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By Amy Hanlon on 06 Sep 2023

Cheap Shed vs Expensive Shed: What’s The Difference?

Have you ever suffered from choice paralysis? Cheap shed vs expensive shed is exactly the sort of thing that will bring it on.

Choice paralysis is the idea that having too many choices overwhelms you, meaning that you become unable to make any decision because there are just too many possibilities. If you’re buying a shed you have so many options that I don’t blame you for feeling stuck.

One of the many choices you’ll have to make is this: Cheap shed vs expensive shed?

Because we all love a bargain. If you’ve been looking online at sheds, you’ll have seen prices that range from around £350 to £3000, and you may have no idea why there’s such a big difference. Exactly what are you getting for your money?

Shed Buyer’s Checklist

To save you from having to become an expert in all things sheds, we’ve put together a Shed Buyer’s Checklist. This article will use this checklist to show you exactly what the differences are between a shoddy shed and a super-shed. You can then use this to decide which shed is the best value for your budget.

Here’s our Checklist. You can download a larger version here. We’ll be looking at 8’x 6’/2.4m x 1.8m sheds, but you can use this for any size of shed. One tick = one point, and we’ll be counting up scores at the end. 

A copy of the Gillies and Mackay Shed Buyer's Checklist, which lists 9 essential questions to ask when shopping for a shed.

Be warned – this is a HEFTY article! If you’d prefer to skip through to the price point that best suits you, use the links below:

  1. How to use The Shed Buyer’s Checklist/What kind of shed will I get for £350?
  2. What kind of shed will I get for £500?
  3. What kind of shed will I get for £750?
  4. What kind of shed will I get for £1000?
  5. Is it worth buying a cheap shed?
  6. What kind of shed will I get for £2000?

What kind of shed will I get for £350?

The very cheapest timber shed you’ll find is around this price – maybe a bit less or a bit more. We’re going to look at a slightly more expensive shed. Sheds.co.uk supplies the Loxley 8’ x 6’ Overlap Apex Shed, which is £384.

Let’s take a look at the first question on our checklist!

Is the shed made from Scandinavian redwood?

Accept no imitations, folks! Scandinavian redwood is the best type of timber to withstand the Scottish weather. Be precise here – Scandinavian alone isn’t what you’re after, and neither is redwood alone. Make sure you’ve got both for a really solid shed. 

Neither the Loxley specification nor the wooden sheds buying guide on Sheds.co.uk makes any mention of the type of timber used. This usually means that they’re using cheaper whitewood. This timber is fast-grown, which results in looser growth rings, and it just won’t keep the weather out long-term. At this price point, you’ll almost certainly be looking at a whitewood building.

No point here for the Loxley shed.

Is the shed cladding tongue and groove?

This shed uses overlap cladding – the clue is in the name! The shed walls consist of overlapping boards nailed together. Since the nails are the only thing keeping the boards together, any movement of the wood will lead to holes in your shed wall. 

Sheds.co.uk also points out in their Wooden Sheds Buying Guide that shiplap cladding is the most expensive cladding type available. Sorry, lads, but weatherboard is more expensive than shiplap cladding because it’s more watertight. Weatherboard requires more machining so that the profile of the board discourages water from sitting on the walls of the shed. Because of this, you’ll usually find it on more expensive sheds.

But the magic words you’re looking for are tongue and groove. Tongue and groove boards have a tongue that interlocks with a groove to form a tight joint between each board. No point for this cladding – it isn’t tongue and groove.

Is the cladding at least 16mm thick?

The listing for the Loxley shed doesn’t say how thick the cladding is. Watch out here – cheap sheds can have cladding as thin as 6mm. This won’t last long in a high wind.

The thickness of your cladding is the thickness of your walls. Beware of sheds that don’t tell you how thick their walls are – this is a pretty important detail!

Still no scores on the boards for the Loxley shed, unfortunately!

Is the framing at least 40mm x 50mm?

The thickness of your shed framing is vital to the stability of the building. Without decent framing, it doesn’t matter how thick your cladding is – you’ll have a shoogly shed that won’t stay solid. 

The Loxley shed has 34mm framing (I presume 34mm x 34mm, although this isn’t specified). Once again, no points given.

Is the framing pressure-treated?

The Loxley shed lists both dip treatment and a 10-year anti-rot guarantee. However, it doesn’t specify pressure treatment. Pressure treatment, or tanalisation, strengthens timber and protects it from rot and insects. It’s often the basis for a 10-year anti-rot guarantee, because its effects are long-lasting. 

Pressure-treating the framing of a shed gives it extra strength and stability, which is great. 

But beware of this – just because the boards won’t rot doesn’t mean that your building will stay watertight. Pressure treatment doesn’t guarantee that timbers won’t shift, warp or bend. This is a sneaky, slimy get-out clause that really rips my knitting, because anti-rot treatment does absolutely nothing if your shed is full of holes that let water in. 

In any case, the Loxley shed doesn’t state that is uses pressure treatment for the framing or any other timber. No point.

Is the roof made of timber?

As the part of your building that sees the most rainfall, a good solid roof is a must for a good solid shed. The outer layer of shed roofs is generally made of either roofing felt or steel, but take care to check what’s underneath that.

While timber will absorb water if there’s a leak in your outer roofing material, it won’t fare nearly as badly as OSB will. OSB, or Oriented Strand Board, is made of processed wood fibres glued together to form large sheets. Because the wood particles are smaller, they absorb water really effectively, which is the last thing you want for a shed roof. Once OSB is wet, drying it is very difficult, and the sheets swell and warp as a result of the water. 

Long story short – avoid OSB roofs.

Since the Loxley has an OSB roof AND floor we can’t give this box a tick either.

Are you buying your shed from the manufacturer?

Both manufacturers and suppliers sell sheds. Manufacturers make and sell sheds. Suppliers buy sheds from a second-party manufacturer to sell them. If you buy from a manufacturer and something goes wrong with your shed, you know who to contact. Suppliers won’t usually be able to fix your shed and will refer you to their suppliers, who may not even be in the same country. Because of this, we always recommend that you buy from a manufacturer.

Sheds.co.uk doesn’t make sheds, ironically enough. Their website features a number of suppliers, including Loxley. No point here!

Will it be assembled by experts?

Loxley offers an installation service for an additional £229. Otherwise, you’re on your own. Installing a building that’s properly squared is essential to the longevity of the building. It also keeps the water out. If you have the skills to do this by yourself, you could disregard this question. But if you’re not a joiner, you definitely need to consider it.

Still no points, Loxley. 

Is there a clear guarantee, service and aftercare?

Loxley offers a 14-day period to return your building quibble-free. The building itself has a 10-year anti-rot guarantee, which as we said above, doesn’t actually mean much for the integrity of your building. Beyond this, there are no details given about any aftercare or service. This is pretty standard with buildings that come from suppliers.

No points here.

What kind of a shed will I get for £350? – final thoughts…

Our Shed Buyer’s Checklist helps you to find a shed with a decent specification. The Loxley 8’x 6’ Overlap Apex Shed, with a Sheddie Score of 0, is not that shed.

We can double-check the specification with the second part of our checklist to find the Shoddy Score:

Gillies & Mackay's Shed Buyer's Checklist shows that the Loxley Apex Shed has a Shoddy score of 6.

With a Sheddie score of zero and a full marks Shoddy score, this shed is one to avoid. It really is a case of you get what you pay for. This shed won’t last long and is unlikely to keep its contents safe and dry. If you’re looking for a quick, cheap storage fix and you’re not keeping anything too important or perishable inside, £350-£400 is about as cheap as you’ll find for a timber shed, but you’ll most likely have to replace it within 3-5 years.  

But what if your budget is a bit bigger? How much do you have to spend to make sure your shed will be solid?

What kind of shed will I get for £500?

A small timber shed with four windows and a felt roof, in a garden with a small patio, grass and trees.

Next up is the Tiger Overlap Apex Shed at £496.84. Tiger are a shed supplier based in Leeds – you can buy directly from their website or from retailers like Amazon or Wayfair. 

Here’s how this shed scores:

Gillies & Mackay's Shed Buyer's Checklist showing a Sheddie score of 2 and a Shoddy score of 5.

There are some distinctly naughty details in this description. The specification says that Tiger sheds are made with tongue and groove throughout, but for this shed, only the floor and roof are tongue and groove – the walls are overlap cladding. 28mm x 44mm framing is listed as “heavy duty” but falls well under our recommended minimum for a solid shed. They also use a solvent-based timber treatment called TigerSkin, but don’t share details of what this treatment actually is. Tiger advertises a 20-year guarantee but doesn’t state what is covered, and I couldn’t find any further details on their website about this.

Once again, this is a shed to avoid. If you’re in dire need of a short-term storage solution, you can make do with a £500 shed for a few years. But if you’re after a long-term asset to your garden, steer clear.

What kind of shed will I get for £750?

A timber apex storage building on a concrete slab base. The shed has a felt roof and two windows.

It’s my old pals Central Fife Sheds! I’ve written about Central Fife Sheds before because they have a great website with clear pricing and detailed specifications for their buildings. They make my shed research (and yours) dead easy. 

Their Deluxe Apex Timber Shed is priced at £709. It’s worth noting that Central Fife Sheds offer different cladding thicknesses for their buildings. The £709 8’ x 6’ shed comes with 15mm cladding. There is an option to upgrade to 19mm for an additional £140. For the purposes of the checklist, we’re looking at the cheaper shed. 

What are the scores on the board?

Gillies & Mackay's Shed Buyer's Checklist shows a Sheddie Score of 5 and a Shoddy Score of 2 for the Central Fife Shed.

We’re finally starting to see a decent Sheddie score and a low Shoddy score!

The main thing to note about this shed is that thinner cladding and framing mean a less sturdy shed. It’s less likely to withstand wind or impact than a shed built from thicker materials. However, at this price point, this is a pretty decent shed. You can expect to get 5-10 years from it, provided the wind and weather behave!

Also, I’ve been very strict about the cladding here. The specification for this shed states that 19mm redwood cladding has been used for the walls, and 19mm redwood tongue and groove for the roof and floor. While the photo of the shed appears to show tongue and groove cladding, it could be shiplap. This is something you should check with the manufacturer before buying. 

Remember – the checklist will keep you right. There are plenty of £750 sheds out there that wouldn’t score the same way. If you’re looking at a similarly-priced building, use the checklist to make sure you’re getting the best for your budget. 

What kind of shed will I get for £1000?

Onwards, Sheddies! If you have a bit more money to spend, you can check out the good work of Balmuir Sheds in Dundee. They’re another company who aren’t shy about sharing their specification or prices with their customers. 

Here’s a photo from their website of their Apex Shed, priced at £1072:

A timber shed on a slabbed concrete base, in front of a hedge and a grassy area. The shed has a felt roof and one small window.

Here’s how their scores stack up:

Gillies & Mackay's Shed Buyer's Checklist, showing a Sheddie score of 6 and a Shoddy Score of 1 for the Balmuir shed.

I’m being super-picky here. Balmuir’s website states that they use redwood. However, not all redwood is the same. Redwood usually refers to pine, and pine is grown all over the world. The reason that Scandinavian redwood is on our list is that the cold, stable climate of Scandinavia produces the best redwood. The warmer, less stable climate of the UK, for example, produces redwood that is lower-quality.  That’s why you need to know where your wood comes from.

What difference will this make to your shed? Well, you can read all about it here, but basically Scandinavian redwood is less likely to warp or bend, and will cause fewer problems with water ingress.  

Another point to note is that Balmuir’s website lists “treated timber framing”. This is most likely pressure-treated or tanalised framing, which is listed on our checklist. But there are many different ways to treat timber and Balmuir’s website isn’t specific – pressure-treated framing is the best.

Is it worth buying a cheap shed?

What we’re seeing here is that the more you spend, the better the product gets. While this can be depressing if you’re on a tight budget, it is generally the case.

But take a look at this building from Screwfix:

A small timber reverse apex shed with a felt roof. Its door is open. It is on a white background.

This is the Forest 4Life Reverse Apex Overlap Timber Shed. It’s an 8’ x 6’ shed, like all the others in this article. It comes with base and delivery, although the base type is not specified. It’s priced at £1,099.99, so it’s very slightly more expensive than the Balmuir shed.

However, here are the scores for this building:

Gillies & Mackay's Shed Buyer's Checklist showing a Sheddie Score of 2 and a Shoddy Score of 6 for the Forest 4Life shed.

There’s a huge difference between the Forest shed and the Balmuir shed, even though they have similar price tags. That’s why this checklist exists

Sadly, it isn’t always as simple as “cheap shed vs expensive shed”. Price isn’t always an indicator of quality. If you don’t know what to look for, you could very easily spend your money on a shoogly shed rather than a solid one. With 29mm x 29mm framing and 7mm cladding, you can bet your life that the Forest shed shoogles! The difference between a cheap shed and an expensive shed may have absolutely nothing to do with the price.

If you’re in doubt, always use the checklist. If your supplier or manufacturer doesn’t share their specification, ask them about it. Make sure you know what you’re getting for your money. 

What kind of shed can I get for £2000? 

A Gillies & Mackay apex shed, painted in pale grey with darker grey trims and door. It sits next to a pale green shed, and is on a concrete base with a gravel border.

A Gillies & Mackay 8’ x 6’ apex shed is £2150. This includes delivery within 40 miles of Errol, installation and VAT. 

Do I really need to show you our scores? (Sheddie: 10, Shoddy 0.)

Our Shed-Buyer’s Checklist was created from our shed specification, honed over the past 30 years to make sheds that can withstand the harsh Scottish weather. Our specification is why our sheds are expensive.

But why THIS specification? 

There are two good reasons. The first is that we’re committed to building the best sheds that we can because that’s what we believe you deserve. We know that this specification is necessary to build a shed that will last a lifetime. 

The second reason is our aftercare promise. You see, like all good shed companies, we take responsibility for our buildings if anything goes wrong. In your shed’s first year, we fix any snags for free. After that, we’ll come out and fix your building for a small labour charge. But the last thing we want is to be constantly fixing your shed. The better our buildings, the less chance there is of that happening. It’s in our interests to make sure that our buildings are the best they can be. 

What kind of base do I need for my shed?

Don’t forget – a good shed needs a good base. The winner of cheap shed vs expensive shed very much depends on the result of cheap base vs expensive base. A level concrete slab base laid over hardcore is vital, whatever type of shed you buy. A cheap shed combined with a bad base can only lead to a shed disaster. This is a crucial part of the project, and it’s absolutely not worth skimping on it in the long run.

Cheap shed vs expensive shed: what’s the difference?

Our specification was created to build sheds that stand the test of time, keep the water out, and stay solid. Cheaper sheds with different specifications just won’t do that as well. They’ll eventually let water in, damaging the wood and the contents of the building. Sheds that have thin cladding and framing blow away or get damaged by impact. , and the chances of your building sagging or even collapsing are pretty good. 

However, don’t forget your checklist! Cheap shed vs expensive shed doesn’t always mean bad vs good. Just because a building has a hefty price tag doesn’t mean you’re on to a winner. Check the specifications against our list. Missing the information you need? Ask your supplier or manufacturer about this before shelling out for a shoddy shed. 

And if all this information isn’t enough for you and you need to know more, have a look at our Learning Centre. You’ll find all the answers to your shed-related questions there, and if you don’t, please let us know!

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