Lean to Shed Buyer's Guide
Looking for a petite shed that won't occupy your entire yard, garden, or driveway? If you've been searching, you've likely come across all sorts of information.
Things like permit restrictions, construction difficulties, or assembly challenges can deter you. But, that's why we're here. While some information is valid, it usually applies to large, commercial-sized structures seen on ranches or farms.
The lean to shed is small and compact. So, it's not restricted by all these rules. This makes them more attractive and practical options for everyday people like you.
So, What is a Lean To Shed, You Ask?
Lean to sheds are compact storage units, prefabricated from solid wood, metal, vinyl, or plastic materials. They are designed with a straight back and forward-slanted shingles. This enables them to drain rainwater forward as they lean against flat structures. You can stand them against the side of a house, a sturdy wall, or a deck rail.
They are available in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes and you can customize them. But, that's not all. These amazing creations offer so much more than storage.
This article will explain some technical information you may see in your search for a shed. It will also discuss some of the regulations and structural details outlining them.
Most importantly, it will help you discover eight inventive ways to use them. That's right. Sheds aren't just for boring old storage items anymore.
How Big are Lean-To Sheds?
Coming in a variety of dimensions and sizes, lean to sheds stand anywhere from 5-7 feet tall. They are the ideal solutions for many of your outdoor needs.
Their dimensions range from as large as 4' by 10' or 40 square feet. This is equal to approximately 273 cubic feet with 38 square feet of assembled floor space.
Smaller versions can be as small as 4' by 2' or 8 square feet. This is approximately 49 cubic feet with 7.75 square feet of assembled floor space. Taking up very little room, their location options are endless.
Even the smaller ones can fit garden items, workout equipment, camping gear, or other small things. Most people want a simple way to hide these occasionally used items in a safe and secure location. The goal is to prevent exposure to damage from critters, rodents, mildew, or moisture.
Will You Need Special Permits to Install a Lean-To Shed?
Before selecting a particular shed and accessories, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, some local authorities may require special permits for you to install a shed on your property.
This varies by municipality. So, it is best to check with your local code enforcement office. They can determine if you'll need a permit or other documentation before you buy one.
Most sheds under 200 square feet do not need a state-issued permit. But, the location and use for your shed may have zoning restrictions.
Most restrictions pertain to special installation circumstances. Installs involving electrical wiring or facing exposure to extreme weather usually have regulations.
Other limitations apply to the installation location of the shed itself. These rules can restrict the shed's proximity to trees or other obstructions. Or, they can dictate whether the shed can be attached to the home. As you know, said things could pose concerns with property lines and fencing. Some zoning laws require that a shed not exceed 20% of the backyard.
Your use for the shed plays a role, too. Will it be used for business or mechanical work? Such instances are much different from standard uses. Sheds over the size of 200-300 cubic feet will likely need extra licensing.
What if you have an HOA? As it pertains to a local homeowners association, customers must follow contractual obligations. We recommend that customers reach out to their local HOA to determine restrictions. But, a good starting point is to review your contract.
Your signed agreement should outline restrictions for property additions. This may include the placement of a structure such as a shed. You'll also want to pay special attention to applicable color restrictions. This could limit your options. It is recommended that customers reach out to their local HOA to determine restrictions.
Do You Need Professional Installation?
Like any project, the need for a professional depends on your own abilities. This includes your effort and willingness. If you have difficulty assembling a basic bookshelf, then this project may not be for you.
If you have some experience with screwdrivers, power drills, and a hammer, you can handle it. We do recommend, however, that two people assemble the shed. Also, make sure you read and understand the manufacturer's instructions before starting.
What Type of Foundation Do You need for Your Shed?
Almost all sheds require a flat surface for installation. So, you will need to either prep an area by leveling the ground or building a leveled structure or frame. Or, you can place them on an existing deck or concrete pad.
Many manufacturers offer ready-made floor or foundation kits to use for shed assembly. But, there are five other useful and more permanent ways to prepare a base for your shed.
5 Permanent Foundation Options
- Crushed Stone — This type of foundation has two simple steps. Start by digging a shallow hole, usually one to two feet larger than the shed's base size. Next, fill the hole with crushed stone or gravel. You can also use a frame to hold the rocks and gravel in place. This is an easy and inexpensive way to build a foundation that also provides good drainage.
- Concrete Block — This option combines concrete blocks and timbers for leveling. The block will keep the shed off the ground. Some shed manufacturers don't recommend this since stones can settle over time. The settling could create an uneven surface.
- Concrete Pillar — Some people refer to this type as a concrete pier foundation. For this option, you'll use buried concrete cylinders to elevate and level your shed. Some municipalities require this type of foundation. So, be sure to check your local regulations before installing.
- Concrete Slab — Most often done by a professional, slab foundations consist of 4-6" thick concrete. Like crushed stone, concrete is poured into a shallow hole to provide an even groundwork for the shed. But, this is the most expensive and time-consuming option.
- Wooden Floor Frame — Many DIY shed kits list a wooden floor frame or platform as an appropriate base. And, the instruction manual will usually provide guidelines on the materials you'll need for assembly.
What Material Should You Select for Your Shed?
When deciding on the appropriate material for your shed, consider the pros and cons of each. The frames of most sheds are metal, so they are durable in that respect. The siding can be made from various materials such as metal, vinyl, polyethylene, and wood.
Metal-sided sheds need very little maintenance. Most are made from steel or aluminum, coming in a wide range of colors. All the sheds we offer, however, are made from galvanized or stainless steel.
Galvanized steel is treated with zinc to reduce corrosion. This element ensures its sustainability when exposed to natural rainwater but not salt water. Per manufacturer recommendations, sheds made from this material should not be used near the coast.
Stainless steel, the heavier option of the two, is equally strong. It even has rust-resistant properties that repel salt and natural water. However, stainless steel should not be used near chlorine, which degrades the chromium coating and causes rusting.
Unlike sheds made from steel, aluminum sheds have gained popularity in the market due to their lower prices. They can be much more resistant to rust. This is because aluminum forms an aluminum oxide that helps prevent future corrosion.
But, it is lighter and a more pliable metal than steel. This makes aluminum vulnerable to bending and denting under pressure. Some people consider aluminum as one of the least attractive siding types for a shed. So, the choice is yours.
Vinyl sheds tend to be maintenance free, for the most part, making them very appealing to busy people. The panels are double-walled and can endure some of the most extreme weather conditions. Vinyl is also fire retardant with no need for paint since it comes in a huge assortment of vibrant colors.
Polyethylene sheds are similar to vinyl ones. In fact, many people lump them in the same category as plastic or resin sheds. These sheds tend to have high levels of UV protection. And, they come with natural stain blockers for normal wear and tear.
Vinyl and Polyethylene have temperature restrictions, so please read the product manual carefully. If you live in an area with extremely hot temperatures, these sheds may not be the right fit.
A fair number of consumers find that plastic sheds are easiest to assemble. They don't require as many tools as metal or wood sheds. As far as price goes, these are usually in the middle of the spectrum. They are not as expensive as wooden sheds but more pricey than metal.
Much like their vinyl counterparts, these cannot be painted. But, many polyethylene sheds can be customized. You can add windows, shelving, and other accessories to fit your specific needs.
Many customers find wood sheds as the most visually appealing. They lend themselves to more customization options with paint or stain. This allows you to make it your own.
Wood sheds often look more like small houses opposed to simple storage containers. And, like houses, they are also more expensive. They also come with more maintenance, and harder to assemble compared to the others.
The wood feature requires waterproofing agents such as sealants to protect them from water damage. This type of shed could require the help of a professional.
What Accessories Will You Need?
When it comes to purchasing a shed, there are many other accessories you'll likely need. First, some accessories are brand or model-specific. So, it's imperative that you follow the manufacturer's guidelines. Assembly manuals should explain what materials you need and list the accessories available.
Many sheds come equipped with shelving material, and you can add ramps to ensure handicap accessibility. You can expect to find all major hardware pieces included in the packaging with the sheds. We suggest you sort and count all major parts to make sure you have everything you need for construction.
There are several other items you can get to enhance the functionality, security, and appearance of your lean to shed. Some of these items include floor frame kits, ramps, anchor kits, custom shelving systems, and skylight kits.
You can even add a bit of pizzazz to the interior design of your shed. All you need is some wall-paneling, wallpaper, labeling systems, potting benches, or tables. The options are endless.
Anchoring down your lean to shed largely depends on the quality and sturdiness of the surface material you use. The brand also makes a difference in the anchoring options from which you select.
For instance, some brands only offer auger-style anchors. These are corkscrew-shaped anchors that screw into the ground. They're ideal for use in grass, clay, asphalt, and unpacked soil but not the best choice for sand surfaces.
If you're looking to anchor a shed into concrete, the best kit option is one that includes steel corner plates. These kits usually include lag bolts to drill into the concrete and everything else you'll need.
8 Awesome Ways to Use a Lean To Shed
The question of functionality seems to take boundless ends with the number of creative options lean to sheds bring. They are adorable little additions that can spruce up any outdoor living space. Plus, they are convenient, customizable, and extremely versatile.
Many manufacturers rave at the prolific ways consumers are using these products. In this section, you'll learn practical storage locations and uses for these tiny sheds. Then, we'll share some bizarre, cutting edge ideas that you may have never imagined.
Whether you live in a tiny studio apartment with a small balcony or a house, a lean to shed could work for you. For those of you in desperate need for some extra storage space for, well, anything, choose a lean to shed. Use it to store art equipment, out-of-season clothing, cleaning supplies and appliances, old books, extra shoes, or a mini fridge. They offer a cute way to tuck away your clutter!
What about that small garden oasis on your back patio? These handsome pieces of heaven add a warm cottage feel to the atmosphere. And, they blend with the serenity or the natural aesthetic of the surroundings.
Just think, you can store everything you might need for gardening. Use it for your plant seeds, pesticides, fertilizer, hedgers, weed-eaters, hooks, baskets, floral arrangements, gloves, bug repellent, hats, mosquito nets, and the list goes on.
You can even collect the water flowing from the tilted roof shingles to water your plants! The choice is yours, but your options are endless. The beauty of these magical pieces is undeniable.
We mustn't forget about the recent homeowners who are often so excited about having a home that they overlook a missing carport or garage. If this describes your situation, don't worry. Maybe you didn't realize how important having these things were until you purchased a new lawnmower. Who knows? This is why a lean to shed is perfect for you. Use it to hide all these wonderful gadgets.
Maybe you're just looking for a safe, quiet nook you could use for reading, writing, or doing homework. A lean to shed can be your sanctuary to hide from your five noisy children, spouse, and a barking dog. It is a cost-effective, add-on structure without the costly and annoying sounds of renovation.
Customize them any way you please to create your home away from home. On those nights you may have been summoned to the couch, for whatever reason, you could find a bit of solace in your peaceful space of tranquility. A lean to shed can give you worry-free calmness that your anxious mind has been longing.
Maybe you've been thinking about a place like this for the kids. It's a safe area near the house but not exactly in the house. So, you can escape all the loud laughter or arguing. This brings us to option five.
Another useful way to utilize the lean to shed is as a children's playhouse. Many small kids desire to play outside, but with the bug bites or potential to get hurt, many parents steer away from this option. Unless you have the safety and security of a lockable, alarm-capable lean to shed, outdoor play may be off the table. That is until now.
For a playhouse, you can get built-in windows to improve air circulation and prevent children from passing out due to heat exhaustion. If you really want to get sophisticated, add a cooling system or window fan to improve air quality. You could also set up a wireless camera as an extension to your alarming system to monitor your children.
Let's face it; what child wouldn't fancy the idea of their own mini house? It could be their secret clubhouse! You can add a window, planters for freshly picked flowers, an entry door, and pavers.
Allow them to customize it with their favorite colors, action figures, gaming consoles, and household toys. You can now relax on the back deck while they play in with their pretend kitchen sets, barbecue grills, books, posters, and hammocks.
Some people have even turned their lean to sheds into children's playground sets. We're not talking about the typical playhouse described earlier. We're talking about a tree-house surprise with a slide, ladder, sandbox, and protective railing to make it all complete. This is every child's outdoor dream house.
Bottom line, you can be as creative as you want with a lean to shed. Let's go back to the image of sparkling beaches and beach houses. What about a place to store seasonal beach items away for your guests? We're talking about canoes, kayaks, beach toys, bikes, floats, air pumps, and more.
The average kayak ranges anywhere from 9-14 feet, which can be hung, with the proper hooks, from the side of the lean to shed structure. Paddles range from 5' to 6' tall but may fit comfortably inside a lean to shed. You could even weather-proof your shed to accommodate outdoor showering. Reduce the amount of sand you trek into your home.
Believe it or not, the ideas don't stop here. You can turn these structures onto their sides and turn them into raised garden beds. Use them to grow your favorite flowers and organic vegetables. With a slight shift in perspective, you can repurpose a simple storage unit into an enclosed peninsula-style garden bed.
Why You Should Read Your Product Manual
Beyond the obvious reason of gaining esteemed product knowledge, reading your manual is essential because every shed is different. Some sheds come with flooring kits while others need some other special preparation.
For example, some Arrow Sheds cannot come into contact with pressure-treated wood. Doing so voids the warranty due to identified reactions between the materials. Another example of warranty-specific negligence for Arrow Sheds is placing pool chemicals in or near them. Such practices will void the warranty protection. And, the chemicals can negatively impact the lifespan of the shed.
You wouldn't know this information without reading the product manual.There's no way of knowing this information without reading the owner's manual. So, please read your manual carefully before proceeding with the installation.
In that same vein of thought, it might be wise to consider the weather patterns in your area before buying a shed. Be knowledgeable of the sheds that are ill-equipped to handle excessive winds, snow, or other harsh conditions. Using your sheds in conditions they are not meant to handle could void warranty protections.
What is the Expected Lifespan of Your Lean-To Shed?
The lifespan of your shed can vary, depending on how well you take care of it and follow manufacturer guidelines. The lifespan of your shed may be impacted by the material you select and its exposure to specific chemicals or weather conditions. Be sure to select a shed suitable for your region.
Who are Some Top Manufacturers?
Top brands and manufacturers in the shed industry produce high-quality products with some of the best reviews in the nation. In the section below, we cover four of the leading brands and manufacturers, detailing the products for which they are best known.
- Duramax — Having been in business since 1983, Duramax has decades of experience. They specialize in sheds with vinyl and metal siding.
- Arrow — Arrow, a subsection of ShelterLogic, offers metal-sided lean to sheds. They manufacture their products in the United States.
- Outdoor Living Today — This Canadian company has been making quality, wood-sided sheds since 1974. Their cedar building kits are easy to assemble, saving customers valuable time.
- Palram — Palram, known for composing virtually unbreakable polycarbonate panels, makes a wide variety of sheds in all sizes.
How Will Your Lean-To Shed be Shipped?
Due to the size of many lean to sheds, they will likely be shipped via LTL freight on pallets. The number of pallets shipped varies by demand and other shipped items. The shipment of your shed also depends on the company's policies from which you ordered. Some manufacturers pre-package DIY kits to ship with their sheds. This process optimizes how quickly the shed will arrive.
Others include pre-built sheds or prefabricated parts that come fully assembled. If delivered via freight, some manufacturers require two or more people to accept the package. Upon arrival, be sure to inspect all your products for defects. Some damages occur during transmittal. Others may be the result of some type of defect. Either way, you'll want to return defective products immediately for warranty purposes.
Great Things Fit in Tiny "Lean To" Sheds
At this point, you've learned everything you need to know about lean to sheds to make an informed purchase. With endless ways to use them, you know you can't go wrong. If you don't need one for you or for storage, small children are crazy about them!
Check with your local authorities before you make your final decision. You may need a permit. Or, there may be some restrictions you need to know. In this case, it's better safe than sorry.
For those of you tackling the installation on your own, don't forget to read the owner's manual. If you do run into issues along the way, contact our certified specialists. They are always here to help.
Lastly, don't forget to enjoy your new compact shed. We'd love to see your finished product!