How To Decide Which Materials for Sheds & Summerhouses

When buying a garden shed, workshop or summerhouse you will find there are a range of different materials being used. It's important to understand the differences and which type of material will be best for you.

How To Choose Which Cladding is Best

Wooden and timber tends to be the most popular choice of material for garden buildings and it's easy to understand why. Being set in a natural environment wood sits there naturally - as if it was meant to be. Timber tends to be 'less in your face' (unless you buy one of those cheap sheds with their garish red treatment) and can be quite attractive to look at with its random patterns on the wood. Metal or steel is quite a popular choice for some people although the appearance can look a little harsh. Concrete sheds are available as well, and although some look quite presentable, they often seen as utilitarian. Plastic sheds are also popular and can do a very good job for you.

Which Type of Timber Cladding to use on Your Garden Shed

Timber cladding comes in a range of different finishes. Early garden shed were made in feather edge and simply overlapped. The name feather edge relates to the shape of the plank of wood. If you look end on you will see that the plank is thicker at the bottom and thinner at the bottom. Provided the planks are overlapped by at least ¾" then these can work fine and will do a great job. However you do need to steer clear of any feather edge boards which are less than ½" thick. You can also find some overlapping sheds using flat boards, again with a small overlap. Also avoid any with less then ¾" overlap because you will find these will quickly shrink allowing bad weather into your garden shed.

A popular option nowadays are shiplap boards. These are planks of wood which go through a planing machine to give them a smooth finish. On the outside there is a slight profile to the wood making it quite attractive. Traditionally shiplap only have a rebate for the top plank of wood to slip into but more modern companies, such as 1st Choice Leisure Buildings, added a tongue and groove to the boards meaning they slot in together making them extremely strong. Be wary of the old fashioned rebated shiplap as it's not as good as the T&G shiplap. True, it will do a job, but why settle for second best. Again be wary about the thickness and never accept anything less than 12mm (½") finished thickness.

Another option is Loglap cladding. Essentially it's the same as shiplap but this has a different profile on the outside of the plank. A curved outer face gives the impression of a log cabin (sort of). Having said that I have a loglap summerhouse in my garden which I find quite attractive. This timber tends to be thicker than shiplap as well. Beware of rebated loglap and always try to opt for a T&G (tongue and grooved) finish for the strongest finish.

Cedar cladding is another option and the main benefits is that the timber has a very straight and fine grain which gives it a very attractive finish. Most people associate cedar as being a hardwood, which is not, but it's one of the best types of timber for outdoor buildings. Having said that it's hard to justify the cost and by the addition of tanalised pressure treatment to the standard cladding you can get the benefits of long life, associated with cedar, at a much lower cost. You will find that all the timber garden sheds on this site have an option for tanalising.

Besides the difference in the type of cladding used always ensure you check the thickness of the cladding. The best advice I can offer is that you should aim for a minimum of 12mm (½") finished thickness to ensure a good reliable shed or summerhouse. Be very wary if thinner timber is used as it won't last very long. However, a cheap shed can fulfil a need for a very small amount of time and could be cost effective. But don't expect more than a few trouble free years from it.

Advice About Metal Cladding for Using on Your Garden Shed

Metal and steel sheds are quite popular as they need very little maintenance but as with most things you need to be careful what you are buying. The thickness of the steel can appear very thin but the strength comes from the 'folds' in the walls. When assembled these metal sheds become quite strong and robust. The main thing to look out for is the treatment which the metal has had. Essentially there are two main types of treatment and that is 'elector plating' and 'hot dipped galvanised'.

Hot dipped galvanising is what you should aim for as the steel is, as it says in its name, is dipped into the galvanising treatment which changes the metal, making it resistant to rusting. Electro plating is applied using an electrical charge but the treatment only coats the outside of the metal and can easily be damaged, exposing the metal to the elements. You will find most of the cheap metal sheds only use electro plating as it is cheaper to do. This is false economy is my advice based on over 30 years in the business.

Plastic Garden Sheds Cladding Advice

Plastic sheds are normally made with an internal metal frame and with the plastic cladding secured to it. Again plastic is great for maintenance as none is normally needed except a wash over now and again. Some of the better plastic sheds have a double walled system which makes the shed a lot stronger as well as being more resistant to condensation. A range of double walled plastic sheds can be seen on this site so you can see the difference.

Advice about Concrete Sheds

Concrete shed main features is the great strength they possess as they are made from solid concrete with is strengthened with steel bars in the concrete. Most concrete building would come with 10 years guarantee but some concrete garages have an industry leader 15 years so it's worth checking before buying. For information about planning take a look on this page.

Conclusion and Advice About Cladding

The choice is cladding is often a personal preference as all will serve the purpose of keeping your valuables dry. For flexibility timber clad garden sheds are the most versatile as they can normally be made in any size where as metal, steel, plastic and concrete normally only come in set sizes.