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11 min read

Clever Storage at a Low Price: Lean-to Sheds

Lean-to Shed
Lean-to Shed

11 min read

Clever Storage at a Low Price: Lean-to Sheds

Clever Storage at a Low Price: Lean-to Sheds

A lean-to shed is an outdoor storage solution that’s both practical and cost-effective, ideal for homeowners looking to maximize the use of their space without compromising on aesthetics. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener, a craft-minded individual, or simply looking for a supplementary storage solution, discover how the lean-to-storage shed can transform your backyard into a practical and organized space.

Overview of the Lean-to-Storage Shed

Shed vs. outbuilding: Is there a difference?

Without a doubt! A shed is typically a small, one-storey exterior storage structure that is most often located in one’s backyard or garden space. Such an exterior storage solution is commonly used to stock garden equipment, bicycles, lawn or sports equipment, pool filters, etc., as Mathieu Renaud, La Cabanerie, mentioned during our one-on-one interview.

On the other hand, outbuildings are usually much bigger than sheds. While still used for storage, they’re primarily used for hobby-related activities, such as woodworking, wine making (cellar), gardening, home office space, and the list goes on.  

The Benefits of a Lean-to-Storage Shed

Also known as a “pent shed” or a “pent roof shed,” a lean-to backyard storage unit brings the following to the table: 

  • Versatility  

  • Additional space (can be positioned against a fence, wall, tree)  

  • Proper rainwater runoff  

  • Aesthetics (can be positioned in the middle of a backyard) 

A lean-to shed is great for small gardens or yards. It takes up little space and can be built height-wise, instead of horizontally. That way, you’re gaining storage space without encroaching on the available surface area. 

Do you need a double-pitch shed?

A traditional lean-to shed has a single roof pitch and often features a canopy-like extension upheld by pilings or poles. The extension is typically resting against a wall. A double-pitch shed is nothing but a small-scale outbuilding with a gable roof. 

Favouring a gable roof shed over a lean-to translates into emphasizing a larger ground surface area, so a greater number of windows, resulting in better luminosity in a spacious storage area.

Several questions come into play: 

  • Is your backyard big enough? 

  • Is the area better suited to one roof shape over the other? 

  • Which one is more tailored to the style of your house?

  • What is stipulated by your local urban zoning regulation?

Choosing the Best Spot to Set Up Your Shed

Consider Sun and Wind Exposure

You can consider positioning your garden shed in the shade, especially if you’re contemplating having a cost-effective roof, made of steel, and thus highly likely to warm up the inside of your shed. However, you can also consider equipping your roof with solar panels.

With the latter, it’s best to build your shed in the most sun-drenched spot in your backyard. Furthermore, should you hire professionals, you’ll have a great shed with a decent roof surface. If you want to add solar panels, you’ll be able to choose among the following shed types from Canadian retailer La Cabanerie: 

  • La Loge | Monopente (lean-to-storage shed)

  • Le Bercail | 2 versants (gable roof shed) 

  • Le Repère | 4 versants (hip roof shed)

As for wind exposure, it may cause a safety issue with lightweight sheds. Indeed, during periods of heavy winds, some garden structures will take flight. True story! It happened on January 10, 2024, in the Eastern Townships. After having been caught in a gust of wind, a car shelter was found dangling from the power lines. 

Respect Your Neighbouring Property Lines

To fully gauge the distance between your shed and your neighbour’s property line, you have to check with local authorities. The rules tend to shift from one area to the next. For example, in Sainte-Agathe des Monts, sheds can only cover 20 m² of land, at most. 

Then, to the above-stated measurement, account for at least 1 metre of land behind the shed, or 1.50 m if the shed has windows. The roof's overhang isn’t accounted for as it can be 45 cm from the property line. Wall height is also standardized—the structure can’t exceed 2.5 m.

Here’s another example, the town of Adstock, which tolerates: 

  • 3-metre tall walls at most

  • 5.5-metre tall structures at most

  • 24 m² surface area

  • 2-metre distance in terms of property lines 

  • Backyard positioning only (unless farmland, logging site, etc.)

The town of Adstock states that if the yard’s surface area is under 1,000 m², a windowless shed wall can be 1 m away from property lines. When windows are included in the mix, the allowable distance drops to 1.5 m for the same 1,000 m² surface area.

If you hire a trade professional, the latter will fill you in on the established regulations in terms of building a shed, as they tend to be slightly complex.

As such, in Montréal, a shed can be built without a permit if the surface area is smaller than 15 m². However, to the aforementioned, one must bear in mind, and comply with, the zoning law regarding land use. 

On that note, Mathieu Renaud, La Cabanerie, reiterates that an accessory building, such as a shed, must not take up more than 10% of the yard’s surface area.

Another restriction: Whatever the shed or storage structure, note that it cannot limit the plot’s vegetated surface by more than 22%.

Take into Account Shed Access

In most cities and towns, a garden shed must be located in the backyard. As such, you have to carefully consider shed access.

To make the best use of your shed to stockpile everything you may want to store in it, here are common yet cumbersome items that may eventually find their way into your shed:

  • Lawnmower

  • Soccer goals

  • Basketball hoop

  • Patio table and chairs

  • Barbecue

  • Pressure washer

  • Diverse hardware tools

  • Paint rollers, cans, and buckets 

Can you bring all the items you plan on storing in your shed to its building site? If so, it’s definitely in the right spot and will work wonders for storage. 

The Different Lean-to-Storage Shed Materials

Wood Shed: Charming and Aesthetic

Wood is the material of choice in North America. Not only is it visually appealing, but it’s also solid and durable, provided that it’s properly maintained.

Wood sheds are retailed in a wide range of sizes, models, and colours; they’re also easy to customize. However, it’s typically delivered bare of colours, without shingles, and devoid of foundation materials.

Furthermore, to build a wood shed according to regulatory standards, one must have strong carpentry skills.

Resin Shed: Low Maintenance

A resin shed refers to several different materials: 

  • PVC  

  • Plastic resin  

  • Polypropylene  

  • Polyethylene 

The listed plastics have the same advantages, on account of the following: 

  • Withstand even the roughest of weather

  • Insect-proof

  • Rot-resistant

  • Corrosion-proof

  • Easy assembly and upkeep 

On the flip side, they also happen to share the same drawback: without UV-ray protection, they turn to dust. Just kidding, but the material is more likely to damage.

Resin also has structural limitations since sheds made with said aforementioned material must be anchored to a base and the structure's walls can solely bear a limited load. In other words, installing photovoltaic panels atop a resin shed could turn into a complicated endeavour. 

Metal Shed: Robust and Long-Lasting

Unlike resin, metal is extremely robust. This type of shed is typically made with galvanized steel and is available in several ranges of sizes, models, and colours.

However, its assembly is a tad more complex compared to a resin shed, while much simpler than a wooden one. With meagre maintenance needs and great resistance to insects and rotting, this type of shed is extremely worthwhile. However, metal also has downsides, which are as follows:

  • Noisy when windy and during rainfall 

  • Not especially customizable

  • Borderline unrepairable

  • Rust-prone 

If we were to add to the above-mentioned list that steel sheds must be anchored, it’s unlikely to outperform wood in terms of long-term resistance. 

What material best suits a contemporary shed?

Modern sheds are primarily made with the following two materials: 

  • Aluminum

  • Wood 

What truly makes a shed contemporary is its architecture and use. The former must be sleek and original, while the latter steers toward everyday usage that differs from a storage area. 

Since the lockdown, Great Britain saw a new trend emerge, one in which people were using their garden sheds or outbuildings as home offices. In this vein, a shed or outbuilding may be an impromptu connection between architecture, environmental design, and neuroscience. 

If you happen to be into cognitive neuroscience and follow the work of Colin Ellard, a neuroscience professor at the University of Waterloo, in Ontario, a contemporary garden shed shouldn’t showcase too simplistic façades. In other words, one that’s devoid of asperity and complexity. An architecture that is too smooth, and too grey, will lead to boredom, which will result in a secretion of cortisol in your body. This stress hormone is partly responsible for numerous health-related issues.

As a result, to build a garden shed that not only features a contemporary design, but that is simultaneously pleasant to look at, focus on the following:

  • Patterns

  • Nice symmetry

  • Curved lines

  • Colours 

No doubt about it, you’ll want to spend even more time in your garden.

How to Choose the Right Shed Dimensions

8 x 10 Lean-to Shed with Extension: Optimal Storage Space

Why is an 8 by 10-foot shed the perfect storage space? Because this surface adheres to all local urban planning regulations. If we were to revert to our example regarding the city of Montréal, an 8 by 10-foot shed is equivalent to a 7.20 m² surface area. With such dimensions, you’re still within the limits of allowable land coverage and vegetated surface.

To ensure you have a decent amount of storage space, focus on the following tips:

  • Snag a tool cabinet

  • Use storage cabinets

  • Buy garden furniture  

  • Get some wall storage

  • Hang a garden hose hanger 

As such, in an 8 by 10-foot shed with a canopy-like extension, you can store all your tools and much more. 

Installing a Lean-to Garden Shed with an Extension

Necessary Tools

  • Saw

  • Nails and screws

  • Trowel

  • Wood cleats

  • Standard gypsum boards and plywood

  • Bubble level 

7-Step Installation Guidelines

Step 1: Determine positioning

As we already stated, where you choose to set up your shed largely depends on municipal regulations applying to your situation, as well as your backyard’s sun and wind exposure. From there, it’s up to you to choose based on your needs and what’s mandated. 

Step 2: Build the foundation

A garden shed built accordingly has a 4- to 6-inch deep foundation. Make sure to install a geotextile membrane to ensure the structure’s base is waterproof and fill in the excavated cavity with stones. 

Compact the soil and make sure that it’s level prior to building the shed’s foundation.

You can choose either of these two foundation types: 

  • Shallow footing

  • Concrete blocks 

Go with the one that appears to be the easiest to establish, based on your skill set and experience.

Step 3: Build the subfloor

The shed’s overall solidity and durability entirely rely on the foundation’s sturdiness. You can build it with either wood or concrete. In either case, the foundation must be levelled and equally spaced out around the shed. 

Cut the floor panel to ensure the joints are positioned at the centre of the joists, then affix the joists to the foundation with nails or screws until the floor is entirely built. Next, start building the floor’s framework, which you can level to then install the brackets.

Now you can install the plywood to shape the surface of the subfloor, then erect the walls.

Step 4: Erect the walls 

Cut the floors length-wise and the wall panels to the desired width. Typically, the wood walls are vertically erected from the subfloor. Make sure the walls are flat.

Outline any openings to be made directly on the wall panels; this applies for windows and doors, and then, use a saw to cut out the openings.

Step 5: Assemble the roof

Install the roof trusses. The latter are the roof’s wooden support beams. Remember to install roof trusses that are sufficiently solid to bear the weight of snow in the winter. Reinforce the whole with principal rafters and common rafters.

Once the trusses are secured in place, assemble the joists to shape the framework, unless you’re building a flat roof. Oftentimes, a shed’s roof is made with the following:

  • Steel cladding

  • Asphalt shingles 

Yet you can always lay roofing tiles. However, bear in mind that the sheer weight of those tiles is much more than that of steel cladding or shingles. Therefore, build your framework accordingly. 

Step 6: Install doors and windows

The most common doors used for sheds are wooden doors, while, in terms of windows, PVC is the most sought-after.

Step 7: Add insulation and siding

There’s no need for polyurethane foam when building a garden shed, but do use glass wool or polystyrene. On the exterior, you can finish the walls with vinyl or wood siding. 

How to Maintain a Lean-to-Storage Shed

Maintain a Well-Upkept Structure

Regular maintenance is a mandatory prerequisite to properly care for and upkeep a wood shed. On the exterior walls, use wood stain to protect the wood. Note that there are two types of wood-appropriate stains:

  • Clear stain

  • Solid stain 

Clear stain leaves the wood grain entirely visible and, therefore aesthetically pleasing and unique. However, you’ll have to restain it every two years. With a solid stain, the wood’s natural aesthetic will be slightly concealed, yet maintenance is solely required every 4 years.

Regularly do the following: 

  • Air out the shed

  • Grease the door and window hinges

  • Inspect the roof 

Prevent Mould Growth and Pestilent Insects

To fight against mould growth, everything relies on the ventilation quality and the roof’s waterproofing. With decent ventilation, your shed won’t be subject to mould growth. However, to avoid any spore growths, avoid positioning furniture or tools too close to the structure's walls.

Preventing pestilent insects and animals from setting up shop in your garden shed starts with the exterior siding. To prevent rodents and others from creeping behind the siding, you can install ventilation devices near every opening, done so according to the Building Code, as stated in Functional Statement 42. 

Shed Renovation: Wood Paint, Varnish, and Oil

Amongst other things, renovating your shed starts with good sanding. You absolutely must strip the wood down to revamp it. The sanding process must be done until the wood is down to its original state. 

Once dusted, you can apply a protective wood coating and then a layer of paint or stain. 

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Last modified 2024-03-05

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