure that the ends overhang the siding at the roof by at least 2″. This will assist with runoff keeping it away from the siding.
* Be sure the shed has gable end vents.
* Be sure the floor decking, joists and base are pressure treated. This should be standard on most sheds.
* Be sure the inside of the door is framed adequately. The inside of the door should be framed with a minimum of 2″x3″s with cross bracing. This will help prevent the door from warping. Be sure the 2″x3″s or 2″x4″s are not lying flat so the 3inch or 4 inch side of the lumber is against the door.
* In the case of double doors be sure the door that is stationary is also framed. This door will not require the cross bracing.
* Check the height of the shed. Overhead space will give you a lot of extra storage area and should be considered when sizing your shed.
* Be sure the shed comes with at least 20-year shingles. It’s costly to re roof your shed.
* Be sure the doors have at least 3 strong hinges.
* Ideally the floor should be constructed of 2″x4″ pressure treated joists with 4″x4″ beams running perpendicular. This will disperse the weight of heavy items you store inside and also allows for ventilation.
* Be sure the shed has at least one window to help with ventilation. It is also important that the window is functional.
* Stay away from cheap door latches such as hasps. These tend to not work properly after a relatively short time.
* be sure the door hinges are not directly fastened to the siding. This creates a problem, as they will have to be fastened underneath the door trim causing it to inevitably detach from the shed.
* On vinyl sided sheds be sure the doors are not wood. This defeats the purpose of going with the vinyl siding.
* On cedar sheds be sure there is a rigid layer between the siding and the wall studs.
* Stay away from cedar sheds constructed using short pieces of boards throughout.
* Be sure there is full trim around the door. This assists in keeping water from entering the shed.
* If you have the option for architectural shingles be sure they are at least 25-year architectural shingles.