What Every Homeowner Needs to Know About Backyard Sheds

What Every Homeowner Needs to Know About Backyard Sheds

Backyard sheds are important storage locations to keep your equipment and other accessories. No doubt, this saves you the headache of a jampacked garage. Backyard sheds give you more organization. Backyard sheds are also a perfect location for storing hazardous materials that you want to keep out of the reach of your children and pets.

The perfect backyard shed is affordable, durable, and effective. This can either be made from wood, metal, or plastic materials. For the shed to last, you should keep it damp-free, preferably raised from the ground. It would be nice to have the shed insulated and spacious enough if you are going to spend considerable time inside it.

Many factors come into play when building your backyard shed. You have to consider your budget, the legality of your preferred shed location, the need for waterproofing the base, a vapor barrier, and the thickness of the foundation. You also have to select the right material for the shed and the kind of surface you want to build it on. Let us learn all these.

Backyard Sheds Cost

The cost of your backyard shed is determined by the materials you want to use and the labor you could be hiring. If you choose not to hire a professional and build the shed yourself, you can spend between $1,000 to $3,500 on average. Additional expenditures can come in, like electricity, insulation, and even water.

Your materials can cost you about $3,000. This covers the siding and the roofing material you would buy – be it metal, wood, or plastic. If you hire a carpenter to build the shed for you, depending on the design, he will charge you about $50/hr. Similarly, if you would need electricity, an electrician could cost you anywhere between $50/hr and $100/hr to wire the shed.

Do You Need a Permit to Build a Shed in Your Backyard?

While backyard sheds on the surface may seem like a personal project, permits are most times needed. Depending on the legislations where you are staying, there are specific code requirements for your backyard shed installation. This can be gotten from your city zoning department. Such codes are particularly needed when you are building a sizable shed.

However, if you are building smaller sheds in the region of dimensions like 8×10 or even smaller at 6×8, you may not need permits as such smaller sheds are very unlikely to counter local zoning restrictions. If you will need electricity as well, it is essential to get a permit.

The location of the shed also matters. In some cases, local codes stipulate the proximity of your sheds to property lines, its closeness to trees and fences. In other areas, it is strictly forbidden to attach a shed to your house. In many regions, you can easily install a shed in your backyard so long the footprint is not bigger than the stated percentage of the lot size.

The use of the shed also matters. If you intend to use the shed as a mini living room or workspace, you must inform your local zoning department. This way, you can get the required permit after due inspection of the shed. Violation of these local codes attracts a stiff penalty.

Can You Legally Live in a Shed?

By standard, you should not live in a shed full time. Sheds by law are unfit for human habitation. This is typical for those mini sheds that fall under the class 10a building categorization. You have to consult a private certifier to ascertain the living conditions of your shed better.

Nonetheless, there are cases where sheds in the class 1 engineering category can be used as temporary homes. Nonetheless, you need approval from your local council.

Do You Need a Foundation for a Shed?

If you have a big shed, a strong foundation is required for the shed to withstand sustained pressure and weather elements for long. However, if you have a small shed like the 8″ ×6″, it is not mandatory to have a foundation. For such smaller sheds, you can make do with resting on crushed stone with concrete foundation blocks.

How Close can I Build a Shed to My Property Line?

The building department in your locality will determine the allowed proximity of your shed to your property line. This setback distances determined by the building department could fault building storage sheds in the remotest back corner of your yard. In most cases, it is illegal to build a shed 15 feet from a side-lot line. It is also prohibited to build a shed anywhere inside 10 feet of your rear property line.

Can You Put a Shed on Paving Slabs?

Yes, you can put a shed on paving slabs so long the paving slab is properly prepared. The first step to preparing your paving slabs for the shed involves using your tape for the measurement of the base area. You can then mark it out. Ideally, the area should be about 5 cm bigger (on each side) compared to your garden building.

After marketing out the area, dig it and spread your mixture of cement and sand across it. You can then lay your paving slabs, ensuring they are level.

Can You Put a Shed on Grass?

It is right to be selective of the shed’s base structure. This is regardless of the shed’s sturdiness. Some homeowners put their sheds on grass, their lawn or gravel. This is not recommended. Grass especially can cause warping, speed up deterioration due to increased dampness, and can eventually cause sinking.

How High Should a Shed be off the Ground?

Your shed needs to be thoroughly aerated and enjoy natural lighting from the sun. For improved air circulation, your shed shouldn’t sit directly on the ground as it would cause moisture-related problems later on. Ideally, your shed should be raised off the ground. We will recommend raising it off the ground by a minimum of 4 inches.

Are Plastic Sheds Better than Wood?

Wood and plastic present different characteristics as we will be learning later in this module. Necessarily, plastic sheds are lighter than wooden sheds consequent of being made from vinyl materials. Yet, such lightness shouldn’t be mistaken for weakness.

Many shed owners will tell you that plastic sheds last longer than wooden sheds and are even stronger than them. Nonetheless, one downside of plastic sheds is their lesser tolerance to hanging weights compared to metal sheds and wooden sheds.

How Do You Keep the Bottom of a Shed from Rotting?

It is crucial to protect the base of your shed from rotting. The first step to achieving this and making your sheds more durable is by raising them off the ground with a strong foundation. Being raised from the ground, your shed will not battle excessive moisture from direct ground contact.

It is vital for sunlight to wash your shed thoroughly. This natural heating will remove the accumulated moisture from rains, fogs, and other weather elements. Therefore the location of your shed should be in a sunny area where there is not excessive vegetation or shrubs.

If you are using wood, go for lumber. For the fact that it is treated, it would be more resistant to decomposition. You can also paint the wood with water-repellent sealers to keep off water. This isn’t a one-off exercise. Make sure to spray or paint such water-repellent sealers on the wood periodically.

Do I Need a Vapor Barrier in My Shed?

Backyard sheds are prone to decomposition due to the accumulation of moisture. This is why it could be helpful to get a non-permeable plastic like a vapor barrier to reduce the humidity in the shed and consequent mold growth. Certain conditions necessitate the installation of a vapor barrier in your shed.

If you are going to air-condition and insulate your background shed (for extended use as a workspace), it could be a useful addition to install a vapor barrier on the wall exterior.

This will reduce mold growth by preventing the permeation of moisture. Should moisture penetrate the shed, it will be sucked up the internal space, which is notably drier.

How Do You Secure a Shed to the Ground?

You can secure your shed to the ground by tying the skids to an anchor. It doesn’t matter the style of the shed. The anchor can be screwed integrally into the ground.

Preferably, you should go for a metal auger-type shed anchor whose tip you will drive deeply into the ground. A penetration depth of 8 inches would do so you don’t destroy the anchor.

This should be pegged from each shed corner. In this manner, your anchor boasts improved ground grip and sturdiness.

Are Plastic Sheds Fireproof?

Plastic sheds are not totally fireproof. Agreed plastic sheds don’t burn as fast as your wooden shed, but it can’t withstand sustained fire.

What is the Best Material for Outdoor Sheds?

Wood, vinyl (plastic), and metal are the three most used materials for backyard sheds. These three materials come with their respective advantages and disadvantages. We will point them out and leave the choice to you.

Let us start with wooden sheds

Wood is the most commonly used shed material. Wooden sheds give the homeowner more space for customization. This allows you to integrate your design and aesthetic ideas better.

For example, you can paint a wooden shed to match your surroundings, your garden or your home itself. Wooden sheds bring out the beauty of such aesthetic elements like window flower boxes or even cupolas.

Remember, we pointed out that wooden sheds have impressive resilience to hanging weights. So you can readily hang cabinets from the walls or even hang multiple shelves. Such a structure gives you an improved storage area.

The downside to wooden sheds is their propensity to rot. Compared to metal and plastic, wooden sheds absorb moisture and dirt quicker. This makes it more difficult to maintain wooden sheds, even attracting bugs. Also, in the absence of ceiling and walls, the inside of your wooden shed looks unsightly with the beams exposed.

Next, we will talk about plastic sheds

Plastic sheds are commonly seen as resin sheds. These are high-density polyethylene sheds. Plastic shades being made of vinyl are not as heavy as your typical wooden shed. Yet, they are stronger and last longer. Plastic sheds are far cheaper than wooden sheds as well as being easier to maintain.

Metal sheds are more resilient than the conventional single-wall-resin panel sheds we see. However, plastic sheds are getting more impact-resistant due to manufacturers are now adopting double-wall resin panels and integrated steel supports to mirror the resilience of metal sheds. Nonetheless, plastic sheds have some downsides as well.

Notably, plastic sheds are susceptible to condensation issues. Also, plastic sheds don’t have that aesthetic vigor of wooden sheds. It is thus sad that plastic sheds rarely blend into the surrounding. Furthermore, most plastic sheds don’t boast significant UV resistance, which will make them fade over a short time.

Lastly, let us explore metal sheds

Metal sheds compensate for most of the flaws of plastic sheds. There are even less expensive than wooden and plastic sheds. Metal sheds require far less maintenance and are fire resistant. The durability of metal sheds beats that of plastic and wooden sheds.

Assembling metal sheds is very easy compared to assembling wooden sheds. Also, because of the handiness of the metal base, you may do without a foundation. Most metal sheds come with in-built ventilation and longer warranty.

However, metal sheds, in most cases, are prone to quick rusting. They don’t boast the resilience of plastic sheds making an anchoring kit necessary if you situate your shed in a stormy region.

Also, if you place your metal shed in a door area you frequent, it could suffer dents in no time. Being metallic, the shapes and sizes of metal sheds are far restricted. This limits your design and customization options.

How Do You Waterproof a Shed Base?

The first step in waterproofing your shed is picking the right location for it and building a befitting foundation. The best site shouldn’t have vegetation close by. It would be helpful to make a sound draining system (gutters) there too.

We will recommend that you avoid low-level grounds when you pick your location. Aside from vegetation, waterlogged areas are not good also. Go for those elevated areas in your garden or backyard.

This will prevent quick deterioration from excessive moisture. Areas with sufficient exposure to sunlight are ideal. This will aid evaporation in the case of rains and fogs.

Also, choose a soil type with good drainage. Soils with extremely tight pores will trap water on the surface. On the other hand, soils with good drainage drain water at a faster rate, drying quicker.

After these preliminary procedures, you can go on to waterproof the walls and floors of the shed. Roof protection and siding installation could be needed, as well. When all these have been completed, you can go caulk the shed, procure ventilation and insulation systems and paint the shed (especially if it is a wooden shed).

Should You Insulate a Shed?

If you are going to spend significant time in your shed, you should insulate it. Additionally, depending on the facilities you would equip your shed with, insulation can become mandatory.

For example, if you are going to use specialty tools, they can deteriorate quickly from extreme temperatures. The same applies to electronics. Such scenarios necessitate insulating your shed.

If you plan on using your shed as a mini home or office, you have to insulate the shed as well. In a situation where livestock will be kept in your shed, take note to cover insulation for safety.

Fiberglass is popularly used for shed insulation. Fiberglass is very helpful for shed insulation if the shed is made from studded walls. In cases where low humidity is needed, the fiber glass insulation will deputize as a vapor barrier.

Aside from fiber glass, air barriers are excellent for shed insulation. Basically, the role of the air barrier is preventing the penetration of air from the outside. The air barrier also prevents the escape of interior air.

Note that air barriers will not give you the required insulation if you plan on converting the shed to a home, or you have delicate equipment in your shed as explained.

Do Plastic Sheds Warp?

Plastic sheds boast improved durability and strength more than wooden sheds while needing minimal maintenance. Plastic sheds, especially the high-density polyethylene sheds, don’t easily warp. This increased density makes them more durable compared to wood.

Plastic sheds don’t have as much warping resistance as metal sheds. This is majorly under sustained intense temperature or pressure. You should factor this in regarding the climate of where you are staying when selecting your shed materials.

Warping of plastic sheds is also another critical consideration when assembling plastic sheds. They are not the most secured you can get definitely.

How Long Do Lifetime Sheds Last?

Lifetime sheds can last for many years, depending on how you use it. The durability and strength of lifetime sheds can be attributed to the unique blow molding technology using in developing these products. Such technology results in double-walled floor panels and roof.

This is in contrast to the generality of resin manufacturers who go for single-wall constructions in their plastic sheds. Such single-wall structures are predominantly made from injection molding. The consequence of this is increased brittleness and reduced resistance to harsh outdoor elements.

Aside from this double-wall technology, Lifetime sheds are equipped with heavy-duty steel reinforcements. This is a superb boost to the tolerance and strength of the shed. Such reinforcements will give the shed (specifically the roofs and walls) more resistance to bending and warping.

Lifetime sheds boast high stain and rot resistance and need minimal maintenance. This eliminates the need for regular varnishing and painting.

How Thick Should a Shed Foundation be?

The thickness of your shed foundation depends on the size of your shed and the type of soil. Most small sheds built on stable soils don’t need robust foundation construction. Commonly, most basic sheds go with foundations of 75mm.

However, if you are building on soft clayey soil or you have a bigger shed, you should go for an increased foundation thickness of 100mm. If possible, this should be laid on a compacted hard-core base material of about 50mm. More than 50% of the base material’s depth should be dug into the ground.

How Do You Keep a Shed Damp Free?

Dampness is not good for your shed. Dampness, just like moisture, will accelerate the decomposition and rotting of your shed. This is mainly when you are using wooden sheds. Improved air circulation, ventilation and insulation are great ways to keep your shed damp free.

Vents can be helpful

You can try opening the doors and windows of your shed when possible to improve the natural ventilation. Such circulation of air will prevent the buildup of damp. It would be great if you can have two vents in your shed. These vents should be on both opposite walls. Such vent installation is more fitting for smaller sheds.

Nonetheless, if you have bigger sheds in the region of 12′ by 8′, you will need more than just static vents to ventilate your shed and consequently keep it damp-free. It would be nice if you can procure mains-powered vents for your sheds. If you want to save more in the long term, go for solar vents. One thing, however, is that vent could get bugs into your home. This explains why you should install mesh backs in your vents.

Go for artificial heating

You can also resort to artificial heat sources like electric heaters and radiators to keep off the damp from your shed. Tubular heaters are great ideas too if you have a shed equipped with mains power. These tubular heaters are excellent at the emission of background heat.

Best mount them on the floor or your walls. This way, you no longer have to worry about the interior temperature of your shed falling below dew point. To a large extent, this will keep the damp off.

It is possible that even in the face of installing electric heaters and vents, your sheds can be afflicted with damp and consequent corrosion of your equipment. This is because of the natural tendency of things lying around to gather damp and deteriorate.

Improve your storage facilities

In such a scenario, you should procure quality storage solutions. These would be premium drawers, cupboards, and top-class storage boxes. This way, you can safely and sustainably keep your tools when you are done with them.

What is a Good Pitch for a Shed Roof?

When considering the right pitch for your shed roof, you have to pay attention to the climatic conditions where you are staying. For example, if you are residing (and building your shed) in a region known for heavy rainfall and snow fall, you need shed roofs that have good drainage structure. Otherwise, the rain and would snow would seep into the weaker spots in the roof.

For such weathers, the shed roof needs to be significantly steeped. This structural tilt will allow the snow and the water to slide off easily.

Now, if you are in regions that don’t have such heavy rains and snow, you don’t need steeped pitches in your shed roofs. Flatter pitches for your shed roofs would be great. This is because since the rain or the snow doesn’t fall regularly, seepage through your shed roof is unlikely.

Aside from the climatic conditions, the actual purpose of the shed would determine the type of shed pitch you should go for. Let us assume that you just want to store a few light tools in your shed.

Here, it is likely these light tools will be stored at ground level in your shed. That means you wouldn’t necessarily be stacking things up to the shed roof. If so, you can go for a single-pitch roof, which is very simple.

However, in a situation where you will be stacking the shed up to the roof, filling up the total capacity, a single-pitch roof will not do. For such shed purposes, you need a shed roof pitch that accommodate elevated loading. Thus, you should go for gable roofs.

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Mike Zhang. Founder of FamilyLifeShare

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