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Memorial Day Sale 5/24-5/29 - Free Gifts/Reduced Prices On the Following Brands: Cal Flame, Duramax, Yardistry, Elementi, Modeno, Outdoor Greatroom, Riverside Shed, Outdoor Living Today, Exaco, Napoleon Grills, Blaze Grills, Paragon Outdoor, Gazebo Penguin.
Best Types of Wood for storage sheds

The Best Types of Wood for Building a Wooden Storage Shed

Pressure-treated lumber and framing lumber stand out as top choices for the construction of wood storage sheds, particularly for framing, due to their combined affordability and durability. Needless to say, choosing the right type of wood depends on specific needs and budget. Building an outdoor shed that will stand up to the elements and last for years to come is key.

This guide examines the most popular and suitable woods for wooden shed construction to help you make an informed decision when planning your next storage shed project.

cedar garden shed with open double doors and gardening tools inside

    What are the Different Types of Wood for Wooden Storage Sheds?

    The most common and suitable woods for backyard storage shed construction are pressure-treated pine, cedar, redwood, cypress, fir, pine, and engineered woods like plywood and OSB. Pressure-treated pine is the most affordable and durable option for the framing and foundation.

    For rot-resistant natural wood siding with good looks, cedar and redwood are premium choices. Pine and fir offer budget-friendly alternatives, while cypress provides a unique rustic character. Plywood and OSB make sturdy, economical sheathing. 

    Overall, pressure-treated pine provides the best combination of strength, durability, and affordability for the structural framework of a backyard storage shed.

    outdoor living today 8x8 gardener shed with flower box

    1. Pressure-Treated Lumber - The Most Durable and Affordable Option

    For the structural framing of your shed, pressure-treated lumber is hard to beat in terms of affordability, strength, and decay resistance. According to the article "Overview of Wood Preservative Chemicals" by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, pressure-treating infuses chemical preservatives deep into the wood, protecting it from fungal decay and insect damage.

    Pros

    • Extremely durable - can last over 50 years with proper maintenance
    • Treated to resist termites, carpenter ants, and fungal decay
    • Relatively inexpensive and easy to find at home centers
    • Suitable for ground contact and buried footer applications
    • Common 2x4 and 2x6 sizes for studs, joists, rafters, etc.

    Cons to Consider with Pressure-Treated Wood

    • Can warp or twist as it dries after treatment
    • May bleed chemicals initially and corrode metal fasteners over time
    • Often has more knots and imperfections than higher grades of lumber
    • Can be challenging to paint/stain evenly due to the absorption
    • Some folks prefer to avoid treated wood chemicals around gardens

    As long as you use galvanized fasteners and let the wood dry adequately after purchase, pressure-treated pine or fir will make an incredibly strong and durable base frame for your new shed. It's also the most cost-effective option for essential structural members.

    2. Framing Lumber - A Classic and Versatile Approach to Shed-building

    Framing Lumber, also known as construction-grade lumber, is wood used for constructing the structural framework of buildings and forms the essential wall and roof frame of any wooden shed. The most common type of Framing Lumber for both wall and roof structures, particularly in average-sized backyard sheds, is a 2x4 (1.5 in x 3.5 in). This wood has a standard thickness of 1.5 inches and is typically made from solid fir or spruce.

    Pros

    • Provides a solid structure for sheds, offering considerable strength and stability, particularly in harsh weather conditions
    • Effective at insulating - can be beneficial if the shed is used as a workspace or for activities that require a more controlled environment
    • Can be built to custom sizes, fitting specific needs or space constraints
    • Can be painted or stained, enabling the shed to match your house color or specific aesthetic preferences

    Cons

    • Can warp, twist, or bow due to moisture changes therefore susceptibility to imperfections
    • Requires regular maintenance, including painting and varnishing, to preserve their appearance and longevity
    • Prone to pests and rot without proper treatment, especially in humid conditions
    • Takes more time compared to other materials, particularly if constructing from scratch rather than using a pre-fabricated kit

    Choosing the right framing wood is crucial and hinges on the shed’s design and intended use. For instance, constructing a workshop might require opting for more 'workable' woods like oak, ash, or maple, which offer greater ease in handling and crafting. Additionally, factors like the potential for painting or staining the wood for aesthetic purposes should be considered. These choices significantly influence the overall cost, with workable woods generally commanding a higher price than their less malleable counterparts. Moreover, it's important to note that while oak, ash, and maple are more workable, they are not typically used for framing due to their higher cost and weight compared to standard framing lumber like spruce or fir.

    3. Oriented Strand Board (OSB) - A Cost-effective and Consistent Material for Wood Sheds

    Oriented Strand Board (OSB) is a cost-effective choice for sheathing in shed construction, offering affordability with its price range typically between $10 to $15 per sheet. Made from compressed softwood chips in a semi-random pattern, OSB provides a unique texture for non-load-bearing parts of a shed, like walls and roofing. Its standard dimension, similar to plywood, is 4 ft. x 8 ft., making it a practical option for covering large areas.

    Pros

    • A suitable choice for roofing and sheathing shed walls prior to installing covering
    • Very consistent quality with minimal knots and grain irregularities
    • Available in a variety of types for specific applications, including those suitable for indoor and outdoor use​
    • Usually water-resistant and some can even be waterproof, making them suitable for environments where moisture is a concern
    • Offers consistency from one side to the other, without defects like holes and knots, which are common in plywood
    • Can be much larger than plywood panels, covering more area and potentially reducing the number of panels needed
    • Generally more affordable than plywood, offering a budget-friendly option for construction projects
    • More sustainable manufacturing process, often using small diameter trees and maximizing wood fiber usage from each tree

    Cons

    • May not be the best choice for structures requiring high durability or where longevity is a priority
    • Can be more pliable than plywood, which might not be ideal for flooring as it can lead to squeaky floors
    • Less versatile for other projects since its edges are not conducive to holding screws or nails effectively
    • Can swell significantly when exposed to moisture, especially at the edges unless it is waterproof
    • Often perceived as unfinished or less visually appealing, and it can be challenging to clean​
    • The manufacturing process often involves formaldehyde, which can pose health risks
    • Often considered to be of low value due to its rough appearance
    • Is heavy, which can make it challenging to handle and install, particularly with large panels

    While OSB offers strength, water resistance, and cost-effectiveness, it also comes with challenges such as potential swelling with moisture exposure, less aesthetic appeal, and health considerations due to the use of formaldehyde. These factors should be considered when deciding whether OSB is the right material for a specific project.

    4. Exterior-grade Plywood - A Versatile Choice For Walls, Roofs, and Floors

    Exterior-grade Plywood is made with waterproof glue and designed for exterior use. This plywood is suitable for walls and floors and ideal for various woodworking projects. For shed construction, using plywood of at least half an inch thickness is advisable for wall and roof sheathing. However, for shed flooring, opting for a minimum of five-eighths inch thick plywood is recommended, especially pressure-treated types, due to its superior durability and limited natural rot resistance.

    Pros

    • An ideal choice for construction projects including sheds due to its exceptional strength and durability
    • Provides a certain level of protection against moisture and weather elements
    • Versatile in use and can be applied for various construction purposes, both indoors and outdoors​
    • Generally lacks knots or defects, offering a smooth and uniform surface
    • Allows selection based on specific project requirements due to a wide range of grades available

    Cons

    • More expensive than ordinary plywood and can sometimes cost twice as much
    • Not completely waterproof and requires additional preparation for long-term outdoor exposure
    • Can be challenging for those not well-versed in plywood to identify the correct type for their specific needs

    While standard Exterior-grade Plywood is made with weather-resistant adhesive, its wood component may not be highly rot-resistant, underscoring the importance of pressure treatment for longer-lasting floor structures. It's also important to choose the right grade of plywood for the specific needs of your project.

    5. Cedar - A Natural Rot Resistant Wood Perfect for Siding

    When it comes to the visible siding boards on your shed, cedar is a premium yet worthwhile investment. The natural oils in cedar make it resistant to moisture, decay, and pests. This beautiful softwood will enhance curb appeal while protecting your belongings inside.

    Pros

    • Has a rich red or pinkish hue with distinctive grain patterns
    • Naturally weather, decay, and insect resistant without chemicals
    • Will not warp, split, or crack as easily as other woods
    • Easy to work with using common hand tools
    • Can be left unfinished or stained/painted for extra protection
    • Available in boards, shingles, and shakes for vertical or horizontal siding

    Cons

    • More expensive than pressure-treated pine or fir siding
    • Grades with more knots and imperfections are quite affordable
    • Needs sealing or finish to maintain color and avoid greying
    • Not as hard and dent/scratch resistant as many hardwoods
    • Difficult to find kiln-dried material that is less prone to twisting

    Cedar's natural resistance to decay makes it one of the best woods for backyard sheds in terms of longevity. Choosing edge-glued boards will minimize twisting and checking. Be sure to keep cedar boards ventilated and dry behind to prevent moisture issues.

    6. Redwood - Excellent Water Resistance But More Expensive

    Redwood shares many of the same durability advantages as cedar but showcases slightly richer reddish-brown hues. Redwood contains high amounts of tannin, resin, and essential oil that repel moisture, fungi, and insects. This premium softwood is exceptionally suited for outdoor shed construction in wet climates.

    Pros

    • Absorbs and sheds water to reduce swelling and shrinkage
    • Resists decay, termites, and other pests naturally
    • Distinctive reddish color and straight, uniform grain pattern
    • Stains and finishes very well while maintaining natural beauty
    • Available in vertical boards and horizontal sidings
    • Slightly harder than cedar while still being easy to work
    • Can last 50+ years with proper installation and maintenance

    Cons

    • Among the most expensive wood species for shed covering
    • Difficult to source kiln-dried boards optimal for siding
    • Has become less available in recent decades due to overlogging
    • Chestnut brown tones will tend to fade towards grey over time
    • Few mills left supplying product resulting in inconsistent stock

    If you appreciate redwood's distinctive appearance and are seeking maximum decay resistance, the extra cost can certainly be justified for your storage shed project. Just be sure to apply a UV-inhibiting sealant every 2-3 years to maintain redwood's signature color.

    7. Cypress - A Unique Look with Good Weather Resistance

    Cypress is an intriguing lesser-known choice for shed cladding. The character of cypress varies widely from mostly clear vertical grain to swirls and pockets. This adaptability allows creative freedom when planning the look of your shed. Cypress performs well outdoors once properly dried and finished.

    Pros

    • An interesting mix of grain patterns from wavy to vertical straight
    • The attractive yellowish-brown color works well in myriad shed styles
    • Natural durability and weather resistance if adequately finished
    • Resistant to rottenness, insects, and humidity
    • Takes paint and stains very well
    • Sustainably harvested from Southern swamps

    Cons

    • Availability and prices fluctuate more than mainstream species
    • Needs proper kiln drying and acclimation to prevent issues
    • Higher tendency to twist, cup, or bow than lumber options
    • Classified as moderately decay resistant, it benefits from preservative
    • Controversy over the sustainability of harvesting wild cypress swamps
    • Oil content can cause adhesion issues with some paints and finishes

    If you appreciate varied grain patterns and unique rustic character, cypress can be an intriguing alternative to cedar or redwood for your backyard shed's covering. Just be picky when sourcing boards or panels with vertical grain for optimal performance.

    8. Pine - Affordable and Easy to Work With

    For shed builders on a tight budget, pine lumber and plywood offer the most cost-effective solution. While not as naturally decay-resistant as cedar or redwood, common construction-grade pine has sufficient durability when properly finished and maintained. Pine is readily available at local home centers in a variety of sizes.

    Pros

    • Inexpensive compared to other woods for sheathing
    • Easy to find pine boards, plywood, and OSB at home centers
    • Very workable with hand or power tools for cutting and fastening
    • Accepts paints, stains, and water sealants relatively well
    • Provides adequate performance when properly finished and sealed
    • Treated lumber foundation boards are a low-cost option
    • Pine plywood edges can remain exposed if protected by overhangs

    Cons

    • Not naturally resistant to rot, fungi, and wood-boring insects
    • Requires more maintenance and refinishing than cedar or redwood
    • Can warp and twist more than some other wood types
    • Tendency to bleed resins through paints and finishes over time
    • Susceptible to splitting and cracking if not properly dried and handled
    • Pine plywood edges must be sealed and finished if exposed

    Construction lumber grades of pine offer the most economical route for basic sheathing and trim on backyard sheds. Choosing pre-primed boards or at least quality primer can help pine perform better outdoors. Avoid leaving exposed end grain whenever possible.

    9. Fir - Affordable and Suitable for Sheltered Sheds

    Another very affordable wood species, Douglas fir exhibits good strength, stability, and workability at low cost. Fir is a common framing material for houses and sheds sheltered from direct sun and precipitation. Utilizing fir where protected by overhangs and finishes makes sense for budget-minded shed builders.

    Pros

    • Low-cost framing lumber is readily available
    • Very strong and stable if kept dry
    • Resists splintering during construction
    • Takes paint and some stains relatively well
    • Machines and finishes smoothly with hand tools
    • No shortage of supply sustains low prices
    • Can utilize lower cost grades for sheltered framing

    Cons

    • Not naturally durable against moisture, decay, and insects
    • Needs adequate sealing, ventilation, and maintenance
    • Significant movement as moisture content changes
    • Lower-cost grades prone to large knots and pitch pockets
    • Must be protected by overhangs and finishes
    • Inferior performance in direct contact with soil
    • Pressure-treated fir will last longer in exposed outdoor applications

    For interior framing or applications protected from the elements, Douglas fir is an excellent choice to save money over cedar or redwood. Choose higher-quality boards for trim and siding applications. Avoid untreated fir in direct ground contact.

    two men building a wooden shed

    Key Considerations When Selecting Wood for Your Shed

    When it comes to choosing wood materials for wood storage sheds, consider these important factors:

    • Local Building Codes: Compliance with building code requirements for foundations and framed walls.
    • Decay Resistance: Suitability of wood in ground contact.
    • Climate Exposure: Resilience to sun, precipitation, and humidity.
    • Maintenance Frequency: Regularity of refinishing for appearance upkeep.
    • Wood Availability: Local accessibility of preferred wood types.
    • Tool Proficiency: Compatibility with various species and board types.
    • Finishing Skill Level: Expertise in applying protective finishes and sealing end grain.
    • Budget and Aesthetics: Managing the cost of storage sheds while achieving the desired visual appeal.

    Do your homework when researching the best wood species and grades to utilize for each component - framing, roofing, doors, and trim. Combining the right materials will help your shed stand the test of time with proper care. Don't cut corners on wood selection for shed floor framing.

    The table below summarizes the suitability of the various wood species discussed in the article for the main structural components of a shed:

    Wood Type Framing Siding Roofing Cost
    Pressure-Treated Pine Excellent Good Good Low
    Cedar Good Excellent Excellent High
    Redwood Good Excellent Good Very High
    Cypress Good Good Good Medium
    Pine Good Good Good Low
    Fir Good Fair Fair Low
    Plywood Fair Good Good Low
    OSB Fair Good Good Low

     

    What Wood is Best For Building a Wood Shed?

    The best wood for building storage sheds combines long-term durability with aesthetic appeal, while also fitting within your budget constraints.

    • Pressure-treated pine is the most durable and cost-effective wood choice best for storage shed framing. It resists rot, insects, and decay for 50+ years.
    • Cedar and redwood are excellent siding options if you want beautiful, naturally rot-resistant wood shed. But they cost more than pine.
    • Construction-grade pine provides sufficient durability for wooden sheds if your budget is tight. Just make sure it is properly finished and maintained.
    • Plywood and OSB deliver consistent quality for affordable wall sheathing under siding. Protect edges from moisture.outdoor living today sunshed garden shed 8x8 with flower box

    What should I look for when finding the best wood for walls and roofs?

    Opt for durable, stable woods that resist warping. Consider water resistance, strength, cost, and climate exposure. Use moisture-resistant wood like cedar shakes for roofing. Choose plywood or OSB for sturdy, affordable shed walls.

    Can I build a backyard shed out of metal instead of wood?

    Yes, metal can be used to build sheds. They resist decay and pests. But metal can dent, costs more than wood, and gets very hot/cold. Wood sheds offer more customization options.

    Is exterior-grade plywood good for sheathing the walls of my shed?

    Exterior plywood is an excellent option for sheathing shed walls before installing siding. The layers resist warping better than solid wood. Protect edges from moisture.

    What tips does General Handyman recommend for building a shed right?

    They suggest using pressure-treated lumber for the foundation, quality materials, galvanized fasteners, following building codes, and protecting/sealing all wood from moisture damage.

    How many cubic feet of storage should I plan for my shed?

    Consider what you intend to store - lawn mower, bikes, tools, furniture, etc. Most sheds range from 100-500 cubic feet. Plan door size for easy entry and exit of large items. Add windows for natural light.

    What are some good options for sheathing the walls before siding?

    Plywood and oriented strand board (OSB) offer affordable, consistent performance. Use plywood for extra rigidity on roofs. Protect edges from moisture.

    Choose the Best Wooden Shed for Your Climate and Budget

    When building a storage shed in your backyard, make sure to select the optimal wood species for each component based on climate, exposure, cost, and aesthetic priorities. Pay special attention to properly protecting and sealing any cut ends, edges, and fasteners.

    With the right wood materials and sound construction techniques, you can expect your backyard shed to still be sturdy and serviceable for decades to come. 

    Previous article Building vs Buying a Shed: A Complete Comparison Guide
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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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