Buying a Metal Shed – Advice and Fitting
Tuindeco have a new metal shed range for this year and this will join many other brands of metal sheds on the market. In a previous job I gained a lot of experience with these types of building and we sold all of the brands available. I was almost at the beginning of metal sheds in the UK and at one point was with the largest retailer of them.
It annoyed me slightly though that there was not enough information for the customers and a ‘metal shed’ as a product can be quite misleading if you do not have the information to hand. I remember a few customers being disappointed with the shed or that it was not what they were expecting.
With this in mind before I promote and sell this new range of metal sheds I’m writing this post to make you a little more informed, and, to offer you some advice on all metal sheds.
Towards the end of the post I will then walk through the installation of one of Tuindeco’s metal sheds which has some nice features setting it apart from others.
You will be able to apply this advice to many other similar metal sheds and be armed with a little more information than is currently available online. My installation guide of a metal shed towards the end will also give you a reasonable overview on what to expect when you install yourself.
Benefits of Metal Sheds
Anyone selling metal sheds tends to offer a list of all the benefits of this type of shed:
- Maintenance Free
- Rot, Rodent, Insect Proof
- Fire Retardant
- Will not crack, split or warp.
So, a good number of benefits here and reason enough to look at metal sheds as a solution to your own requirements.
Security and Cost of Metal Sheds
Cost and Security are two major factors with metal sheds and you must realise that not all metal sheds are going to be secure just because they are made of metal.
In the marketplace you will find one or two companies that list these sheds as security sheds and in my experience they are. In fact at the office have a parcel drop box made by one of those companies and it is indeed very secure and very strong.
But, these are expensive sheds and rightly so with the material that is in them often they are over 1mm in thickness and have special security locks.
If it is security that is your motivation then you need to look at these companies and perhaps do not need to read any further as I am not referring here to security based sheds.
As a rule of thumb in your research for a metal shed; look at a 6′ x 4′ shed and if it is over £600 then you are heading for a shed designed for security. If the cost is less than this then it is designed for simple storage and budget.
Do not think for one moment that a shed at this size under £600 is going to be secure and despite what the seller tells you do not believe it. Metal sheds with a low cost are not meant for security.
Metal sheds with a low price are designed for storage and price, they are not designed for security, do not be mislead.
If you’re set on a metal shed then very clearly decide on security or budget.
If simple storage and cost is your requirement then there a lots of sheds on the market including ours.
Budget Metal Sheds For Storage
Ok, security aside; it’s not a huge consideration for you and you just want a cheap, no hassle, no maintenance shed … In which case there is loads to choose from and this is where the confusion will start on which one you should buy as you look through the myriad of choices online and in the catalogues.
Here’s the standard features of virtually all budget metal storage sheds which all retailers will boast about:
- Hot dipped Galvanised Steel – all metal sheds should feature this.
- Extensive guarantee – 10 – 15 – 20 years depending on where you buy from. Note the small print though, this will invariably be a ‘anti perforation’ warranty.
- Several coats of paint finish – regardless all of these will scratch.
- Entry and Exit ramp at the door way.
Most metal sheds are bought online or from a catalogue these days and most companies are quite limited with the information they provide for several reasons.
Within the industry metal sheds are regarded as a high volume product and a retailer expects to sell high volumes. The prices between various companies, for a 6′ x 4 will invariably be pretty close together, you’ll see difference of £20 – £60 depending on the manufacture.
This isn’t just a competitiveness between them, there are genuine reasons why one ‘budget metal shed’ is going to be cheaper or more expensive than another.
Don’t just base your decision on the price, understand that there are differences not immediately obvious of which I will try to explain a little more.
Metal Shed Panels – Folds
All metal sheds designed for storage and budget use the similar thickness metal sheet, ours have a thickness of 0.25mm which is actually thicker than a lot of metal sheds. Tuindeco specified a thicker metal than usual but it still seems pretty thin doesn’t it?
Have a look at what other suppliers list as the thickness, most of the time a gauge will not be listed but they will say something like “High tensile Steel”. If you can find out the thickness of the steel this will help some of your decision process, but …. the difference you’re also looking for when deciding who to buy from is the folds in the metal.
The folds are what increases the strength of the panel and its rigidity. Here’s some examples:
Still made of thin metal but notice the number of folds in the panels. Less folds means less strength, normally a shed without folds will rely on an internal frame around the centre but it is still very susceptible to denting
Minimal folds in the metal panel with an intermediate frame.
Increased number of folds in this metal shed sees an increase in strength and resistance to denting. There is no intermediate rail in this one and it is similar to our range of metal sheds although ours has an increase in roof and door height.
Metal shed folds – this is a picture of the roof of the new metal shed I recently installed, you can see the number of large folds which create the main strength, in between are small folds which add to the rigidity despite the thickness of the hot dipped rolled steel galvanised sheet used.
So, when you’re looking for a metal shed scrutinise the pictures from the supplier or ask the retailer about the folds in the steel panels.
Metal Shed Fittings
All metal sheds will be fixed using a combination of nuts and bolts and self tapping screws. I personally prefer self tapping screws used the most as it makes installation a lot easier and more secure with less likelihood of nuts coming loose.
It’s worth asking the retailer what the screws are made of, most will be galvanised steel which may rust as below:
Galvanised screws will rust as often the galvanising is damaged in the act of installation itself and weathering, eventually you will have rusting and this will not be covered under a ‘anti-perforation’ warranty.
If you can, try to find a metal shed that is supplied with Stainless steel screws and bolts. It makes a big difference in months and years to come. Also it is good to ask if they come with washers or if you have to silicon each one.
All Tuindeco metal sheds have stainless steels screws and bolts and plastic washer packs:
Stainless steel screws and plastic washers to ensure a good seal without the need to silicon each fitting. All Tuindeco metal sheds comes with stainless steel self tapping screws and bolts as well as plastic washers to help create a good seal.
Metal Shed Roof
A very important area that differs quite widely with metal sheds is the strength of roof support. You will find that Tuindeco specify a roof loading strength of 90 km/m.sq. This is hugely unusual as I have rarely seen a retailer even mention this and it should be a consideration. I remember in my previous job complaints over a heavy winter of collapsed roofs, it’s not at all uncommon.
Metal shed collapse due to snow. This is something that should be considered when you are deciding on which metal shed is for you. Roof strength is very important but often overlooked.
If a roof is specified for strength you would hope to find features such as the picture below. This is the new Tuindeco metal shed I installed and I was very impressed with the roof structure. I haven’t seen this much support or depth of rafters in any other metal shed I have installed in my time.
Tuindeco metal sheds come with substantial roof supports, also supplied is galvanised brackets transferring the weight to the top rail.
Many metal sheds will only have a single center support so it maybe worth checking the strength of the roof before committing to a purchase.
Metal Shed Foundation Kit and Floor
Like our log cabins, A Tuindeco metal shed is first built on the metal base rail that runs around the perimeter of the shed. This can be secured onto any flat and firm base.
Complete with the shed is a metal ‘foundation kit’ which can also be used and flooded with concrete. Timber can be added on top of the metal frame to create a floor. This kit comes with all our metal sheds as standard.
In your research you are very likely to find that other companies will have this as an option and charge extra for it.
Metal sheds have the advantage that they can be fitted to any surface so long as it is flat and a floor put in afterwards. Please be-aware that they are quite light and will need to be fixed to the base if you are not using a foundation kit flooded with concrete.
Fitting of a Metal Shed
Across the internet and catalogues you will see the statement: “Easy to install”!
To a certain point I will agree with this but they fail to mention it’s bloomin’ fidley, there’s a lot of screws and metal sheds bite back – plus they can be frustrating at times in the build!
This can be said for every metal shed I’ve installed and I’ve done pretty much every make there is. They’re all a pain, sometimes frustrating and they’re all fiddly due to the small length screws and bolts, some patience is needed throughout the fit.
Also, if you haven’t done one before or are not experienced with plan reading, sometimes the instructions can leave you scratching your head for a while until you have figured out a particular point.
No matter which suppliers shed you choose the metal panels will ALL have sharp edges and they will cut you!
Where possible during assembly wear gloves and cover your arms. Watch what you’re doing and watch out for sharp edges when installing. In addition until you add the plastic protective tips (supplied with a Tuindeco Metal Shed) there will be screw tips showing inside and these are also sharp until covered (if supplied). The problem comes that the screws and bolts are small so you do need to remove your gloves sometimes but keep in mind always they can bite!
Don’t try to install in a wind, I did with this build and it made it considerably harder with a greater risk of bending panels while it is unsupported.
I’ve seen most metal sheds advertised at 2 – 3 hours build time, in fact Tuindeco’s instructions say this as well. I will not agree with this and I would advise you leave at least 6 hours installation time for an 8′ x 6′ shed or below. A larger shed will possibly take longer.
You will need two people to install it easily. If you are installing a larger shed which is going to run into two days make sure you support all the panels fully before leaving them overnight. I did receive a complaint years ago of a collapsed building overnight during a storm. They are quite unstable until built properly.
Tools need to fit a Metal Shed
This is pretty much the same as installing a log cabin or a timber shed but with a metal one there are a lot of screws to fix. You will need a battery powered drill, two batteries is useful as the drill will be used extensively.
You will also need step ladders, a hop-up is useful and it’s a good idea to have a couple of 3mm HSS drill bits handy just incase something doesn’t line up perfectly and you need to drill the odd holes – Some models on the market will need a lot of holes drilling – a common complaint in metal sheds.
A square is handy as is a spirit level.
Did I mention patience? You will need a moderate portion of this at times throughout the install.
Tuindeco Metal Shed Installation Walkthrough
I don’t like selling anything that I haven’t got experience of so I can help customers if needed. I also need to make sure the product I am selling is a good quality or if a customer experiences it as less in their opinion I can at least defend it based on my experience of the comparable products available.
I admit to being sceptical as metal sheds are tricky things but I really do think this is a good shed when compared to everything else I have been involved in over the years.
Below is a walkthrough and my experience of installing a Tuindeco Metal Shed. All metal sheds will be similar and this maybe helpful for you even if you have not bought one of ours.
Metal shed box and contents. A very strong box which is highly reinforced which should see our metal shed arrive safely and enable you to store it safely before installation. Transportation and storage of metal sheds has always been a problem for every supplier but this appears to be solved with this packaging. Notice the twin wall corrugated boxing. As a tester we sent this out with a renowned ‘Bad’ carrier and it arrived back to us safely.
Like any fitting process I always like to arrange the parts so I know what I have to deal with. It helps to keep referring to the plans and line drawings. Some of these steel rails also form the foundation kit that I haven’t yet installed and were left over at the end of the build. These are all very well labelled.
One thing that pleased me was how well everything was numbered and straightforward to identify, other sheds I have installed took a little longer as parts need to be identified solely from the drawings. Clear labelling did make this easier as there are quite a few bits.
Metal base rail fitted together. The frame was made up of 7 pieces and pleasingly all the holes lined up. The sliding door rail is integral on the bottom. The ramp entry and exit point is shared by many sheds. At this point it’s a good idea to square it properly and fix down to your base if you have one at this point. We can supply rawl plugs and screws for this but hilti-bolts maybe a better solution.
A major complaint with some metal sheds is the hole alignment. This was one of my biggest concerns with these new sheds and one of the reasons why I wanted to put one together myself before we promote them. If you look across the internet for reviews you will see it time and again: “holes didn’t line up!” This is a regular complaint and not one we wanted.
I was very pleased though, for the majority of the build, it all lined up nicely, you do sometimes have to pull the panels a little or send a screw through slightly at an angle but it all worked very well, I was pretty smug with the shed and enjoying the build, so far so good!
According to the instructions they asked for the first two panels to be placed as shown, it then asked for two to the back opposite these. If I had done this I would have needed more helpers or support such was the wind on the installation day.
Stupidly I had picked a windy day to do this, I should have known! Once committed though I wanted to get it done. At this point I chose to ignore the instructions and worked around the building as I could stabile it better.
I worked around the building rather than opposing sides as per the instructions, this was so I could stabilise it better against the wind. At this point it was moving a lot and I was worried I would end up with bent panels
All the panels are in place and now I’m putting in the top door rail. The bottom one is integral to the base frame. I may have made a mistake working around the building as on the opposite side to this picture a panel was overlapped wrongly and flared slightly. When you install keep an eye on the instruction schematics and where the overlaps of panels should be.
Up to this point everything had worked well, the holes had lined up but as I mentioned sometimes you have to pull the panel, handling the screws is also very fiddly. Watch for sharp edges!
Then, a slight disappointment I did find two holes that were not correct this was the only time on the whole of the build and was the fascia strip that covers the front sliding rail. It was only out by a few mm but nevertheless I did have to drill a new 3mm hole. As it was on the fascia though this was then covered by another panel and not seen so not really a problem. I had hoped though to have a 100% record of lining up properly but sadly now only 99% – Still, pretty bloomin’ good though when compared to the other products I have experience of.
I had hoped everything would be perfect but I did find one hole that needed drilling as it was out by a few mm.
Check which way up the runners go! The instructions will show you which way these go and will show you to install them before you put the rail on. If you make a mistake with which way they go in you can take them out again – as I had to do when fitting the doors later – Doh!
Once the top rails where installed the whole shed became a lot more stable and I was able to relax a little with the wind. Upto this point though it did feel very flimsy and slightly scarey in the wind.
The apexes are made up of two parts and these screwed down into the top rail, again I had no problems with holes aligning. When you are fitting the roof supports keep an eye on the bracket supports, I installed the side ones wrong and had to take them off again. Keep an eye on them, they are ‘handed’. I found it best to lightly nolt them and test I was right first. Before this point the instructions had said to install the roof vents. I left them out until the end as you can then use the holes to hold the bolts for the roof supports and I didn’t need a helper which freed him up to make a cup of tea.
Fitting the roof panels was pretty straight forward and actually aided by the strength of the roof as I was able to lean on it to some extent. Each side for this size shed is made up of two roof panels, the second roof panel did need pulling a little. Then I realised the shed was not 100% square. It’s worth mentioning to make sure it is before putting the roof on!
When I fitted the ridge cap it did have a very slight bow upwards so I added an additional screw in the center, I also had the same with the leading edge trims so you might want to consider this. It’s not shown on the instructions and perhaps considered unnecessary but as I had lots of screws and bolts left over it was my own enhancement.
Up to this point the instructions were very good, despite this I still cocked up a few times as I didn’t pay enough attention. When I started to do the door I did scratch my head at first but this is how it should go if you end up at the same head scratching moment. The top, middle and supporting rails are all installed inside the panel and not the outside as I first thought.
The door locates nicely at the bottom and then you can screw in the top the the runners. There is three possible locations to screw into and I chose the centre ones. I did notice that both the doors were slightly off after wards and then adjust the hole on one runner to square them, you may need to do the same so please expect some time aligning the doors properly
For me the vents were one of the last things to do. A ventilated gable is very important in metal sheds to stop the build up of condensation which they can suffer if a damp proof membrane is not used or the concrete allowed to dry out properly.
The completed shed after about six hours of work, a couple of cuts and a small amount of frustration caused by fiddly screws. Overall though I think it’s a cut above the rest of the comparable models in the same price range. Note the protective plastic on the door panels and see below.
And finally after a bit of swearing, a smattering of frustration and some cuts on my hand I was pleased with the finished metal shed. I liked the colour as well, it blends in nicely and I can see it quite unobtrusive in the garden. Other sheds are green or blue or any myriad of colours and combination but this does hide itself well. Do you really want a bright coloured lump of metal in your garden?
One small thing to note is that several of the panels has a protective plastic film on them. I left most of it on during the install thinking this would be a good thing and help to protect it from me scratching it.
In hindsight this was wrong as it’s a real bugger to get off when all screwed together. I would now recommend removing this as you go!
Limitations of a Metal Shed
If you choosing a metal shed for simple storage on a budget you can’t go too wrong with them. Certainly ours I think is very good value for money with features that takes it above what others are offering. But it still has limitations, as do its competitors:
- NOT a security shed – despite being made of metal, do not buy this type of shed thinking it has more security over a wooden one. This can easily be broken into.
- Condensation – Metal sheds can suffer from a condensation problem. This can be limited with the use of a damp proof membrane on installation and making sure you buy a shed with ventilated gables, other factors can influence this and I will follow up on this is another post.