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By Cara Mackay on 02 Dec 2015

Plastic shed vs metal shed vs timber shed: which one is best for you?


Plastic, metal or timber shed? It’s the age-old question when it comes to sorting out your garden storage.

Choosing a garden building to suit your needs can be a daunting task when there are so many options out there. Although timber sheds are the original and most popular, metal and plastic sheds are becoming increasingly popular and people often ask us about the differences between the three. 

I know what you are thinking, and you are right – we only offer timber sheds. So YES, we do think they are pretty amazing. But we also know that they might not be the right choice of shed for absolutely everyone. And the reality is that while we love a timber shed, there are some good reasons to install a plastic or metal shed instead.

And you know us, we’re all about making sure you get the right shed for you. Picking the right shed is a brilliant investment in your garden for years to come. Picking the wrong shed is a garden nightmare!

So, in this blog, we’re exploring the differences between plastic sheds, metal sheds and timber sheds to help you choose the right one for you. 

Plastic Shed vs Metal Shed vs Timber Shed: What are the differences?

So, let’s dive into what the differences are, the benefits of each and most importantly why each particular one might be a good choice for you.

Everything you need to know about plastic sheds…

So let’s start by looking at the advantages and disadvantages of plastic sheds to see if plastic is the right choice for your garden.

The advantages of a plastic shed…

Plastic sheds are massively increasing in popularity, largely down to the fact that they are perceived as  maintenance-free options. This is one of the main worries when it comes to timber sheds, as lots of people can’t be bothered painting or maintaining them. Unlike their timber counterparts, plastic sheds don’t rot, which means you can be a little less careful about protecting them from the weather. 

When it comes to prices, some plastic sheds are extremely cheap, but as with everything else, you get what you pay for. Good-quality plastic sheds like Keter and Duramax are less expensive than good-quality timber sheds, but on a par with good-quality metal sheds.

The disadvantages of a plastic shed…

While rot and mould are not an issue with plastic sheds they can become brittle over time. This means that they can snap or get damaged, and as a result not last as long as some of the other options on the market. 

Plastic sheds are prone to condensation and must be ventilated regularly to protect their contents from mould and damp. The best plastic sheds have dual walls or an insulating layer to help prevent this. 

Plastic sheds should be anchored firmly to the ground, as they are much lighter than most metal or timber buildings.

Deciding whether or not a plastic shed is a good building or not gets really complicated really fast. These sheds are built from complex materials and comparing them can be difficult. However, the brands mentioned here are a good place to start if you’re interested in finding out more about plastic sheds.

Plastic shed round-up…

Cost – £600£1800 (Based on 8′ x 6′ Keter and Duramax sheds).
Aesthetics – Does not blend in with surroundings easily.
Durability – Low, can become brittle, cracked or warped over time.
Maintenance – Low.
Lifespan – 15 years (depending on quality)
Weatherproof – Sun and wind can be problematic.
Security – Low to Medium.

Should I get a plastic shed?

Plastic garden sheds are a good option for a shorter-term storage solution with lower maintenance than timber sheds. They’re unlikely to be comfortable enough to use for anything other than storage.

Image source: www.garden-seat.co.uk

Everything you need to know about metal sheds…

Metal might not be the first material that pops into your head when you think about sheds, but they are an option that might be right for you. 

The advantages of a metal shed…

Good-quality metal sheds are a similar price to good-quality plastic sheds. Of course, there are many extremely cheap metal sheds available, but a poor-quality metal shed will last almost no time at all before rust, condensation or just plain flimsiness means you’re shed-shopping yet again. 

But a sturdy metal shed is also arguably the most secure type of shed 🔑, and less susceptible to fire damage than timber sheds. 

The disadvantages of a metal shed…

However, in terms of maintenance, metal sheds will need more attention to avoid detrimental damage such as rust caused by condensation and corrosion. This is especially relevant in coastal sites, so if you are on the East or West coast of Scotland and thinking of installing a shed you’ll need to consider this. We also advise that you anchor your shed in windy locations. 

Metal sheds tend to be the preferred option in hotter climates due to their durability against insect damage. But…that’s not really something we have to think about in Scotland. 

Also, they’re not great from an aesthetic standpoint. Metal sheds are purely utilitarian for the most part.

Remember too that a metal shed will lose heat quickly. If you want to spend time working or relaxing in a metal shed, you’ll have to wrap up warmly! These buildings are best used for storage only.

Metal shed round-up…

Cost – £450£1800 (based on an 8′ x 6′ or closest equivalent by Globel and Asgard)
Aesthetics –  Doesn’t merge with surroundings but can be painted to help
Durability – High
Maintenance – Low to Medium
Lifespan – 20 years (depending on quality)
Weatherproof – Can have issues from damp and high winds, also dependent on treatment
Security – High

Should I get a metal shed?

Metal garden sheds are a good option for someone specifically wanting a durable storage option which has relatively high security and is quick to assemble.

Metal is not a natural insulator so the metal option may be better suited for storage purposes rather than something you want to work or keep comfortable in. 

metal shed again

Image source: www.leisurebuildings.com

Everything you need to know about timber sheds…

And finally, we’re onto our one true love, timber sheds. We know they aren’t perfect (well, ours are), but there are loads of advantages (and disadvantages) to installing a timber garden shed. 

The advantages of a timber shed…

It’s really easy to buy a poor-quality timber shed without realising. That’s why our blog exists. As with plastic and metal sheds, think about how quickly you’ll have to replace a cheap building. A larger initial investment will always be cheaper in the long run. 

The right timber shed (made from the right type of timber) can last a lifetime (with the correct treatment). This is why we think that the long-term value outweighs the upfront cost. And why we think this is the best long-term option for a garden shed. 

Because timber buildings can easily be insulated and customised this option allows them to be used for a variety of uses, from storage sheds to summerhouses to outdoor offices.

As well as this, it is easy to customise a wooden building by adding whatever security measures you see fit to use.

The disadvantages of a timber shed…

A timber building is generally slightly higher in initial cost and maintenance than the other options. So although the lifetime value might be better, the upfront cost will likely be higher. 

How weatherproof and secure the shed is will depend on two factors: the quality of the building you choose and the maintenance you put in. If you treat a good-quality timber shed well there should be no issues. 

The main downside is that timber is susceptible to natural erosion if the proper measures are not taken. However, more expensive timber options are available to alleviate the maintenance aspects of a timber Shed.

Ultimately, if you are not keen on looking after your Shed timber might not be the ideal option for you. 

Timber shed round-up…

Cost – £900£2200 (based on an 8′ x 6′ Scandinavian Redwood shed)
Aesthetics – Good, blends with surroundings
Durability High (depending on quality)
Maintenance Medium
Lifespan – 30+ years (depending on quality and maintenance)
Weatherproof – Dependent on treatment
Security  Medium to High (customisable)

Should I get a timber shed?

This is a good option for a long-term build that can be used for many different needs, all year round. Treated well, it can last a lifetime and is well worth the investment. 

If you are looking for something to suit a temporary need this might not be the right choice.

A Gillies & Mackay apex shed painted cream on a slabbed base surrounded by gravel.

Looking for a timber shed?

If you’re thinking that a plastic or metal shed is best for you then sadly we’re not going to be able to help you. As discussed there are benefits to metal and plastic garden sheds. But we are all about the timber sheds here at Gillies & Mackay.

Not only do we think they look hella bonnie in your garden, but on balance, they are an amazing investment that can keep your garden goods safe for years to come (perhaps even decades).

If you’re thinking about getting a timber garden shed then you can speak to one of our team by booking a consultation here.

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