A shed is typically a simple, single-storey structure in a back garden or on an allotment that is used for storage, hobbies, or as a workshop.
Sheds vary considerably in the complexity of their construction and their size, from small open-sided tin-roofed structures to large wood-framed sheds with shingled roofs, windows, and electrical outlets. Sheds used on farms or in industry can be large structures. The main types of shed construction are metal sheathing over a metal frame, plastic sheathing and frame, all-wood construction, and vinyl-sided sheds built over a wooden frame
Small domestic sheds
The simplest and least-expensive sheds are available in kit form. Both shed kits and "do-it-yourself" plans are available for wooden and plastic sheds. Sheds are used to store home and garden tools and equipment such as lawn tractors, and gardening supplies. In addition, sheds can be used to store items that are not suitable for indoor storage, such as petrol (gasoline), pesticides, or herbicides.
For homes with small gardens or modest storage needs, there are several types of very small sheds. The sheds not only use less ground area but also have a low profile less likely to obstruct the view or clash with the landscaping.
These small sheds include corner sheds, which fit into a corner (3 ft tall × 3 wide × 2 deep, or 0.91 × 0.91 × 0.61 m), vertical sheds (5 × 3 × 4 ft deep, or 1.52 × 0.91 × 1.22 m), horizontal sheds (3 × 5 × 4 ft or 0.91 × 1.52 × 1.22 m), and toolsheds. When a shed is used for tool storage, shelves and hooks are often used to maximize the storage space. Gambrel-style roofed sheds (sometimes called baby barns), which resemble a Dutch-style barn, have a high sloping roofline which increases storage space in the "loft" area. Some Gambrel-styles have no loft and offer the advantage of reduced overall height. Another style of small shed is the saltbox-style shed.
Larger domestic sheds
Larger, more-expensive sheds are typically constructed of wood and include features typically found in house construction, such as windows, a shingled roof, and electrical outlets. Larger sheds provide more space for engaging in hobbies such as gardening, small engine repair, or tinkering. Some sheds have small porches or include furniture, which allows them to be used for relaxation purposes. In some cases, teleworkers and homeworkers in general who live in mild climates use small to medium-sized wooden garden sheds as outdoor offices. There is a growing industry in providing "off the peg" garden offices to cater for this demand, particularly in the UK but also in the US.
Shed owners can customize wooden sheds to match the features (e.g., siding, trim, etc.) of the main house. A number of decorative options can be added to sheds, such as dormers, shutters, flowerboxes, finials, and weathervanes. As well, practical options can be added such as benches, ramps, ventilation systems (e.g., in cases where a swimming pool heater is installed in a shed), and electric lighting. Sheds designed for gardening, called "potting sheds", often feature windows or skylights for illumination, ventilation grilles, and a potter's bench for mixing soil and re-potting plants.
- Garden sheds — The vast majority of sheds are garden sheds, including allotment sheds. This class of sheds also includes potting sheds and tool sheds. Most modern gardens are too small for more than a single shed, containing garden tools and lawn mowers.
- Bike sheds (also called bicycle sheds) usually contain a framework on which bikes can be supported and locked. Bike sheds range from little more than a supported roof to more-complex structures with walls and locking doors.
- Boat sheds (also called boatsheds) are lockable wooden sheds built near a body of water to store small private boats, bathing suits, and related items. Boat sheds used for rowing clubs are large structures for storing skiffs.
- Wood sheds are sheds used for storage of large quantities of firewood. Woodsheds help protect firewood from adverse weather and moisture, especially in snowy or wet climates. Woodsheds are commonly in close proximity to buildings heated by a Wood-burning stove, such as a Log Cabin.
- Farm sheds and other outbuildings are used to store farm equipment, tractors, tools, hay, and supplies, or to house horses, cattle, poultry or other farm animals. Run-in sheds are three-sided structures with an open face used for horses and cattle.
- Shearing sheds can be large sheds found on sheep stations to accommodate large-scale sheep shearing.
- Engine sheds are structures used for the maintenance or storage of railway locomotives. In Britain these are also called motive power depots.
- Goods sheds are railway buildings designed for storing goods before or after carriage in a train.
- Train sheds are buildings adjacent to a railway station where the tracks and platforms are covered by a roof. The first train shed was built in 1830 at Liverpool's Crown Street Station.
- Snow sheds are strongly built timber or reinforced-concrete tunnels that protect railroad tracks (or roads) from avalanches.
- In 19th century military barracks, sheds were used as auxiliary buildings for various purposes. The Royal Artillery park barracks in Halifax used sheds as gun sheds, carriage sheds, repair sheds, wheel sheds, wagon sheds and storage sheds.
- A simple open roof structure, or a partially walled or fully enclosed large under-cover area. It can be used for horse-riding equestrian venues, providing all-year usage of the facility, with protection from the weather.
The main types of shed construction are metal sheathing over a metal frame, plastic sheathing and frame, all-wood construction, and vinyl-sided sheds built over a wooden frame. Each type has various advantages and disadvantages that a homeowner has to consider. For example, while metal sheds are fire and termite-resistant, they can rust over time, or be severely damaged by high winds. The International Building Code(IBC) defines a shed as a building or structure of an accessory character; it classifies them under Utility and Miscellaneous Group U (Chapter 3 Section 312).
Metal sheds made from thin sheet metal sheathing (galvanized steel, aluminium, or corrugated iron) attached to a metal frame. Metal sheds are a good choice when long-term strength and resistance to fire, rot, or termites is desired. However, metal sheds may rust over time, particularly if they are constructed from steel that is not galvanized. Be aware that concrete is highly corrosive so care needs to be take when assembling your shed to avoid contact with the outside panels.
As well, some types of metal sheds that have thin walls are easily dented, which may makes some types of thin metal sheds a poor choice for vandal-prone areas or for high-traffic activities such as small businesses. In cold climates, metal sheds with thin walls need to have snow and ice cleared from the roof, because the thin metal may be damaged by a heavy accumulation. Since thin metal sheds weigh much less than wood or PVC plastic sheds, thin metal sheds are more at risk of being damaged by heavy winds. To prevent wind damage, thin metal sheds should be attached to a concrete foundation with screws.
In countries where the climate is generally mild, such as Australia, very large metal sheds are used for many types of industry.
Plastic shed kits utilizing heavy molded plastics such as PVC and polyethylene are less expensive than sheet-metal sheds. PVC resins and high-impact, UV light-resistant polyethylene make plastic outdoor sheds stronger, lighter, more durable, and more resistant to denting and chipping than wood, and tend to be more stable.
Plastic shed kits sided with vinyl are typically among the least-expensive types of shed construction. Higher-quality sheds use UV-resistant plastic and powder-coated metal frames. Many plastic sheds are modular to allow for easy extensions, peg-boards, shelving, attic-storage, windows, skylights, and other accessories to be added later.
Plastic sheds are not susceptible to termite or wood-boring insect damage, and they require little maintenance. Being rot-proof they do not need to have preservative applied.
Wooden sheds have a natural look that can blend in well with garden environments. Despite the strength of wood, over time, untreated and neglected wood can rot, split, warp or become susceptible to mold and mildew, so wood sheds should be treated for protection. Wood sheds need regular maintenance. This includes keeping plant matter and debris from piling up beside the walls and on the roof, and occasional rot-proofing with preservative. Sheds are sometimes also re-stained or varnished at times for aesthetic reasons. Fire and, in some regions, termite attack are also potential problems.
Stains and preservatives can be applied to wood sheds to prevent damage to the wood caused by exposure to rain, damp ground, UV light, harsh climatic conditions, fungal attack and wood-boring insects. If a coloured preservative oil or stain is used, a wooden shed can either be made to stand out as a feature within a garden, or to blend in with its surroundings. Red cedar coloured stain is popular. Some types of wood, such as cedar, are more naturally resistant to water damage. One advantage of using wood sheds is that it is easier to modify wooden sheds (i.e., than metal sheds) by adding windows, doors, shelving, or exterior trim (etc.) because wood can be cut and drilled using commonly available tools. Some homeowners may prefer wood sheds because wood is a renewable resource.
Vinyl-sided sheds are typically built with standard wood framing construction and oriented strand board (OSB) on the walls covered with standard vinyl siding. Vinyl-sided sheds never need to be painted, but they might require special scrubbing. They are generally stronger than plastic or metal sheds, and are usually built to conform with the local building codes. They are not eco-friendly, and they cost more than wooden, metal or plastic sheds.
In the early and middle years of the 20th century, many garden sheds and domestic garages were made of asbestos-cement sheets supported on a very light angle-iron frame. Concerns about safety led to the practice being discontinued, but they were cheap and long-lasting, and many can still be seen in British gardens. Advice on continued use or disposal is available.
In Australia and New Zealand the term shed can be used to refer to any building that is not a residence and which may be open at the ends or sides, or both. Australia's passion for sheds is documented in Mark Thomson's Blokes and Sheds (1998).Jim Hopkins' similarly titled Blokes & Sheds (1998), with photographer Julie Riley Hopkins, profiles amateur inventors from across New Zealand. Hopkins and Riley followed up that book with Inventions from the Shed (1999) and a 5-part film documentary series with the same name.Gordon Thorburn also examined the shed proclivity in his book Men and Sheds (2002), as did Gareth Jones in Shed Men (2004).
Recently, "Men's Sheds" have become common in Australia. In New Zealand, the bi-monthly magazine The Shed appeals to the culture of "blokes" who do woodwork or metalwork DIY projects in their sheds.
The Australian Mens Shed Association is one organisation that has been set up involving sheds.
Another magazine called The Shed, a bimonthly PDF magazine produced in the UK, but with a global audience, targets people who work (usually in creative industries) in garden offices, sheds and other shed-like atmospheres. In the UK, people have long enjoyed working in their potting sheds; the slang term "sheddie", to refer to a person enamoured of shed-building, testifies to the place of sheds in UK popular culture. A Usenet Newsgroup "uk.rec.sheds" has long championed this subculture: their lengthy FAQ is a masterly summary of the idea. Shedworking: A lifestyle guide for shedworkers is published at Blogger.
Author Gordon Thorburn examined the shed proclivity in his book Men and Sheds, which argues that a "place of retreat" is a "male necessity" which provides men with solace, especially during their retirement. In contrast, in the novel Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons, Aunt Edna Doom saw "something nasty in the woodshed" and retreated to her bed for half a century.
In the United States, a woodshed is often associated with corporal punishment; in many rural communities, a wayward boy would be disciplined with a switch or whip or similar instrument by an adult male relative, typically the father. Such discipline would frequently be meted out in or behind the wooden shed ubiquitous in rural America, so as to be out of the public view. The phrase "taking someone to the woodshed" now is a generic idiom for meting out discipline (whether violent or not), or for resoundingly defeating an opponent in a game or sport.
To woodshed, or 'shed, in jazz jargon, is "to shut oneself up, away from the world, and practice long and hard, as in 'going to the woodshed'."
The word is recorded in English since 1481, as shadde, possibly a variant of shade. The word shade comes from the Old English word "sceadu", which means "shade, shadow, darkness". The term's P.Gmc. cognate, "skadwo" also means "shady place, protection from glare or heat".
The Old English word is spelled in different ways, such as "shadde", "shad" or "shedde", all of which come from an "Old Teutonic/Anglo-Saxon root word for separation or division". The first attested usage of the word, in 1481, was in the sentence, "A yearde in whiche was a shadde where in were six grete dogges". The Anglo Saxon word "shud", which means "cover" may also have been part of the development of the word. In 1440, a "shud" was defined as a "... schudde, hovel, swyne kote or howse of sympyl hyllynge [covering] to kepe yn beestys".
- Anderson shelter
- Nissen hut
- Sala (architecture)
- Shanty town
- Tuff Shed
- Wendy house
The term "shed" can also refer to the shed style of modern architecture.
The term "Shed" can also refer to the place that a shipment picks up.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
- Gordon Thorburn, Men and Sheds, ISBN 1-84330-329-9