Types of Sheds for Your Backyard Storage Needs

I was tasked with selecting a storage shed for my backyard, and so I’ve researched all options available. As a result, I’ve put together a list of the types of storage sheds based on roof styles and material types. I’ve also included a price comparison for different materials.

The four shed roof styles include:

  • Barn or Gambrel Shed
  • Gable Shed
  • Saltbox Shed
  • Lean-to Shed

The four material types to select from are:

  • Vinyl (or PVC)
  • Plastic (or Resin)
  • Metal
  • Wood

Each of the design styles and material types has pros and cons. Hopefully, my analysis can help you choose a storage shed that’s perfect for your backyard or your garden. Continue reading for details.

Types of Sheds for Backyard Storage

Storage Shed Roof Styles

The backyard shed is more than just storage space. It can be a part of the house’s overall appeal, so choosing the right shed design is important. Also, keep in mind that the simpler the roof is the easier it is to assemble and maintain.

Barn or Gambrel Shed

Barn roof or Gambrel roof shed designs

Gambrel roof sheds are good to look at. They resemble old-fashioned barns that have sloped roofs – two slopes, each in a different direction. They would be the perfect additions to farmhouses and country-style homes. Most of them are made from wood though I did find one made out of metal. They also tend to be the most expensive ones.

Barn roof sheds provide the most storage space as they tend to be the tallest of all. If you have lots of things or bulky items to store you should definitely consider a barn shed. There are additional shelves you can buy to install under the top of the roof. You will be able to fit a taller ladder.

Gable Shed

Gable roof shed designs
Images from Wayfair.com

If you’re looking to build a shed in your backyard that offers plenty of storage space and fits well with most home styles, a gable shed is the straightforward choice. Its traditional roof design makes it a highly functional shed. Thanks to its simple enough architecture, you can find a gable shed made in every material – metal, wood, and plastic. Gable roofs are also better for places that get lots of snow as they are designed to withstand greater loads.

Saltbox Shed

Saltbox Shed Designs
The above sheds are available from Jamaica Cottage Shop

Saltbox sheds are characterized by a longer sloped roof at the back and a shorter one out in the front. It also has stylish windows with exterior shutters that make these sheds look aesthetically appealing. If the looks of your garden shed are a concern for you, you should opt for a saltbox shed. This design offers ample storage space and is most commonly made from wood.

Lean-to Shed

Lean-to Shed Designs
Lean-to sheds made by Apex

The roof of this shed features a single slope that provides more storage space at the far end. The slope ensures the safety of the shed against weather elements like snow. If you want a tool or garden shed that offers excellent storage space, the lean-to shed is what you should get. Its simple and clean design makes it quite economical to build, easy to maintain.

Lean-to sheds often are the only sheds suitable for narrow spaces. They are the easiest to DIY. You’ll find them made from wood, metal, and occasionally from plastic. Because this design is often tall and narrow, it’s a common practice to attach them to the side of the house or a fence, to avoid overturning.

If you have a modern looking home, lean-to-sheds can be the best choice. I found this cool modernist storage shed that I really like. Here’s a video on how to assemble it.

How to build a lean-to shed  – a DIY video.

Storage Shed Materials

A backyard shed needs to last a long time and require less or, preferably, no maintenance. I’ve gathered details on each material, as well as more information on how to choose a storage shed within your budget.

But first, let’s take a look at the terminology and clear up some naming conventions.

Vinyl vs. Plastic vs. Resin Shed – What’s the Difference?

Many online shed stores list all 3 as different categories, but it’s misleading. Vinyl and resin are also plastics, and vinyl is also a resin.

Sheds sold as plastic are actually made from materials like Polypropylene or Polyethylene resins or Polycarbonate resin. Sheds sold as resin are most likely made from Polypropylene. Sheds advertised as vinyl are actually made from PVC (Polyvinyl chloride). PVC is a type of vinyl resin.

Vinyl vs. Polycarbonate vs. Polypropylene vs. Polyethylene Flammability

Notice the difference in chemical composition? Vinyl is chlorine based, the other 3 resins are carbon based. Vinyl, and so PVC, are naturally fire retardant! Polypropylene and Polyethylene are flammable. Polycarbonate’s fire resistance, in general, is comparable to Vinyl’s. So be sure to check the specs to determine the exact plastic resin your shed is made from.

I was looking for a comparison between PVC and Polycarbonate in terms of flammability, and here’s what I’ve found at Palram, one of the leading makers of thermoplastics that produces both polycarbonate and PVC plastics.

“Regarding PVC, the material develops more smoke than Polycarbonate. However, thin PVC sheets are less flammable than Polycarbonate.”

Plastic Sheds

Plastic storage sheds, also known as resin sheds, can cost anywhere from $150 to $2,900.

They are a popular cheaper alternative to more expensive wooden sheds and to not so aesthetically looking metal sheds. They are easy to assemble and offer secure enough outdoor or garden storage. The smaller size sheds – such as tool sheds – often offer a snap-in assembly while the larger ones would be built around a steel frame. They are resistant to rot, rust, UV, and even acids, not so much to stain though.

They are available with decorative features such as windows, shutters, flower boxes, cool-looking doors, and also built-in shelves. Many come with plastic flooring included as well.

Plastic sheds are considered to be maintenance-free. But I would watch out for stains after prolonged periods of rains and for potential cracks when rainy weather suddenly changes into negative freezing temperatures.

Plastic sheds are relatively cheap and very lightweight but durable. Being lightweight is good and bad. This makes assembling and repositioning one easier. But it also makes it flimsy and non-withstanding to stronger winds, so they must be anchored by all means. Read the reviews carefully.

One main disadvantage of Polypropylene and Polyethylene plastic sheds is that they are highly flammable. They don’t handle high heat well either. They will sag or deform if placed near barbecues or fire pits. I watched one getting deformed by heat coming from a gas grill placed one foot away.

There are a few main differences between Polypropylene and Polyethylene, as according to SP Group, experts in thermoformable materials. Polypropylene withstands high temperatures better – up to 170ºC, while polyethylene can withstand only up to 115ºC. But polyethylene withstands low temperatures better – as low as -80ºC, while polypropylene only maintains its properties above 0ºC. Polypropylene has high resistance to abrasive acids. Polyethylene withstands wear and tear better. Polyethylene is very flexible, elastic. Polypropylene is far less flexible but also is much more difficult to break. Polypropylene is much more lightweight than polyethylene.

In contrast, Polycarbonate plastic sheds offer good heat resistance and a reasonable level of flame resistance, which can be further enhanced with flame retardant additives. Ask questions when in doubt. Polycarbonate is also much more impact-resistant than Polypropylene and Vinyl. It will handle hail better.

Vinyl Sheds

Vinyl sheds, also known as PVC sheds, are priced only slightly higher than plastic or resin sheds. The range is from $500 to $1,300. Unfortunately, they’re offered in a very limited variety. So finding a PVC shed of desirable size and design can be a bit challenging.

If you prefer plastic over wood and metal, vinyl sheds are some of the most robust and have a longer warranty. In some products, I’ve seen it for up to 15 years. Larger sheds are often assembled on a steel frame.

Vinyl is just another type of resin but it falls into its own category thanks to its chemical composition. Vinyl is fire retardant (or resistant). This means that a vinyl shed will less likely catch on fire and melt while a polypropylene or wooden shed will.

If you prefer a maintenance-free plastic shed that is also the most flame-retardant then vinyl (PVC) is your best choice.

A vinyl shed also weathers better. As outdoor temperature changes from one extreme to another, a plastic shed can become fragile while a vinyl shed will remain robust.

Metal Sheds

Metal sheds tend to be the cheapest (see price comparison below), with prices ranging from $200 to $5,000. And there is a reason for that. They are commonly constructed from very thin sheet metal. This makes them flimsy and they get dented easily. And you normally don’t get any extra features such as windows, planters or shelves.

I also think metal shed kits are the most difficult to assemble. Each kit consists of hundreds of pieces and requires a lot of time and patience to put together. And watch out for those shed designs advertised as an easy snap-in assembly. Judging by many reviews I’ve read, they can as easily snap apart. But the prices are hard to beat.

Made either from galvanized steel or stainless steel, these sheds won’t get rusted for a long time. Also, steel is fire-resistant which is a great benefit considering very cheap prices. So if you’re planning to store flammables then metal sheds could be your best option.

Wood Sheds

Wood storage sheds can cost anywhere from $200 to $16,000, plus $500 to 1000 installation fees depending on the complexity. It’s a pretty broad price range as they offer the largest variety of designs and roof styles, sizes, and options.

Wood sheds are the most decorative and with the best curb appeal. After one is installed in your backyard, it can be decorated and painted, and even landscaped around. You can add all kinds of shelves and accessories, plant flowers and bushes around it. You can even turn it into a she-shed or a man cave.

Wood sheds possibly are the most sturdy. Some are rated to withstand winds up to 120 miles per hour.

But the bigger the size the much more expensive they get. Plus they do require maintenance as they are susceptible to elements and termites. Depending on your climate, you will need to repaint them once every few years. Yet, if you’re planning to have a backyard shed for a long time and are able to take care of it, it’s all worth it, in my view.

The wood that is used in shed construction can be cedar, pine, fir or cypress. Most can be painted to match the house color but always verify that before buying one. Larger wooden sheds are harder to put together as they require a foundation and a floor. You may decide to pay for assembly or call up a handyman.

Price Comparison for Different Materials

To give you an idea of how prices differ for different materials, let’s run a quick price comparison for the same size shed, with the same side-door design and the same gable roof style. Here’s what we came up with based on a popular shed size – 10 ft. W x 8 ft. D. We picked the cheapest sheds in each category at the time of this publication:

Expensive – Wood

Handy Home Rookwood 10 ft. x 8 ft. Wood Storage Shed:

  1. from Wayfair.com$2,169,99
  2. from Home Depot – $2,363.20 (with flooring)

Rookwood 10x8 wood shed with flooring from Wayfair or Home Depot

Cheaper – Vinyl

Woodbridge Plus 10.5 ft. x 8 ft. Vinyl PVC Garden Storage Shed:

  1. from Wayfair.com$1,449.99
  2. from Amazon.com$1,319.46
  3. from Home Depot$999.00

Woodbridge Plus 10.5 ft. x 8 ft. Vinyl Storage Shed

Cheap – Resin

Keter Stronghold 10 ft x 8 ft Resin Traditional Storage Shed:

  1. from Wayfair.com – $1,299.99
  2. from Home Depot$899.00

Keter 10 x 8 Resin Traditional Storage Shed

Cheapest – Metal

EZEE 10 ft. W x 8 ft. D Metal Storage Shed (Galvanized Steel, High Gable):

  1. from Wayfair.com$955.58 (I saw it on sale for $780.78)
  2. from Lowe’s$924.65

EZEE 10 x 8 Metal Storage Shed

Vinyl and plastic are mainly for smaller sheds. The larger the shed the more expensive it gets and the choice of materials pretty much gets limited to wood and metal.

Things to Watch Out For When Buying a Shed

When buying a shed kit, make sure to check specs for these few things, and possibly call the store to learn about the details. Some features may be much more important than others, depending on your local climate and your specific needs.

  • Flooring: check if it’s supplied with the kit or not. Many people miss this important aspect.
  • Anchoring: many plastic sheds come with a floor so people don’t think about anchoring them. We recommend you anchor plastic sheds as they can be easily overturned by strong winds, empty or not. Mine was installed straight on dirt. So I bought these 10-inch Spike Nails, drill 4 holes, and simply nailed the floor to the ground.
  • Sturdiness: if flimsy it may fall apart during a storm or under stronger than usual winds. Read reviews!
  • Wind Rating: if you live in a windy place, this is a must to check!
  • Snow Load Rating: if you get lots of snow in the winter, your shed may crumble.
  • Is the shed ventilated? Your shed needs to have vents if you plan to store gasoline products or other chemicals. Or if you’re going to use it for kids or as a garden room. It gets really hot inside, no matter what material it’s made from.
  • Is the shed paintable? Some plastics cannot hold the paint well.

Noise: be aware – metal and plastic sheds placed near a bedroom window will really annoy you on a rainy night as raindrops make constant noise when hitting the roof.

Here are some helpful videos on assembly and anchoring, to give you an idea of what would it take:

About Joe Hats 176 Articles
Joe Hats is the founder of FreshPatio.com. Joe has been remodeling homes since 1997 when he bought his first fixer-upper. He has built many pieces of indoor and outdoor furniture with his own hands and has every DIY woodworking tool in his possession. Coming from an engineering background, he has designed and built many patio fixture plans. Following his wife's lead, he is also very passionate about home decor and together they keep track of the latest trends. When he is not remodeling or trying a new woodworking tool, he is busy gardening or designing a new outdoor plan.