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What is The Cheapest Siding For a Shed?

Vinyl siding is usually considered to be the most economical for a shed. It’s fairly easy to work with, easy to trim to size to fit around window and door frames and doesn’t need to be painted. It’s resistant to rot, weather and insects.

If you have a means of hauling wood, you may be able to get some really cheap siding for a shed, or even free. It is possible to use reclaimed wood from a building that is being demolished. People have also used wood from pallets for shed siding. Companies that use shipping pallets often throw away any that are damaged, but these pallets usually have just one or two missing slats, leaving the rest usable wood.

What are The Most Popular Cheap Siding for Shed Options?

Vinyl siding is considered the easiest to install if you are building your own shed. Unless you have access to some free, or almost free, wood, it is also usually the least expensive. It comes in various colors so you don’t have to paint it to have a finished-looking shed. Depending on the brand you choose, it can be very durable and may last over 30 years. It also won’t be prone to dents or fading.

Engineered wood siding is made of a composite mixture of fibers and other kinds of wood. While it looks like real wood it is actually more durable. It can easily fend off blows from a foul-hit baseball or a bump from your lawnmower.

The material usually comes with a warranty, sometimes up to 50 years, and is usually already primed for painting. This product is easy to install and is low maintenance. It does need to be installed properly to avoid possible moisture problems.

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Plywood is easy to install and work with as siding. You can find sheets with grooves cut into one side to make it resemble planks. It comes in various thicknesses so you can choose a more durable panel. It will need to be painted or stained to protect it from moisture. Keeping the siding off the ground will also help.

Fiber cement siding is made from cement, sand and cellulose fiber mixed together and rolled into sheets. It then goes through a press to give it a pattern made to resemble various kinds of wood. This material is very durable, being resistant to heat, water, fire and insects.

A manufacturer’s guarantee of 30 years is common. If building your own shed, you may want to consult your supplier, as this material can be difficult to work with. You may want to hire a professional for the siding.

Metal shed siding is a good choice for the ecologically minded as it is 67% recyclable. It comes in a wide choice of colors, with its finish usually guaranteed to last 20-50 years without losing its looks. The siding itself should last up to a century. Of course, it is pest resistant and also resists fire and weather damage. It’s relatively easy for you to install it yourself. You might want to take a look at my article Is Tongue and Groove Cladding for Sheds Any Good? to get all the info on cladding a shed.

How Good are Shed Siding Pre-Finished Panels?

Pre-finished panels include some of the more popular types, including metal and some composite and fiber cement. Metal panels come with a finish color of your choice which will usually last decades without fading or peeling. Your supplier can steer you toward types and brands featuring pre-finished panels. Get more information in my article Are Shed Siding Panels a Good Option?

Can I Use Composite Shed Siding Panels?

Composite siding panels are made of scrap wood. It’s compressed and bonded with resins and is certainly suitable for shed siding. It is also treated to ward off insects and fungi. It usually comes primed and ready for paint, but some manufacturers offer styles already finished to mimic wood or other textures. These panels can last up to 30 years. They usually need repainting every five to ten years.

What Are Some Engineered Wood Siding Options?

Engineered wood siding is gaining in popularity due to its high durability and low costs, both initially and recurrent costs. It looks surprisingly like natural wood but is not as susceptible to rot as natural wood.

There are several options to choose from, mostly involving the manufacturing process and finishing options. While it usually comes primed and ready to paint, finishing options include both smooth and textured finishes. Most manufacturers offer various color choices also.

One thing most buyers don’t consider is the differences in manufacturing processes among the various brands. Some add chemicals to avoid termite damage and fungus decay, others use additives to improve durability. If you’re concerned about possible problems in the future due to climate or other factors, ask your supplier about the manufacturing differences.

Can I Install Siding on Shed Without Sheathing?

It certainly is possible to install siding on a shed without sheathing. However, there are benefits to sheathing which you may want to consider. Structural sheathing acts as additional support for your shed, while non-structural sheathing provides insulation. However, if you’re not concerned about either, sheathing is not necessary.

How Do You Attach Siding to a Shed?

The method of attaching siding to your shed depends on the material chosen. You may also need different tools for your project. There are some basics that are required for almost any type, however.

Windows and door frames may have to be installed before the siding, as some siding types require special strips around these areas for attachment. Since each type has its own installation requirements, it would be a good idea to secure installation instructions from the manufacturer.

Determine the needed height of the panels. The top should start half an inch below the top of the wall. The bottom edges need to extend about two inches below the bottom plate of the wall framing.

You can put some temporary nails in here to hold the panels in place while fastening. Use a level to make sure it is straight. Your first sheet should be located on a side and flush with the corner of the shed. Starting from the bottom, use three nails in that corner edge.

With a tape measure, mark the frame boards behind the sheet to locate nail placement. You don’t have to nail the other edge if your siding panels will overlap. Install the rest of the sheets around the back and other side. Cut the panels to fit around the door and install.

Flashing, if called for, should be installed before the panels on the roof gables. Gable panels can be measured and then cut on the ground or can be installed and then cut around the gables.

Vinyl siding comes in horizontal or vertical panels that interlock above and below. The J-trim or J-channel is a strip put around all the windows and doors to have a place to connect the siding boards, preventing edges from being exposed.

The panels come with nailing slots which allow movement of the panels caused by expansion and contraction due to temperature changes. The panels can move about half an inch for every 12 feet. It’s also important to leave about a dime’s thickness of space between the nail head and the panel instead of nailing them down firmly.

If this gap isn’t allowed the panels are likely to buckle when they expand. Additionally, about a quarter inch of space should be allowed at the butt joints between panels. Since slight spacing must be left in certain places to allow for the vinyl’s expansion and contraction due to temperature changes, moisture can eventually get under the panels, so a moisture barrier should be added underneath.

Care must also be taken to cut the vinyl smoothly to prevent any jagged edges. If you want to add insulation, it goes on before the moisture barrier.

Composite siding requires using only stainless steel screws and nails. Other types may damage the siding. Installation kits containing the parts you will need are usually supplied with the siding purchase, including a starter strip for the first board, installation clips for attaching the boards to the joists, and various trims and corner strips.

Engineered wood siding is another material that needs space allowed for expansion and contraction. The starter strip should be installed across vertical furring strips installed every 16 inches on center.

This airspace keeps moisture from building up between the siding and structure. Nailing the siding should start at one end working toward the other to prevent rippling. Be careful not to countersink the nails, especially when using a nail gun.

Fiber cement siding can be hand nailed, but since it’s harder and more brittle than wood, you need to drill holes first near the edges. A better choice would be to use a pneumatic coil siding nail gun. Since these are rather expensive, you might want to look into renting one. You’ll want nails that penetrate at least an inch into the studs.

However, while you want the nails snug, you don’t want to drive them in too far or the board will be crushed. Pre-finished fiber cement comes with a plastic coating to protect the paint during installation. Leave the plastic on until finished and then remove.

Metal panels require installing the corner posts first and then the J-channel along the bottom of the wall you’re working on. These channels hide the ends of the panels and come with nail slots to allow for expansion and contraction.

How Do You Cut Siding for a Shed?

Some siding, such as plywood and engineered wood siding can use normal wood cutting tools. Others require special blades or tools. Vinyl siding only takes a utility knife to make cuts along the length. For vertical cuts, tin snips or a hand saw will do the job. Composite panels require carbide-tipped blades for cutting.

Fiber cement siding requires diamond blades. You can use either those made especially for cutting fiber cement or a diamond masonry blade. Ask your supplier about how long these last, as you may need more than one. Carbide toothed blades will only last part of a day.

Metal siding calls for a metal saw or a steel cutting blade on a circular saw. You’ll also need metal shears, which come in power versions. You can use a hacksaw, but since you’ll need to cut around windows and door frames, you might prefer a power saw. This siding also requires galvanized nails and screws.

Can You Put Siding Over Existing Finish on Shed?

While it is possible to put siding over existing siding on a shed, especially vinyl siding, most experts state that it is not a good idea. First of all, you won’t know if there is any damage already existing under the original siding.

There are many horror stories of people buying a house and putting on new siding, only to find all kinds of moisture, rot and damage once the existing siding is removed. Even worse are the stories of a new homeowner finding out the hard way that the previous owner had installed new siding over old.

If the newer siding needed to be replaced, you can imagine what shape the older siding was in. Siding, whether on a home or shed, has the same kinds of problems.

If your shed was built by the homeowner himself and he was not diligent in using good materials or was not as good a carpenter as he thought, there could be all kinds of problems covered up by the old siding. It’s much better to remove the old siding and make sure the underlying structure is sound before putting on new siding.

Secondly, your new siding can cause damage to the old siding. For instance, people who installed new vinyl siding over existing metal siding found that this caused rusting and corrosion in the metal siding. New siding over old must be well sealed to keep out moisture and insects, which can be a problem in siding types with overlapping boards or panels making air spaces between new siding and old.

Last but not least, if you install new siding over old, you will most likely void the siding manufacturer’s warranty. Read your warranty carefully before considering this option.


Buying and installing siding takes a lot of consideration, such as your climate, insect problems in your area, future maintenance, and the pros and cons of the various types. If building a shed, you’ll need to determine how much time each material takes to install and how much you may have to spend on special tools for the job.

Once that decision is made, most siding requiring special strips or fasteners will include those with the order. If you get stuck while doing it yourself, manufacturers will be glad to help or answer questions.

Recommended Resources

In this area I will go over the best resources that I have found that you will find very helpful:

Here are my favorite eBooks for beginners as well as those of you who have a lot more experience with home projects.

I know how disappointing it can be to finally find some plans online only to find out after that theirs a lot of essential information missing making these resources useless and a waste of your time!

First is “Ryan’s Shed Plans”… Provides 1,000’s of shed plans, so there’s something for everyone with detailed cross sections and very easy to follow instructions. What I really like is the material and cutting lists which means you know how much material to get.

And if you act soon, you can also get some free books: Advanced Woodworking Tips, List of suppliers to get your materials even cheaper and for you woodworking types you also get 400 free wooding plans. Definitely worth every penny… Check it out here and get your free 8×12 plan just for looking.

Second is “Ted’s Woodworking” … You get thousands of woodworking plans and they come with step-by-step instructions, material and cutting lists, very detailed plans, something for beginners as well as the professional woodworker.

You’ll also get woodworking guides and a detailed book on how to start a woodworking business and how to sell your woodworking projects for profit. See for yourself all the projects you can do and start making impressive pieces right away. Check it out here.

Third is the “Ultimate Small Shop” … This guide walks you thru everything you need to get a small workshop set-up on a budget. Goes into detail what you need to set-up, organizing your space and laying out your work areas, tools list, safety and so much more. Covers everything you need to have a complete shop.

You also get some Free bonus: The workshop cheat list, shows you where to get cheap supplies and tools. You also get a lifetime subscription to the deal alert service and so much more, see it for yourself here.