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buyer's guide for storage sheds

The Ultimate Storage Shed Buying Guide: Everything You Need to Know

Getting a storage shed can provide the extra space you need to declutter garages, basements, closets, and other areas. But with so many shed types, sizes, features, and accessories available, it can be overwhelming to pick the right one.

This comprehensive shed buying guide covers all the key factors to consider from start to finish. Follow this advice to choose the perfect shed for your needs, properly prepare the site, install it correctly, and care for it so it lasts for years.

Key Takeaways

  • Determine intended uses and size needs when choosing a shed. Consider future needs for more space.

  • Select durable materials like wood, vinyl, or metal based on climate, security, cost, and visual appeal. Proper foundations are crucial.

  • Add accessories like shelves, racks, and locks to maximize and secure interior storage.

  • Maintain regularly by inspecting for damage, sealing wood, cleaning siding, and clearing snow to extend shed lifespan.

  • Follow proper site preparation, permits, installation, and care for optimal shed performance and longevity.

Lifetime 8 Ft. X 10 Ft. Outdoor Storage Shed with open double doors

    Things to Consider When Buying a New Shed

    1. Determine How You'll Use the Shed

    Carefully thinking through your intended uses for the shed is one of the most important steps. This will dictate what size, style, and features you need. Consider:

    • Will it mainly store lawn and garden tools? Bulky outdoor sports gear? Seasonal decorations?

    • Do you need a workspace for hobbies or projects? This requires more interior space.

    • Will you store expensive items like bikes or electric tools? Boosted security is crucial.

    • Do you need shelves and interior fittings to organize the contents?

    • Will you need electricity for lighting, fans, or power tools?

    Be realistic about how you'll use the space now and in the future. Many homeowners later wish they'd bought a bigger shed, so factor in room to grow. You can always use empty space for lower-priority storage until needed.

    2. Choose the Shed Material You Want

    When looking for the best material for storage sheds, keep in mind that each option has pros and cons. Consider the longevity of use, weather resistance, security, maintenance needs, cost, and visual appeal to pick the best fit.


    Cedar and other rot-resistant woods like cypress or redwood make very attractive but expensive sheds. Customizable wood sheds require the most upkeep but look great.


    Whether galvanized steel or aluminum sheds, these resist moisture and provide secure storage at a moderate cost. Limitations include heat conduction and a more industrial look.


    Combining PVC resins and wood framing, vinyl sheds provide durability with less maintenance than wood. They cost less than cedar sheds. Heat retention can be an issue.


    Lightweight resin sheds are very affordable and low maintenance. But they fade over time, provide less security and insulation, and tend to be smaller.

    For climates prone to high winds, snow, or hurricane-force weather, look for sturdy materials rated for your conditions like steel or concrete. The right materials keep sheds safer in storms.

    3. Determine the Appropriate Shed Size

    The shed size you choose depends on what you intend to store, plus space constraints. Some typical dimensions include:

    • Small sheds: 6x4, 6x6, or 8x6 feet

    • Mid-size sheds: 8x8, 8x10, 8x12 feet

    • Large sheds: 10x12, 10x14, 10x16 feet

    • Extra large sheds: 12x20, 12x24 feet

    Consider headroom also - taller sheds around 8-10 feet high provide more usable space for large items. Just check that the shed will fit through the gates when delivered.

    For lawnmowers, bikes, and typical yard gear, a mid-size 8x10 or 8x12 shed usually suffices. For furniture, vehicles, and storage, 10x14 and 12x16 sheds work better. Take measurements of your available space and sketch out different shed footprint options.

    A long, narrow shed can maximize smaller backyards rather than a wide, bulky one. Lean-to sheds also save space by attaching to an existing wall.

    And remember to check if you need permits for storage sheds, especially for the big ones.

    4. Consider the Cost of the Storage Shed

    The cost of storage sheds varies widely from small plastic units to large wood workshops. On average, expect to spend:

    • Small plastic sheds from $400 - $1000

    • Mid-size metal sheds from $1500 - $3000

    • Large 12x16 wood sheds from $4000 - $8000

    Shed costs depend on:

    • Size - The bigger the footprint, the more it will cost

    • Materials like wood, vinyl, plastic, brick, metal

    • Windows, skylights, insulation, ramps, and other options

    • Site preparation needs - foundation requirements, drainage, permits

    Prefab kit sheds usually cost less than custom builds, but require assembly. Consider buying during the spring season as it’s the best time to buy a storage shed. Get multiple quotes and read reviews before deciding, as shed prices can range significantly. Avoid very cheap models that may lack durability.

    View your shed as a long-term investment to protect valuables. Quality materials and carefully built sheds can boost property value, while a shoddy shed may be an eyesore. Consider both upfront cost and ongoing value when choosing your storage shed.

    5. Evaluate the Shed Foundation

    A proper foundation is crucial for any storage shed to prevent settling and moisture damage. Sheds come with the flooring as part of the frame, but the underlying foundation is usually sold separately.

    For a secure shed base, poured concrete pads and concrete paver bases are long-lasting options. Compact gravel and stone dust also work for leveling and drainage. Wide skids underneath the shed allow moisture evaporation. Here's a quick breakdown for you to choose the foundation for your shed:

    Foundation Type Pros Cons
    Concrete pad or pavers Very durable, level Expensive, permanent
    Wood platform Adjustable, versatile Can rot over time
    Gravel or crushed stone Inexpensive, good drainage Settling issues
    Anchored skids Allows moisture evaporation Needs a very level site
    Concrete pier blocks Adjustable leveling Can sink into the soil

    On uneven ground, make sure you have knowledge of building a storage shed foundation. Generally, it’s recommended to build a wooden platform frame secured by piers or anchors in case of uneven floors. Opt for pressure-treated lumber rated for ground contact. Keep the platform level by carefully spacing piers every few feet.

    For sheds with built-in ramps or extra high floors, also build a long ramp for equipment access. Otherwise, choose low-profile foundations like compacted gravel for easier access.

    6. Check out the Ventilation and Climate Control Systems

    Proper ventilation and airflow cool the storage shed in summer and prevent stored contents. Look for sheds with built-in vents, screened openings, and overhangs to encourage air circulation. Roof ventilators and turbines also help.

    Strategic shading, light colors, and sound sealing reduce solar heat gain. For sheds with electricity, you could add small AC units or fans to prevent excess humidity and cool the interior.

    In cold climates, the right insulation helps moderate interior temps. Fiberglass batt insulation in walls and ceilings and foam board insulation for flooring works well. Caulk cracks thoroughly to prevent drafts.

    7. Don’t forget the Shed Accessories

    While some sheds come with basic shelves or pegs, you'll likely want to add customized storage systems. Wall-mounted shelves, sliding barn door cabinets, and overhead storage racks maximize vertical space.

    For floor storage, consider free-standing shelving units, rolling carts, or heavy-duty racking. Tool organizers keep essentials handy but tidy. Floor tiles or mats make standing comfortable.

    To illuminate interior workspaces, install LED lights. Add extra vents, fans, or skylights to control humidity and condensation issues. Consider window boxes for natural light and security films for privacy.

    8. Look out for Security Features

    Because sheds often contain expensive tools and equipment, security is a key consideration. Look for sheds with windows that seal tightly when closed. Metal or heavy wood sheds offer more inherent security than plastic sheds.

    Always keep doors closed and locked with high-quality padlocks and keyed handle locks. Hasp and hinge covers block prying eyes from seeing how to dismantle doors. Anchor sheds to the ground against theft.

    Installing motion sensor lights around the shed's exterior helps deter break-ins. Keeping entrances clear of shrubs and securing outside tools helps too. Consider home security system add-ons for monitoring. All these measures will help you to secure your storage shed. 

    two men cleaning inside and outside the wooden shed

    Important Ongoing Maintenance and Care Tips

    With regular maintenance and care, your storage shed will last many years longer. Be sure to follow the manufacturer's recommendations for specific care guidelines. Here are some general tips:

    • Inspect your shed regularly, especially after major storms, for any signs of damage, leaks, cracks, pest infestations, or excess moisture. Make any needed repairs promptly to prevent small issues from becoming bigger problems.

    • Keep the exterior cleaned off and cleared away. Keep plants, trees, and vines trimmed back from touching the walls. This improves airflow and helps you notice issues.

    • For wood sheds, reseal or paint every 2-3 years to protect the wood from sun, rain, and pests which can cause rotting, warping, and mold. Watch for any flaking or blistering paint and repair. Lightly sand glossy areas before repainting for better adhesion. Painting a shed not only maintains an attractive appearance but increases longevity as well.

    • For metal or vinyl sheds, wash regularly with mild detergent to keep clean of dirt, salt, and grime which can lead to rust/corrosion over time. Avoid using abrasive cleaners.

    • Check foundations for any evidence of sinking, shifting, or damage which can destabilize the shed. Keep the ground graded around the shed exterior to encourage water runoff drainage away from the foundation.

    • Apply rodent-proof access points like doors and foundation openings to keep bugs out of a storage shed. Steel wire mesh and concrete patching help seal off entryways. Avoid storing pet food or other attractants inside sheds.

    • In snowy climates, be sure to remove snow from the shed roof regularly in winter. Heavy snow accumulation can damage the roof, especially flat and low-angled roofs. Consider adding extra bracing for sheds in regions with heavy snow loading.

    • Organize the shed to keep contents protected, tidy, and easy to access with shelving, racks, bins, and other storage aids. Floor mats make standing for long periods easier.

    • Clean the inside with a broom or mop to prevent excessive dust buildup. This also controls humidity which helps to prevent mold growth when paired with dampness.

    Staying on top of basic maintenance keeps your shed in good shape for lasting performance and appearance. Be proactive to catch minor issues before they become major headaches.

    Here's how frequently you have to do each of these maintenance tasks:

    Task Frequency
    Inspect for damage Monthly and after-storms
    Wash siding Annually
    Reseal wood sheds Every 2-3 years
    Trim vegetation Monthly
    Check foundation Annually
    Remove snow from the roof As needed in winter
    Organize interior Ongoing
    Sweep interior Monthly
    storage shed interior with shelves and tools

    Final Words

    Adding an outdoor storage shed can provide many benefits by creating space for lawn gear, extra furniture, seasonal items, and more that can declutter garages and basements. With careful planning and selection, the shed you choose should meet your needs, fit your property, match your style, and withstand weather for many years.

    Use this guide to weigh the pros and cons of different shed materials, options, and accessories. Determine the ideal size and placement before you buy a shed. Prepare the site fully, secure permits as needed, and install on a proper foundation. With regular care and maintenance, your new shed will serve as a lasting solution for creating more storage and organization around the exterior of your home.


    How will a new storage shed benefit me?

    Buying a new storage shed will help you organize your outdoor space, providing a dedicated area for tools, garden equipment, and other items that require a shed for storage. Moreover, an outdoor shed is also a great way to add value to your property.

    What is a popular shed size?

    The most popular shed sizes often depend on individual storage needs. Common sizes typically range from 8x6 feet to 12x20 feet. But remember, the best shed for your backyard should perfectly accommodate all your storage items and leave room for future additions.

    How do I decide the type of shed I need?

    Start by determining your storage needs - do you want a shed to store garden tools, mowers, bicycles, or something else? Then consider the weather in your area, as this will affect the material of your shed. Wooden sheds are popular but may require more maintenance than plastic and metal sheds. The type of shed you choose will also depend on your personal aesthetic preferences.

    Where should I place my shed?

    The best position to place your shed is one that is easily accessible, with a strong, level foundation. It's also important to check local zoning regulations and homeowners’ association rules before you install your shed. In general, place the shed in an area with good drainage and sunlight to prolong the life of your shed.

    How can I protect and maintain my shed?

    Regular maintenance can help protect your shed and extend its lifespan. Depending on the shed's material, this may include painting or treating wood siding, checking and fixing the roof, and keeping the area around the shed clean. It's also recommended to store items properly within the shed to avoid damage and make your shed use more efficient.

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    About The Author

    Andy Wu - Resident Expert

    Andy Wu - Resident Expert

    Andy Wu is the resident backyard products expert and hails from Atlanta, Georgia. His passion for crafting outdoor retreats began in 2003.

    As a fellow homeowner, he founded Backyard Oasis to provide top-quality furnishings and equipment, collaborating with leading manufacturers.

    His main focus is on sheds and generators!

    In his spare time he like to hike the tallest mountains in the world and travel with his family.

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