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By Amy Hanlon on 12 Dec 2023

What Are The Pros & Cons of a Timber Garage?

You want to know whether or not you should buy a timber garage. But it’s hard times online. Every pros and cons blog you read tells you that they’re the best thing ever or the worst. Most of them have some sort of sales pitch going on, and you start wondering if there’s any way to find out what you need to know.

Pros and cons articles can be super-annoying too – the pros take up all the space, and the cons are a single paragraph at the end, or they do that thing that people do in job interviews where they say that their biggest weakness is being a workaholic. I’m not going to do that. 

And let’s face it, we also sell timber garages. I’m definitely biased towards these buildings. But I promise not to sales pitch at you without telling you that I’m sales pitching. Let’s sort out the pros and cons of a timber garage. No tricks.

What are the pros of a timber garage?

A Gillies & Mackay timber garage with unpainted close board and strap timber cladding. The garage door is open and inside is a covered boat and some bikes.

The most obvious advantage of a timber garage is that it’s beautiful. Classier than concrete. Better-looking than brick. Cuter than composite. I could go on. 

Timber buildings are generally sympathetic to a garden environment. They can be painted whatever colour you like to complement any other buildings or accessories. They fit beautifully in a landscaped space and enhance the appearance of your garden rather than detract from it. 

Timber garages are available in a range of sizes, price points and styles. You can often choose from different cladding styles and types of timber, and if you’re buying from a manufacturer you can customise your building in a variety of ways.

Depending on your situation, timber garages can often be built without planning permission, and they’re an excellent way to create more space.

I promised you no tricks, so I’ll be absolutely clear. Everything I’ve just said is perfectly true. Timber garages are beautiful and versatile. But once we get past the appearance, there’s a very important distinction to be made.

How is a timber garage built?

Most timber garages on the market are single-skinned buildings. Quite simply, this means that a timber garage is constructed in much the same way as a shed. A frame is built, and a single layer of cladding is fixed to the frame. The roof is also made of a single layer of timber which is then covered with a roof-covering like felt, shingles, steel or slate.

If you want to know about the pros and cons, you have to know whether or not you’re looking at a single-skinned garage or not. 

This is the sales pitch bit. Because Gillies & Mackay don’t build single-skinned garages. We used to, but in 2017 we decided to tackle the cons head-on and upgraded our specification to a triple-layered wall structure. 

So this is a two-for-one. Because comparing the pros and cons of a single-skinned garage and the pros and cons of a layered garage simply isn’t a fair comparison. So let’s look at both.

What are the cons of a timber garage?

The main disadvantage of a single-skinned timber garage is that it’s very difficult to keep it watertight. Within the big shed construction model there are various methods of preventing water from getting in. 

How do you stop water getting into a garage?

Some manufacturers use thicker cladding or interlocking log walls, working on the principle that a thicker “skin” is more likely to keep the building dry. However, this method has its limitations. If thicker timbers suffer from shape changes due to moisture, those changes will be more influential precisely because the timbers are thicker.  

Another point to consider is the type of timber being used to construct the garage. Some timber types are more resistant to moisture than others.

If you’re thinking that this is a complicated affair, you’re right! That’s why our Learning Centre is full of information about timber buildings to help you navigate this tricky business.

Single-skinned buildings are always susceptible to water ingress. There are steps you can take to minimise this problem, but it will always happen to some extent.

How can you minimise water ingress?

Timber garages require maintenance. This applies to both single-skinned and layered buildings. At the very least they need a coat of paint every few years.

Paint is particularly important if you have a single-skinned garage, as the coat of paint is your first line of defence against water ingress. 

You should also ensure that your roofing materials are robust. If your garage is covered with roofing felt this will need to be replaced if it’s showing any signs of wear. You’ll have to check for loose shingles or slates and replace these to keep your building as watertight as possible. 

If your garage is single-skinned, you should also expect repairs to form part of your maintenance. If the building is regularly letting in water timbers will rot, and these should be replaced to keep the garage as sturdy as possible.  

What problems does water ingress cause?

And water ingress causes problems for your building and for its contents. Moisture encourages rot and decay, meaning that over time, the structural integrity of the garage will be compromised. This shortens the useable lifespan of your building. You will likely need to replace a single-skinned timber garage after around 10 years, especially if you live somewhere that experiences bad weather. 

Likewise, the contents of a garage that’s letting in water are susceptible to mould and rust. If you want to store anything valuable (like a classic car, say) you need to keep the building dry.

What are the pros and cons of a Gillies & Mackay Garage?

A Gillies & Mackay pent timber garage with a grey sectional garage door

The main advantage of our Garages is that they don’t leak. There’s no issue with water ingress because they have been specifically designed to prevent this problem. We created our three-tier specification to address all of these cons because we wanted our customers to have reliable, long-lasting buildings.

Because water isn’t getting into the building, you can expect at least 40 years from your G&M timber Garage.

Garage Maintenance

Our Garages still need maintenance – remember that paint protects your cladding from both water and sunlight – and once you get to the third or fourth decade of the building’s life you may find the odd timber here and there that needs replacing. 

Another point to make is that our Garages are significantly more expensive than single-skinned buildings. However, this is one of those sneaky cons that isn’t really a con. Our Garages cost more than “big shed” garages because they are a different product that performs differently. Because they last much longer than single-skinned buildings they are a larger initial investment but don’t have to be replaced as quickly.


Finally, a Gillies & Mackay Garage needs a poured concrete plinth as its base. This can be a disadvantage, as this sort of groundwork adds to the expense of the project and may not fit your aesthetic. 

Should I buy a timber garage?

The interior of a large timber garage, showing the concrete floor, walls and roof timbers. There are several rectangular windows in the walls and a double access door.

If you love the look of a timber garage but you’re worried about water damaging your building, we have a leak-proof, watertight solution for you. While it’s a more expensive option, it’s also a durable option – decades’ worth of durability!

Think about your priorities. If you’re looking for a short-term storage solution and don’t mind a bit of maintenance, a single-skinned garage will suit your needs perfectly. If you want your garage for storage and you’re not storing anything that would be ruined by some moisture, then a Gillies & Mackay Garage might be overkill.

But the traditional pros and cons of a single-skinned garage don’t apply to a Gillies & Mackay Garage. The product is different, and so your expectations should also be different. 
Sales pitch alert! If you want to know more about our gorgeous Garages, get in touch. Or if you’re ready to get the Garage party started, book a Consultation with one of our Sales Team.

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