Important Points to Remember When Choosing a Shed
There are two main styles of roof on present-day sheds. The first is the conventional ridge or span roof, which is an inverted V-shaped structure sloping down to walls of equal height, and the second the modern pent roof, with one side wall higher than its opposite number and the roof forming a single slope between the two. The pent roof generally makes for a slightly cheaper shed. One possible advantage which it has over the ridge roof is that when guttering is fitted, rather less material is needed.
The constructional details of shed roofs vary to some extent. Roofs of conventional timber sheds consist of boarding covered with roofing felt. The roof on one such shed is composed of rebated overlapping boards fixed to purlins (horizontal members), which vary in size, according to the style and shape of the shed; another manufacturer offers a roof made up of fully interlocked tongued-and-grooved boarding fixed to purlins, which are strengthened by a truss rafter in sheds larger than 3 x 2.4 m (10 x 8’) in area. For a shed clad in exterior grade plywood, the maker supplies a roof made of the same material nailed to a framework of purlins.
In each case the specification provides for the roof to be covered in roofing felt. Smaller garden sheds, such as those about 1.2 x 1.8 m (4 x 6’) are delivered with the roof already covered with felt, so that they are ready to install. With larger sheds the roofing felt is supplied separately, cut to size, with sufficient bitumen mastic adhesive and rust-proof nails to fix it onto the wood.
There are various grades of roofing felt. The cheapest sort is the grey type. The heavy-duty green and red mineral-surfaced varieties are more expensive, but give more protection from the elements and last longer.
This is another reason why you should look at as wide a range of different sheds as possible before buying one, because some manufacturers cover the roofs of their sheds with the cheaper grey type of roofing felt, offering the mineralized type only as an extra.
Some models of garden shed are obtainable with a translucent PVC roof, allowing the maximum light to enter. It can be supplied in either of two colours, natural or yellow. Usually a very small extra charge is made for it. This PVC sheeting is very tough and quite durable, though it will probably become scratched and lose some of its light-transmitting property after a few years. The old sheets can be quite easily replaced with new ones.
Guttering and downpipes are very valuable accessories. They prevent the fabric of the shed from becoming saturated and provide a means of collecting rainwater if the lower end of the downpipe is directed into a water-butt. Alternatively, the water can be allowed to run into a soakaway.
Plastic guttering and downpipes are best, as they are light in weight, easy to put up, and virtually maintenance-free. Make sure you prevent leaves and other debris from blocking up the pipes by fitting the top of the downpipe with a piece of wire gauze.
Plastic guttering and a downpipe, with all the metal fittings needed to erect them, can be obtained, cut to length, from a local builder’s merchant.
There are two instances when the insulation of a garden shed is of value. The first is when it is to be used as a workshop and needs to be heated for comfort, while the second is when it must be kept frost-proof for the storage of fruit and vegetables.
Insulation is not always provided by the makers, even as an extra. One maker, however, supplies standard cedar sheds lined with strong waterproof building paper, and another offers an internal lining surface at a nominal charge.
Generally, you will have to install your own insulation after buying the shed. This can be done in various ways. You can, for example, tack sheets of fibreglass loft-insulation material all over the inside walls and roof. An alternative is to line the inside walls and roof with waterproof building paper or aluminium foil. A more time-consuming, but very effective, method is to cover the spaces between the members of the wall framework with sheets of wall boarding, after packing in fibre-glass loft insulation to fill the spaces behind, and to nail roof insulation material between the purlins of the roof. In addition, you can apply adhesive draught excluding tape around the frames of all opening windows and around the door frames.
Most modern garden sheds have ledged and braced doors which are hung on two or three T-hinges. Some makers specify these as being rust proof. In some cases, the manufacturers include a lock and key, whereas for other sheds, they provide only a hasp and staple, a lock being an extra; a good deal depends on the quality of the shed being sold. Some standard sheds are fitted with 83 cm (2’ 9|”) wide doors, which is wide enough for most large garden equipment, such as wheelbarrows, rollers, small cultivators and mowers. In other cases the door is only 75 cm (2’ 5%”) wide, but even this should be sufficient for most gardeners. Once again, it is a good idea to ‘shop around’ to find the best buy. Large sheds are obtainable with 1.07 m (3’ 6”) wide doors, which are wide enough for any equipment that is likely to be stored.
Sliding doors are not often found on garden sheds. Their great disadvantage with a wooden shed is that the timber of both door and shed is liable to warp, causing the door to jam. However, some aluminium sheds are made with sliding doors.
If a shed is divided into two portions, there are usually two doors fitted to the outside walls, one to enter each compartment. If desired, the manufacturer can give you access between the two sections internally, by fitting a flush interior door instead of one of the external doors.
Generally, you have a choice of positions in which a door can be placed without any extra charge. If none of these are acceptable, a number of manufacturers will provide a nonstandard door in any desired position at a reasonable extra cost.
Windows and ventilation
Usually, windows are not necessary in a garden shed that is used as a tool-shed or in one given over to the storage of fruit and vegetables. In the latter, ventilation and some means of reducing the temperature in hot weather are important. These needs can be met by installing a window that opens. Do not forget to keep this shut and to provide efficient insulation to keep out frosts during the winter.
On the other hand, when a shed is used for potting, as a workshop or a children’s playroom, windows should always be fitted.
When there is a likelihood of vandalism, however, as on an allotment, windows should not be fitted; instead, drill holes at the bottom of one side. Ventilation can also be provided by means of a louvre behind which might be fitted a stout grille, if desired. If you wish to enhance the appearance of a shed, windows with lead lights are obtainable. The best shed manufacturers offer quite a wide range of different window styles and sizes, and several combinations of fixed and opening windows. It is a good idea to position the shed so that there is a window on the sun-facing side, where the warmth from the sun will counteract winter cold and damp.
A number of fittings of various kinds can be installed in sheds. For most needs, a shed should be fitted with shelves of some sort. These can be used for holding pots, seed-trays, containers of weedkiller and so on, or in a crop-storage shed, for holding bags or boxes of stored fruit or vegetables. Shelves are essential if you are to avoid a cluttered, messy shed.
They can be made from timber, and erected on right-angled metal brackets. Make sure that the shelves are wide enough and that they are securely fixed. A better plan is to install shelves that can be adjusted for height. Some shed makers supply them in kits, usually consisting of planed timber in 1.35 m (4’ 6”) and 1.8 m (6’) lengths, spur brackets to hold them and vertical steel tracks in which the latter fit and which are fixed to the side of the shed.
A cupboard is very useful for storing small containers of weedkillers, in-secticides, other garden chemicals, paints, and so on. It should either be fixed high up or be fitted with a lock so that children cannot open it.
One or more fruit racks are a necessity if it is proposed to store fruit in a shed. They should be made up of slats of wood, with the air-spaces between providing ventilation .
If a shed is to be used mainly as a workshop or potting shed, a bench is necessary. In a workshop, this should be a heavy solid type, while for a potting shed, it can be much lighter in construction and with an edging strip fitting to the outer edge, so thatdoes not spill off the bench onto the floor. This edge-piece should be about 5-6.4 cm (2- 2-1/2”) high- Some shed manufacturers supply benches as an extra.
If a shed is not to get cluttered up, a tool rack or other means of storing garden tools is essential. One garden sundries manufacturer makes a metal rack, which is 70 cm (2’ 4”) long and 16 cm (6-1/2”) deep, which can be fixed to the wall of a shed. This has 33 adjustable hook positions and is supplied with seven double hooks, on which spades, forks, hoes, and other tools can be hung.
Another method of storing larger garden tools is to fix a panel of wire trellis, such as is used for training, on the wall of the shed, and hang hooks made from stout wire from it, on which the tools can be suspended. It is possible to buy hooks already made for this purpose. For small tools, you can purchase clips for fixing on the wall that grip the tool firmly.
Another very effective, though crude looking, do-it-yourself device for hanging tools is made by taking an appropriate length of 10 x 25 cm (4 x 1”) timber and driving into it 15 cm (6”) nails in pairs, along its length, spaced at predetermined distances to hold your tools in place. The nails should be about 6.25 cm (2-1/2”) apart for a spade, less for holding a rake, and so on. The rack must then be screwed to the wall of the shed at a suitable height.
Electricity and water supplies
Depending upon the use to which a shed is to be put, a supply of electricity and water may be needed. Remember that, for safety’s sake, electrical fittings should be installed only by a qualified electrician who has experience of the special problems of working with electricity in the garden.
A supply of water can be brought to the shed by means of a piece of plastic pipe which is buried just below the ground. Use alkathene plastic pipe, because this will not burst with low temperatures. Dig a trench to put the pipe in and fill it withafterwards. The waterpipe can then be connected to a standpipe.