Plastic sheds are a less expensive option and can be easily put together and taken apart and work well for someone who is renting and wants to take their shed with them when they move.
Plastic sheds do have their advantages. It all depends on what types of items you wish to store in them. They are usually used by people who don’t have a large number of garden tools or large equipment to store. Things such as bicycles, lawn chairs and the usual assortment of hand garden tools fit nicely into them.
They are good for people who have little or no skills when it comes to putting large things together, as they are easy to assemble. They are fairly maintenance-free, not requiring painting or moisture-resistant treatments or insect repellent treatments. Their instability can be overcome by anchoring the shed to the ground.
Pros and Cons of a Plastic Shed?
Pros: Plastic sheds usually come in kits, and are the easiest for buyers to construct. They don’t have many pieces to assemble and don’t require any specialized tools. These sheds are virtually maintenance-free.
They don’t rot, so they are a good choice for humid climates. The owner also doesn’t need to worry about termite damage. Since they are relatively lightweight, they can be moved if necessary. Many kits come complete with a floor and can be set right on level ground.
They usually come with relatively long manufacturers warranties averaging 10 to 12 years. These sheds are also easy to clean if they get splashed with mud. Soap and water are all that’s needed. They also usually have vents built in for airflow.
Cons: Plastic sheds are vulnerable to wind damage. In fact, they can even blow away if they are not anchored firmly to the ground. Anchoring is a separate project from assembling the shed. The shed kits do not come with any anchoring materials. Plastic is vulnerable to UV rays. The colors will eventually fade, and the plastic will warp on sheds in direct sun, especially in hot climates.
Plastic sheds are very easy to break into. A burglar could literally rip off the door without any tools. Plastic sheds are also considered to look cheap. They often look more like a children’s playhouse than a useful shed. Installing hooks or shelving is a problem as there are no studs to fasten them to, and plastic is not a very sturdy medium for holding weight.
Are Plastic and Vinyl Sheds the Same?
“Plastic shed” is a sort of umbrella term. Some are made from vinyl while others are made from polyethylene or other resin types. Most people don’t know the difference or don’t know that there are differences.
One important difference is that vinyl sheds are fire retardant and can tolerate extreme temperatures better than those made from other types of resins. They are also more durable and resistant to cracking. If you are interested in a plastic shed, investigate the different plastic materials they are made from.
Is a Plastic Shed Better Than a Wooden One?
Which kind of shed is better for you depends on your needs and what you will use it for. They are easier to assemble than other types and they are portable. They don’t rot, so they are better in humid or wet climates than wooden sheds. However, they are much more prone to wind damage.
They are also much easier to break into than a wooden shed. Wooden sheds can be painted any color you wish, easily matching your home. They are also considered to be more attractive than plastic sheds, which tend to look like playhouses.
Can I Paint a Plastic Shed?
Plastic sheds tend to fade over time, so you might wonder if a coat of paint might make it look better. You can paint a plastic shed if you start with sanding the shed using 120 to 220 grit sandpaper. Finer sandpaper is all that is necessary. While this can be a pain to do, especially if your shed surface is very textured, it’s an important step to get the paint to stick.
Next use a coat of primer that is specially made to use on plastics. The label should tell you if it is formulated for plastics. You can also get topcoat paint that is formulated for plastics. If you want to use some leftover paint from your house, though, you can use that over the primer even though it’s not rated for plastic use. As long as you have the proper primer, you can use other types of paint over it.
What to Look for When Buying a Plastic Shed?
Buying a plastic shed is just like any other large purchase. It pays to know the various types of construction and other items to ensure that you get the best bang for your buck.
Plastic sheds come with either single- or double-layered walls. The single-layer walls are less expensive, of course, but are also less sturdy. If your area has spring storms with gusty winds or experiences hefty snowfall in the winter, the double walls are the best choice. Weak walls sometimes move around, letting in rain and eventually warping. Some come with steel frames, which not only will make the shed sturdier but will also aid in adding shelving.
Some sheds come with a floor, some don’t. Those with floors included can be set right on level ground. Those without floors will need some kind of foundation that you will have to build. Reinforced floors are an even better option.
The type of resin used in the shed is important. Choose one made of vinyl if possible. Another thing to check is the snow load rating, which should be at least 20 lbs. per square foot. Choosing a shed with the wrong resin will lead to eventual sagging or warping in the sun, and cracking or perhaps even giving way under a snow load.
Your shed should be constructed with a couple of air vents in the end caps or soffit vents. Besides the venting keeping your shed cooler in the summer, it is a must if you plan to store gasoline cans or any other kind of substance that produces fumes.
Windows are a nice addition, but most are not made to be opened. If you wish to have a window for extra light, that’s about all they are good for. If they are able to be opened, it’s another way for a burglar to break in. This is a place where you have to weigh the advantages versus the disadvantages.
Doors are another consideration. If you’re just going to store tools and summer toys in your shed, a single door is fine. If you plan to have a larger shed for your mower, tiller or yard wagon, you really should consider models with double doors. Check the locks on the doors. You should be able to at least install a padlock on the door. If your still on the fence choosing which material is best for a shed, read my article Wood Vs Plastic Vs Metal Shed [Which is Best Choice?] for the pros and cons of each type.
Can You Insulate a Plastic Shed?
This is another case in which buying a plastic shed with a metal frame adds functionality to the shed. If your shed has a metal frame, you can use sheet foam insulation fitted between the frame components. Another choice would be spray foam, which is about the only way to insulate a plastic shed without a framework unless you build a frame for the insulation. For more information on the types of insulation for a shed read my article What’s the Best Insulation for a Shed? [Batt, rigid or loose fill?].
How Do You Build Shelves in a Plastic Shed?
Again, this is where you really need to invest in a plastic shed that has a metal framework. You can attach shelves to this framework. There are also some shed models that feature a wall anchor system to facilitate hanging shelves or hooks on the walls. There are even some shelving kits on the market specially made for plastic sheds.
If you’ve already bought your shed and it’s not equipped with either a framework or wall anchors, the only way to install shelves is to either build a framework inside the shed or use a freestanding shelving unit. You don’t want to drill holes in the plastic itself. Not only will the plastic not hold a lot of weight, but you also risk the chance of water leaking into the shed. The fasteners may well work their way through the holes eventually.
What Type of Foundation Does a Plastic Shed Need?
Many plastic sheds actually don’t need a foundation. If your shed kit comes with a floor, it just needs a level piece of ground on which to set. However, a concrete slab is a good choice for a foundation, as the shed can be anchored to it. Plastic sheds can be damaged or blown over by gusty winds, so anchoring is a must.
There are advantages to building a foundation for a plastic shed. Any shed that is placed right on the ground is subject to the gradual eroding and shifting of the soil. This can cause your shed to tilt or skew. Any unusual strain on the shed components can lead to warping, even causing warping or damage to the floor. The shed components may pull apart eventually. The roof parts can also pull apart, letting water into your shed.
If you don’t have a foundation, you will have a harder time anchoring the shed firmly. A good base for your shed will keep it raised above any water flow or puddles, which is especially important if your shed doesn’t have a floor. Any water or moisture coming up from the ground will affect everything you store in your shed in some way, such as causing rust.
While gravel is a very common foundation for sheds, it’s not the perfect choice for plastic sheds. If your shed has a floor, it too will be made of plastic. The gravel needed for a foundation has sharp edges. Any shifting of the soil underneath may cause some gravel to shift and scratch or puncture your shed floor on the bottom.
There are plastic shed bases available that are made in grid form. They come in sections, so you can buy as many as needed for your size shed. The gridwork can be filled with gravel to make it even more solid. They are resistant to rot and last a long time. for more information on a concrete slab for a shed read my article Should I Pour a Concrete Pad for a Shed?
How to Anchor Your Plastic Shed
Anchoring is an important part of owning a plastic shed. Since these sheds are relatively lightweight compared with other types, they are prone to be affected by strong winds. Pieces of the shed or even the whole shed can be blown away, causing damage to property. Many municipalities require that sheds be anchored, so this is not something to ignore. Some also specify how many anchor points you should use.
If you have a concrete foundation for the shed, you can secure anchor bolts into the concrete. Let the concrete cure somewhat and firm up a bit, then insert your anchor bolts. Move them up and down a bit to ensure that the concrete fills in around them. Be sure that they are level.
Another method is to pour concrete piers near the corners and buried below the frost line. Anchor bolts are installed just as for a concrete slab. You can also use anchor plates which are attached to the concrete, then attached to your shed. If your shed has another type of foundation, there are auger anchors available.
These are a rod with a ring on top and an auger near the bottom point to allow them to be drilled into the ground. They should be installed at an angle away from the shed to add resistance. These augurs are a bit tough to get into the ground, so be prepared to spend some time with them.
Your shed may come with holes already formed to allow for anchors to be attached. These usually are drilled into the flooring. If not, you can drill through the floor for anchor holes. To add stability tying straps over the whole shed is a great way to anchor the shed. Mobile home tie-downs are another possibility, but the straps can also cover the whole shed. Also before anchoring or putting in a permanent foundation read my article Do You Require a Building Permit For a Storage Shed?
Plastic sheds are becoming popular of late, especially for suburban living that requires space for lawn tools and perhaps some summer toys and furniture. They don’t require a major investment and are easy to assemble. Their resistance to rot and insects and low maintenance make them attractive, and worth adding to your list of shed possibilities.