Monday 22 January 2024

Lets Talk Sheds

Waltons have written to me as they would like some of my "tried and tested wisdom gained" from my 65 years on this earth with the last 11 having an allotment on my thoughts about "repurposing an old shed or buying a new one", and have provided a list of questions for me to answer, listed below as they are writing a new article to help potential customers to make the best choices. 

Waltons have done this with myself and other people that are deemed `gardening press' in the past and it's always interesting to see who else gets selected to give them feedback and how many of us have the same or similar opinions. 

When they publish the article on their blog the list of contributors will be provided with links back to their blog, and credit any tips that they use listed.

Before I begin a little explanation about terms used to describe the parts of a shed and the styles and shapes of the roofs 

Shed Terminology 

Image curtesy of Waltons - Use this link for more information re Shed Terminology 

Roof Types

There are many types and shapes of roofs but for the majority of sheds one can broadly categorise them as 3 basic forms Apex & Reverse Apex, Pent and Gambrel. 

The terminology for roofing on buildings is a little different and what one needs to know is that a roof is considered a flat roof if the pitch/ slope is less than 10 degrees. There needs to be a slope or pitch to the roof in order for rain to discharge freely and for the roof not to retain water. In the shed world a flat roof is known as a pent roof

Pent - A pent roof is often made from a single panel and slopes towards down towards the rear of the building. The door is typically located at the front of the building as this offers the most headroom, but can supplied on the sides.

Anything above 10 degrees annotates a pitched or sloping roof and if one single slope can also be referred to as a mono-pitched sloping roof. 

The terminology for roofing on buildings where there are two slopes or duo-pitch normally from the front and back of the building that rise equally such that the ridge or apex is located at the centre of the distance between the walls, and the walls on the sides continue up and form a triangle can be referred to as "traditional eaves / ridge pitched roof with a gable end" Buildings can get roof treatments on the sides to give the roof more character like hips etc.

In the shed word this type of roof is simply known as a traditional Apex roof – The traditional apex roof is where roof boards meet at a point at a central point of the shed to create an equally sloping roof from side to side. 

Reverse Apex – A reverse apex roof is similar to the traditional apex with a central point but slopes from front to back rather than side to side. The door is typically placed on the longer side of the building, creating greater headroom.


Now that's understood lets get back to the questions posed by Waltons "We’re looking for your expert opinion on:"

Storage Sheds:

  • What’s the best sized shed for garden storage?
Such a how long is a piece of string type question. Depends on a lot of factors, How much do you have to store?, how big is the garden?, are there any size restrictions or factors to take into consideration like a tree you want to retain etc.

Sheds are available in a huge range of sizes, but what one has to remember is that despite metrification in 1974 the UK construction industry has never really embraced the system, and so we end up buying 3 metre length of 6" x 4" (inch) timbers. This is also true with the shed industry, they think in Imperial feet and inches not metric.

 Popular shed sizes in Feet are  6 x 4, 7 x 5, 7 x 7, 8 x 6, 8 x 8, 10 x 6, 10 x 8, 10 x 10, 12 x 8, 10 x 10, 12 x 8, 12 x 10, 14 x 10 and 20 x 10.  

Whatever size you think you are going to need increase it by about 20% and personally I think and 2.4m x 1.8m (8ft x 6ft) is ideal. I started off with one this size as my man-cave shed when I first got married, and then got a 1.8m x 1.2m (6ft x 4ft) shed for kids toys once we had children, and really I should have bought another 2.4m x 1.8m (8ft x 6ft) because kids garden toys take up a lot of room. especially when the second one comes along.   

  • What’s the best configuration for doors and windows? 
Depends on the location and where the access is coming from, what you are doing in the shed and if you want some natural light getting in the shed and how much light. Most shed companies offer a selection of option and additional extras and different styles and configurations for windows. 
Personally if it's just being used for storage you have to ask the question do you actually need any windows? You may want larger or double doors to get stuff in and out easier. Or perhaps just a window or two to let in light.
  • Which roof style is best?
Having had both apex and pent sheds I would always recommend going for a pent shed.  
  • Do you have other tips to help people choose a storage shed for their garden?
Make sure when selecting a location and size to allow for access all around the structure so you can maintain it, don't place it too near to boundary fencing. 

Select a material timber, metal or plastic based on how much maintenance and life expectancy against cost and budget.  

Allotment Sheds:

  • What’s the best sized shed for an allotment?

Depends on the rules and size restrictions that apply to your allotment by the council or other owner that runs it. There are some allotments where sheds are not allowed or only sheds without doors are allowed or only timber stores up to a certain height are allowed, so before you make any decision check the rules.

On my first allotment I went for a 6 x 4  (1.8m x 1.2m) Apex shed and soon found that I filled it very quickly and was left with no where to shelter or sit if it started raining. 

I could have gone up to an 8 x 6 which would have been better, but it was my first allotment and I was not sure if I was going to last at the new hobby and money was tight so that's why I went for as cheap a chips in terms of the size and cladding. 

The door on the 6 ft (1.8m) gable was still low and I had to get used to ducking to get in and out of the shed. Being an Apex shed the eaves restricted the amount of storage shelving one could have. I also ended up building an extension on the side for more storage and as a onion drying rack. 

8 x 6 is the maximum allowed size of shed on my allotment and I should have taken it to the max.    

  • Does a particular configuration work better?
I need to clarify what Waltons mean by this question and then edit. 
  • Which roof style would you choose, and why?

This is my second shed on another plot, again with an onion drying rack extension, and having had both apex and pent sheds I would always recommend going for a pent shed. These days the pent sheds appear to have a greater slope that those of a few years ago. Pent sheds have higher doors and are more spacious inside and there is more storage area to use. 
  • What are your best tips for choosing an allotment shed?
    • Check the max allowable size you are allowed.
    • Buy the max allowable size you are allowed
    • Chose a material timber, metal or plastic that will give you the best life expectancy .
    • Plan what you are going to store where and how.
    • Allow an area for making tea and coffee and sitting out of the rain.
    • Up North in the UK many allotment sheds have wood burners in. 
    • Don't even consider an Apex type go Pent.
    • Make sure you don't skimp of getting a decent level base of paving slabs in for the shed, again insitu concrete is not normally allowed.   
    • Although sheds come treated, take the time to treat the floors and all panels yourself inside and out before you erect it.
    • make sure you have access all around so you can treat and maintain it on a regular basis.
    • make sure your shed is not going to cast shadow on your neighbour plot.
    • Buy what you can afford.  


  • What is the best sized shed for a workshop?
The largest you are allowed check planning restrictions in your area, and then working out how much workspace you need and how much access and working room you need.  
  • What’s the best configuration for doors and windows?
Personal choice depends on access and how much natural light you need to make using it comfortable and functional. 
  • What solutions have you used for storing tools and materials (shelves, boxes under desks, etc)?
Work bench is a must and shelving for tools and equipment also hanging tools on walls for ease of access. Storage racks and stacking boxes with lids etc. I've also use old chest of draws for storage in a shed. 
  • Do you have other helpful tips for choosing a workshop shed?
  • Check planning the max allowable size (plan area and height) you are allowed.
  • Buy the max allowable size you are allowed and can afford.
  • Plan what you are going to store where and how .

Other types of shed (e.g. potting sheds, man caves, hobby rooms)

  • Do you use your shed for a specific purpose like a man cave or a hobby room? If so, why did you choose the shed you have, and what advice would you give to others?

I was very fortunate to be gifted a 8 x 6 (2.4m x 1.8m) potting shed for my allotment by a friend, and it's been a real game changer for me. It's an ideal size and it has three staging's two along the window face and one along the narrow gable end wall opposite the entrance. 
The potting shed has been a real game changer for me on the allotment, I love it. I do however wonder if the type with the pent roof and the sloping windows would let more light in.

 Looking at the Waltons web site I found that they do a range of Combi Greenhouse / Sheds which I didn't know existed until today. Take a look at their web site as they sell a huge range of sheds and structures made of timber, steel and plastic.     

A question hinted at in the email but not directly asked was "Thoughts about repurposing an old shed or buying a new one"

If I had inherited a shed like the one shown above on my first allotment what would I have done?  

If it was was not structurally sound I would have made it so and I may have ensured it was water proof, but once I knew that having an allotment plot was more than a five minute wonder I would have replaced it with a nice new shed. 

My Apex shed on plot 1A is now 11 years old and doing well, and my Pent shed on Plot 1 has been with me for 8 years and has been on two different allotment sites Mill Green and Spencer Road, and now I also have the potting shed which will have it's first birthday in a couple of months 

I really hope that if you managed to get to the end of this post that you have found it useful and time will tell what Waltons think of my contribution to their questionnaire. 

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