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By Amy Hanlon on 28 Mar 2023

How long does a cheap shed last?


Are you looking for a cheap wooden shed?

We’re all looking for ways to save money right now, aren’t we?

Maybe you’ve stopped buying the really fancy toilet paper. Or you’re exploring the value range at your local supermarket. Maybe you’ve started cutting your own hair. 

When money is tight the key thing is this: you have to get value. If buying the cheapest toilet paper means you can’t sit comfortably anymore, it’s probably not worth it. If the value range makes every meal a misery, you’re not really saving. And as for cutting your own hair? Don’t do it. You’re already skint. Things are bad enough without adding a dodgy barnet into the mix.

Let’s make one thing clear straight away. G&M doesn’t sell cheap wooden sheds. But after designing, manufacturing and installing sheds for over 30 years, we know what we’re talking about when it comes to timber buildings. Just because your budget is more B&M than G&M, that doesn’t mean we can’t help you make a good choice. 

Meeting Expectations

A 2015 survey found that the most common reason buyers have for regretting a purchase is this: IT DIDN’T MEET THEIR EXPECTATIONS. Because if you’re expecting a 12-pack of Cushelle, you’ll be pretty furious when this arrives.

A photo of an outstretched hand holding in its palm a miniature 12-pack of Cushelle toilet roll.

In the same way, if you’re expecting a solid, weatherproof shed, and it blows away within the first week, you’re going to have QUESTIONS.

So let’s avoid all that heartbreak and answer these questions now. No, not the ones about who you need to murder to get your money back.

Questions like:

Where is the best place to buy a cheap wooden shed?

What are cheap wooden sheds made of?

How much should I expect to spend on a cheap wooden shed?”

And the most important question of all: “How long will a cheap wooden shed last?

Where will you typically find a cheap shed? 

To The Google! If cost is your first consideration, sites like B&M, Wilco, and Primrose all have wooden sheds available and often feature seasonal sales. These retail suppliers provide a range of options at a range of prices. 

You can also check out online suppliers like Sheds First and Sheds Warehouse. Suppliers mass manufacture cheap sheds and supply sheds to retailers, and going directly to the supplier means that if anything does go wrong, you don’t have to go back to a retailer who then has to go back to their supplier. It makes things much less complicated. 

What are cheap sheds made of? 

Cheap Timber

Cheap timber sheds are made of whitewood cos it’s cheap! Using cheaper timber is one of the main ways to save money on a shed. A wee tip here – if you’re looking online at a shed and the type of timber used isn’t clearly stated, it’s almost certainly made of whitewood. Why keep it a sneaky secret? Well, we’ve written before about the problems with whitewood, particularly in a Scottish climate. 

Another way to produce a budget shed is to reduce the thickness of the timber cladding used. B&M’s cheapest offering uses just 7mm cladding. Consider what’s going to be kept in your shed if you opt for such thin cladding – lean anything too heavy against a 7mm cladding wall, and you might find yourself with an unexpected extra entrance! 

The timber framing will also be thinner (and therefore less sturdy) in a cheap shed. As a good general guide, if you can push against the wall of a shed and make it move, so can the wind. Good solid timber makes good solid sheds, and since we’re no strangers to storms in this part of the world, this is worth taking into account. Spending just a bit more could well be the difference between a shed that stays in your garden and a shed that goes for a run down the street! 

Cheap Cladding

Cheap sheds are also generally made of overlapping or shiplap cladding. We have whole articles about different types of timber cladding, why they’re used, and what the best options are, but if budget is your first concern, overlap/shiplap is most likely what you’re looking at. 

Whitewood shiplap sheds will look just fine in your garden, but they may not be the most sturdy or the most watertight. Don’t put anything precious that needs to stay bone dry in a whitewood, shiplap shed, or you’ll be cursing the Shed Gods pretty fast. 

Water ingress isn’t just potentially damaging to the items in the shed. It also contributes to mould and rot and affects the structural integrity of the building. Take a look at all the places that light is getting in through the panel here. 

A photo of a cheap timber shed, showing multiple knots in the wood, and gaps in the structure. The cladding is thin and flimsy and the framing is cracked and thin.

Anywhere that light can come through, water can get in too. You can also see how thin the cladding looks, and how lightweight the framing timbers are. 

This same shed (from B&M, by the way) has OSB roofing.  OSB is a composite made of smaller chips of wood mixed with an adhesive. OSB is a great insulating material, but when exposed to water it’s also really great at soaking that water up, causing the roof to swell. Once the water is in there, it’s incredibly hard to dry it out. Ugh! Soggy sheds!

How much does a cheap shed cost? 

A screenshot from the B&M website showing the listing for a Forest 4Life 25yr Guarantee Overlap Pressure Treated Apex Wooden Shed, priced at £308.99. The photo shows a wooden shed with a felted apex roof next to a timber fence. Its door is open and there is a watering can and some garden tools inside.

How big is your shed going to be? If you just need a wee space to store some tools, a 6’x’4 (1.8m x 1.2m) shed or smaller will cost around £260-£310, like this one from B&M. The bigger the shed, the more it will cost. 

Roughly speaking, you can expect to add between £100-£150 for each size up that you look at, so a 7’x5’ shed will cost around £400-£450. 

Online prices cover the building and may or may not include delivery. You’ll have to build the shed yourself or pay someone else to do it. For the shed pictured, the building costs £308.99, and installation charges start at £232.99, not including the base. Remember that how the shed is built will contribute to how long it lasts.

How long does a cheap shed last? 

A cheap whitewood, shiplap shed will last around 5-6 years, provided it’s well-installed. By well-installed, we’re talking about secure roofing and plenty of weather sealant on the joints. 

We know, we know! What about the pressure treatment and the 25-year guarantee and the various bells and whistles that these other places talk about? 

Pressure treatment protects timber from insects and wood rot, but doesn’t prevent moisture from seeping into the wood. Moisture results in swelling, shifting, and bowing. These all potentially allow for gaps in the structure which allow yet more water in. They’re not guaranteeing you against mould, sagging timbers, badly-fitting doors or water ingress.

B&M’s 25-year guarantee is a guarantee against rot, which the pressure treatment confers. But it absolutely doesn’t guarantee that your shed will stay watertight. The 10-year anti-rot guarantee they offer on some of their sheds is dependent on yearly re-treatment. Yep – it’s all true. There really is someone out there who enjoys reading the small print – it’s me!

What’s the weather like?

Other factors that might affect this estimate include the weather. We’ve all seen The Wizard of Oz – sometimes sheds do blow away, even without a Wicked Witch.

Remember those flimsy timbers? The thickness of both the cladding and the frame are serious considerations if The Beast from the East ever makes a reappearance.

Another good way to keep things in place is to have your shed securely fixed to a solid base, which also contributes to the project’s cost. 

A still from The Wizard of Oz, showing Dorothy Gale crouching in a timber building that has been swept into the air by a tornado. The Wicked Witch of the East is on a bicycle next to the building.

Am I getting value for money?

This really depends on what you’re looking for. If you want a quick fix that will solve a problem right now, and it doesn’t matter too much about long life, a cheap shed will do the job in the short term.

If you do the sums on this, spending £400-£500 on a building and installation every 5-6 years (or ending up with a leaky, sagging eyesore) adds up to a pretty expensive shed-habit. It also means the upheaval of having to replace (and dispose of) multiple sheds. 

If you know that you’re looking for something that will last without leaking or blowing away, making a bigger investment now may actually save you money in the long run. 

If you’re really on a budget and willing to go the extra mile, you can often pick up second-hand garden sheds on sites like Gumtree or Preloved. The cheapest listings here usually ask you to dismantle the shed and transport it yourself, which may involve a drive if the listing isn’t local. 

Sometimes people even offer sheds for free if you’re willing to remove them yourself. Of course, the quality of second-hand sheds will vary hugely. So read the listing carefully before you shell out any cash, and make sure you have the expertise and tools needed to take a shed down and put it up again.

So, how much does a cheap shed cost? 

What’s a would-be Sheddie to do? 

Most importantly, know what you’re getting for your money. If you’re happy to spend £300-400 pounds on a shed that you know has a fairly short shelf life, then you’re good to go. 

If you are able to spend a little more, you know what your options are if your priority is keeping the water out or weathering the elements.  

And if you’re looking for something that will form a permanent part of your garden, look for a robust building bought from a local manufacturer who knows what they’re doing. 

Of course, you’ll have to start saving. Just as long as you don’t do it by cutting your own hair!

To learn more about what’s involved in a garden building project, take a look at these blogs:

Does my shed need a base?

Shed Buying Guide

What is the best type of shed roofing?

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