When purchasing a new shed, there are lots of different options available including the type of material the building is constructed from. Metal and wooden sheds both make a great choice, and each has its own advantages.
The use of garden sheds has boomed over the last few years and they can be found in pretty much every back garden in the country. While traditionally used for storing tools, recent years have seen many exciting new uses for sheds, including as a workshop or an extra utility room in the garden.
When choosing the right shed, there are lots of different options available. The first step is to find a suitable size, with bigger sheds offering more space and easier access through larger doors. We also recommend choosing a shed with lots of windows to let in plenty of light, making it easier to find items inside. Different designs are available with everything from traditional to contemporary designs with flat roofs and large glass doors.
One of the biggest decisions to make when purchasing a new shed is to choose which material the building is made from. While wooden sheds are the most popular, many people are turning to metal sheds as an alternative option. Each has its own unique characteristics and it’s important to understand which is most suited to how the shed will be used.
Before making a decision, be sure to understand what the shed will be used for throughout its lifetime. Let’s take a look at the benefits of metal and wooden sheds and which is best.
Is a metal or wood shed best?
Whether a metal or wood shed is best depends on how the outbuilding will be used.
A metal shed makes a great choice where a low-cost option, with minimal maintenance, is required. The solid metal construction is extremely long-lasting and requires very little work to keep the appearance maintained.
A wood shed is the most suitable option where the best appearance is required, such as when renovating the garden. Wooden sheds also provide greater design choice and are suitable for use as a workshop as they can be insulated.
Advantages of metal sheds
Metal sheds are an alternative option to a traditional timber outbuilding. Most garden building suppliers will have their own range of metal sheds.
One of the biggest reasons to purchase a metal shed is due to its unmatched durability in how long the building can last. Throughout the year, garden buildings are exposed to a large range of temperatures and weather conditions. Everything from sweltering direct sunlight during the summer to days at a time of freezing conditions in the winter can affect the structure of a shed.
Long-term durability is a common downfall of wooden sheds if they are not properly maintained. Eventually, the wood can begin to look tired and the shed looks dated and old. Metal sheds still look great, even after 10 years. The frequently changing weather conditions do not affect metal sheds as much as they still look the same, even years later.
For a strong building, metal sheds are often constructed from galvanised steel. To enhance the durability further, the metal then has enamel coatings applied to provide a protective barrier. The additional layers provide protection against cracking, weather, insects and rust.
Lightweight & easy to assemble
The design of a metal shed features large panels that attach together. Due to the strength of steel, the thickness that is required in each panel is much less than in a wooden shed. This allows for a construction that is both lightweight and durable. If the shed is going to be installed in a location that is not possible to deliver next to, metal sheds are easier to carry to where they will be installed. There is also no flooring included with a metal shed, reducing the weight further as the building instead relies on a solid base.
If the shed is going to be moved in the future, a metal shed also makes a smart choice. The panels are easy to install and can be completed as a DIY job in no time. If you plan on moving house in a few years, there’s no reason the metal shed can’t be re-assembled at the new property.
Most garden buildings need to be maintained every few years to keep them in the best condition. Maintenance often involves applying a new coating of wood treatment or paint and the cost can soon add up. It’s also important to keep wooden sheds dry and waterproof to avoid issues with damp beginning to cause rot in the timber.
Metal sheds do not require any maintenance or painting once they have been installed. The outbuilding can be left for years without maintenance and the protective coating applied during construction will be enough to keep the shed protected. If a hassle-free solution is desired that requires minimal work in the future, metal sheds make a great choice.
Better fire safety
Metal sheds make a better choice where fire safety is concerned. A timber shed can be vulnerable to catching on fire easily if something inside or nearby causes flames. Metal is fire retardant and instead of burning, will eventually melt at extremely high temperatures, reducing the risk of a large fire starting in the construction of the shed.
If electricity is going to be installed and electrical items left switched on, metal sheds should provide additional peace of mind. If the shed is also going to be kept near the house, or somewhere else where catching on fire could do significant damage, metal construction is the best choice.
The structure of a metal shed can also pose some additional challenges, depending on how the building will be used.
Condensation in the roof
A common issue faced by owners of metal sheds is condensation appearing, particularly on the roof. While any building can experience condensation, the structure of a metal shed makes it vulnerable to lots of water building up.
As the outside temperature cools down at night, the surface temperature of the metal shed also falls as metal is a good conductor of heat. The trapped warm air inside the shed then comes into contact with the cold surface and water vapour in the air turns into condensation. During wet conditions, large areas of the roof can be covered with water from condensation. Wooden sheds don’t experience condensation as much as the surface temperature of the walls & the roof does not fall as quick due to being a better insulator.
Luckily, additional steps can be taken to avoid condensation in a metal shed. Items such as garden equipment should only be stored inside once they are dry to avoid water getting trapped inside. Most metal sheds also include air vents to allow fresh air to circulate and prevent humidity from building up inside.
Floor not included
Unlike wooden sheds, metal sheds do not come with a floor included. Instead, the shed is attached to a concrete or paved base underneath. Therefore, a metal shed is not suitable for locations that have not already had a suitable base installed. The cost of installing a new base can also be expensive and must be completely level to ensure each panel can attach together correctly.
A base that is not completely smooth and level can lead to water getting into a metal shed. As well as increasing condensation, the water can also damage items stored inside and lead to challenges with damp. A concrete base should be installed several weeks in advance to ensure it has dried out completely before the shed is fitted.
Where a floor is required, a wooden alternative is the best solution. Timber sheds include a solid floor as part of the construction.
Guide: How to stop condensation in a metal shed
Advantages of wood sheds
Wooden timber sheds are still the most popular choice of outbuilding, and for most uses will make the best option.
The appearance of the shed is one of the biggest reasons to choose a wooden shed over a metal alternative. A much larger range is available to choose from, with nearly all garden building suppliers producing timber sheds. Both traditional and contemporary designs are available, with a choice of different roof options. In contrast, metal sheds often feature a similar design and there are few options available to change.
As a wooden shed comes untreated, it can be painted with any suitable garden building paint. Wood stains make a great choice to show the natural grain of the wood and also add colour. Paints can be used to completely transform the colour and also cover up the wood pattern underneath. Sheds can also be ordered with additional customisation options at the time of purchase, such as upgraded windows, enhanced roofs or different locking choices.
Easier to insulate
An increasing trend over the last few years has been to use a garden building as an additional room outside. Sheds and summerhouses can be converted to create extra space for use as a workshop, man cave or outdoor utility space. Wooden sheds are the best solution if the outbuilding is going to be converted and used for more than just storing tools.
Timber sheds use thicker walls, between 8-12mm which increases the insulating properties of the building. Due to the construction, the shed will contain wooden framing on the inside of the wall that creates the perfect location to fit insulation. The insulation is placed in between the framing to improve heat retention.
Once the insulation has been installed, the interior walls of the shed can be lined with an interior wooden board such as plywood or OSB. Sheds can also be fitted out with electricity and internet to create the perfect space to relax in the garden.
The timber construction of wooden sheds provides a thicker structure but can add additional challenges to keep the building maintained.
Requires wood treatment
One of the biggest challenges of timber sheds is getting the wood treatment correct. When a shed arrives, the untreated timber is then constantly exposed to the weather conditions. Without treatment, the weather will begin to damage the wood and untreated sheds often appear grey within a few years.
When a new shed is delivered, it should be treated as soon as possible with a high-quality wood preserver or garden building paint. The preserver protects the wood against rot and fungal attack. Several coatings are recommended to provide the maximum protection and water should bead on the shed walls once complete.
Wooden sheds require maintenance every few years where the paint is re-applied to maintain the waterproof properties. A gap should be left to allow for access around every side of the building.
Difficult to install
Wooden garden buildings are often built in a factory and machine cut with very tight tolerances. Each panel is designed to slot together and create a tight seal that keeps the interior contents protected.
A wooden shed requires a level and stable base to be installed on. If the base is slightly uneven, the panels will not slot together correctly and may leave gaps in the building. An uneven base can also lead to additional pressure on the wood that can result in warping and challenges opening doors and windows.
The installation process also requires experience in fitting garden buildings to ensure the shed is watertight and installed correctly. We recommend using the fitting service from the manufacturer when the shed is delivered.
Guide: Can I paint my shed with emulsion?
Overall, both metal and wood sheds make a great choice and the decision will often come down to personal preference. Wooden sheds are the most popular option as they make a great choice for most use cases. The traditional style looks great in a garden and can easily be painted to change the appearance and blend in.
Metal sheds are a great alternative and can be purchased for a lower cost. They also require minimal maintenance as the steel construction is very hard-wearing. If practicality is more important than style, metal sheds make a great choice.
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