Adding a shed to your property is an ideal way to increase storage or add extra living or workspace. There are numerous shed types, styles, and designs in ready-made, kits, or DIY plans to choose from. If you’re just in the planning stage or trying to decide which to choose, we’re here to help!
Plastic, vinyl, metal, or wood sheds can be purchased premade, as kits, or a DIYer can design and build their own. A wooden lean-to-shed is the easiest to build and customize but will cost more and require more maintenance than a vinyl, plastic, or metal shed. The most popular shed styles are gambrel or gable styles as they provide extra attic storage, and hold more aesthetic appeal.
In this guide, we’ll identify fundamental shed types, sizes, and functions. We’ll discuss shed materials and durability, and look at some advanced designs. Plus, look at shed foundations and flooring. Our aim is to provide you with the information to help you select the shed type, style, and design best suited for your purposes.
- Fundamental Shed Types
- Shed Sizes and Their Functions
- Shed Materials and Durability
- Advanced Shed Designs
- Shed Foundations and Flooring
Fundamental Shed Types
Sheds are fundamentally rectangular, square, triangular, rounded like an octagonal, or they may be combinations of shapes. The roof shape is often used to identify the type of shed and wall heights too. So, it’s good to know the terms or names used to identify shapes or roof styles when looking at sheds.
Some types will be better suited for a specific purpose or location, and others may complement the architectural style of your home and enhance the look of your yard. Window and door style and placement can enhance the shed and also denote purpose, but can also be individualized to personal preference too. The descriptions below explain the basic types of sheds and roof styles available.
Gable (A-Frame Shed)
Gable sheds are among the most common shed styles. They are either square or rectangular sheds with a central ridge line forming an A-frame or gable roof that sheds rain and snow well. The slope of the roof determines how much extra storage space is available in the attic. The shed looks like a small house and can be finished to match the home or its purpose.
They’re ideal for sheltering or protecting garden or lawn tools, outdoor furniture, and bicycles. Or they can be used for household storage, office space, or as a guest or play house. Gable sheds are reasonably easy to build, can be sized to suit location and purpose and add value to your property.
Gambrel (Dutch Barn)
A gambrel shed is a rectangular or square-shaped shed with a multi-sloped barn style or gambrel roof. The shape of the roof is designed to maximize attic storage or loft space on larger sheds or provide headroom on smaller sheds with shorter walls.
The roof shape sheds precipitation well but has three ridges that must be watertight to prevent leakage. It’s also more difficult to build than a gable or lean-to roof.
The roof shape often increases the height of the structure and usually denotes the purpose of a storage structure – it looks like a barn. So, some HOA or neighborhood associations may not allow it. However, it works well for yard or household storage, a workspace, or extra living space.
A lean-to is also rectangular or square in shape and may be freestanding or attached to an existing building. It typically has one wall taller than the opposing wall, so the roof line has a single slope. The greater the slope, the more storage space and the better it sheds snow and rain. A lean-to roof with a steep slope is often called a skillion roof or shed.
A lean-to-shed is easy to build and can offer attic storage or loft sleeping depending on its usage. If built against the house, their proximity makes them ideal for storing outdoor furniture, garden or lawn care tools, BBQs, or bicycles. They can also be used for extra storage, work, or sleep space.
A saltbox shed can be square or rectangular like other sheds, however, its roof line distinguishes it from others. Like a gable shed, it has one ridge line, but it’s typically set closer to the front of the building. The front slope may also differ from the longer back portion too, especially if the front wall is taller than the back wall.
The height of the walls and slope of the roof usually provide greater attic or storage space, but can also make it more difficult to build. A saltbox shed looks more like a little house and can be finished in any style. It can be used as a play house, office, guest house, storage, or as a pool house.
A slanted roof is a single slope roof similar to a skillion, lean-to, or shed roof. The shed typically has a tall wall opposite to a shorter parallel wall with joists spanning across them. The end walls have a sloping top plate to accommodate the roof angle. The slope provides space for attic or loft storage too.
A slanted shed or roof often overhangs the walls and provides protection from the elements to items stored against outside walls. The roof sheds moisture well and is easier to make leakproof. It can be built near the wall of a house, against fences, or freestanding. If it slopes to the west, consider adding solar panels for lighting.
A flat roof shed can be any shape but has a roof with little or no slope. It’s easy to build and offers a low profile, making it less obtrusive or noticeable to neighbors. The flat roof, though, doesn’t drain well and typically requires more frequent maintenance.
Sheds with flat roofs are commonly used for garden and yard tool storage, or as a pool house. The flat roof tends to attract and hold the heat more, so it’s not ideal for office or sleeping spaces. A flat roof shed, however, can easily fit under decks or along privacy fences where other sheds might not fit.
An octagonal shed roof has eight hips that run from the joints between each of the eight wall sections to a common point above the center of the structure. The shed usually has eight sides or may be cylindrical in shape. Depending on the length of the ridge rafters, the slope may be steep or shallow, which affects how well it sheds precipitation.
Octagonal sheds are often used as gazebos and may have open, screened, or closed sides. They are commonly used for outdoor eating, lounging, or sleeping as they provide shelter from insects and the elements. They can also be used for pool houses, storage, gardening, office, or sleeping space.
Shed Sizes and Their Functions
Sheds can be built or purchased in a variety of sizes and shapes to accommodate numerous different purposes. The size, however, may be restricted by HOA or other regulations, and larger sheds often require permits, so do your homework.
Small sheds are usually less than 75 sqft and often have a height of less than 8 feet. They are large enough to hold most garden and yard tools, hoses, and outdoor sports equipment, plus gas cans, a lawnmower, and a weed whacker. Their small size makes them inexpensive and allows them to be placed almost anywhere, and makes them almost portable.
A medium shed is typically between 75 and 120 sqft. They are large enough to hold most items, but small enough not to break the bank or require a building permit. Plus, they can be premade and delivered to most locations.
The shed can be used for the storage of lawn and garden equipment, including outdoor furniture, tools, bicycles, snowblower, and even a riding lawn mower. Alternatively, it can be used for a playhouse, office, workshop, or guest house. Medium sheds are often tall enough to even have a loft or attic space for extra storage too.
Large sheds are commonly 150 to 200 sqft and usually require a building permit. Since they are the size of a small garage, they are often used to house motorized equipment like ATVs, tractors, motorcycles, riding lawnmowers, or watercraft.
They may have built-in work benches and function as a workshop while also being used to store outdoor and garden tools, ladders, BBQs, lawn furniture, and other items. A large shed can also be used for office or living space, a gym, playhouse, or even divided into smaller spaces for different purposes.
Shed Materials and Durability
Sheds may be made of wood, metal, vinyl, plastic, or a combination of materials. Some materials are more durable or easier to work with, and others require regular maintenance. Material selection may be a matter of personal preference, aesthetic appeal, budget, or blending with existing structures. However, it may also be dictated by HOA or local covenants, so check before you build or purchase.
Wood sheds can be premade, kits, or DIY projects that can be stained or painted to blend or compliment other structures and landscapes. Wood framed and sheathed, whether with OSB, SmartBoard, plywood, or solid wood siding, it will be more expensive than most other options.
Protecting the wood from moisture, rot, the elements, and insects improves its durability and longevity, but it will require regular maintenance. Wood is more natural looking and customizable and often considered more environmentally friendly than most other building materials.
Metal sheds are either preassembled or require assembly. They are usually steel or aluminum, or a mixture of the two materials. These sheds are available in set sizes and shapes, although some can be customized.
Metal is a durable material and is often coated to protect from moisture and the elements to improve longevity. They are usually less expensive than equivalent wooden sheds and are insect resistant.
Unfortunately, metal can be dented or scratched, or damaged by heavy snow or hail. Plus, in high wind or tornado zones, they need to be well secured to keep them from rolling or taking flight.
Vinyl resin sheds are relatively new and differ in composition and construction from plastic sheds, plus they are often larger. They typically have a galvanized steel floor with a framework of galvanized columns and beams to which vinyl wall and roof panels are attached.
The molded wall panels have a wood look and may include molded windows for light, and the roof panels look like shingles or shakes. The vinyl resin is resistant to fire, UV rays, mold, mildew, rot, and insects.
The sheds are lightweight and easy to assemble, and the lockable double doors are wide enough for a riding lawnmower to pass through. Great for storage of lawn and garden tools and outdoor furniture.
Plastic or plastic vinyl resin sheds are comparatively inexpensive, lightweight, and reasonably easy to assemble and come in different sizes, shapes, qualities, and colors. They don’t require refinishing or painting and are insect and moisture-resistant.
Plastic sheds are less durable or long-lasting, though, and can scratch, be damaged by snow load, and temperature extremes, and may fade over time. Plastic sheds are typically less than 80 sqft, so considered small. They aren’t customizable and are often bland and utilitarian in look and function, so not very aesthetically pleasing. They also need to be anchored to prevent wind movement or flight.
Advanced Shed Designs
Sheds typically have been used for storage of outdoor or garden tools, fertilizers, paints, bikes, toboggans, yard toys, lawnmowers, rototillers, and gasoline. In other words, most anything that wasn’t wanted in the house or wouldn’t fit in the garage or other outbuildings.
However, not all sheds have been used for catch-all storage, and today we see sheds being repurposed or specifically designed and built for alternate uses. Many find it easier and less expensive to buy or build a shed than the hassle of renovating or building an addition. Here are some possibilities to consider.
Garden sheds may be any size or style but are used solely for the storage of garden tools and gardening materials such as bags of dirt, mulch, and chemicals. They often have a built-in potting bench, shelves for pots, sunward-facing windows, or even a greenhouse façade for starting and growing plants. Many even have water hookups and solar-powered vents and fans too.
Storage sheds can be any style or size depending on present and future needs and the size of the yard. If storing gas-powered machines or chemicals such as fertilizers then the shed needs good ventilation. Household items, though, should be stored separately from gas and chemicals or they will absorb the fumes.
If storing household items such as linens, furniture, seasonal decorations, books, papers, pictures, outgrown children’s toys, or stuffed friends, consider adding climate control features or a dehumidifier to prevent mold, mildew, and moisture damage.
A she shed offers women a personalized space to enjoy their hobbies without disturbance or the need to tidy up so others can use the space. It is often climate controlled and well-lit and powered too. It’s a place to lay out a pattern, build a puzzle, paint, read or write a book, or just relax and breathe. A place where she can shut and lock the door when she leaves knowing when she returns, everything will be as-was and ready to continue.
A man cave, contrary to popular belief, isn’t the same as a storage shed or garage. It’s a customizable space that is climate controlled and has electric lights and outlets for a fridge, TV, and other appliances or tools. It may be used for hobbies, displaying memorabilia, watching a favorite sport or show, and/or enjoying a special beverage in peace or with select friends. It’s a private retreat.
A workshop shed is ideal for those with limited indoor space or those who just wish to keep the mess and noise out of the house. It often has built-in work benches, tool holders, outlets for power tools, and even storage racks.
Whether used for vehicle or small engine repair, woodworking, welding, or something else, it serves a unique purpose. It can be customized depending on the type of shop activities, and may or may not be climate controlled depending on purpose.
A home office shed may be any size or style, but is also climate controlled and has electrical outlets and lighting. It’s a quiet place to work undisturbed after hours or in lieu of the daily commute to the office.
Depending on your profession or needs, consider a desk, work table, swivel chair, small stereo, water cooler, TV or monitor for video communication, and maybe a sitting area for face-to-face meetings. Although not as convenient as an in-home office, it’s not beckoning to you every time you walk by.
A studio shed may be used for creating or listening to music, or creating video content for blogs or other purposes. Soundproofed walls and climate control, along with power and lighting are common finishes for this type of shed.
Depending on the purpose, there may be no windows, so ventilation is necessary. Consider adding a green wall for video purposes, acoustic panels, diffusers, work tables, a sound booth, a desk, sitting area, stools, and equipment storage.
Firewood storage sheds are common in areas where wood heat is common, but less so in suburban areas due to air quality. So, if storing firewood for the occasional fire for warmth or ambiance, consider a lean-to shed.
It can be installed against the house, making access easy, and protects seasoned wood from moisture. Consider a vinyl or plastic shed as they won’t be damaged by moisture, mold, or mildew.
Shed Foundations and Flooring
The shed foundation is one of the most important components of a shed. Whether premade, kit, or DIY, the shed needs a solid, level foundation to protect it from ground moisture, settling issues, rodents, and insects. The foundation may form the floor, or the shed may have a built-in base which will still need a level, dry spot in the yard. Here are some possible foundation suggestions.
A concrete foundation may involve footings, walls, gravel fill, and a concrete floor to level a place for the shed. The result is a solid, permanent foundation that can either be used as the floor of the shed or a place to set a shed on. If the ground is flat, scrape off the vegetation and form up a concrete pad for the same purpose.
Alternatively, once the ground cover is removed and the ground leveled with sand, lay down a waterproof membrane, and lay out concrete pavers. Another possibility is using concrete blocks, deck blocks, or piers to create a level base for the shed. It’s important to remember that the concrete foundation needs to be level and that water flows away from it.
A gravel foundation is typically used for flat ground. The ground cover is removed, a moisture barrier may be laid down, and then the gravel is spread, leveled, and tamped down. This typically raises it above the surrounding ground level, making it less susceptible to moisture.
Sheds with an attached base can then be placed on top of the gravel foundation so they have a level, dry, well-drained base. It’s common to create a border using pressure treated 2×6 or 4×4 lumber to keep the gravel from spreading and to help level the gravel. Plus, it looks much better.
Sheds with wood floors or foundations need to be off the ground to protect them from moisture and insect damage. The ground should be leveled and all vegetation removed, and garden cloth laid out to keep weeds at bay. The size of the shed and its purpose often determine the type of foundation.
If concrete is not an option, consider using wooden skids, 4x4s, 6x6s, or even logs to raise the shed off the ground. The wood used for the foundation should be pressure treated for ground contact to prevent rot.
Sheds that will hold heavy loads may settle, so consider using wooden piers that extend below the frost level as a foundation.
Plastic foundations are honeycomb-like pads of interlocking squares or rectangles made of high-impact recycled plastic. They are commonly used for flat-ground foundations. The ground cover is removed, the surface leveled, garden cloth laid down, and the plastic grid pieces snapped together in place.
The honeycomb cells are usually filled with pea gravel to ensure good drainage and provide a solid level base that will support heavy-duty sheds. The cells can be left empty for lighter sheds, or filled with sand. However, sand doesn’t drain as well as pea gravel and is more likely to sprout vegetation.