Plastic garden sheds, also known as vinyl or resin sheds, are becoming increasingly popular and could be the perfect answer to your garden storage problems if you are looking for a solution that is attractive, long lasting and very easy to look after.
Unlike a wooden shed, a plastic or vinyl shed requires no time consuming and costly maintenance, it will not rot and is both weatherproof and insect proof.
Unlike a metal shed it will not rust or dent.
Plastic garden sheds have come a long way since the early days so don't be put off by memories of unattractive, flimsy sheds prone to cracking and fading in the sunlight.
Advances in design and materials mean that the new generation of plastic garden sheds are long lasting and UV resistant with some great decorative design features and if you don't have room for a regular shed you can now buy space-saving vertical plastic storage units and horizontal sheds.
However, there are still some inferior models on the market so read through the checklist below to find out which features to look out for so that you don't waste your money.
With plastic garden sheds, more so than with other types of shed, it is particularly important to look for a reputable manufacturer with a good track record.
Companies producing good quality plastic, vinyl and resin sheds include Lifetime, Duramax, Keter, Rubbermaid, Suncast, Grosfillex (Europe and the UK) and Tuin (UK).
The length of the manufacturer's guarantee or warranty is a good guide to the quality of materials used in each model.
Most reputable manufacturers offer some form of long term warranty: Duramax and Tuin offer 15 year guarantees; Lifetime and Grosfillex 10 years; Keter 7 years.
The exceptions are Rubbermaid and Suncast who, for some reason, only offer a one year warranty although their sheds have been tried and tested by thousands of satisfied shed owners.
The majority of plastic sheds are built around a steel frame which provides the skeleton of the shed and gives it its strength.
If you live in a region subject to heavy snowfalls or high winds, look for a manufacturer who supplies optional strengthening or 'storm' kits for their sheds.
Manufacturers use a variety of materials for the walls or cladding of their sheds including PVC, High Impact Polypropylene Resin and High Density Polyethylene (HDPE).
As mentioned above, one of the biggest problems with the first generation of plastic sheds was their susceptibility to to damage from sunlight which led to cracking and fading. These problems have been largely overcome by the development of UV inhibitors which are added to the plastic during manufacture.
To be certain your plastic garden shed will retain its good looks for as long as possible do check the product descriptions for for the words 'UV resistant' or similar.
Most plastic and vinyl sheds have regular hinged doors and many have double doors to enable you to move large items in and out with ease.
The doors do not usually have built in locks but are designed to be secured with padlocks.
They are not designed for high security use so if security is a major issue for you I recommend that you think about investing in a secure metal shed.
Depending on the size of your shed, polycarbonate windows and rooflights may be supplied either as standard or as an optional extra, so check this out before you buy.
Condensation can be a problem with plastic and vinyl sheds so look for a model with some form of ventilation system, usually screened grilles, that allows the free flow of air. This will keep your stored items free from damp.
To maximise the storage potential of your shed you will probably need to fit the interior out with shelves and peg racks. With plastic sheds, more than other types, it can be tricky to find a DIY solution to this. However most manufacturers supply a wide range of optional extras which allow you to very easily customize the interior of your shed to fit your precise needs.
Some ranges also allow you to add optional exterior design features such as contrasting window shutters and windowboxes which can greatly enhance the appearance of your plastic shed.
The modular construction of these buildings also means that some models come with the option of adding extension kits, either when you make your initial purchase, or later as your storage needs grow!
Plastic garden sheds are designed for easy self assembly with a minimum of tools and expertise. However there are a couple of things you will need to think about prior to the arrival of your new shed.
All but the smallest plastic storage units require some sort of level foundation, preferably incorporating a damp proofing membrane to reduce possible condensation problems.
Uneven foundations make it difficult to erect your shed easily and can shorten its life by putting a strain on the fixings.
You can either prepare a foundation yourself using a timber platform supported on blocks or piers, paving stones, or a poured concrete slab, or you can look for a model with an optional steel framed foundation kit which will make the job much easier.
All reputable shed manufacturers and suppliers will give you advice on the best type of foundation to use for their plastic sheds.
The small plastic storage units and sheds are usually supplied with an integral resin or vinyl floor. For the larger units, some manufacturers supply optional floor kits or your foundation can do double duty as the floor surface.
Plastic garden sheds weigh very little compared to their size and must be anchored to the ground or foundations to prevent them from shifting, or even blowing away, in strong winds.
You may be able to purchase an optional anchoring kit at the same time as you buy your shed or you can buy the materials you need from most DIY retailers.
Seek advice from your shed retailer if you are in any doubt - most will be more than happy to help.
Most major DIY and building supply retailers offer a selection of basic plastic storage sheds but for a wider choice I would recommend looking at the online ranges of specialist plastic shed manufacturers and retailers.
Not only do they offer greater choice, but their product knowledge means that they can offer expert advice by email or telephone.
They are also more likely to supply a wide range of optional extras and are generally very competitively priced - many even offer free delivery.
If you think you would prefer a wooden shed, you can find more information at wooden garden sheds.
To find out more about metal sheds, go to choosing a metal garden shed.
You can find an overview of choosing the right shed, including advice on size, materials and siting, at garden sheds.