Head Judge: Andrew Wilcox
Channel 4’s Head Judge & Founder of Shed of the Year Andrew Wilcox has worked to help design an impartial judging system for WhatShed. The judging system uses many different parameters to help give a large degree of impartiality to the way we select products for each of the league tables we do. You can read more about the system here.
A small summer house is the perfect place to relax after a hard day in the garden or at work. Large enough for you to sit inside and read a book or listen to the radio, they’re not so large that they’ll look obtrusive or take up too much of your valuable garden space. With so many different designs for a small summer house available to buy online finding the right one can sometimes seem a little daunting; that’s why we’ve created our helpful WhatShed guide to the top 20 small summer houses for sale online in the UK today.
One of the first considerations we had to make, of course, is just what defines a small summer house? At WhatShed we review all kinds of garden building, from timber security sheds to PVC workshops, as well as log cabins in all styles and sizes. Based upon our experience in this area, we have defined a small summer house as one that is less than 50 square feet; this encompasses everything from 6′ X 6′ summer houses up to 6′ X 8′ and 7′ X 7′ summer houses. These are all popular sizes, and yet they can save you space and money when compared to their larger cousins on the market. In compiling this list we looked at the top 10 retailers in the UK that account for over 90% of the small summer houses sold online, so you can be sure that we really have found the compact summer houses that will make a difference to your garden.
Do you still have questions on what summer house will best suit your needs? Check out our helpful buying guide to give you some ideas! View our Summer Houses guide
Tiger Elite Pressure Treated Escape
We’ve reviewed a lot of garden buildings from the Strongman range, and while they are invariably well constructed they don’t always offer the extra toughness you might imagine from the name. That’s not applicable here, however, and it is the strong, tough and durable nature that sees this small summer house achieve the number one spot in our top 20 list. On top of the outstanding natural protection the thick timber used throughout provides, it’s also been treated with a high quality preservative known as Tanalith E which gives it a 15 year guarantee against rot, fungal decay, and insect attack.
This is the most expensive of the small summer houses in our list, which was the only negative factor that we found, and yet thanks to the exceptional quality and durability we still thinks this represents decent value for money. The 19mm tongue and groove cladding is used throughout, and is much stronger than the 12mm tongue and groove elsewhere. We were also very impressed by the heavy duty frame, which at 38 X 63mm is substantially thicker than standard framing. The end result is a small summer house that’s very strong and stable even in windy conditions. If you’re budget will stretch to the price of over twelve hundred pounds for a summer house with a base area of 2.35 X 1.75m then this could prove to be a wise purchase.
Forest 7x5 Woodstock Overlap Apex Summerhouse (Oakley)
The number two position in our list of the 20 best small summer houses available in the UK goes to one of the most compact summer houses that we’ve reviewed, and it misses many of the elegant features that some other garden buildings offer. It’s also not as tough and strong as some other summer houses, especially the one in the number one spot that we’re building up to, but what it does offer is exceptional value, great reliability and added peace of mind.
This is the least expensive of all the small summer houses we’ve reviewed which come with a 15 year anti-rot guarantee, and this is very reassuring as it shows just how confident the manufacturer is with the quality of components that they’ve used. It also means, of course, that the timbers have been pressure treated, which isn’t something we’d expect to find at this price point. The design itself is very traditional, in that it’s a rectangular building with a half glazed single door and matching windows to either side of it. Tongue and groove cladding is used for the walls, although cheaper solid sheet material makes up the floor and roof. It’s a style that’s simple, and yet it’s also one that we appreciate as it means that it will fit in with just about any garden. If you’re budget is limited and you don’t want to have to spend further time and cash topping up the wood preserver year after year then this is a small summer house that you should certainly look at.
Forest Garden Forest Shiplap Corner Honeybourne Summerhouse, Pressure Treated, 8x8
This has the most accommodating dimensions of any small summer house in our top twenty, with a base width of 2.40m and a base depth of 2.90m, and yet the five sided design means that it can fit neatly into a corner. The inherent space saving qualities of this building therefore mean that it fits in with our small summer houses and allow it to claim a well deserved spot inside the top three.
Even when compared to many of the other corner summer houses that we’ve reviewed, it has a unique look of its very own thanks to the pentagonal apex roof that rises to 2.40m. The roof itself is made of OSB which is given added protection by black sand felt, but the walls and floor are made of tough and reliable tongue and groove timber. All of the timber has been pressure treated, and this means that it comes with a 15 year guarantee against rot. This is very reassuring, of course, and means that the customer doesn’t even have to carry out annual retreatments themselves, although we would still recommend that the wood is inspected yearly. This long lasting protection, as well as the roomy nature of the interior for such a compact building, makes this small summer house one of the best currently available.
7x7 Windsor Traditional Wooden Summerhouse with Veranda
This attractive and traditional garden building adheres to our definition of a small summer house by being 7 foot by 7 foot, even though its precise dimensions of 2.12 X 1.94m mean that it is one of the largest in our top twenty list. The feature which lifts it into the number four position, however is the inclusion of a timber verandah at the front. This is a unique feature that adds a lot more versatility, and it can be the perfect place to sit and relax on a summer evening, or even a place to hold a barbecue.
We were pleased to see that both the verandah and the summer house itself were supported by integrated floor joists, and this means that the threat from ground moisture to the wood is negated. The interior too is protected from water ingress, as tongue and groove cladding has been used for the walls, although once again solid sheet material has been used for the roof and the flooring allowing the cost savings to be passed on to the customer. It isn’t the deepest verandah that we’ve seen of course, but then again one of the advantages of a small summer house is that they don’t take up too much space, but this unique feature and the always welcome 10 year warranty mean that we rate this compact summer house very highly.
Forest 7x5 Burford Summerhouse
Tongue and groove cladding, as used on the side walls here, is excellent at keeping rainwater out which is especially useful for a small summer house, as they are buildings that people can spend lots of time inside whether for work or leisure. Weather protection is also provided by the apex roof and its overhanging canopy gives weather protection to the front of the summer house as well as inside it. With a ridge height of 2.23m there’s plenty of headroom as well, which when combined with the base width of 2.02m and depth of 1.51m means that there’s more than enough room for furniture or office equipment.
The thing that we liked most about this small summer house is that all the timber has been subjected to a pressure treatment which forces preserver deep down into the heart of the wood. It’s thanks to this that the manufacturer has been able to provide a 15 year warranty against rot. This is one of the lowest priced small summer house we’ve reviewed that comes with such a long guarantee, and it’s this added value that sees it climb into the top five of our league table, even though the roof and floor are made of a more cost effective solid sheet material.
7' X 7' Waltons Premier Small Summer House
One of the great advantages of a small summer house is that you have an extra living space on your property without having to give up too much of your garden, and nothing demonstrates this better than a corner summer house. This is a great example, as it fits snugly and unobtrusively into just about any corner, and with its pent roof that peaks at 1.98m as well it can be completely hidden away behind a tall fence. This can make it a much more secure environment if you want to store electrical items or other items of value inside, although you would then need to upgrade the included press button lock.
We feel that this would make an ideal home office for somebody who works from home and is looking for a quiet area where they can sit behind a computer. One reason for this is that there is a lot of glazing, as the double doors and the two windows on the adjacent sides are both glazed from top to toe. Being made of styrene, the glazing is shatter proof as well, and this theme of toughness is continued by the 12mm tongue and groove cladding which is used across all surfaces. There’s a ten year warranty provided as well which further adds to the already reasonable value of this very useful small summer house.
Rowlinson Chatsworth Small Summer house - 8' X 6'
This small summer house comes with a high price tag as well as ten year conditional guarantee, and it’s this that stops it climbing even further, and yet it’s very well constructed and has a beautiful look all of its own. The truncated apex roof and the glass panelled front combine to create a unique look that certainly caught our eye, and we’re sure that this will be a hit with your friends and neighbours.
The bi-fold double doors have a wide opening, making it easy to manoeuvre items such as furniture inside, and they come complete with a secure key operated lock. There’s more room inside than you might think as well, and with a base area of 2.10 X 2.60m this is one of the most spacious in this collection of small summer houses. Tongue and groove cladding with a thickness of 12mm has been used throughout, and we were especially pleased to see that toughened glass had been used for the glazing, which isn’t something we always come across. It’s the wealth of glazing that creates the uniquely stylish look, with two opening and two fixed windows complementing the glazed doors, and this helps it gain such a high position in our list of the best compact summer houses you can buy today.
Loxley 7' x 5' Newent Summer House
We always like to see well constructed summer houses, but even more so when they offer excellent value for money, and it’s this that propels this seven foot by five foot building into the lower reaches of our top 10 small summer houses. Tongue and groove timber has been used throughout, including on the roof and floor which at this price we’re used to seeing being made from solid sheet material such as OSB or plywood, and yet it can still be bought for under three hundred and fifty pounds.
The base size of 2.05 X 1.55m is supplemented by an overhanging roof which creates a useful space outside of the summer house itself which is nevertheless protected from the glare of the sun. As this apex roof has a ridge height of 2.11m there’s also lots of headroom. One unique feature here is that whilst the double doors are both fully glazed, the sides are both window free. This makes it much harder for passers by to see what’s inside, and through careful positioning can greatly increase the building’s security. There’s also a 10 year warranty provided by the manufacturer, which combined with the low price makes this a worthy addition to our small summer house league table.
7x5 Windsor Traditional Wooden Summerhouse
A small summer house is not only a fantastic place to relax on a sunny day, it’s also a great place to use as a base when doing your gardening. With a base width of 2.12m and a depth of 1.48m this is a nice size to keep a good selection of gardening tools and equipment in, as well as a chair. One thing that we particularly liked about it is that it has a stable door, which means that it’s very easy to store and retrieve items particularly if they’re handily placed near to the entrance. It’s also a very decorative feature, and this is the only summer house in our top twenty list with such a door.
One area that could have been improved on is the use of an overlap, rather than shiplap, cladding, and yet this still effectively carries water away and keeps the contents dry. There’s also a ten year guarantee against rot, which is something that we always welcome even though the dip treatment used by the manufacturer means that the customer themselves will have to add extra preservative coatings in future years. Nevertheless this does offer very good money for a reliable seven foot by five foot building, and this is why it makes our small summer houses top 20.
Waltons 8 x 6 Octagonal Summerhouse
This is the second octagonal building to make our list of the very best small summer houses, and yet it has a unique look mainly thanks to its apex roof. Rather than carrying on to its natural peak, it is truncated beneath a level timber rod with two finials. It’s very pleasing on the eye, and this certainly has to go down as one of the most aesthetically pleasing of the compact summer houses that we’ve reviewed.
Whilst the wall cladding is made of tongue and groove cladding, which is excellent at keeping water out thanks to its tightly interlocking nature, the roof is made of 9mm plywood. We were glad to see, however, that it is topped with heavy duty roofing felt so it’s still very good at keeping rainwater out. An indication of how good the building as a whole is at keeping water out is given by the inclusion of a 10 year guarantee against rot, although it’s worth pointing out that the customer will still have to apply wood preserver on an annual basis. Floor bearers are included as standard to give protection against moisture, as is a key operated rim lock, and we found the leaded windows very appealing. On the downside, it is an expensive purchase for a small summer house with a 2.44 X 1.87m base area, so this has been taken into consideration when determining its position.
Forest 7x5 Burford Summerhouse
All of the timber small summer houses that have featured in this league table so far have utilised tongue and groove cladding for the walls, and yet as we round off the first ten entrants we now come to the first of the small summer houses with overlap cladding. Whilst this means that the building isn’t nearly as thick as some of the others that we’ve reviewed, it was lightweight and easy to construct and still feels stable when fully assembled. It also represents very good value for money, which is why it has achieved such a lofty position.
It’s also one of the more compact small summer houses, but six by six buildings can be a perfect choice for people who want the many advantages that an attractive summer house can bring but don’t have a lot of land available on which to site one. Both the roof and the floor are made from OSB sheeting, which is a cost effective measure that helps to keep the price to the customer down. One thing that we were pleasantly surprised to see, however, was the inclusion of a very long 15 year warranty against rot and it’s this that makes this such a deserving addition to the ranks of the best small summer houses on the market today.
BillyOh Lily Tongue and Groove Apex Summerhouse
If you see the garden primarily as a place to relax then you’ll want a summer house with a lot of glass at the front to look out upon it. If you think that a high quality summer house is beyond your financial reach, then this BillyOh model could help you change your mind. This is the best value model of all the summer houses that feature in this table of the top twenty small summer houses and while it may lack some of the decorative features and durability that some of the higher ranked buildings offer, it still has a lot to recommend it.
This is the smallest small summer house that we’ve reviewed, with a width of 1.62m and a depth of 1.73m, but with a height under the water repelling apex roof of 1.90m there’s still room to move around in and you shouldn’t have to bend down. On a sunny day, it really is bathed in light and that’s because there are eight styrene shatter resistant windows including those on the double doors. It’s worth noting that the flooring is optional, but we feel the base price of less than three hundred pounds represents very good value, and there’s even a five year warranty to give a little extra peace of mind. For it’s sheer value, this deserves its place among the top 20 small summer houses.
7'1 x 6'2 Shire Gazebo Hexagonal Summerhouse
Our list of the top 20 small summer houses has so far been dominated by rectangular buildings, but this is the first octagonal summer house on our list and it’s all the more striking for it. It has a compact base size of 1.81 x 1.81m, but the internal area is of course smaller than that thanks to the eight sided design. Nevertheless, there’s enough room to put an armchair in and it’s an ideal choice for smaller gardens where space is at a premium
One thing for sure is that it will become one of your garden talking points, especially when painted or stained in the colour of your choice, which is something that we recommend for all unpainted timber buildings. The roof is very tall, reaching a height of 2.82m, but we would have liked to see it made of tongue and groove rather than 9mm plywood. There is lots of styrene glazing used, and we were pleased to find that two of them could be opened to allow ventilation in. We also liked the window boxes underneath them, which is a nice stylistic flourish.This isn’t the cheapest six foot by six foot building on our list, but with its beautiful appearance and a reassuring 10 year warranty this deserves to be on our list of the 20 best small summer houses.
Adley 7' x 5' Henley Double Door Summer House
Althorpe is a name that will forever be associated with a large elegant stately home, and while this Althorpe summer house isn’t quite as spacious, it still has an air of refinement about it. Put simply, this is perhaps the most elegant of the traditional rectangular small summer houses in our top twenty list, and even though it’s dimensions of 2.13m X 1.52m, with a peak height of 2.31m, are in the mid range of this size category extra shaded space is available outside thanks to the 0.30m overhanging canopy.
There are four windows, two on the half glazed double doors, and one on either side of them, and we particularly liked their ached profile. It’s a unique touch on the small summer houses that we’ve reviewed and when combined with the antique effect hinges and lock it creates a classic look that could have come from the early twentieth century. One other unique feature is that it has a door drip to give added protection against rain when entering and exiting. If the building had been pressure rather than dip treated, which would have brought with it a long warranty period that is sadly lacking here, then this could have been even higher up our list of the best small summer houses available online today.
8' x 7' Suncast New Tremont Four Apex Roof Plastic Garden Storage Shed (2.43m x 2.17m)
The vast majority of summer houses that we review, both small and large, are made of timber, and yet we occasionally find exceptions that offer unique advantages. This is a prime example, and it becomes the only PVC garden building to make our prestigious list of the 20 best small summer houses. Despite being made of plastic, it follows the traditional rectangular styling that we see on many timber summer houses, including the useful addition of a canopy formed by the overhanging apex roof. It has to be said that the appearance may divide opinion, but we feel it will fit in well on a property that already has a lot of white PVC in evidence.
One of the great advantages it has as a PVC garden building is that it requires absolutely no maintenance, and isn’t prone to rotting, warping or splitting as wood can be. That’s why it comes with a 10 year warranty, although we wouldn’t be surprised if it lasted much longer without any problems. Assembly is also quick and easy, despite the relatively generous base size of 2.42 X 2.02m, which is another reason why, despite its high price, this unique building deserves its place in our list of the top 20 small summer houses for sale in the UK today.
BillyOh Picton Corner Summerhouse
When you’re looking for a small summer house then a corner style building can be a smart buy. That’s because they may have slightly larger dimensions than stand alone summer houses and yet still save space by fitting neatly into a corner of the garden. The first corner summer house in our list is this neat example from Billy Oh and what we liked most about it was its very traditional looks backed up by Georgian style cross hatching on the windows and antique look iron hinges. The inclusion of a pent roof adds to the traditional appeal.
In effect there are four windows, as the double doors feature the same glazed panels as the two windows alongside them. This means that there’s lots of light inside and as there are two hinged doors it’s easy to move furniture in and out if required. It was good to see that tongue and groove had been used throughout, giving reliable weather protection. The width and depth are both 2.20m and the ridge height is 2.06m, so whilst this is still a small summer house it is one of the largest on our list. There is an onus on the customer carrying out regular preservative treatments, and we would recommend painting it too, but we were pleased to see that it comes with a 10 year warranty.
Alpine Kimberley 2.5m x 2m Log Cabin Summerhouse (19mm)
Whilst this attractive building is styled as a log cabin, due to its compact footprint and its use of tongue and groove cladding rather than a traditional loglap we have no hesitation in including this in our list of the twenty best small summer houses. It’s one of the larger buildings on our list, with a width of 2.50m and a depth of 2.00m, and there’s plenty of room to move about in under the apex roof that reaches to 2.19m.
The thing that we liked most about this particular small summer house is that it’s very tough and weather resistant. This is due chiefly to the 19mm tongue and groove cladding, which is significantly thicker than average. It was also good to see that chalet connectors had been used on the corners, as this not only looks decorative it also adds extra stability and gives excellent protection against windy conditions. Light is provided by the fully glazed door, which we were glad to see included a key operated locking system, and one large opening window to its side. The only fault we could find, and which prevented it from being placed higher in our list of the top 20 small summer houses is that it only comes with a basic one year warranty period.
Adley 8' x 8' Loxley Summer House
At WhatShed we’ve reviewed a large number of summer houses in all sizes, and many of them are variations upon similar designs. This small summer house from Sunningdale, however, has a look of its very own, and we found it so attractive that we had to find a space for it in our top 20 list despite its relatively high price tag. What instantly attracts the eye is that the frontage is completely dominated by glass. the double doors are fully glazed from head to toe and are flanked by two full length windows that fill out the rest of the front face. There are also two long windows on each side, making this the most well lit summer house that we’ve seen.
This makes it an ideal space to relax on a sunny day, and it’s even bright enough inside to double up as a compact home office. The glass itself is toughened, which we were very glad to see, and we also welcomed the use of 12mm redwood tongue and groove cladding throughout. Extra protection against moisture is provided by the integrated floor joists and as this is one of the larger small summer houses in our league table, with a base of 2.44 X 1.82m under a pent roof reaching 2.17m, it is only the lack of a long lasting treatment and warranty that stops it scaling the heights.
6'6x6'9 Shire Buckingham Traditional Wooden Summerhouse
Whilst this approaches the definition of small summer house that we set ourselves, this is still a building that won’t take up too much space on your property. One additional feature that we did welcome, however, was the canopy formed by the overhanging apex roof as this creates a nicely shaded area outside of the building on a sunny day. The roof itself also featured a decorative design, and we found the summer house as a whole to be very attractive even though it followed a traditional rectangular styling.
It has a width of 2.05m and a depth of 1.98m, and once inside there’s enough space for relaxation or even to use in the pursuit of a hobby or work. The double doors are very accommodating and we liked the fact that they were fully glazed and had a profiled glazing bead so you won’t have to spend too much time on the installation. There’s only one other window, on the side, but thanks to the doors there’s still a good amount of light inside. When determining its position within our top 20 small summer houses, however, we had to take into account that it’s only had a basic dip treatment and that it doesn’t come with a long extended warranty. Nevertheless, we feel that this represents decent value for money.
7'1x6'2 Shire Traditional Gazebo Wooden Hexagonal Summerhouse
We start off our list of the UK’s top 20 small summer houses with the only hexagonal entry, and it’s also one of the most beautiful. Following a gazebo design, by offering a little more space to relax in than a standard gazebo, and a stronger construction, it elevates itself into a summer house. We found it very eye catching from the moment we saw it, with the tall apex roof, excellent at carrying rainwater away, especially noticeable. This means that whilst it’s large enough to be practical, it’s also an excellent decorative feature for any garden.
The base dimensions here are 2.16 X 1.87m, and the ridge height is 2.46m which is impressive for such a compact garden building. The front features a single hinged door, and it is fully glazed in the style of the two windows on the adjacent sides. 12mm tongue and groove cladding has been used throughout, and at 35mm the frame is also a little thicker than many that we see, providing excellent stability once assembly is completed. With so much to recommend it, the only things that stopped it being much higher up our list of the very best small summer houses was its higher than average price tag and the fact that it’s supplied untreated. If you don’t mind adding your own preservative treatment, then this could be the one for you.