New Developments In Outdoor Storage

Plus: Best Buys in Large, Vertical & Horizontal Sheds

Rising wood costs mean that the prices on wood sheds have jumped in the past 4 years. At the same time, manufacturers of both wood and plastic models tweaked the appearances of the products.

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In addition to storing your outdoor belongings and keeping them dry, a number of outdoor storage products, including large, vertical and horizontal sheds, now have appearances to keep. A few shed manufacturers tweaked the appearance of their sheds to better complement your home—and satisfy the regulations of homeowners’ associations, which typically have rules for sheds’ appearance and size.

The good news is that improved aesthetics have been incorporated into sheds of all prices. However, if you shop for a large wood shed, you’ll notice something that won’t sit as pretty: price increases. Specifically, an increase in lumber prices over the past 2 years has driven up prices for large sheds, manufacturers say.

“The whole lumber industry has been on edge and looking for an excuse to push the price up,” says Rich Sauder of HomePlace Structures, which is a shed manufacturer. The company expects to increase the prices of its sheds by 3 percent to 5 percent in 2013 primarily because of the higher cost of materials, Sauder says. Fellow manufacturer Best Barns increased prices by 4 percent to 6 percent in 2013 after it raised prices by 2 percent to 3 percent in 2012, says Richard Artherholt of Best Barns. He says 80 percent of the increase is because of the higher cost of lumber products.

Other manufacturers tell us that those increases are typical of what they’re implementing, although we found that 2013 prices for some sheds increased by as much as 7 percent from 2012. None of the manufacturers with which we spoke have cut back on shed flooring or the size of wall studs because of wood costs, however.
Piling onto the materials price bump is an industrywide hike in the shipping cost of the materials, which have gone up by 20 percent to 30 percent since spring 2012 as a result of higher fuel prices and stricter shipping regulations, Artherholt says.

APPEARANCE’S SAKE. When it comes to aesthetics, two manufacturers have introduced steeper pitched roofs that mimic a home’s roof angle. Backyard Products and Best Barns each have added four models that have a steeper roof pitch within the past 4 years. You can find that feature on sheds that start at about $2,600.
We even found one wood-shed manufacturer that introduced arched windows in its shed doors. HomePlace Structures introduced that feature in May 2012 in wood sheds that start at $4,000. Plastic-shed manufacturers haven’t neglected that feature—Rubbermaid’s arched-window shed doors were introduced in 2008; Lifetime and Suncast added such models in 2012. Plastic sheds that have arched-window doors start at $650.

Rubbermaid’s Decor Outdoor Storage line, which was introduced in January 2013, doesn’t seek to match the style of your home: The line’s horizontal sheds, which start at $100, imitate the look of wicker to complement the outdoor furniture that’s on decks and patios.

Blown Away by Price

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Speaking of roofs, Rubbermaid improved the roof on its Slide Lid Shed line, which was introduced in 2012, to make it easier for adults to reach equipment in a 52-3/4-inch-tall shed. The faux shingle roof is the only one that we found in which plastic rollers that fit inside of a groove in the interior walls make the roof slide open easily. Previous versions used a groove-and-notch rail system, and we found that those systems slide less easily than rollers do.

Because the shed is shorter than typical fences, it blends in well with most homeowners’ association requirements for shed size, says Doug Marquardt of Rubbermaid.

Brett S. Martin, who is a frequent Consumers Digest contributor, has written about home-improvement products for 17 years.

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