We looked earlier at what makes a quality shed structure, which we called the skeleton of the shed. Radiant skin without a spine to back it up doesn’t do you much good. On the other hand, the sturdiest bones in the east still look better and last longer wrapped in radiant skin. That’s what we look at now . . . What makes quality sheds on the outside? You need to know 3 basic things.
Answers will vary depending on your needs. If you are in the desert and know your floor will never get wet, pretty much anything will do. If there is any chance moisture will get on it, the shed needs a floor that is water-resistant. We have seen cheaper particle board floors (even painted) that begin to peel up in a year or two. Also, the thickness of the floor is important. 5/8″ plywood is the minimum, and if you will be storing heavy objects in the same place over the years, you should have 3/4″.
A cheap shed floor will peel and splinter.
Shed Siding and Paint
Buildings usually come in vinyl or painted (learn more about this). For either of these, the thickness of the sheathing is worth noting, as 7/16″ siding is definitely stronger than 3/8″. Wood sided buildings are painted. (Some buildings come with only primer, and leave it to the homeowner to paint. It’s worth asking!)
There are too many siding options out there to discuss well here, but one siding does deserve dishonorable mention: treated siding does not last long without reapplying stain or paint. Also, be aware that it can shrink after a few months of exposure to sun, leaving gaps at the splices–hardly the weather-proofing you want!
→ Click here to learn more about LP SmartSide vs. T1-11 siding.
Paint quality varies dramatically, as does application. Look closely at the building to see whether it has a good, thick coat of paint that covers up all the edges, nails, and irregularities. Rolling and brushing paint generally creates a much thicker coverage. Many storage sheds are spray painted with a thin coat that not only looks bad, but also weathers poorly.
Top quality paint and a top quality paint job make all the difference in the look and last of a building. We use Sherwin-Williams Duration, and hand-paint every painted shed.
Different builders will argue whether or not tar paper is really necessary. It is standard for house construction, however, and we consider it standard on all our buildings. Furthermore, shingle manufacturers will not honor their warranty if the roof does not have tar paper. (We use a synthetic tar paper, which has a high performance rating.)
Shingles come in two basic styles, “architectural” and “3-tab.” The architectural shingles look nicer and are thicker, and will usually last a good bit longer. Some builders do not include architectural shingles as standard, and instead have them as an upgrade. The 3-tab shingles are a dying breed, but are still used on low-end sheds. Metal roofs (when properly installed) are the longest lasting of all.
Underneath the tar paper and shingles is the sheathing. It doesn’t make a difference structurally, but sheathing with a good radiant barrier (like LP TechShield) can make up to 30 degrees difference in your summer sweat-factor.
As detailed as this may seem, this is really only an overview of things to look for if you are on a hunt for quality sheds. However, many of these questions hardly even have to be asked if you choose a reputable shed builder, as they have already done this research (and much more) on your behalf. We hope you are successful in finding a shed that will be healthy for many years to come. If you are ready to think about designing a shed with sturdy bones and radiant skin, download our FREE Shed Buying Guide.