How to Buy Storage Shed: A Practical Guide

Need a storage shed but don’t know how to buy a shed? Not a problem, because you can buy just about any size of storage shed from a variety of different vendors.

The problem is what kind of storage shed you should buy? Below I’ve assembled a guide outlining all the key points you’ll need to consider when purchasing a storage shed.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you first start looking – there are tons of storage sheds out there for sale. Read below to help you narrow down your choice and get the shed that will fit perfectly in your backyard.

How to Buy Storage Shed

How to Buy Storage Shed

1. Check Your Zoning and Permit Requirements

Before you open up your wallet, you need to find out if you are even allowed to have a shed in your yard. Sound crazy? Any municipal building code or HOA will probably allow you to have a shed, but the question is size and design.

You’ll likely need a permit for larger sizes of shed – generally, but not always, sheds larger than a hundred square feet will need a building permit even if you aren’t building it.

HOAs may be pickier. Not only will size be an issue, but also the design of the shed. You may have to stick with more traditional designs or certain types of shed material. Check before you buy it.

Also, know that placing your shed too close to a property boundary is also not usually allowed by building codes. Similarly, you’ll want to keep in mind the proximity of the shed to a road. Many building codes mandate that structures should be so far from a roadway.

2. Determine What Your Shed Will Be Used For

So you’ve determined that you can put a shed in your backyard – great! But what kind of shed are you going to buy? The key factor to consider is what you are going to put in it.

Let’s say you need a shed to store your family’s bikes. They take up tons of room in your garage and you need them out. Did you know that there are sheds you can purchase specifically designed for bikes?

Similarly, if you want gardening shed, there are tons of sheds available for purchase designed just for gardeners. Features range from removable windows to watering systems and wiring for lights. Many come with specialized storage just for gardening tools.

Want a simple storage shed? Consider what is going to go in it. If you want to put your four thousand dollar John Deere lawn tractor in a shed, then you might want something more sturdy to protect it. A simple resin shed won’t do – an enterprising burglar could just lift it a resin shed off the ground.

If you are looking for a shed that you’ll spend time in, doubling as an office or bunkie, then you’ll look for sheds that come pre-insulated and wired up. These are more expensive and not as common, but still possible to buy.

3. Choose The Right Shed Size

Choose the right size of a shed for your yard. If you’ve got a small yard, then you are limited to shed size. Particularly if building codes make you set it away from property lines and other structures. But, if you’ve got space, then bigger is always better.

With that said, a big shed requires more effort. But you might wonder why all the effort – isn’t buying a shed supposed to mitigate any effort on your part? Not so fast.

You can’t just plop a shed down in your backyard and call it a day. All sheds need some sort of foundation to sit on, particularly in colder or wet climates. First, they should be above grade to avoid water penetration.

Second, they need to be on a solid surface to avoid structure movement. A shed that moves will fail – it’s structural members will be compromised and you’ll be out a shed.

Therefore, the bigger the shed, the bigger the foundation you’ll need. You may be able to get by with some cinder blocks, but do you want to entrust your several thousand dollar structure to some cinder blocks?

Also, and this is obvious, you need to be able to get the shed into your backyard. If you live in suburbia, this may be a problem. Sure, you could take the shed apart and move it into your backyard, but that sort of defeats the purpose of buying a shed in the first place.

Just for reference, a 9×9 shed can easily fit a push mower and wheelbarrow with room left over for smaller equipment. A 10×12 shed can fit a riding mower plus other equipment. For items like quads, sleds, or motorcycles, you’ll need 12×12 or larger.

4. Choose Style of the Shed

So you’ve figured out the size of shed you need, but what about the style? There are many different styles, but the most common are those with gable and gambrel style roofs.

Gable roofs are your typically triangular roof structures – the most common type of roof. Gambrel style roofs have four equal sides and would remind you of a barn.

Gambrel roofs are great because they have room for a loft in the ceiling area. You can fit tons of extra gear in the loft, and then turn the bottom into a workshop or office. Gable roofs don’t tend to have this space because it is taken up by the truss webs.

You’ll also find many sheds for sale come with a porch. That’s up to you to decide if you’d use a shed porch, but the aesthetic appeal would add value to your backyard regardless of functionality.

Which brings us to shed design. Some of us will care way more about the look of our shed than others. You can buy some beautiful rustic-style wood sheds that are quite expensive, but that will also add tons of value to your backyard. Your HOA may even mandate a specific shed style.

If you aren’t fussy, then you’ll be able to score a larger shed for the same cost since all those extra dressings such as unique shed color, more windows, porches, fancy doors, and more cost quite a bit extra.

5. Decide on Shed Material

The material of your shed depends largely on what you will use your shed for. Sheds come in three main materials: plastic, metal, and wood.

Plastic, or resin, sheds are not your typical plastic. They are a thermoplastic resin designed for many years of outdoor use. However, they are still plastic and not as strong as the other materials. They use either metal frames or no frame at all; the walls just “click” together. These are great for storing tools or outdoor toys.

Metal sheds are a step up from plastic sheds in terms of durability. They all come with steel frames and most have included or optional floor kits which are recommended.

You can feel safe about putting your lawnmower or other power equipment in a metal shed. There are questions about their ability to hold up under significant snowpack, but otherwise, these sheds will last provided they have a solid foundation.

A wood shed will last the longest. Sure, steel is stronger than wood, but the steel frames in metal sheds are not very thick. Sheds with 2×4 frames are the most durable sort of shed you are going to find for sale.

Wood sheds can double as offices or bunkies because they are the most easily insulated. The cavities provided by the frames make it easy to put batts or other types of insulation inside. Adding windows is also easier in wood-framed sheds than other types.

Metal and plastic sheds don’t have any particular type of siding – it’s just metal and plastic, respectively. Wood sheds might have wood siding, vinyl, metal, or just OSB sheathing. They are customizable depending on your preference, and wood sheds can be bought with any type of siding.

Remember, a wood shed that uses 2×3 framing should be avoided. The weight of a wooden shed is best supported by 2x4s, not 2x3s. While the smaller sized lumber might support a roof, any substantial snowfall or windstorm would threaten the integrity of the structure.

6. Consider Shed Accessories

Above I mentioned shed floors. Many plastic and metal sheds come with floor kits, or are available for an extra fee. Unless you have a sturdy wood platform or concrete pad for your metal or plastic shed, it’s best to purchase the kit. Floor kits range from plastic to plywood, but they’ll add structural integrity to your shed and provide a solid surface to store your tools.

Another consideration is a ramp to get into your shed. Most sheds are going to have a step up into the shed because they are on some type of foundation. That means that unless you have a ramp, you will have to lift your mower up and over into your shed.

A ramp would mitigate this. If you aren’t handy, you might want to see if your shed brand has ramps for sale.

Windows are one of the most important shed features that are often overlooked. Since most sheds don’t have power, you’ll need light. One window isn’t going to give you much light, but for most sheds, that’s all you get if you even get one at all. If you are spending time in your shed, you’ll want at least two windows or skylights.

If you are using your storage shed for tool storage, you should check to see if your shed comes with shelving, hooks, cabinets or similar features since many do not. Some brands will sell this as extra.

Lastly, if you are buying a metal or plastic shed, consider buying anchors to anchor your shed to the ground. Many brands sell specific anchors for their shed models. Some are long, screw-in type anchors that attach to the shed structure and keep it in place. Regardless of the type, anchors are a very good idea.

7. Other Considerations

Unless you have a large trailer with a winch or some type of dolly system, you’ll need your shed delivered. Small plastic or metal sheds could fit in the bed of a pick-up, but anything larger will require either disassembly or professional delivery.

If you aren’t into the whole DIY thing, you’ll also want someone to put the shed together for you. If it is already assembled, you’ll need someone to prep the area for you. This will cost you quite a bit extra, especially if you bought a large shed.

Lastly, be clear on what your shed warranty and return policy are because you very well might need it. Plastic sheds aren’t the strongest, but they aren’t cheap either. If it collapses after a year, you’ll want some sort of compensation. If there isn’t any sort of warranty or return policy, then stay away.

When is the Best Time to Buy a Storage Shed

Don’t buy a storage shed in summer. For big-box home reno retailers, summer is a major revenue generator, so you are less likely to find a deal unless you’ve hit a July 4th or Canada Day sale.

Spring sales are great for finding deals, and many big-box retailers will offer zero-percent financing if you use their credit cards. I’ve seen up to 24 months of 0% financing during certain sale periods. Read the flyers or pay attention online, as big retailers will clearly market these sales for customers.

The best time of year, however, to buy a shed is in fall, going into winter. Stores want to clear their parking lots of sheds and will offer steep discounts. Stores are trying to clear summer stock for next year’s models and need to get rid of last year’s models.

Be on the lookout for a deal. I’ve heard stories of guys finding lightly damaged display models sitting in the parking lots of big-box retail stores and getting amazing deals simply by asking.

Best Place Where to Buy a Storage Shed

Most big-box retailers will price match sheds. Home Depot will price match plus take 10% off that price, which is hard to beat. They will both price match Amazon, as well. The problem is that it has to be the same shed, and those stores often offer different models than the other and Amazon.

While Home Depot or Lowes offer many different types of shed, we don’t all live close to one of these stores. Amazon is the best place to buy a shed. Why? Selection. If you go to the website of a big box retailer, you might find 30 or 40 different sheds. Amazon has hundreds at better or comparable prices.

If you want something more unique, or you don’t see a shed you like online, check local carpenters or construction companies. There might be someone local who builds sheds, and who will do it to your specs. It might cost a little more, but it’ll get done how you want it and you’re helping your local economy along the way.

Do a simple Google search for sheds in your hometown, and you’ll likely get a couple of options locally or nearby for shed builders.

Finally, consider looking on online classifieds like Craigslist or letgo. You might be able to find a deal for someone’s used shed. Yes, it might be used and you may have to go and disassemble it yourself, but it’ll be cheaper than buying new.

How Much Do Store-Bought Storage Sheds Cost?

Metal sheds tend to run cheaper than plastic or vinyl sheds. An 8×8 metal shed can run anywhere from 200 to 500 dollars, generally. A quality vinyl shed from a brand name company will likely run you nearly double that price.

That doesn’t mean metal isn’t as good as plastic. For one, metal sheds are not as attractive as the vinyl and are likely not as popular. Metal is also relatively inexpensive to manufacture compared to the plastic sheds, which also accounts for the cost difference.

A wood shed starts at around 700 dollars for an 8×8 model and will cost around 2000 dollars for a 12×12 model. You can also purchase larger wood sheds, such as a 16×28, which will run you over ten thousand dollars.


I hope you found this guide helpful when considering your next shed purchase.

Remember, there is no best or worst type of shed – you need to sit down and consider how you’ll use your shed and what you are going to put in it.

Think long term, since a shed is an investment in your property and will also be protecting your valuables. A shed can spruce up a backyard, but can also become an eyesore. Choose properly.

As always, please leave any feedback below and let me know what you liked about this guide or what I could add to help others find the right shed for their backyard.

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