Shed Builder's Decision Tables

Having gone through the process to decide how exactly to build our shed, I know how hard this is. There are many options for slabs, different kinds of shed roofs, and so on.

The purpose of these tables is to help you choose the materials and type of your shed easier. It has all the main shed parts separated with approximate costs, advantages etc. I accept corrections if you believe some of my estimates are wrong!

The Shed Foundation

Foundation typeApproximate costDIY ComplexityDurabilityOther comments
Conrete slab1 m2 / 11 sqft of 10cm / 2" thick foundation will use 0.1 m3 / 3.5 cubic feet of concrete. Approximate cost of concrete for this is $10 - $15 depending on your location. So the slab for 10'x12' shed is going to be about $180 for the concrete. Add some bucks for the shuttering material too. Average: you need to know how to mix your own concrete as no one will come to bring you ready concrete for such quantity. You need to dig the foundation and level it well. Very durable. A well built concrete foundation can outlive you. Concrete is hard to be moved once put in place. Have this in mind if you ever plan to move your shed.
Timber with deck piers foundation For a 10'x12' shed you will need approximately 12 4m long beams + 10'x12' of thick plywood. The cost of these materials + gravel and deck piers can easily exceed $500. Average. Basic woodworking skills are required, and you still need to level the ground first. If well protected from snow and water this foundation is fairly durable. Less than concrete slab however. You can replace the plywood on the floor with tin or something else to save some cash.
Treated wood runnersApproximately the same or higher than the deck pier foundation price. Treated wood is more expensive and you may need thicker joists.Easy. Just level the ground and arrange joists for a base.Because the wood directly contacts with soil and water it degrades over time. In most cases you can't hope for more than 10 years without replacement. I would avoid this type of shed base.
Concrete blocks shed base Block prices vary. An average would be about $7-$8 per m2 / 11 sqft. So a slab for 10'x12' shed would cost around $100. Very easy. Just level the ground and lay out the blocks. Optionally you can use a little cement to stick them together.The concrete blocks themselves are very durable. However parts of the foundation may sink over time if the ground below is soft. This is the cheapest foundation but it's less stable. Make sure to beetle the ground really well before taking this approach. It's not good for rainy climates or soft soil.

The Shed Roof

Roof materialsApproximate costDIY ComplexityDurabilityOther comments
Wooden rafters + roof tiles. Use this calculator to figure out the cost of your roof. Approximate cost using onduline is $7 per m2 / 11 sqft + about the same for the wood material. Moderate depending on the roof type (gable, gambrel, lean-to etc). Tutorial for building a gable roof is given here. The durability is good if the wood material is treated. This is probably the most reasonable DIY way to build the roof. If you need help choosing the roof style, see here.
Metal roofCan be slightly cheaper because good joists cost more than elbow. The tiles or onduline come at the same price.Moderate. You need welding skills. Excellent durability if the steel is protected from rust. Avoid using tin instead of tiles. It will always rust and can get really hot under the sun. The shed will be cold in the winter too.
Straw roof Close to free, but still you need some wood material to support the straw. Easy. The hard part is only constructing the supporting roof frame. Low durability. The straw will need to be replaced every few years. Sounds more appropriate for barns rather than sheds. And I think straw roofs are more appropriate for places with dry weather. Would be great insulation however.

The Walls

Wall materialsApproximate costDIY ComplexityDurabilityOther comments
Wood boards / plankingApprox. $10 - $15 per square meter or $1 - $1.5 per sqft Easy. Very basic woodworking skills are required. Complexity increases a bit if you need to have a door or window like here. Decent durability especially if you varnish, paint, or treat the walls in some other way This is the most standard wall type. In geneal the type of walls also defines the type of shed - whether it's wooden, metal or vinyl, etc.
OSB or PlywoodApproximately the same. Can be slightly lower or higher depending on the thickness. Easy. You will need less nails or screws. Make sure to protect the walls with varnish, paint, primer, or linseed oil. Basically the same durability unless the material is too thin. This is an easy and quick option. Walls made of boards look better however.
Tin Price nearly the same depending on tin thickness. A 10'x12' shed will have approximately 250 sqft / 23 m2 walls. Moderate. Working with metal is a bit harder than working with wood. Durability is excellent for well protected tin and poor if unprotected (will rust). I would only use tin walls if the entire shed is made of steel (i.e. elbow construction).
Bricks The cost is highly variable but at the end of the day you can expect it to come similar to the other materials. Moderate. It's a simple masonry work but still requires skills that take some time to master. Excellent durability While bricks sound good option, they'll take more time to build. And won't work well with wooden or metal construction, not to mention any other base than concrete.
Straw or adobe Can be nearly free if you use freely available straw or earth. If you buy straw bales it will come to about $0.5 per sqft or so.Moderate. Straw bales are easier to work with than adobe. The durability can be rather good if you plaster the wall well. These options work well on a concrete slab or no slab at all (just rammed foundation). Both are great insulators. See also using earthbags as an option.

The Doors

Door typeApproximate costDIY ComplexityDurabilityOther comments
Simple DIY DoorTalking about a door like this, it's going to cost nearly the same as a planking shed wall. Just add few dollars for the hinges. Simple. If you need the shed to be well protected from rain, snow etc, it's good to use paneling with tongue and groove instead of regular planks (to avoid gaps). Unprotected door will decay in 10 or so years. With proper varnishing or primer it can live much longer. This fits best wooden sheds with wooden planking walls. It will be fine on shed with OSB or plywood walls but then you may get better outfit if the door is also made of OSB or plywood.
Prefabricated outdoor doors Expensive. The good outdoor doors easily exceed $200, and such a door would usually not fit the shed outlook. Very easy. Just buy the door and install it. Note: many ready doors are made to be attached to doorcase. Not always suitable on sheds. These doors are made to survive many years. Don't worry about durability. Easy but expensive and rarely fits. I would skip this option in most cases.
Metal DIY DoorYou can make such door yourself at the cost of $50 or so. Use elbow and tin. Moderate. Requires welding skills. You'll also need tools to cut metal. Very durable if you apply proper rust protection. This option is applicable on most shed types. Fits best a metal shed of course.
Garage DoorReally expensive. Good garage doors cost more than $500, sometimes over $1,000Moderate. This is a heavy thing to work with and attaching it may require special installments.Very good durability.You should consider this if your shed is really large and stable. There is no point to put a garage door on a thin shed built from plywood.
Recycled DoorFree or nearly free.Moderate. You don't need to build the door yourself but you may need to build a doorcase and repair the door. Durability depends on the door type. Cheap phaser doors won't survive long outdoors. While good old massive wood door is nearly eternal. Doors and windows are these components of the shed that easily fit recycled. So if you are replacing an old door, always think whether it could serve in a shed.

The Windows

Window typeApproximate costDIY ComplexityDurabilityOther comments
DIY glass windowRoughly $1 per sqft. If you make the glass frame yourself, an entire shed window isn't going to cost more than $20.Moderate. Cutting glass is not that simple. Work carefully and take safety measures.Unless it breaks, glass functions nearly forever.Good and affordable option if you have skillful hands.
Polycarbonate window$1 - $2 per sqft. Surprisingly sometimes polycarbonate is more expensive than glass.Easy. You can cut it with a knife or scissors and there is no big danger of cutting yourself. Fairly durable but loses its transparency with the time.Good and quick option. It's also easier to transport and store than glass.
Recycled windowFree or nearly free.Moderate. You don't need to make the window but you may need to add some frame for attaching it to the wall. Durability varies depending on the quality of the window. Old windows can also be used in greenhouses or cold frames. There is no shortage of second life options for them.

Anything I am missing from the decision process? Let me know in the comments!

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