A glossary of common terms used in the garden building trade.
Shopping around for a new garden building can be tough. There’s a lot of niche terminology used in the shed industry and manufacturers often wrongly expect their customers to be fluent in the lingo already. As part of WhatShed’s commitment to guiding you through the entire shed or log cabin buying experience, we’ve put together this handy glossary of terms.
Shed roofing is commonly constructed using the same material as the building’s wall cladding (more on that later). A roof will often be finished with felt, although some manufacturers offer upgrades.
Apex – Two roof surfaces meeting at a central point above the front wall of the building. A classic look with loads of headroom/storage space.
Reverse Apex – The same style roof as the regular apex only the surfaces meet at a central point above the side wall of the building. On rectangular sheds, a reverse apex roof will not be as tall as a regular apex. Reverse apex roofs provide a touch of style where vertical space might be an issue.
Pent – A single sloping panel covering the entire roof is referred to as a pent roof. Whilst not as stylish as either apex style roof, pent style roofs are great for their affordability and practicality.
At the very core of a quality shed is the frame. Shed frames are commonly constructed out of wood, although some manufacturers use other materials too. When considering buying a garden shed, pay attention to both quality of materials used for the frame itself, as well as their dimensions. You’re looking for something really solid!
Framing isn’t just important for the walls of a shed though. Doors and solid window coverings are also framed. Sometimes garden building manufacturers will also offer window framing for extra style and security.
Ledge Framing – Many manufacturers will use ledge framing on doors. Horizontal timber supports strengthen the structure.
‘Z’ Shaped Framing – Some manufacturers use ‘Z’ shaped framing to further strengthen their doors or other features of a cabin or shed. A third timber support connects existing framing diagonally. The resulting ‘Z’ shaped framing is more resistant to bowing and sagging.
Rounded Framing – Rounded framing is common on wooden playhouses. The manufacturer will often smooth edges of timber supports to soften potentially dangerous corners and reduce the risks of splintering.
Rafters – Rafters on a roof are the long timber beams extending from the top of the wall to the centre of the roof.
Purlins – Purlins extend the length of the roof connecting the rafters at 90 degrees. They provide points at which to attach roof boarding or sheeting to the structure.
Fascia board – Fascia boards sit around the edges of the shed’s roof where they sandwich the roofing felt and building together. They add style and provide a small amount of protection from the elements.
Cover Trims – Manufacturers will use cover trims to join roof paneling. Not only do they provide a neater finish but they help to prevent damage caused by damp.
Finials – Shed owners can further customise fascia boards with features called finials. These decorative features add some style to a shed or cabin.
Flooring in a shed is also an important consideration. Flooring is usually constructed out of wooden boards on top of a framework. Depending on your eventual usage of your garden building, you may need a reinforced floor.
Bearers – Bearers provide support to a garden building’s floor. They’re commonly constructed out of timber and provide a gap between the shed itself and the floor. Typically floor bearers are made with pressure treated wood for additional resistance to rot.
Base – A base is optional but many manufacturers advise using one. Bases provide a solid, level grounding for your new garden building to sit on and create a further gap between structural materials and the often-damp ground.
We’re sure you know what a window is, but shed windows come in a surprising variety. Choosing the right style for you will depend on your intended use for your garden building. Storing a few plant pots and garden tools might only require plastic windows, whereas a cabin for all seasons would certainly benefit from PVC double glazing.
Horticultural Glazing – A cheap and cheerful glazing solution used on many outdoor buildings. Commonly used for greenhouses.
PVC Glazing – PVC is generally more insulative and durable than wood. Windows made from PVC provide greater security and heat retention than other options.
Styrene Glazing – Styrene is another budget option for shed owners. Not being a glass product, it is much safer for use in playhouses.
Double & Triple Glazing – Double glazed windows feature two sheets of glass separated by an insulative air gap. They provide a much higher level of heat retention than single glazed options. Triple glazing adds an extra glass sheet and air gap to double glazed windows. Needless to say, they’re even warmer still!
As the main access point to your garden building, your choice of door will also come down to your own security needs. Just like windows, many styles and materials are available.
Butterfly Catch – Sheds can come with a butterfly catch to keep doors in place and help prevent sagging.
Security Screws – Also known as tamper proof screws, they feature a unique head. This means that a would be intruder would struggle to gain access to the building by simply dismantling a section of it with common tools.
Shed Security Bar – A reinforcing metal bar that extends across the shed door. If you are using your shed to store valuable items, you should consider a shed security bar.
Many different types of wood are used by various shed manufacturers. Typically the same type of wood is used throughout the construction of a shed. On cheaper models however the floor and roof panels can often be substituted for more cost effective construction materials.
Baltic White – Baltic white wood is often favoured by manufacturers of cheaper garden buildings. It is a fast growing variety and is more prone to warping and splitting when not regularly treated.
European Red Wood – A slower growing wood than the baltic white, this means sheds constructed using this material are typically smoother to the touch due to the tighter wood grain. They are also less prone to splitting and warping and often have less knots in them
OSB & Chipboard – OSB or oriented strand board is a form of composite wood that is made from lots of layered flakes of wood, which are compressed and bonded together with strong resin to make them rigid and stable. They are often used as a way to cut down on construction costs. Typically they are used in the roofing and flooring of lower priced sheds
FSC or PEFC Certification – These certifications show that the manufacturer has sourced its timber responsibly.
Cladding refers to the material used to cover the framework of the shed. Wood is by far the most common material for cladding. Individual pieces of cladding are joined together in a variety of different methods. These include tongue and groove and square edge (more on these below). Both the quality of material used for cladding and the method used to join it massively influence how insulative and long-lasting your garden building will be.
Overlap – Overlap cladding provides great value. Boards overlap slightly with each one another to create a staggered wall finish.
Shiplap – A step up from overlap, shiplap cladding panels have a recess cut at the top of each board so they fit together more snugly. This gives a similar finish to overlap cladding but with greater durability and insulative properties.
Tongue and groove – Tongue and groove cladding provides a smooth wall finish. Each board has recesses either side at the top (the tongue), and a groove cut into the bottom. Boards slot together providing exceptional durability and insulative properties.
Bare wood isn’t so great if left out in the elements. For this reason, shed and cabin manufacturers treat some construction materials before purchase. After construction, most companies also recommend an additional treatment. For the style conscious, treatments can also add a splash of colour to a garden building.
Dip treated – Spraying or submerging timbers in some form of water-resistant treatment is known as dip treatment.
Pressure treated – Quality manufacturers will often pressure treat structural components. This involves putting timbers that have been submerged in a liquid treatment into a pressurised environment. The pressure allows the treatment to penetrate much deeper into the material. Understandably, pressure treated sheds have far greater longevity than non-pressure treated ones.
Whilst the length and the width of a garden building are pretty self-explanatory, the height dimension can cause some confusion. Manufacturers will often provide two heights for sheds. These refer to different things depending on the roof style of the cabin.
Eaves height: Eaves height refers to the distance between the point that the two sloping panels of an apex or reverse apex style roof come together, and the ground.
Ridge height: The ridge height is the distance between the point where the wall meets the roof and the floor. It will be lower that the eaves height.
Given that they comprise of a single sloping roof panel, the largest height dimension for a pent roof shed will represent the distance between the highest point of the roof and the floor. Meanwhile, the smaller height measurement will represent the distance from the lowest point of the roof to the floor.