The Ultimate Storage Shed Buying Guide

We think it is safe to assume that buying a shed is not part of your normal, everyday activity. In fact, if you are reading this because you are needing to buy a storage shed, you likely have never bought one before. If you have, you probably don’t want to have to go through the process again. With over 25 years of experience building and selling sheds, we thought it would be helpful to put together a shed buying guide to assist you in planning for, purchasing, and using your shed. Whether you decide to purchase a shed from us or through somebody else, our hope is that this guide will help you get the right shed the first time. Then you will not have to go through the process again. Let’s Get Started.

delivered storage shed on gravel pad

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Before You Shop: Creating Your Ideal Shed Profile

There could be many reasons why you are wanting to purchase a shed. Maybe you are simply needing more space for storing your treasures. Or maybe you are wanting to add a building to your property for a home office or hobby shop. Whatever the case, it is important for you to do your homework before you start shopping so you can have a clear idea of what kind of building you are looking for. Creating your ideal shed profile before you start shopping will make the shed buying process much simpler for you, helping you avoid getting sucked into buying something that does not fit with what you need.

storage sheds buying guide part 1

What Are the Things I Should Consider Before Buying A Shed?

  1. What Will I Use My Shed For?
  2. What Size Shed Do I Need?
  3. What Quality and Features Are Important for My Shed?
  4. What Is My Budget for Buying A Shed?

When you’ve answered these 4 questions, you should have the ideal shed profile you need to be able to start shopping for your dream shed. Let’s look at each of these questions in depth.

What Will I Use My Shed For?

This is likely the easiest of the 4 questions for you to answer since you already have an idea of how you will use your new building. As we mentioned earlier, there are many ways that sheds are used, and this usage will play a large role in answering the following questions. In order to give a good answer to this question of shed usage it is important to get very specific. Think past the general usage and start answering detailed questions. Here some examples of types of questions you should be considering:

Storage Usage Questions

  • What will I be storing in my shed?
  • What is the widest possible item I will want to move in and out of my shed?
  • Will I be using the shed to store any outdoor or heavy equipment?
  • Will I need to roll items in and out of the shed?
  • Will I be using the space to store items that need electricity (e.g. chest freezer)?

Workshop Usage Questions

  • What type of projects will I be doing in my shed?
  • How much open space do I need for working in?
  • How many tools or how much work equipment will be necessary in my shed?
  • Will my work require electricity, lighting, or heating and cooling?
  • Will I need to use wall space for my work?

These are simply questions to get you started thinking. Spend some time thinking through all the specifics of how you intend to use your shed. It may even be wise to write down a list for this.

What Size Shed Do I Need?

The question of size is one that is worth spending some time thinking about. One of the most common shed buying mistakes is buying a shed that will be too small for its intended purpose within a short time after buying. We encourage you to plan to purchase one size bigger than what your current need is so that you have space to grow into it.

Two super popular shed sizes are the 10×12 and 10×16, and we even wrote guides specific to those sizes.

10×12 Sheds| Cost, Foundations, and Layout Suggestions

The Ultimate 10×16 Shed Idea Guide

In order to determine the size of the storage shed you will need, there are a few simple steps you can take.

Choosing Your Shed Size

  1. Make a list of all the items you plan to put inside your shed, with the approximate size of these items
  2. Using this list and these sizes, try drawing several different scale model floors plan with these items placed in a way that still gives freedom to move about the floor.
  3. Select the floor plan you prefer and draw a rectangle around your items. The size of this rectangle is the size of shed you need to accommodate your current needs
  4. Add at least 2’ feet to the length of your shed to ensure you will have room to expand past your current needs.

Examples of Shed Floor Plans

10x16 garden shed floor plan
12x20 office shed floor plan
10x16 workshop shed floor plan

What Quality and Features Are Important For My Shed?

Shopping for a shed is similar to shopping for ice cream in a grocery store. There are so many different brands, different varieties and styles, and different opinions about which brand is the best. Your personal preferences and your goals for your shed should make a big difference in which shed you choose. Local climate should also play a large role in choosing your shed’s quality and construction features. Here in the North, the harsh winter climate creates unique strains on building structures and materials. The extra snow loads can quickly weaken a shed that is not built with this in mind. The extreme cold can also wear down the strength of low-grade materials, comprising the life of your shed. You will need to decide what quality standards are important to you. Here are some specifics areas to consider in this process.

Siding Material

A common way to classify sheds is by their siding material. Wood, vinyl, and metal are the three most common siding types used by quality shed builders. There are varying styles and levels of quality materials that can be used for each of these types. Many shed companies use an engineered wood siding, either in the vertical panel style or in the classy horizontal lap style. Vinyl and metal siding both offer a bit more of a uniform style, but still offer variations that change the overall impression of a shed. Whether you choose wood, metal, or vinyl siding, pay attention to the thickness of the material that is used, the damage resistance factors, and the warranty that is offered. There are many levels of quality in each of these siding types. Your shed’s siding is a big factor in protecting your shed’s structure. We recommend choosing a siding type that looks appealing to you and either matches or complements the look of the other buildings that will surround it. When you are shopping for your shed then, you can look for a builder that offers sheds with a quality version of your siding type.

A plastic resin material is also used for some of the cheap and mass-produced storage sheds that are sold by large manufacturers. Unless you are planning to purchase a small shed that will be protected from the weather, it is advisable to avoid this.

Roof Material

There are two primary types of roof materials for storage sheds: shingles and metal. One of the main factors in determining your roof material should be the type of roof that is on your house or the buildings that will surround your shed. You will likely want to match your shed’s roof with these. Most custom shed builders should be willing to match your roof style and color.

Shingle Tips
  • 3-tab shingles are the traditional variety of shingles
  • Architectural shingles are a classier and more durable shingle variety
  • We recommend shingles with at least a 20-25 year warranty
Metal Tips
  • Metal thickness is classified by gauge
  • HIgher gauges mean thicker metal
  • Thicker metal means a better protected shed
  • A good metal should offer a 30-50 year warranty

Frame Quality

You’ll also want to be educated and prepared to inspect the quality of your sheds frame. Again, you will need to determine to what level you are willing to invest in a good quality shed. Factors to think about with frame quality include:

  • Should the ground skids and floor boards be treated or untreated wood?
  • What should be the wall stud spacing: 16”, 24”, or 36”?
  • Should the roof trusses be built for extra heavy snow load?
  • Does the floor need to be reinforced for any extra heavy equipment?

These are just a few of the questions you could ask when considering the quality that your shed’s framing should have.

Interior Features

There are many more elements to a shed’s quality. You should consider the thickness and style of the floor material. If you want a shed with a finished interior then you’ll need to know what kind of wall and ceiling material you would like. What quality do the windows need to be? Should the shed be insulated? Do you need a loft for added space? How high do the sidewalls need to be? If you at least have an idea which of these things are important to you, then your shopping process will be made much easier.

What Is My Budget For My Shed?

Now that we’ve given you all the other considerations and you have developed your idea of an ideal shed, for your situation, it is time to consider how much you are willing to pay to find a shed like this. If you are like most people, money is king. It will most likely be a determining factor in which shed you purchase. As you set a budget for buying a shed here are some key questions to ask your-self.

  • Am I purchasing a shed as a long-term investment for my property?
  • Will I pay upfront and get a better deal or will I need to look for rent-to-own options and spend more money on my shed?
  • How much value will my shed add to my property?
  • What would I consider to be a good deal for a shed?
  • What is the most that I am willing to pay to get my ideal shed?
  • Is price or quality going to be the biggest purchasing factor for my shed?

Now that you have spent valuable energy planning for your shed, it is time to start shopping. We encourage you to make a list of all your preferences from the items we have covered above and use this as a guide for the shopping process.

Finding and Purchasing Your Dream Shed

When it comes to storage shed shopping, there are so many shed companies to choose from and multiple ways you can go about shopping from these companies. There is not a simple formula we can give you to go through the shopping and buying process. But with years of experience in the shed industry and in assisting shed customers, we can give you some tips and tricks to help you get the best shed for your situation at the best price.

your guide to shopping for and purchasing storage sheds from a quality shed company

Starting the Search

As we already mentioned, there are myriads of shed companies wanting your business. As you start your search you will likely see sheds for sale from national store chains, like Home Depot and Lowes, who carry mass-produced cookie-cutter sheds. These companies will usually have limited custom options and will emphasize price over quality. Then there are national shed companies with local display lots and dealers. The available options and the quality of these sheds vary from company to company. Lastly, there are locally-based companies, like Northwood Industries, who either build or sell storage sheds that are built for the rough Northern climate and are able to be customized to your specific specs and features. Our recommendation is to avoid buying sheds from the national store chains unless you are on a very limited budget. Even then, it would be wise to shop around and check out the prices of local companies before assuming that the big chains will have the cheapest sheds.

There are numerous ways that you can find the shed sellers in your area. In today’s internet age, most people are using online resources for locating shed companies. A simple search with your preferred internet search engine is a great way to get started. Another great online resource for finding shed companies is social media. Many shed companies are active on social media and a quick search should pull up the local companies and give you a good overview of what they offer.

Online Search Tip

If you are wanting to find local shed companies be specific with your searches. Rather than just typing in “storage sheds” or “sheds for sale,” try searching for “sheds for sale near me” or include your local town in the search (i.e. Sheds for sale in [Your Town]).

If the internet intimidates you or if you would rather stick to more traditional methods, the local phone book can be a great resource for giving an overview of the storage shed companies in your area.

Shopping for Storage Sheds

There are two good ways to do shed shopping after you’ve discovered the local shed companies in your area. One option is to browse through shed companies’ websites and another option is to physically visit the storage shed lots.

A website can be a great place to at least start the shopping process. A trustworthy shed company should have a user-friendly site that makes it easy to see what types of sheds are available, what options and quality features are offered, and what the price range is for the sheds they offer. Most storage shed websites will have the option to request a detailed quote on any of their sheds once you have found a shed that you are interested in.

While shopping online gives you the convenience of finding your storage shed from the comfort of your recliner, there are also some advantages to physically visiting a storage shed company. One of the obvious ones is that you can actually see the different shed options and inspect the quality of the buildings. It also gives you the advantage of in-person communication, allowing you to establish a relationship with the seller.

Whether you decide to go with the online shopping route or choose to actually visit shed lots, we have a list of 7 tips that will help you in determining which storage shed to buy from which company.

1. Compare Prices and Features

Check around at a few local shed companies and compare prices on similar sheds. But don’t look at just pricing. Check out the different features and the materials that are used to build the shed. Some companies may have higher pricing than other shed companies on the same size and style of shed but actually be offering a better deal due to the quality of the materials they use.

2. Ask for Quotes That Include Taxes and Cost of Delivery

You do not want to commit to purchasing a shed only to discover that the final price is a lot higher than you anticipated due to sales taxes and delivery fees. Some shed companies include delivery in their prices and others charge either a flat delivery fee or charge by the mile. Make sure to ask for a final, delivered price when you a get a shed quote.

Ready to Get A Shed Quote?

We would love to offer you a free quote on one of our quality storage sheds. When you request a quote from us we’ll give you the final price, including taxes and delivery, so that you can know for sure what to plan on.

3. Read Customer Reviews and Testimonials

A good shed company should have happy customers. Before deciding to purchase from a specific storage shed company check out their ratings and reviews on social media and other online business rating platforms. Most companies who offer good service and a quality product will have raving fans. Pay attention to this.

4. Ask About Warranties and Repair Agreements

Different shed companies have different terms and conditions that apply to storage sheds purchased from them. The warranty that is offered by a company can be a window into the quality of the materials used on their storage sheds and the confidence they have in their quality. Be sure to find out what warranty is offered and how willing the company is to stand behind their products in case of damage.

5. Purchase From Companies Who Take Pride In Their Sheds

There is a big difference between a shed company that exists only to get your money and one that exists because they want to serve you and enjoys selling quality sheds. The level of pride that a company and their salesmen show in their buildings and in the story of their company gives insight into how much you can trust them.

6. Look for Personalized Service

A good, trustworthy shed company will try to help you find what you actually need rather than just trying to make a quick sale. Pay attention to the kind of questions the shed salesman asks and how much concern they show in making sure you get what you need. If they are more concerned about talking up their sheds instead of discovering your needs than you should be wary of that company.

7. Be Ready to Put Money Down to Get the Best Price

If you want the lowest price for your shed, you should be ready to put money down on your shed at the time of ordering. Most companies require a significant deposit at time of ordering unless you choose to go with a rent-to-own shed purchasing option. Rent to own requires less money up-front but in the long run it will significantly increase your investment in your storage shed.

Shed Delivery and Installation: Preparing for Your New Storage Shed

After purchasing a storage shed it is time to turn your attention to preparing a pad for your shed and getting it delivered to you.

small storage shed on gravel pad

How to Prepare for Your New Storage Shed

You probably already have a good idea of where you want to place your storage shed. Here are a few things to double check before you get heavily involved in clearing and preparing a pad.

1. Check Permit Requirements and Local Regulations

A normal shed company does not take responsibility for getting the proper permits and checking the local regulations for your shed’s location. You are responsible to make this happen. Don’t assume. Just because your best friend’s brother-in-law didn’t need a permit in the neighboring county for his shed doesn’t mean that you don’t need one where you are at.

2. Keep Space for Maintenance and Upkeep

If you set your building up against a fence or in a tight corner, you could make it difficult to keep the weeds down and the area around it tidy. We advise that you keep plenty of space to run your mower around your building. This will make it much easier for your property to stay looking good.

3. Think Deeper Than Surface Level

It would be a bummer to prepare a storage shed pad, have your shed delivered, and just be finishing up with landscaping it, only to discover that you set it right on top of a water line that is leaking or a septic tank that needs cleaned out. We don’t want you to have to move your shed anytime soon. So, be aware of what is below the surface. It is wise to not set your shed over any sort of utility lines.

Preparing a Pad For Your Storage Shed

Once you have location finalized, it is time to get your shed pad ready for the shed delivery. A level building is important for the sake of your storage shed’s durability and your wallet’s investment. A level foundation makes for a level building. Here are 3 common storage shed pad types.

Concrete Blocks

This is the budget route for a shed pad. It involves clearing the area where the shed will be sitting, laying out blocks for the floor runners to set on, and then leveling all the blocks. This is quick, cheap, and relatively easy. We’re willing to place a shed on concrete blocks, but we don’t recommend it. Over time, it is likely that the blocks will shift. If this happens, your shed loses its level status, your doors may not close well anymore, and the frame will take some heavy strain.

concrete blocks for storage shed pad

Gravel Pad

This is our recommendation. It takes more energy and investment initially, but will pay off in the long run with a long-lasting shed. A good way to build a gravel pad is to create a level frame with treated landscape timbers and then fill the frame with gravel. Gravel can be easily leveled while also allowing water to drain off. We love to deliver a building to a well-built gravel pad because we know we are placing a shed that will last for a long time.

gravel pad for storage shed delivery and installation

Concrete Pad

A concrete pad is another great foundation option for your new building. However, it really doesn’t provide much advantage over a well-built gravel pad and so likely isn’t necessary except in special situations. A concrete pad makes sense if you are wanting a pad that is significantly larger than your shed for either a patio or some other additional use. Concrete will last a long time and should provide a solid foundation for a long-lasting shed.

concrete pad for storage shed

Preparing A Path for Your Shed Delivery

When you purchase a storage shed, make sure you find out the widest measurement of your building. Not accounting for the extra width of roof overhangs is one of the most common problems in shed delivery. Before your shed comes it is a great idea to get a tape measure and take a walk along your shed delivery path, visualizing the shed moving along the route.

Look Up

Ask your shed builder how high off the ground your shed’s roof peak will be during delivery. Remember your shed will likely either be on a trailer or hauled by a Shed Mule. This gives it extra height. Make sure that there are no low-hanging tree branches or wires that could get hinder your shed’s delivery path. While your shed delivery guy might be really good at moving storage buildings, chances are he will not be an expert lumberjack or electrician. Make it easy for yourself by looking up before your shed arrives.

Look Down

Shed delivery doesn’t require a paved driveway; we can usually maneuver over rough ground. However, we won’t be able to deliver your shed through a muddy bog, over large logs, or through a path of old rusty nails. Do yourself and your shed company a service by providing a clean, clear path to your shed pad.

Look All Around

As we mentioned, not allowing enough width through gates, between trees, or between buildings is one of the most common delivery problems. Be sure to measure the width of any potential tight spaces. We recommend an additional 2’ of space beyond the widest point of the shed. If the path is straight, a good driver can squeeze a shed through spaces with less than 2’ of buffer space. But most delivery guys would prefer not to have to do that. Save yourself and them some stress by planning ahead.

Shed Delivery and Placement

Your shed will likely be delivered on a flatbed truck or trailer. When the driver arrives at your location he will likely use one of the following methods to place your shed.

Tilt Bed or Trailer

If your shed pad is very easy to access, your driver may be able to back the shed right up to the pad and unload it with a truck bed or trailer that has a lift.

Shed Mule

Many good shed companies will have a handy machine called a “Shed Mule.” This is a machine that was built for shed moving. It can easily maneuver through tight spaces and around sharp corners. A Shed Mule enables a storage shed to be placed in settings where a truck and trailer could never access. It also has wide, flotation style tires, making it less likely to create tire ruts in your yard.

storage shed mule for storage shed delivery

Be sure to do a thorough inspection of your shed before the shed delivery guy leaves. Make sure the building is right where you want it. Check to see if it is setting level. Look inside and outside for any damage from the delivery process. You need to be satisfied with your shed when the delivery man leaves. After they leave, their job is done. That is when the fun can start for you as you begin using your new shed.

Shed Usage and Enjoyment: Getting the Most Out of Your New Shed

The delivery man has come and gone and you have a new shed on your property. It is time for you to take ownership of this new building by turning the bare-boned structure into the shed of your dreams. In this final part of the Shed Buyers Guide we will briefly cover maintenance and upkeep of your shed and then give some helpful tips for organizing the interior and ideas for sprucing up the outside. We will then wrap up this guide by featuring some unique and creative ways that people have used their sheds.

interior of cape cod shed cabin

Maintenance and Upkeep of Your Shed

A good quality shed should require very little maintenance or upkeep. Still, it is good to keep an eye on the condition of your shed, staying alert for potential problems that could deteriorate the shed’s structure. If you have a shed with wood siding, you should stay alert to the condition of the paint or the sealer on the siding. Paint or sealer deterioration is a common cause of sheds wearing out. If you start to notice any bubbling, peeling, molding, or wood rotting it is a likely sign that your shed is begging for another paint job. The longer you let these problems go, the more likely that long-term damage will be done to your shed’s structure.

If your shed has vinyl siding, you should stay alert to holes or cracks in the siding. It is common for lawn mowers or weed trimmers to throw rocks or other objects at your shed, causing holes or cracks in the siding. Here in the North with our rough winters siding is more likely to become brittle and age quicker, especially if it is a cheaper vinyl siding. Holes in your vinyl siding gives moisture access to your wood frame, likely causing molding and/or rotting. When you see holes, have them fixed as soon as possible.

Some other things to stay alert to are the condition of your roof and the seals around your shed’s doors. Any signs of leaking or moisture coming through your roof or doors should be fixed. Also keep an eye on the caulking around windows or other seams. Over time caulk can become brittle and start to crack. If you see this happening, peel off the old caulk and give your shed some love with a new caulk job.

Organizing the Interior

There are a lot of great tools and tips available to help you organize your shed. Of course, your shed organization will be unique to your specific usage. If you are using your shed for general storage your organization setup will be very different from a setup for a tool shed or a wood working shop. Below are a variety of ideas to help get you started thinking about how you want to organize your shed.

1. Shelving

Adding shelves to your shed is a great way to maximize space and keep things orderly.

storage shed shelving 1

Built-in Wall Shelving

hanging shelving for storage sheds

Hanging shelving brackets. Available Here

stand alone shelving for storage sheds

Metal Shelving Units from Global Industrial

2. Pegboard

Pegboard storage systems are one the most efficient and best options to keep tools and other items organized in a workspace.

peg board rack shed full tools

3. Cabinets

Adding cabinets to your shed allows you to store items out of sight and in an enclosed space that protects them from other dust or dirt that could come from working in your space.

portable cabinet for storage shed organization

4. Creative Storage Hacks

Below are just a few more images of what people have done to creatively maximize their storage space.

5. Other Storage Tips to Remember

  • Label boxes and items well so they are easily identified.
  • Keep everything accessible so you don’t have to deconstruct piles of stuff to get to something.
  • Use sealed containers for valuables or items you want to protect from rodents.

Sprucing Up the Outside

A well-built shed can be a beautiful addition to most any outdoor space. We are often impressed with how well our customers have done in making their sheds look beautiful in their setting. A little bit of effort in landscaping can go a long way in making the shed look at home while adding long-term value to your property. Here are some visual ideas to get you started thinking about sprucing up the outside of your shed.

Flowerbeds and Shrubs

beautifully landscaped storage shed


shed with sidewalk landscaped around it


beautiful shed garage with a ramp


storage shed with weathervane

Flower Boxes and Window Shutters

storage shed with window shutters and flowerboxes

Outdoor Furniture and Patio Area

poly patio furniture for storage shed exterior

Creative Storage Shed Uses

Ideas for Taking Your Shed to the Next Level

Now to wrap up this guide let’s take a quick tour of some really creative ways other people have used sheds. We’re often inspired by how creative people can get with their shed space. These are just a small sampling of what you could use a shed for.

Man Caves

Evening hangouts, man parties, hunting cabins, quiet retreats, hobby spaces…. the options are limitless for sheds turned man caves. This is a great way to create your own personal man space.

man cave storage shed usage ideas 1

Craft Studio

Leah Day is a popular online quilting teacher who turned her shed into sewing and quilting studio for shooting her instructional videos. By moving from her house to a shed she was able to create a much more private and quiet space to do her work. We think she has done a great job.

A customer of ours turned this shed with a porch into an outstanding hobby shed that is absolutely perfect for sewing and crafts.

She Sheds

She sheds are a truly popular phenomenon right now.  Here is an example of a very small but stunning she shed in a beautiful garden setting near Hayward, Wisconsin.

Here is another example of a lady that took a garden shed and turned it into a She Shed on Steroids. The shed (named “Miss She Shed” by friends) has become the hub for gardening activities, a home business, friend hangouts, hatching butterfilies, and morning coffee times. Read the full story here

a garden shed turned she shed

Backyard Home Office

Needing a quiet space to be able to focus and work, Dell employee, Eryn Logan, purchased a shed and turned it into a home office.

Vacation Cabin

You can quickly turn a small plot of land into a beautiful getaway spot by turning a shed into a vacation cabin.

cape cod 12x28 vacation cabin for sale near minneapolis minnesota

Backyard Guest House

Need more room to host the in-laws over the holidays? Or maybe you want your grandchildren to stay the summer and need a space for them to stay. A shed is an easy solution to add guest quarters to your property.

Here is an example of a nice shed that can be finished into a beautiful backyard guesthouse.  This model is called “The Bunkhouse” at Northwood Outdoor. Guesthouses don’t have to be huge either, you would be surprised at how much you can actually do with a 10×12 shed.

guesthouse shed for sale in wisconsin

And this picture here is a beautiful example of how sheds can be finished to be used as guesthouse quarters.

shed guest house 1

And that wraps up our ULTIMATE STORAGE SHED BUYING GUIDE. We wish you the best as you shop for your shed and make it your own. Feel free to contact us with any questions or thoughts you have for this guide.

Browse and Dream. Request a Free Quote.

Have you found your dream shed or identified a garage that you want to customize? Have you chosen the ideal poly furniture set for your patio or selected a hickory wood table and chairs for your cabin? Fill out the form to receive a free quote or to request more information about our products.