So you have decided to purchase a storage shed and finally use the garage to park cars? Choosing a storage shed can get quite confusing. The market seems to have been flooded with barn builders and retail outlets that claim to have the best quality and price around. So who do you believe? We will attempt to give you some tips to look for in your search.
Construction of storage buildings vary from place to place. Any building can be made pretty with a good paint job and cheap options. The actual test of a well made storage building is in the construction and quality of materials used. Here are a few hints to be looking for when you are out shopping.
Floor systems: Since most storage sheds are designed to be in direct contact with the ground, be sure all floor construction is made of treated materials. Do not accept that the runners are treated only, all floor joists and floor decking should also be treated materials. Building codes in most areas require that any wood within 24″ of the ground be treated. Many companies build their sheds without treated joists and decking. Regular plywood or even OSB floors are unacceptable.
Framing: Ask what floor joists are centered on. Any spacing of floor joist over 16″ on center is a problem. Make sure all walls are framed with full 2×4 studs. I have seen barns framed with 2x3s and while it may look fine on the showroom floor ,it will be a problem some day. Does your barn have a ridge beam? A ridge beam is a structural member at the peak of the building that the rafters frame off of. Most big box store and roadside lots offer buildings with a metal truss plate attached to both sides of the rafter, without a structural ridge beam. Also pay attention to the spacing of the rafters. Framing on 2ft centers is acceptable as long as ply clips are installed. This is a code requirement in most areas. Ply clips are small metal inserts that are to be installed at the butt joints of roof decking, between each rafter, They are used to prevent the sagging of the decking between rafters.
Roofing: Make sure your barn has felt over the top of the roof sheeting. Many barns are sold without this protective underlayment. In many cases it is sold as an option or an up charge.
Drip edge is another essential item many storage shed companies offer as an option. We consider this to be a very important feature. .Drip edge is a small metal strip that fits over the edge of the roof decking ,and is made to prevent water from running under the shingles.
Ventilation: Almost all storage sheds come standard with metal gable vents, and they should! But many do not include a ridge vent. The purpose of vents is to allow air flow through the roof system and prevent premature shingle deterioration. Most storage sheds are not built with much if any overhang ,which in your home allows air flow through the attic space. A ridge vent becomes the only way, working with gable vents, to create this positive air flow through a storage sheds roof system.
Siding: The most common siding is wood sheet siding. This is fine ,and offers you the option of painting to your liking. In my opinion the best storage shed siding is Louisiana Pacific’s Smart panel siding. It is a structural rated composite sheet siding that has a 30 yr. manufacturers warranty. Plywood backed sidings are another option ,but this lacks the long term durability of the Smart panel siding. In my area we have seen an influx of the pressure treated T11 siding, and while the thinking is pressure treated siding should last longer ,the product carries virtually no warranties. My experience with the treated T11 is that within 2 years it will turn a very ugly gray color and require painting. This will be difficult to paint. Another reason to avoid these plywood backed sidings is that since storage sheds are built relatively close to the ground, they tend to wick moisture around the bottom edges and prematurely rot.
Doors: The first thing to give you problems on a sheds are the doors. Look for double framed doors. Doors framed inside and outside are much less likely to warp. Also look hard at the hinges. Often times the life of the doors is related to the strength of the hinges.
Storage buildings are very useful and practical solutions and serve a variety of needs, but are also an investment in your home and landscape. Don’t accept low quality products. If you look around and do a little comparison shopping, you will find a quality building. Built with quality materials, and properly maintained, your building will last a lifetime.