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Storage Shed Buying Guide

A gray and white wood storage shed with windows and twin doors set up in a fenced backyard.

Updated March 11, 2022

Holly H.

By Holly H.

Is the garage too full for your car to fit into? Do you need accessible lawn mower storage? Outdoor sheds, also known as backyard sheds or garden sheds, provide the space you need. Whether you want to build one or have one installed, we’ll help you find the right outdoor storage shed.

What Size Shed Do I Need?

A small gray galvanized steel storage shed with an open door.

Sheds for outdoor storage come in a variety of sizes to accommodate your needs, whether you want a basic garden shed or a large shed to store a lot of lawn equipment. Here are the common size ranges and examples of how you can use different sizes of outdoor sheds for storage.

Tip

Check with your homeowners association and local building department for any restrictions or requirements for sheds in your area.

Small

A cutaway image of a small shed with a planter, lawn spreader, potting soil and landscape tools.

Small sheds are under 36 square feet. These outdoor units make great backyard garden sheds. They’re good for hanging tools and storing lawn and garden supplies such as a push mower and bags of fertilizer. Their smaller footprint can give you more options for placement in your yard.

Medium

A cutaway image of a medium shed with a riding mower, garden tiller, lawn tools and a ladder.

Medium-sized outside storage sheds are approximately 37 to 100 square feet in size. They can hold larger garden equipment, such as a riding mower and a tiller, as well as bulky tools. Even if you don’t have a lot of items to store, this size can give you more room to move around for easy access to your supplies and tools. It’ll also allow you room for adding to your outdoor equipment as you take on more projects.

Large

A cutaway image of a large shed with a riding mower, lawn spreader, bicycles, a ladder and more.

Large sheds offer 100 square feet or more. They can handle anything from large pieces of lawn equipment to recreational vehicles. If you’re feeling creative, turn your shed into a workshop, greenhouse or hobby space. Make sure you have adequate space in your yard not just for the shed itself, but room to easily move equipment in and out.

Other Size Considerations

When calculating the storage capacity for a yard shed, plan for about 25% more space than you need to ensure there’s room to access your items and to add more in the future. If you plan to store garden tools, you’ll probably need wall space. Large or heavy items, like bagged fertilizer and equipment, mowers, snow blowers, wheelbarrows, etc., require floor space and an open surrounding area. Some shed manufacturers offer expansion kits you can add to a shed for even more storage space.

Check the shed design to see if the layout will work with the items you need to store. Make sure the doorway easily accommodates the largest item you plan to store. For example, if you have a riding mower or a large snow blower, double doors will make it easier to get your machine in and out of storage.

Good to Know

Some sheds include a floor, but others don’t. Some foundations can function as floors. You can purchase floor kits for certain sheds, which allow you to assemble a floor.

Material Choices

A gray resin storage shed with dark gray double doors.

Metal Sheds

Steel sheds are economical storage buildings. They’re available in a variety of colors and feature vinyl-coated steel or galvanized steel with an enamel finish to resist scratches and rust. Metal sheds come in a variety of colors and offer years of maintenance-free service.

Vinyl/Resin/Plastic Sheds

Vinyl sheds and resin sheds are made of different types of plastic and are the easiest sheds to assemble. They're also easy to clean and resist rust, insects, mold and rot. Double-wall panels create solid construction. Many vinyl/resin sheds come with steel-reinforced doors for extra security and long service life. You can also find models with windows and skylights to help illuminate the interior. These sheds can endure practically all weather extremes, are easy to clean and virtually maintenance-free.

Wood Sheds

Wood storage sheds are sturdy and stylish. Lumber framing provides strength to withstand loads from wind and snow, and can support multiple shelves and hangers. Engineered wood siding resists termites and rot. You can paint these sheds to match your home or to blend in with your landscape and customize them to create an attractive building. Many models include windows. Do-it-yourself kits may not come with roofing materials, such as shingles, underlayment and drip edges, but if installation is available, it may include the materials. Wood sheds require maintenance. You'll need to repaint or restain them regularly and keep the roof, siding, etc., in good repair.

Tip

Before you choose a shed or convert a shed for a use other than storage, check requirements for your area, such as zoning ordinances, building codes and homeowners' association covenants. Some areas may not allow certain types of sheds, and building or converting a shed may require a permit and inspections. There may be limitations on how you use the shed in addition to restrictions around size, foundation type, distance to property lines and structures, etc.

Shed Accessories

If there's something you want to add to your storage shed, chances are it's available as an accessory. Here are a few examples:

  • Ramps: A sturdy set of ramps is a must for moving wheeled power equipment, wheelbarrows or hand trucks into or out of your shed.
  • Windows and skylights: Natural light increases visibility and makes the space more user-friendly. In some cases, you can even order shutters and window boxes to accompany your windows and further enhance the aesthetics of your shed.
  • Shelves: Organize your tools and materials on handy shelves designed by the manufacturer specifically for your shed.
  • Anchors: Shed anchors help protect your shed from strong winds. Some manufacturers require their sheds be anchored.
  • Roof strengthening kits: These additional supports may be necessary for a metal shed in an area prone to snow accumulation.

Building a Shed

Vinyl and resin sheds are the simplest do-it-yourself storage buildings, but you can also build a metal or wood shed yourself. Once you've chosen from the available shed designs and types, follow all manufacturer's instructions for constructing. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Build your shed in a level area that will allow convenient access, and avoid low areas where water drainage can cause problems.
  • Call 811 to check for underground utilities before beginning any excavation.
  • A solid, level foundation creates a more usable, longer-lasting shed. Different areas have different requirements for shed foundations. Foundation types include masonry blocks set on a gravel bed, sill plates resting on a concrete slab and in areas where the ground freezes, a frame on concrete footings that are set below the frost line.
  • Depending on your shed floor and foundation, you may need a vapor barrier. Check the shed instructions for details.
  • Before beginning to assemble or build your shed, make sure you have all the parts.
  • Shed components can be heavy and unwieldy so get help. Even if you're working on a small shed, a helper makes the job easier.
  • If you're building a wood shed, you may be able to take advantage of natural light by installing skylights or French doors.
  • Once you've built your shed, add planting beds or trellises with vining plants to help the building blend with the landscape.

Shed Installation

Some sheds offer easy assembly for do-it-yourself (DIY) installation. If you don’t feel like taking on shed installation as a DIY project, let Lowe’s help you get your shed installed. Creating the perfect outdoor storage solution is easy with Lowe’s shed installation service.

Beyond Outdoor Storage

A dark brown wood storage shed with twin doors, a shingled roof and two windows.

Barns and sheds are great storage solutions for everything from mowers to motorcycles. However, their spacious design, high durability and easy assembly make them excellent choices for some other uses you might not have considered.

Playhouse

You can order windows and partitions to add to most outdoor storage. Paint them bright colors and use your imagination to make a garden shed the perfect playhouse for children of all ages.

Hobby or Craft Hut

No matter what your hobby is, you're sure to find a barn or garden shed that's just the right size for your needs. Just think, you could have a room to spread out all your materials and a private workspace all your own.

She Sheds

Similar to a Man Cave, the She Shed is where a woman can get away from it all. Take one look on social media to see the creative ways that sheds are being used. Beautiful windows and French doors are added, as are window boxes, Dutch doors and even front porches with twinkling lights. Some are turned into mini-greenhouses, writing nooks or simply used as a calm oasis away from the chaos of everyday life.

Office Shed or Gym Shed

If you need some extra work space or workout space, a converted shed can be the perfect extension of your home. See our ideas on converting a storage shed into a home office or home gym.

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