Once you order your new shed (or maybe before!), you may wonder whether you should build a gravel pad or set the building on blocks. Most people find blocks to be an inexpensive yet reliable way to set their storage shed or gazebo. But in some cases, a gravel pad may be more satisfactory. There are three main reasons why you might want to set your building on a gravel pad....
Don’t be ripped off or misled, shop informed.
You’re shopping for a storage building. Company A offers free delivery but Company B doesn’t charge any set-up fees. One manufacturer spaces the rafters further apart than the other, and yet another company offers pressure treated flooring. How do you know if, in your shopping, you’re comparing apples with apples? Or, if some of the selling points are really necessary?
Since your shed will house precious things, you want to do business with a company you can trust. Therefore, it helps to begin your shopping experience learning what some shed companies don’t want you to know.
How far apart should the rafters be on my storage building?
While it’s customary with some storage building manufacturers to space wall studs and roof rafters 24 inches on center, spacing them closer is preferred. Roofs with rafters closer together can handle a heavier load of snow. If you don’t want to scrape snow off the roof of your shed every winter, make sure that your manufacturer spaces them 16” apart. If snow isn’t a concern, consider that closer rafter spacing, and closer stud spacing in the walls, makes a stronger building.
Are double top plates required in a storage building?
The top sill plate is what builders call the board that stretches along the top of the wall, that the roof rafter sits on. A lot of manufacturers will assure you that they provide a double top sill, for added strength. What they don’t tell you, is what they do in the corners.
When shopping for your new shed, ask the sales rep if the double top sill is lapped. That means that the boards that make the sill overlap each other in the corners. Constructing the walls this way makes them sturdier in high winds and able to handle heavier loads from the top. Also ask or check if both the plates are a 2×4 lumber some manufacturers will use 1-2×4 and 1-1×4 and still call it a double top plate.
Another thing to consider in the corners. The 2×4 studs at the end of the wall panels meet to form an empty pocket. At Byler’s, we use a triple 2×4 on one wall and a single on the other, filling in that space. This practice adds strength and provides a solid nailing surface for wall coverings.
Check out our article on good shed framing for additional things to look for.
What is the best paint for my storage building?
Some shed manufacturers boast about the quality of paint they use on their buildings. But any paint is only as good as the application. Ask your sales rep how they apply the paint. While spraying is faster, a painter sees more of the detail while he is rolling on the paint. If the manufacturer you are considering buying from spray paints their buildings, ask how many coats of paint they apply. Visually inspect the building for a good, even coverage. Make sure all corners, nail heads, and the undersides of ledges are thoroughly covered. Nail heads that are not covered will rust and cause stains on the exterior walls of your building.
Check out our article on what makes the best paint job on your storage building.
What is the best lumber for my shed floor?
When the sales rep at the big box store tells you their storage buildings have pressure treated floors, ask for more details. Some builders use pressure treated lumber on the perimeter of the floor, where you can see, but non-treated lumber for the interior floor joists. If your shed sits on the ground, without adequate air flow underneath, the untreated floor is subject to damage from water, rot, and pests. Make sure that the storage building you purchase has pressure treated floor joists throughout.
What does the free set-up include?
When a storage building company tells you that set-up is free, ask what, exactly, that includes. Will it include leveling, if needed, for sloped property? Byler Barns includes set-up on terrain up to 12-inches out of level. Ask how many piers they will sit your building on. Typically, piers are installed every 6-7 feet and the skids on the building placed 30-36 inches apart. If set-up means they will roll the building off the trailer onto the ground and leave, keep shopping.
What does free delivery include?
During your shopping experience, make sure you ask each retailer the same questions. That will help you to compare the companies on the same points. You’ll probably find that “free delivery and set-up” means something different to each one.
Suppose the delivery team arrives with your storage building and the ground is too soft from days of rain for their rig to cross. Or, maybe they’re in the middle of set-up and discover they don’t have enough blocks on the truck. Whatever the reason, sometimes a second trip is necessary. When asking about delivery charges, ask if these second trips are included, too.
Caveat emptor (buyer beware) is the Latin phrase often used to mean that the buyer is responsible to check the quality of goods before purchasing. While that’s true, some homeowners don’t know the right questions to ask. When shopping for a storage building, remember these questions and you will get answers crucial to a satisfactory shopping experience.