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Storage Sheds: A Buyers Guide

By Wendy Helfenbaum Rise Writer
Mar 10, 2021

Isn't it amazing that no matter how big a house or garage we have, there's never enough room for the amount of stuff we own? Lawnmowers, gardening tools, bicycles and sporting equipment, outdoor furniture, snow removal supplies, and other seasonal gear or gadgets - the list is endless! Luckily, backyard storage sheds in all shapes and sizes are available everywhere at many price points to suit all budgets and lifestyles. 

She Shed Tuff Shed
She Shed. Photo Credit: Tuff Shed

Why Have She-Sheds and Outbuildings Become So Popular?

Having additional space outside adds value beyond storage opportunities. Since the pandemic, backyard sheds have also been reinvented by many creative homeowners as home offices, playhouses, guest rooms, yoga or fitness studios, art spaces, music rooms, and she-sheds. In fact, backyard outbuildings have become property value boosters – there's really no limit for what storage sheds can be.  

Because a storage shed can be a big investment, you'll want to purchase a quality product that you can rely on for the next 15 or 20 years – no matter how you want to use it. Whether you choose to purchase a ready-made storage shed, a prefabricated kit, or you want to build one yourself from scratch, here's what you need to know.


How Are Storage Sheds Different From Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)?

Sheds are typically not serviced - i.e., they don't have connected utilities. If homeowners want a complete guest suite with a bathroom, kitchen, living, and sleeping area, they should move beyond sheds and into the land of ADUs.

Do I Need a Permit to Install a Storage Shed?

Before figuring out what type of storage shed you want or where you want to put it, get in touch with your local officials to find out about zoning bylaws and size, height, and site restrictions. Some cities require permits to build any outbuilding, while others do not. Some local zoning laws require that your shed be installed at a certain distance from your house or property line. Always check regulations before ordering a shed.

Can I Put a Storage Shed Right Next to My House?

Suppose you've checked with city officials, and your local bylaws do not have any restrictions about where you can place your shed. Now, you need to choose the best location on your property. Some of the factors that can influence where you should put your shed include how the land slopes, what kind of soil you have, and whether trees or fencing might be in the way.

Check your certificate of location from when you bought your home to make sure you're aware of all boundaries and property lines. You also don't want to put up a shed directly over a utility access area, for example. 

While you can easily install a lean-to storage shed alongside your house, you may want to place a larger structure further away. A good rule of thumb is to have about two feet of clearance around the shed's perimeter. Avoid spots too close to trees because roots can grow underneath your shed and cause it to move. 

How Much Does a Storage Shed Cost?

In Canada, building a shed can cost anywhere between $800 and $4,000, while most sheds in the US range between $1,500-$4,000. Costs depend on which materials and extra features you choose, such as windows, shelving, porches, and other decorative touches. The price will also be higher if you hire a professional to install the structure versus doing it yourself. 

Keep in mind that outbuildings made from higher-quality materials are more solid. This durability means they last longer and usually look better, making them a wise investment. 

Outdoor Living Today
Photo Credit: Outdoor Living Today

What Kind of Materials Are Sheds Made Of?

Outdoor storage sheds are usually made of wood, plastic, resin, vinyl, or metal. Most wooden sheds have wood roof frames and stud-framed walls covered with plywood siding. Metal outbuildings feature metal frames plus a painted or vinyl-coated metal roof and walls. Plastic models are crafted from PVC or other types of plastic. 

As with decks, sheds made from wood require more maintenance. This maintenance includes regular painting or staining plus repairs to water-damaged parts. Metal and plastic options need very little upkeep.

Garden Shed

What Are Common Types of Storage Sheds?

Most outdoor sheds fall into one of these categories: 

  • Vertical sheds
  • Horizontal sheds
  • Corner sheds
  • Lean-to sheds that are attached to the house, or 
  • Barn-style sheds with two levels of storage – one on the floor and an overhead loft space. 

Some sheds include a floor; wooden structures usually come with standard framed bases covered with plywood. Metal and plastic sheds often sell flooring separately. You can either purchase it from the manufacturer for about $100-$200 or build your own. 


What Size Storage Shed Should I Buy?

Because outbuildings come in so many different shapes and sizes, you'll need to determine what you need the structure to store or how you'll be using it. For example, suppose you plan to keep a snowblower, a sizeable lawnmower, or a tractor. In that case, you'll want a shed with a very wide entryway, plus enough clearance to house large equipment. Many outdoor sheds at least 8 feet by 10 feet with double doors can comfortably store these types of items. To minimize the cost and the area the shed will occupy in your yard, be picky about what goes in - perhaps a trip to the local donation center is in order!

What's the Best Base for a Storage Shed?

Without a good base, sheds can become unlevel over ground that freezes and thaws, and the floor can absorb moisture. This damage can lead to mold issues and harm to the outbuilding's structural integrity. 

Storage sheds should sit on a solid, level site that features firm soil and good drainage. For small and medium-sized sheds up to 160 square feet, you can have an on-grade foundation with a gravel pad. Alternatively, you can create a pressure-treated wood frame with concrete pavers or blocks.

If your property is sloped, you'll need a more robust, permanent frost-proof foundation, perhaps made from pressure-treated wood and concrete piers. And if you're buying a structure larger than 160 square feet, you might need a flat concrete slab that is poured directly onto the ground. If you want to save money and prepare the site yourself, there are many good online tutorials available. 

Garden Tools Shed

What Other Design Features Can a Storage Shed Have?

Outdoor structures don't have to be utilitarian. They can match the style of your home, which improves curb appeal. If your house is more rustic, your shed can have barn wood siding, for example, or a farmhouse vibe if it's painted in similar colors. You can match some of your house's features, such as arched windows or doors. 

Depending on how you plan to use your outbuilding, you can add all kinds of small touches for big impact. Install a sliding glass door or put up decorative shutters on the windows. Add some window boxes planted with cascading flowers. Put up energy-efficient twinkle lights, so the shed is aglow when you're enjoying an evening barbecue outdoors.

Building Shed

Can I Install a Storage Shed Myself, or Do I Need to Hire a Pro?

Depending on your carpentry skills and what kinds of tools you own, you can save money if you assemble an outdoor storage shed kit yourself. Most building centers offer installation services if you prefer that route. Generally, metal and plastic sheds take about a day to assemble if you have a couple of people to help. Wood models usually require some construction experience. 

Which Are Some Recommended Storage Sheds?

Custom Shed Kits

For DIYers who prefer assembling an outdoor shed with a prefabricated kit, consider one of these two options. 

2x4 Basics Shed Kit Amazon
2x4 Basics Shed Kit. Photo Credit: Amazon

The 2x4 Basics Custom Shed Kit with Barn Roof includes heavy-duty galvanized steel connector brackets and instructions even beginners can manage. The kit makes a 7’-by-8' shed, and you can purchase additional kits to create a larger outbuilding, too. 

Outdoor Living Today Cabana Shed
Cabana Shed. Photo Credit: Outdoor Living Today

Outdoor Living Today's DIY kit is made of durable Western Red Cedar and features some pre-drilled components and already-assembled wall siding and roof shingles, so you don't need many tools or construction skills to set it up.

Green Sheds
Photo Credit: Green Sheds

Green Sheds

You can also order a custom-made shed crafted from sixty percent recycled materials, including windows, framing, floors, and framing lumber from Green Sheds, located in San Francisco. The company can make it any size you want. So, if you're looking for an outdoor structure that's large enough to serve as extra living space for work, fitness, or play, the only limit is your imagination.

Arrow Shed Home Depot
Arrow Shed. Photo Credit: Home Depot

Arrow Sheds

For an affordable, roomy storage shed, the 10'-by-12' Arrow VD1012-D1 Dallas Vinyl Coated Metal Shed is crafted with vinyl-coated steel. It features 734 cubic feet of space plus a wide door opening and high ceiling so you can easily store a ride-on lawnmower and other large yard equipment. Because you can drop its panels into place and the parts are all pre-cut and pre-drilled, this model is one that an average DIYer can install. 

Yard Stash Amazon
Yard Stash. Photo Credit: Amazon

If you need a more temporary, portable solution, consider a lightweight yet durable vinyl storage shed tent, like The YardStash IV, which is affordable and takes less than 10 minutes to set up. It's also simple to move and store in its carrying bag when not in use. 

Disclaimer: This article does not constitute a product endorsement however Rise does reserve the right to recommend relevant products based on the articles content to provide a more comprehensive experience for the reader.Last Modified: 2021-11-26T16:30:00+0000
Wendy Helfenbaum

Article by:

Wendy Helfenbaum

Wendy Helfenbaum is a Montreal-based journalist and TV producer whose work has appeared in many outlets including Apartment Therapy, Metropolis, Architectural Digest’s AD Pro, AARP, Costco Connection, Country Gardens, Realtor.com, Style at Home, Canadian Living and many more. Follow her @WendyHelfenbaum