Are Cheap Wooden Sheds Any Good? (5 Things to Check)

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Wooden sheds can be an ideal solution when you are short of storage space for your garden and general outdoor equipment. If you have been looking at new sheds recently you will have noticed that there is a large range available with an equally large range of price tags. For the same standard sized 6ft x 4ft wooden shed in the UK you can pay anywhere from under £200 to over £1000. So, what are the differences between cheap and expensive sheds, and are cheap sheds any good?

At face value, most cheap wooden sheds in the UK fulfil the basic function of providing dry and secure storage in the same way as more expensive versions do. However, the build quality and durability of cheap and expensive sheds can vary significantly.

To keep costs down, cheap wooden sheds use less expensive materials. They will often use less substantial frames, OSB floor and ceiling panels instead of solid wood, and overlap external cladding systems instead of tongue and groove or shiplap. The wood is more likely to be dip treated rather than pressure treated, and the locks, hinges and windows are likely to be more basic than on a more expensive model. As all sheds differ, you will need to carry out an assessment of the components and build methods used to determine whether a cheap shed will meet your requirements.

So, all sheds are not created equally. Read on to discover more detail about the differences between cheap and expensive sheds, and the 5 key items that you will need to consider so that you can make an informed decision on whether a cheap shed will be any good for you!

1. Cladding Method

The first key item to look at on any shed is the external cladding method. Most wooden sheds in the UK are clad using a softwood such as pine or spruce. The cladding method used will have a direct impact on the air and water tightness, aesthetics, security and ultimately the longevity of your shed. Here we will take a look at the three most common cladding types that you are likely to come across when shed shopping:

1.1 – Overlap

Overlap, as the name suggests, involves fixing strips of (usually rough sawn) timber onto the outside of the shed so that they overlap each other to form a solid side – any rainwater is thrown off each strip till it reaches the ground. The primary advantage of this method of construction is that it is relatively cheap.

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Overlap shed cladding

There are drawbacks though: the strips do not physically interlock with each other so you can often be left with small gaps between the layers of timber. This means that with overlap cladding the shed will not be completely airtight. Over time the timber can also warp which can cause more or larger gaps between the timber sheets which in turn means that there is a greater chance of water ingress into the shed.

1.2 – Tongue and Groove

Tongue and groove gets its name because the boards interlock using a “tongue” on one board that slots into a “groove” on another (see inset below).

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Tongue and groove cladding

The very nature of this method means that there is much less chance of the wood being able to warp. Tongue and groove is considered preferable over overlap cladding because this fixing system is inherently stronger, more secure, much more air and water tight (therefore giving better protection against wind and rain), and generally better looking. It is, of course, more expensive than overlap as well!

1.3 – Shiplap

A third type of cladding is called Shiplap. Shiplap is similar to tongue and groove in that it interlocks. What distinguishes the two is that shiplap panels have a differing profile which allows the panels to actually overlap each other (instead of just butting up together like tongue and groove) as well as interlock.

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Shiplap shed cladding

This design helps water run off and reduces the possibility of water ingress into the joints between the interlocking panels. For this reason, along with tongue and groove, shiplap is generally one of the most favoured (and most expensive) forms of shed cladding.

So, Which Shed Cladding Should I Choose?

Overlap is a good budget option if you are only going to be using your shed to store a few low value garden tools and you are happy with it’s more rustic appearance. But bear in mind that overlap will be more draughty, less sturdy and less secure than tongue and groove or shiplap.

Tongue and groove or shiplap make a stronger and more secure shed so are better options and worth the additional expense if you are either intending on storing heavier or higher value items / tools or if you will be using your shed as a workshop. Aesthetically they will give a sleeker look to the shed when compared with overlap.

Quick Summary – CladdingOverlapTongue and GrooveShiplap
Price pointCheaperMore expensiveMore expensive
Interlocking?NoYesYes, with an additional overlap between panels
Typical thickness ranges
(the thicker the better)
7mm, 8mm, 9mm11mm, 12mm12mm, 15mm

2. Wood Treatment Options

There are two main wood treatment options that you will come across: dip treated and pressure treated (also known as tanalised).

2.1 – Dip Treated

The dipping process involves submerging the panels into a bath of wood treatment before the shed is assembled so that the exterior of the wood panels becomes completely covered. This gives the wood some limited protection against rot and decay. We say “limited” because it only protects the outside of the wood – it doesn’t penetrate into the fabric of the wood itself.

The initial dip treatment applied to your shed will not last for long. Dipped sheds need ongoing maintenance – it is best practice to treat them again after install and then on an annual basis going forward. As long as you carry out this recurring maintenance, you can typically expect to receive a guarantee of around 10 years on a dip treated shed (this many obviously vary between manufacturers!) If the maintenance isn’t carried out the potential lifespan of your shed will be reduced.

2.2 – Pressure Treated (Tanalised)

More expensive sheds will often be pressure treated. The pressure treatment process is much more involved and intensive than the dipping process and provides much better protection against rot and decay. Instead of the protection simply adhering the the surface, pressure treatment uses a vacuum to force the preservative treatment deep into the very fabric of the timber. This gives deeper and improved protection over dipping alone.

Often this enhanced protection will be reflected in a longer guarantee from the manufacturer (typically around 15 years) and will mean that less annual after care is required – pressure treated sheds will not require the same yearly maintenance as dipped sheds.

That said, there is nothing to stop you applying additional preservative treatment to a pressure treated shed – you may want to change the colour for example. Applying additional treatment can only be a good thing, but one thing to bear in mind is that pressure treated sheds usually require a period of time to settle and dry out before any additional treatment is applied (usually 2 to 3 months) – it is best to check with the individual shed manufacturer to find out exactly how long this will be for your specific shed.

So, Should I Buy a Dip Treated or Pressure Treated Shed?

Whether you buy a dip treated or pressure treated shed will usually come down to the initial cost and whether you are prepared to treat the shed every year. If you don’t mind applying yearly protection to the shed then a dipped shed will be a cheaper initial option – but the shed’s expected lifespan will be shorter than if it was pressure treated and there will also be both a time and money cost associated with the required ongoing annual treatment.

A pressure treated shed would be the better option if you are happy with the cost. The shed will have a longer lifespan and there is nothing to stop you applying further treatment to it should you wish to!

Follow this link to check out our hints and tips for painting and treating your shed!

Quick Summary – Wood TreatmentDip TreatedPressure Treated (Tanalised)
Price pointCheapestMost Expensive
Ongoing Maintenance?Annual treatment requiredNo annual treatment needed
Typical Lifespan10 Years Plus (with annual treatment)15 Years Plus

3. Frame Construction

The construction of the frame is crucial to the overall strength of the shed. Frame quality will vary shed to shed. Cheaper sheds tend to have thinner frames and less structural beams, which can result in instability of the shed. The amount of interior framing can vary significantly. The thicker and sturdier the frame, the longer the shed is likely to last.

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Thin, rough sawn, frame on overlap shed
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Stronger, thicker, frame on tongue and groove shed

4. Roof and Floor Construction

The roof and floor of a shed will typically be constructed from either OSB (Oriented Strand Board) or solid timber / tongue and groove.

OSB is made up of multiple layers of wood strands that have been compressed and glued together. It is inherently weaker than solid timber or tongue and groove, but is the cheaper option.

4.1 – Roof

The pictures below show a shed roof manufactured of OSB (left) and timber / tongue and groove (right). Notice that the frame on the cheaper OSB roofed shed (left) is less substantial with a single, thinner roof beam compared to the two, thicker roof beams in the more expensive shed on the right.

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OSB roof on an overlap shed

Should I Get an OSB or Timber Roof?

OSB will generally do the job but will not be as strong as a timber roof. A timber / tongue and groove roof will add to the overall strength of the shed and will mean less likelihood of issues such as roof sagging occurring in the future.

Roof ConstructionOSBTimber / Tongue and Groove
Price pointCheaperMore expensive
Typical thickness ranges (the thicker the better)8mm12mm
Main advantagesEconomicalStronger than OSB
Main disadvantagesWeaker than timber / tongue and grooveMore expensive

4.2 – Roof Covering

The standard roof covering on a new shed will be felt but this can vary in quality and thickness. The two most common types of felt used for new sheds are sand backed felt and mineral felt.

Mineral felt is commonly fitted to mid range sheds and will typically last around 5 years. Sand backed felt is a lower grade felt that is easier to tear and is only fitted to cheaper sheds – you may find yourself having to replace sand backed felt after only a couple of years, especially if you live in a windy area!

Some manufacturers may offer further upgrades such as polyester shed felt or EPDM (rubber) roof coverings which will offer considerably more longevity (up to 15 years for polyester shed felt and up to 50 years for EPDM).

4.3 – Floor

The floor of your shed is going to be subject to a lot of wear and tear and it is important that it is strong enough to support the weight of whatever you are going to put on top of it. The pictures below show a shed floor manufactured of OSB (left) and solid timber (right).

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OSB floor on overlap shed

OSB floors are weaker and less rigid than timber floors and tend to flex more. Often you can sense this flexibility by just standing on an OSB floor.

Should I Get an OSB or Timber Floor?

If you are only going to use your shed for storing light items like hand tools, garden furniture or an electric mower than an OSB floor may well be adequate.

If you are going to be using the shed for heavier items then it will be worth considering a solid timber or tongue and groove floor as these are more robust and stable and are capable of bearing much more weight.

Floor ConstructionOSBTimber / Tongue and Groove
Price pointCheaperMore expensive
Typical thickness ranges (the thicker the better)9mm12mm, 14mm
Main advantagesEconomicalStronger than OSB
Main disadvantagesWeaker than timber / tongue and grooveMore expensive

5. Security Considerations

Wooden sheds are inherently less secure than some alternative storage solutions such as metal sheds, garages or brick outbuildings. As we have already mentioned, tongue and groove or shiplap sheds will be stronger and more secure than overlap sheds. But it is worth taking a few moments to look at some of the other security considerations of wooden sheds:


Door hinges will either be standard (with screws on show) or hidden. Hidden hinges are more secure as the only way you can gain access to the screws to undo them is when the door is already open – they aren’t accessible at all from the outside.


There are a few methods that may be used on your new shed to secure the door depending on the price point. The most basic is a simple “tower bolt” – this has a sliding bar that is used to hold the door closed and is then locked into position with a padlock. The problem with these are that the wood screws securing them to the shed are often on show – very easy for a thief to unscrew and remove the whole locking mechanism!

The next best lock is a “hasp and clasp” type. These are more secure as the hasp will act to hide and prevent access the screws when in the closed / locked position.

More expensive sheds may have a independent locking mechanism fitted to the interior of the door which is operated with a key from the outside – these are generally going to be even more secure (see below).

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Some sheds are available without windows. This can be beneficial if the shed is only being used for storage and you don’t need any natural light inside as it is inherently more secure. Not only does it reduce the number of entry points to the shed, but it also cuts the chance of any opportunistic break ins as the contents are not visible in any way.

When fitted, the material used for the window can range from plastic / acrylic / polycarbonate / styrene on cheaper models through to glass or the preferable and safer toughened safety glass at the higher end.

Finally… Additional Costs to Keep in Mind: Delivery, Shed Base and Assembly

Beware of any additional costs that may not be included in the price quoted! If the price sounds too cheap check to see if it includes the following:


You will need to check with the manufacturer of your shed regarding any delivery charges: many offer free delivery but some will make a charge.

Shed Base

In order to maximise the lifespan of your shed it should not be placed directly onto the earth or onto grass as this can lead to excess moisture coming into contact with the shed, causing premature rot and decay. Also, any natural movement that may occur in the earth could cause the shed to twist out of shape over time. Sheds need to be located on a stable base made from either concrete, paving slabs, tarmac or wood. Check with your shed manufacturer for their exact requirements.


Assembly of a newly delivered shed is usually an extra charge. Again – check with your shed manufacturer who will be able to advise.

So Now You Know…..

So now you are armed with some basic information about the key features to look for when considering the purchase of a new shed. Now you can use this information to help decide whether a cheap wooden shed will be any good for you!

Happy shed shopping! 🙂

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