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Wood Vs Plastic Vs Metal Shed [Which is Best Choice?]

Wood Vs Plastic Vs Metal Shed

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So you need a storage shed for all that extra stuff, if you’ve been looking around you probably have determined that there are 3 main choices for a storage shed, Wood, Metal and Plastic. Plastic sheds are also known as [vinyl and resin] and some sheds can be made from different materials.

Choosing which material is better comes down to, what’s going to be best for you and your storage needs. For myself I love wood. But for you metal or plastic may be a much better choice than wood based upon your needs, budget and location of the shed. If you’re just looking for some storage that will keep your possessions dry and out of the garage, which type is probably not going to be an issue.

There are many factors that can affect your decision for choosing which material your shed should be made from. Price, color, design and size can play a vital role in your decision also if you want to match the décor of your home with your shed. Wood, metal and plastic each bring something different to the table.

In this article wood vs plastic vs metal I’m going to do a short summary of each and then look at the advantages and disadvantages of each type. Then you’ll be able to choose which type is going to be the best solution for your needs.

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Wood Shed Summary

Like I mentioned earlier I love working with wood so a shed made from wood is my choice. Most wooden made sheds are constructed from pine or spruce there are some that are made from fir and my favorite cedar. However the cedar and fir will cost you more.

The walls are typically made of 2x4s for framing and use a type of plywood sheathing. Some options have wood or vinyl siding exterior finish. The roof is usually made from 2×4 rafters and plywood sheathing, some use trusses made from 2x4s and if you choose a metal roof then you’ll have 2×4 or 1×4 strapping on the rafters to attach the metal roofing.

Another nice feature of sheds made from wood is there appeal and they look real and warm, as compared to metal and plastic that look cheap and lack character. You can also get wood sheds in kits that are prefabbed and all you need to do is follow the instructions and assemble them, but you’ll need to have a foundation in place to put it on.

If you need some help choosing a shed foundation you can read my article “What’s The Best Shed Foundation Option For You?” where I go over the top 9 shed foundation options and the cost to build. You can read the article here.

If you’re pretty handy with tools and have some carpentry skills you can make a weekend of it and put the kit together yourself. If your budget allows get a shed kit that’s made out of cedar, the nice perk of cedar is its natural ability to keep bugs and other insects from eating the material.

Advantages and Disadvantages of a Shed Made From Wood

Advantages

– Can be customized to match your home and surroundings.

– Easy to add shelving and work benches.

– Can add windows and skylights easily.

– Can make customized door sizes to suit your needs.

– Because it’s framed like a house your sheds security is much greater than a metal of vinyl shed could offer. If you’re going to need a shed that’s secure and would like more information on shed security you can read my article “Are There Home Security Systems for Storage Sheds?” In this article I give 10 tips to secure your shed without a security system. I also go over security devices that will keep your shed safe and secure. You can read it here.

– Can customize the exterior.

– Low maintenance.

– Strong and very durable.

– Easy to insulate if you’re going to be using your shed all year round.

– Can run power to the shed to operate lights and a heater.

– Unlimited sizes and options to fit most budgets.

– Visually attractive and will add value to your home and a great selling feature.

Disadvantages

– The most costly choice.

– Can rot and needs to be maintained.

So what are your options for getting a wooden shed? No matter what option you choose your going to need a foundation to put your shed on. As I have mentioned many times in my articles you don’t need to spend $1000s on an expensive foundation. I love the “skid foundation” simply because it’s cheap to build and a beginner can build one. If you want more info on the “skid foundation” you can read my article “How to Build Your Shed Floor on Skidshere.

Wood Shed Options

– Buy a wood shed kit and assemble it yourself.

– Buy a wooden shed already assembled and have it delivered and set-up on the foundation.

– Have a contractor build one for you.

– Build it yourself.

Cambridge 10 X 12 Wood Shed Kit
Cambridge 10 x 12 Wood Shed Kit

Buying a wooden shed kit can cost $2500 to $6000 or more depending on the size and options you choose. Assembling it yourself will save you big bucks over hiring someone to assemble it for you. Here’s an example of a wooden shed kit you can see on Amazon here. You can check out Amazons full line of wooden shed kits here.

Buying a wooden shed that’s already assembled can cost $2500 to $8000 or more depending on the size and options you pick. There are other factors to consider with this option like, access for a big truck to deliver it, power line and phone lines. Make sure you have the foundation in place before hand and you have talked to your local building inspector for regulations and any permits required.

Check out my article “What’s the Best Location For an Outdoor Storage Shed?” where I go over permits and bylaws, your property layout, shed size, access, design and appearance and show you how to draw your own site plan to take to inspectors office. Read the article here.

Hiring a contractor to build the foundation and shed for you is the most expensive option and depending on the size and features you want can cost $2500 to $10000 or more. Make sure you go over the plan with the contractor carefully so you’ll get what you pay for.

You can build it yourself… If you have some basic carpentry skills and tools there’s no reason why you can’t build you shed yourself. And of course this option will save you big bucks and you’ll have the satisfaction of standing back and seeing your wood shed that you built with your own hands.

Not sure you can build it yourself? Check out my article “Is Building a Shed Something a Beginner Should Try?You can read it here.

Wooden Shed Kit Buyers Guide

A shed kit is basically a kit that you buy for a particular shed you want. The kits are available in two styles:

Regular Kit… This kit has most of the pieces you need to build the shed. You’ll need to put the whole thing together piece by piece.

Pre-Fab Kit… These types of shed kits come with many of the components partially assembled and are a better choice for the beginner.

You need to find out what’s included in either kit, does it come with all the materials and hardware needed to complete the shed, this would include doors, windows, roofing material, exterior finishing materials, vents and trims, door hardware and locks, and anything else needed to have a complete shed.

Also find out if the delivery is included and if not how much will they charge you to deliver the shed kit to you location. If they don’t deliver get a quote from a local delivery company, some of these local companies have trailers and forklifts for unloading and putting the kit where you need it.

I have found this video that goes thru the process of assembling two different shed kits and as you will see one has everything and the other needs you to buy more materials.

Plastic Sheds Summary

Also referred to as [vinyl sheds] and sometimes they will be called [resin sheds] with some differences. The plastic sheds are constructed from polyethylene and plastic whereas the sheds made from vinyl are more fire resistant than those made out of plastic. Depending on where your shed is located and your climate a fire resistant shed may be a better choice.

At first glance you’re going to have a hard time telling them apart, so if a fire resistant shed is what you’re looking for then be sure to find out before purchasing. Plastic made sheds are becoming quite common and those made from vinyl are quite durable and are not subject to rot or insects and much less likely to crack over time.

If you live in a colder climate vinyl sheds can hold up to the extreme cold temperatures a lot better that the plain plastic made ones. Be aware that you’ll need to secure your plastic shed very well as they can’t withstand much wind and can be lifted and tossed very easily.

Of the 3 types of storage sheds the plastic ones the simplest and easiest to put together. The pieces are made so they attach with snaps or screwed and the screw holes are pre-drilled for easy assembly. The time to put a plastic shed together can be as little as 3 to 4 hours providing you already have the foundation or base already set-up.

These plastic sheds don’t have a lot of character; however there are some that use color and nice features to make them a bit more pleasing to look at. Unlike sheds made from wood, plastic sheds won’t need any painting or maintenance other than hosing them down and adjusting the doors. However they will fade when set-up in direct sunlight.

You’re not going to have many options if you want to add shelving and if you do you’ll find that attaching the shelving is not very efficient. Some of the newer models make use a double wall construction to strengthen the walls. You’ll also find security is going to be an issue especially with the doors and locks.

Advantages and Disadvantages of a Shed Made From Plastic

Advantages

– Lightweight which means you can move them easily.

– Not much effort needed for cleaning them.

– Won’t rust, rot or be effected by insects.

– Won’t be hard for a beginner to put together.

– Much easier to transport than a shed made from wood.

Disadvantages

– Not much appeal.

– Very limited customization.

– Fading by the sun over time.

– Must be securely anchored to the ground to prevent wind from blowing them away.

Plastic Shed Options

There are many different options in size, design, security, skylights and those that come with foundation kits. Some offer reinforced  doors for increasing security right up to built-in shelf supports. You can read my article “What are The Best Cheap Plastic Storage Sheds to Buy?” where I go over what to look for in a plastic shed. You can read it here.

Lots of newer models coming out yearly with larger sizes and new features to mimic a wood build shed. You can expect to pay between $350 to $5000 depending on which model you choose.

KETER Factor 8x8 Outdoor Storage Shed
Keter 8 x 8 Plastic Storage Shed

Let’s take a look at the “KETER Factor 8×8 Outdoor Storage Shed” This shed offers good function and good looks.

Features

– Constructed from steel reinforced resin plastic for long lasting durability.

– Has a textured finish that looks like wood and comes in [Beige].

– Comes with a window and a roof skylight for added lighting.

– Both gable ends have built-in vents for good air circulation.

– Large double doors.

– Comes with strong floor panels. [Will need a foundation kit to set-up on].

– Won’t rot, rust or be eaten by insects.

Also is lockable for added security and comes with two shelves with mounting brackets. The 8×8 is $999 and there’s a 6×6 and 4×6 that are less expensive if your budget is limited. The keter has 94 user ratings and 261 answered questions so you’ll be able to read the reviews and find out what others who have purchased the keter shed are saying about it. You can read reviews here.

I have found this good video of the keter shed being assembled to help you see it being put together so you can decide if it will work for you.

Metal Shed Summary

Metal sheds have been around for a long time and has been used for storage way before plastic sheds started showing up. The better quality metal sheds will be made from a heavier gauge metal and have a very durable finish on them. You’ll still need to plan on a day to assemble a bigger one.

The skill level needed to assemble a metal storage shed is much lesser than assembling a wooden shed and can be more difficult than assembling one made from plastic. Metal sheds can stand up better to winds over the plastic ones, but you’re still going to need to have a strong foundation that’s anchored well to set them up on.

Metal sheds often come with a good warranty that’s often better than the wooden and plastic storage sheds offer. You don’t have to worry about cold weather or hot weather, your foundation needs to be solid and not sitting in a low area where water will cause your metal shed to rust.

If you’re in an area that is prone to forest fires a metal shed is going to be an excellent choice over a plastic and wooden constructed one. While it’s not a common practice to paint a metal shed, you can paint a metal shed if you clean it and lightly roughen up the surface and use the correct brand of paint that’s designed for use on metal.

Like the plastic shed a metal shed is difficult to add things too, if you need shelving it’s much simpler to use free standing shelving units. Adding windows and skylights can be much harder and can cause leaking. If you want to customize your shed wood is a much easier option.

Metal does provide a greater level of security over the plastic sheds and there’s not much maintenance with metal other than washing it and adding some grease to the door tracks. You selection for different sizes is also limited with the meatal sheds as compared to wood and plastic.

Metal sheds are the most economical and can range in price from $250 to $1700 and it can cost another $100 for a good foundation kit.

Advantages and Disadvantages of a Shed Made From Metal

Advantages

– Very durable providing years of service.

– Least expensive of the 3 options.

– Won’t rot and bugs won’t eat it.

– Good choice if you looking for a fire resistant storage shed.

Disadvantages

– Can’t customize to make it your own.

– Adding shelves and windows can be difficult.

– Not much character.

– Subject to rust.

– Requires foundation or other anchor system to prevent wind damage.

Arrow Hamlet Storage Shed
Arrow 10 x 8 Metal Storage Shed

Let’s take a look at the “Arrow Hamlet Metal Storage Shed” this metal shed uses a traditional gable style roof and for the price is the best value I could find on Amazon in a metal shed. The metal panels are made from electro galvanized material [steel] which provides excellent resistance against UV rays from the sun, rot, bugs and harsh weather.

Features of the Arrow Hamlet Metal Shed

– Comes in 3 sizes… 6’x5’, 8’x6’ and 10’x8’.

– Electro galvanized baked on enamel to insure long life.

– Neutral color [eggshell and green].

– Roof design helps prevent water pooling on roof.

– Door is lockable with a padlock.

– Easy to assemble and strong and durable.

– 12 year limited warranty.

The Arrow Hamlet Metal Shed has 290 user ratings and 157 answered questions and won’t break the bank, the 10’x8’ size is under $600 bucks. The smaller sizes are even less expensive. Definitely worth every penny. Check it out and read the ratings here on Amazon.

How to Anchor a Metal or Plastic Shed

Winds especially storm force winds and even flooding can pick up a shed if it’s not securely anchored to the ground. While a wooden constructed shed weight a lot it is possible for flooding to move it. There are tie-down kits that you can buy and I highly recommend you use a tie down kit on metal and vinyl sheds that don’t have a good solid foundation.

Anchoring kits can work with wooden, plastic and metal sheds you can even use the auger type anchor to secure shed skids in place too.

Anchoring a Shed Using Auger Style Anchors

Auger Anchor KitStep 1… Hammer the end of the anchor into the ground about 6 inches from the outside corners out the shed, try to line up the center of the eye of the auger with the same line that you’re going to be running the cable thru. Hammer it in as far as you can, be careful not to bend the auger end so the auger will have a good grip into the ground.

Step 2… Using a piece of rod or other tool thru the eye at the top of the auger begin turning it and screw it into the ground until only the eye is sticking out of the ground.

Step 3… Connect one end of the support cable to the eye of the auger and back up and then attach 2 cable clamps to secure it to the eye of the auger.

Step 4… Run the cable thru the top of the wall over the top of the support beams and back down the outside of the opposite wall and connect it to the auger eye and attach the cable clamps to secure the shed to the auger anchors. Try to keep them snug but not too tight. If your shed has skids you can connect the cable thru the floor and around the skid to secure the skids to the anchors. Get a anchor kit here on Amazon.

TIPS

– If it’s going to be too hard to get access to the skids you can attach a metal hook to the end of the box floor joist and attach the cable to the metal hook.

– Sometimes the ground may be quite hard, if that’s the case you can put a garden hose in the area and let it run slowly for a few hours and this should soften the area to make screwing the anchor auger into the ground easier.

Plastic and Metal Shed Base Foundation

It’s very important that a plastic or metal shed has a good solid base to set up on and should be placed so it’s above ground so water can drain away from the base of the shed. The normal solution would be a framed wooden base made from pressure treated material; other good options would be a concrete slab, concrete pavers providing they have been installed correctly.

Some of the better quality sheds do have a flooring system that interlocks together, but it will still require a solid base to lie on. Unfortunately many homeowners find out after they have their plastic or metal home and are beginning the assembly process that a platform of some kind is going to be required to set up their shed.

Plastic and metals sheds are assembled by interlocking panels into the bottom track and then are attached with screws; the holes are pre-drilled making assembly much easier. If you don’t have a flat level base then the panels won’t line up correctly and the pre-drilled holes won’t line up making it way more difficult to assemble without damaging the panels.

The best foundation for a plastic or metal shed is the concrete slab, however the cost of the slab will very likely be way more than the plastic or metal shed your bought. That leaves the concrete pavers and when installed correctly will be the most cost efficient foundation for these types of sheds. You’ll still want to anchor the shed down to make sure it’s secure.

Here’s a good video on how to install a concrete paver base for a metal or plastic shed:

Here’s a link to the “Rubbermaid Roughneck Storage Shed” on Amazon, it comes in 5 different sizes 5’x2’, 5’x4’, 5’x6’, 7’x7’, 7‘x10’- 6” and also available with slide-lid. See it here on Amazon.

Wood Vs Plastic Vs Metal Shed [What’s Better?]

I’ve gone over the advantages and disadvantages of the 3 main types of storage sheds, so… Which one is better? That will depend on your situation, each type of shed will provide storage for you and there are a good variety of sizes and designs in all three.

Deciding if wood, metal or plastic is going to make the best storage option for you, lets take a look at a few factors that can affect your decision:

Cost… For many it will depend on how much they can afford to spend on a storage shed. A wooden shed will be the most costly option. The least expensive choice will be metal and the plastic shed is cheaper than the wooden ones and metal is also a bit cheaper to buy than plastic sheds.

Just remember that a basic foundation of pressure treated ties, pressures treated floor joist and plywood will add about $150 to $250 depending on the size of the shed could be a bit more. An anchor kit using augers and cables will add another $40 to $60 to the cost. So figure on $400 for a foundation and anchor kit if you choose to go that route.

Location… Where you live will effect which type of shed will stand up the longest, if you live in a cold climate that has lots of rain and snow you’ll want to consider snow load issues. Metal and plastic sheds roofing system can fail under a heavy wet snow load, while a good quality wooden built shed can withstand the weight of heavy snow loads.

Also consider where the shed will be located in your yard; will it be subject to high winds? Will the spot have water issues? Are power lines going to be an issue with the sheds location?

Options… Wooden built sheds offer the most options and can be fully customized to blend in with your yard and homes appearance. Plastic and metal sheds are limited in colors and not a lot of options available. While some of the plastic sheds do offer windows and skylights, most metal sheds don’t.

Purpose of Shed… What are you going to be using the shed for? Is the shed going to be used for just storage or do you want to use it as a small workshop or as a garden shed? Some people use their sheds as an office or even as a She-shed. A wooden shed can be easily insulated and wired as well you can add windows and skylights if you want to.

Metal and plastic sheds are very difficult to insulate and add windows too. If your shed is going to be used for storage then metal or plastic will be a good option and won’t break the bank. However if your plans are to use it as a workplace or as a place to get away to than definitely a wood shed will be the answer.

If you have some basic carpentry skills you can look at the idea of building you own wood shed, there are 1000s of different sizes, shapes and plans you can choose from. All you need is a good plan and building a shed yourself is very doable. I’m going to recommend you give Ryan’s shed plans a look, with 1000s of sheds to choose from you’re going to find one that suits your needs and your budget. Check the plans out here.

Conclusion

I hope you now know the differences between wood, metal and plastic sheds. There are lots of choices with all of them and it boils down to what you need and how much you’re willing to spend. Do some research online or even better visit your local building supply store, some of the bigger stores will have the 3 types of sheds assembled as demo’s and you can get a real good idea of what each offers before you buy. Good Luck… And give my article a share if you found it helpful. Thanks

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