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An Essential Shed Buying Guide

Our Felbrigg National Trust Shed in an immaculate garden

Choosing a garden shed might seem like a relatively simple decision. However, once you’ve factored in things like insulation, planning permission, materials and security, it can soon get a bit overwhelming. The general rule when purchasing garden buildings is that you get what you pay for. Your budget will ultimately govern the quality, size and features that you can consider. If you’re able to invest in a high-quality, handcrafted garden shed, you’ll reap the rewards down the line in terms of any resultant repairs and the overall value of your property.  

Renowned for building high-quality sheds for more than 50 years, we’ve compiled this ultimate shed-buying guide to give you expert insights and advice. We will take you through all the considerations ranging from choosing the right size and paint finish to extra security precautions, providing comprehensive insight and advice to ensure that you end up with a future-proof garden shed that fits in well with your garden.


  • Define your shed requirements
  • What size shed do you need?
  • What are the different styles of shed?
  • What are the different shed materials?
  • Shed features to consider
  • Additional Considerations
  • FAQs

Define your shed requirements

What will your shed be used for?

You must have a clear idea of the primary function of the shed, whether for storage, workspace, leisure activities, or a combination of these. This is because the use of your shed will determine many of the decisions you make further along your buying journey.  

For example, if you’re purchasing the shed for use as a bike workshop and store room, you’ll want complete peace of mind with a security pack and enough room to work on them. Alternatively, if you’re using the shed to store painting and decorating supplies, you won’t necessarily need additional security but you may want insulation to avoid any expensive water-based paints spoiling. In both of these scenarios, windows are also not going to be essential. 

How much storage do you need?

The predominant use of a garden shed is for the storage of supplies and belongings that homeowners don’t have room for in their house or things that are generally used outside such as gardening equipment and furniture. 

When assessing your storage requirements, you should take into account what you already have that needs storing, plus anything you’re likely to add in the future. For example, if you’re planning on starting a family or growing your existing one, you may need space for things like toys and other essentials. 

Alternatively, if you’re thinking of taking up a new hobby yourself, the shed can become a valuable asset for the safe storage of everything from golf clubs to skis and snowboards. Factoring in the future to your decision-making will allow the shed to be a ‘future-proof’ investment with a longer lifespan.  

Future needs and considerations

As well as storage, sheds are great spaces to enjoy hobbies, recreational activities and even remote working. You could choose to completely insulate your shed and add things like electricity and heating to transform it into a versatile garden office or an impressive home gym or kit it out with custom-built workbenches and racking for your projects and tools. 

Just like above, you should take future needs into account when making decisions about the usage of your shed. It will pay off in the long run for you to invest in something bigger and more equipped now, than having to purchase something else later down the line. 

Superior shed on the left and two examples of usage for the shed on the right. The top image is of a potting shed and the below image is a workshop.

What size shed do you need?

The size of your shed will ultimately dictate what you’re able to do with it. Consider the size of your garden and the amount of space you have available. Select a size which is suitable for your needs - too small and you won't have enough room - too big and you will lose more of your garden than is necessary. 

Before settling on a specific shed size, you should first measure the area you have available. Most shed dimensions are listed in metres or feet, so it’s a good idea to write down both when measuring your area. 

Once you’ve completed this, you’ll have a better understanding of what your options are. 

Consider the shed's footprint

The shed footprint, which is the area of ground occupied by the shed, will have some impact on your garden layout and usability.

When browsing sheds, you’ll be able to find the manufacturer dimensions listed in the specifications. These are what you’ll need to note down to check how the shed will work in your garden or yard. 

For example, let’s say the shed measures 2.4m in width and 3.6m in length. This converts to approximately 8 x 12ft. To check whether your garden will accommodate this, you should go outside with a tape measure to check. To make things easier and physically plan out your layout, you can use some temporary chalk paint or ground pegs and string to outline the shed in situ and assess the clearance from any walls, fences and access points, making sure to factor in any door swings. 

Small classic shed with door in the gable end on the left and on the right is a superior shed which is larger and has more customisable options

Think about internal usable space

To ensure sufficient interior space for your intended use, you should factor in things like internal dimensions. Keep in mind that the thickness of your walls, and any added insulation or cladding will eat into the interior space, leaving you with slightly less. 

For example, let’s say you purchase a shed that is 4 metres wide inside. You opt to insulate and clad the shed with 50mm insulation and 5mm tongue and groove cladding. This adds 55mm to all walls, meaning you’ll need to subtract 110mm (11cm) from your overall width, which leaves you with 3.89m. While this might not sound like much, it will need to be taken into account when measuring things like workbenches and furniture.   

Account for door swing and overhang

To avoid obstructions and ensure accessibility, it is important to consider things like door swing clearance and roof overhang when selecting your shed size. You’ll want to ensure that your outwards-opening door clears any fences, walls or other garden features, and the same with your roof overhang. 

What are the different styles of sheds?

Apex sheds

Apex sheds are the most traditional design and offer ample headroom. They have a symmetrical, pointed roof with the door usually placed in the gable end. Apex sheds are suitable for various purposes, such as storage, workspaces, or workshops.

Pent sheds

Pent sheds have a sloping roof which is higher at the front and lower at the back. This is usually to save space and fit into tight areas. They are ideal for storage or small workspaces.

Pent roof shed on the left and an apex roof shed on the right

Pent or Apex: Which Roof Is Right For Your Garden Shed?

Gable sheds*

Gable sheds feature a hybrid design with irregular roofs that combine the benefits of apex and pent sheds, offering ample headroom and a compact footprint. While we don’t manufacture these at Crane Garden Buildings, we’ve included them in this guide for comparative purposes. 

Other shed styles*

Other shed styles include designs such as reverse apex, octagonal, and custom-built, which offer unique aesthetics and functionalities. Again, we do not manufacture these. 

What are the different shed materials?

Timber sheds

Timber sheds have a natural aesthetic that blends seamlessly and attractively into garden landscapes. However, be aware of any sheds made from low-quality, fast-growing timber. At Crane Garden Buildings, we only use FSC® certified, slow-growing pine sourced from Northern Sweden. Each piece is selected especially for its strong, knot-free composition. 

All of our garden buildings are also treated with subtle preservatives. This lets the natural quality of the timber shine through, whilst warding off damage from woodworm and fungi. While our paint and stain finishes provide exceptional longevity, a lot of timber sheds will require some annual maintenance. 

Crane Garden Buildings Superior Shed made of high quality timber

Metal sheds*

Metal sheds are a durable choice and are resistant to weather conditions, have low-maintenance requirements and are often more affordable. However, you’ll need to consider how they affect the overall aesthetic and look of your garden, as they are not the most attractive option. 

Plastic sheds*

Plastic sheds are lightweight in construction, weather-resistant and relatively low maintenance. However, they aren’t the most durable option and can often discolour and become brittle over time. Keep in mind that a plastic shed may also need anchoring into the ground, too. 

Composite sheds*

Supposedly more durable than timber or plastic, a composite shed offers low maintenance requirements, a modern appearance, and total resistance to rot or insect damage. However, they are limited in terms of design and colour options, which can be a dealbreaker for some.  

*Crane Garden Buildings has specialised in the construction of timber sheds for more than 50 years, favouring wood for its aesthetics, durability and managed sustainability. However, there is a range of other shed-building materials available that have been included in this list for comparison. 

Example of a plastic and metal shed

Shed features to consider

Doors and windows

When considering door and window placement, you’ll need to refer back to the shed’s intended use and determine what will work best for you. For example, if you’re purchasing a potting shed, you’ll want as much natural light as possible, and so will need windows over your workbench. Windows are also essential for ventilation, which is important if you’ll be working with any strong fumes in your shed. 

You should check that specially toughened glass is used, as ordinary, horticultural glass breaks easily. Not only can replacements be costly, but it is also a hazard, especially if you have small children who play in the garden.

Alternatively, if your shed is just for safe storage, you may not want people to be able to see in, meaning a shed with no windows is better for you.   

Flooring options

The most common flooring options for garden sheds include wood, concrete, and plastic. You’ll want to weigh up which one works best for your intended use. If you’re going to use the shed as a workshop where heavy, sharp tools are being used, plastic probably isn’t going to be durable enough. 

If your shed is going to be used as a gym, perhaps you want something with the maximum moisture resistance and insulative qualities. The most suitable choice will come down to the intended usage of the shed. 

Roofing materials

The roof is the first line of defence against weathering, so it pays to make sure that you have the best quality possible. The roof should be solid, strong and ideally not made from materials such as chipboard or strand board (OSB). These can sag and deteriorate very quickly, especially if penetrated by moisture. 

When choosing your roofing materials, you should first consider durability and weatherproofing before moving on to aesthetics, and how it will look in your garden. 

At Crane Garden Buildings, we use high-quality, mineralised roofing felt as our standard, inclusive option. Additional options include slate-effect tiles and cedar shingles, which offer the same durability and weatherproofing but with the added benefit of a more personalised and attractive aesthetic.  

Cladding options

The most common cladding options for timber garden sheds are shiplap and weatherboard. Both types provide protective coverings for buildings and the choice between them ultimately comes down to aesthetic preferences. 

Weatherboard has a more traditional and timeless appearance with a small overlap, while shiplap cladding is a ‘tongue and groove’ style that is often chosen for more contemporary spaces.  

Security features

Security features such as locks, hinges, and window bars are essential to protect any valuables stored in the shed, especially for sheds located in less secure and exposed areas. Read our guide on  how to secure your garden shed  for futher information.

An example of weatherboard cladding and cedar shingles roof

Example of a garden shed with extra windows and one that has been fitted with our security pack.

Additional Considerations

Planning permission

Depending on the size of your shed and where you live, you may need to check local planning regulations for shed size and placement restrictions, ensuring compliance with local building codes and guidelines. 

In the vast majority of cases, garden buildings are considered ‘permitted developments’ which means you won’t need to obtain planning permission, but it is always better to check. 

Shed base

It’s very important that you have a flat, level base for your timber garden building. If your shed is erected on uneven or soft ground it will settle over time and cause the timber to warp creating issues with doors and windows coming out of alignment and putting excess stress on the structure, not to mention further issues with damp and rot. This would significantly shorten the potential lifetime of a structure that would otherwise endure for 30+ years.

Visit our guide to creating a good, solid concrete base for more information.

Shed maintenance

To prolong the shed’s lifespan and take care of its aesthetic appeal, you should carry out occasional maintenance such as inspection, cleaning, tightening any loose components, weeding the ground around it and completing any re-finishing that might be required.  

Insulation options

You’ll want to insulate your shed if you’re using it for work or as a frequent recreational space to ensure that it is comfortable all year round. Other factors to consider when thinking about insulation include what you’ll be storing in the shed, and if it requires a certain environment. 

Personalising your shed

Your shed is ultimately an extension of your home and potentially even your living space, which is exactly why you should opt to personalise it with paint, accessories and outdoor landscaping. Not only will this enhance your environment and create a customised space that reflects your personal style, but it will likely increase your property value, too. 

At Crane, we can offer a wide variety of stain and paint finishes across our range of garden sheds, including a Farrow & Ball palette. 

Frequently Asked Questions

I'm unsure about the size of shed I need. How can I make a more informed decision?

Consider making a list of all the items you intend to store in the shed, including their dimensions. This will give you a better idea of the internal space required. Also, think about future storage needs and potential uses for the shed such as any extra family members that may come along, or additional hobby equipment.

What are some factors to consider when choosing a shed style?

Think about the available space, the desired headroom, and the overall aesthetic you want to achieve. Apex sheds offer ample headroom and a traditional look, while pent sheds are space-saving and modern. Alternatively - if it turns out you’re after a different garden building entirely, you might consider a Garden Studio or Summerhouse. 

Which shed material is best for my needs?

Timber sheds offer a natural aesthetic and blend well with garden landscapes. Metal sheds are durable and low maintenance. Plastic sheds are lightweight and weather-resistant. Composite sheds combine durability, low maintenance, and a modern appearance. However, each has their trade-off. All materials will require some form of maintenance, so you may as well base your decision on your budget and which look you prefer. 

What security features should I consider for my shed?

Choose a shed with strong, secure locks and hinges. Consider adding window grilles or security bars for additional protection. If storing valuable items, consider installing an alarm system or motion-activated lights. At Crane, we offer a built-in, bespoke security pack. 

How can I maintain my shed to prolong its lifespan?

Regularly clean the shed's exterior to remove dirt and debris. Inspect for any signs of damage, such as cracks or leaks, and repair them promptly. Apply a fresh coat of paint or sealant every few years to protect the shed from weather damage.



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