Portable Garages & Shelters Do More Than You Think

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It’s a common scenario. You have gardening tools, potting soil and a lawnmower, but nowhere to store them. Or you have one more car than your garage can hold, but don’t want it exposed to the elements night and day. Or you need somewhere to store holiday decorations, cleaning supplies, old files and the miscellaneous sporting goods that don’t fit anywhere else. Whatever your storage need, you can find an outdoor shed, vehicle shelter or prefabricated garage to satisfy it.

You can find storage sheds and car covers in a wide range of sizes, styles and materials. If you have decided it’s time to buy one and finally get your space in order, you will need to determine several things before shopping.

  • Does your town require a permit for outbuildings or sheds?
  • Where will you put your storage building?
  • What will you be storing?
  • How much room do you need?
  • How much room do you have?
  • How important is the appearance of the shed?
  • What material should it be made of?
  • What is your budget?

portable garages and shelters

What Should Your Shed be Made of?

The most common materials for outdoor sheds and carports are wood, vinyl and metal.

  • Wood looks the nicest, and can be painted to match your house, so if appearance is important, a wooden shed is a good choice. It will need to be repainted or treated periodically, however, to prevent rot and insect damage.
  • Metal tends to be the least attractive choice, most suitable for a carport or shed that will be tucked away out of view of the house. Though metal is usually the least expensive option, it also is prone to rust, warping, and weathering. The largest portable structures are generally metal, such as garages or carports.
  • Vinyl is an excellent choice for a storage shed, and you can find designs ranging from simple boxes to sheds that look like a little cabin. Vinyl is very durable, needs no painting, and will not rot or be damaged by insects.

What Features do You Want?

Make your shed more useful with extra features. Depending on your needs, you might want:

  • Shelves
  • Cabinets
  • Hooks
  • Windows
  • Skylight
  • Ramp for wheeling items in and out
  • Workbench
  • Locking door
  • Ventilation openings

Size and Placement of Your Backyard Structure

The size of your shed or carport will depend on how much space you have, and what you are going to put inside. Obviously, a carport or detached garage needs to be large enough to hold your vehicle. A garden shed needs to be large enough to hold your supplies.

  • Measure the available space where you plan to put the structure. Remember that you need space to access the shed, room to open and close the doors, and enough clearance in front to get large items in and out.
  • Decide what you will use for a floor. Some sheds have bottoms, but many do not. You will need a level place for the structure, and a floor of wood, cinder blocks, gravel or concrete.
  • Be sure to choose a site that is easy to access. If you will be storing vehicles in a garage or carport, you must have access to the driveway or street. If you will be keeping a lawnmower, wheelbarrow or trashcans in a garden shed, you want to be able to easily get them in and out.
  • Consider the height of your shed or carport. Will it block the view from your home? Will it block a neighbor’s view? Are there any trees or overhead wires that might be too close to the shed’s roof?

Assembling Your Backyard Shed

Most backyard sheds, carports or detached garages come as a kit, and usually claim to be simple to assemble. This may or may not be true, so be prepared for the worst. If you are not much of a DIYer, you can probably pay extra to have the deliverymen assemble the structure. But if you want to do it yourself, set aside at least twice the time you expect it to take, and get started early.

  • Read the assembly instructions carefully, and be sure you are clear on everything before starting.
  • Lay out all the pieces, and make sure you aren’t missing anything.
  • Set screws, nails and small fittings in a bowl or tray so they don’t get lost or roll away.
  • Follow the instructions, and stop frequently to check for stability, levelness and straightness as you erect the walls.
  • Don’t put your tools away until you have tested the doors, locks, shelves and walls for stability.

A well-placed backyard structure can greatly improve the functionality of your home. Imagine being able to store all those bulky, difficult-to-place items, and no longer spoiling the appearance of your side or backyard with trashcans, lawnmowers or cans of paint. Your car, boat or small vehicles will remain in much better condition when protected from the elements, and a sturdy, properly constructed shed will provide service for many years.

Last Updated: June 28, 2012
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About Michelle Ullman Michelle Ullman has lived and gardened in Southern California since childhood. A freelance writer, she covers topics ranging from gardening to home improvement to health issues. She also has experience as a catalog copywriter and poet. Michelle has trained and worked as a respiratory therapist and surgical technologist, but prefers to spend her time gardening, and walking with her dog. Michelle holds a Bachelor's Degree from Redlands University in Business Management. 

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