Shed-buying. Seems pretty straight-forward, doesn't it? Here are the steps that you're probably thinking it involves:
- Decide where to put shed.
- Measure space.
- Decide where you want door - at the end or the side.
- Decide whether to have windows.
- Go and buy shed to match.
However, if you want to get the most for your money, there's actually more to think about.
You may, indeed, eventually end up with the cheapest shed you can find, but at least you should know why it's cheap, and what to look for to ensure you get the best value for money.
Three things to check before you buy your shed
Garden Shed frame
The frame - i.e. what the walls are attached to. As for all frames, you want it as sturdy as possible, which means good construction, with corners properly braced and a decent thickness of wood employed. Shed manufacturers have been known to save money in this area, so take a look. One sign of good construction is diagonal bracing on the shed door, which makes it more rigid and less likely to sag as it ages.
However good your frame, though, it needs decent support. When I asked Richard Fletcher of What Shed his advice on frames, he said:
The main thing is the shed base. If the shed is not put on a solid - so, not soil - base, then the whole structure is likely to warp, no matter what bracing it has internally.
Garden Shed Cladding
Most commonly you'll find overlap feather-edge cladding - narrow planks, thinner along one long edge than the the other, made to overlap.
This saves on material and so costs less. You therefore tend to find it at the lower end of the market. Not the best choice if your shed will be exposed to strong sunlight, as it tends to warp.
A step up is square-edge overlap cladding, where the planks are the same thickness across their profile. The wall is therefore thicker, more protective, and you're likely to find this in the mid-range sheds.
A step down is Waney Edge cladding (see picture at top of page), made of boards cut directly from the tree. Looks cute and rustic, generally cheap, but more likely to warp and not stand up to the weather over time. Unless you're going to put it somewhere that never gets wet, this could well be a false economy.
Feather-edge sometimes comes rebated, which means that the planks are cut so that they lie flat against each other, making for a slightly sturdier construction, as each plank partly rests on the one below, but you've still got the thinner upper edges of the planks.
Shiplap cladding, again, has its planks rebated so they lie flat.
With shiplap there's more of a self-supporting element as the planks tend to be thicker and of the same thickness across their profile. Thickness varies, though, depending on the manufacturer, so some are sturdier than others. This construction is often used where there are extremes of temperature, as the design allows movement.
A signature feature of shiplap is the groove that runs parallel to the ground in each plank, and it's not just for show as it directs moisture away from the surface, improving weather-resistance.
The big daddy. Planks are cut with a "tongue" along their upper edge that fits into a "groove" in the plank above it. The strongest cladding and the planks won't warp, either. Would you ever, I asked Richard, choose shiplap over tongue-and-groove, if price were no object? He said:
That's a good question. Tongue-and-groove is typically a sign of a better quality shed. This is mainly due to the timbers being interlocking. This gives the structure more natural strength, as well as providing additional security benefits.
So, 'No' I think is the answer to that. However, if your shed is going to be lashed by rain, buffeted by winds, squashed with leaves or jemmied by thieves, and you can't stretch to tongue-and-groove, it's probably worth stretching your wallet to a shiplap construction.
Shiplap and Tongue-and-Groove combined
Curiosity piqued, I took a close look at the little shed I had installed about five years ago. As you can see on the corner, it combines shiplap with tongue-and-groove. A nice improvement on shiplap, I reckon, but it looks as if tongue-and-groove will always be slightly sturdier than this.
I sense a degree of swings and roundabouts in shed construction.
A word of caution about cladding
Pressure treatment ensures that wood preservative has thoroughly impregnated the wood and, says Richard, it's a "fantastic sign of quality". Dip treatment is pretty self-explanatory - yup, the preservative is only applied to the surface. The latter needs a coat of wood preservative slapped on every year, if it's to last, which is something to take into account when you consider the cost.
Essentially, the strongest sheds will be sturdily framed, cross-braced, pressure-treated and clad in tongue-and-groove. They'll also cost you a hefty whack. To prevent overspending, keep in mind position and requirements. It's worth remembering that, in smaller sheds (say 5' x 6'), cladding is less important because they tend to be tucked away in corners and less affected by strong winds and rain. (Our feathered overlap shed is still standing strong after more than thirty years. It's in a sheltered corner, which is only sunny when it's already dried out in summer, and sits on a brick-built base.) With a larger shed, and its much higher cost, it's worth considering whether saving a few pounds on cheaper cladding and other cost-cutting construction won't be spoiling the ship for a hap'orth of tar.
Whatever you do, though, don't forget to put it on a decent base!
Written in association with What Shed, who have oodles of information on their website.