Why a shed roof is like a Swiss Army penknife

At first glance a shed roof has only one function and that is to keep the rain out.

However as you look more closely the roof has many other features that can be incorporated with a bit of careful design. So that like a Swiss Army penknife has several blades and tools (including one for getting boy scouts out of horses hooves!) a roof plays several important roles;

  • keeping the inside of the shed warm
  • Ventilating the shed
  • Improving the durability of the shed
  • Additional space for storage or an elevated sleeping platform

The roof also plays a very important role in the sheds architectural appearance.

Covering all of these different features is too much for one article

So I have broken the whole roof building process into three separate phases;

    1. Design
    2. Materials
    3. Construction

The rest of this article discusses how to get the most from your shed roof and then links you through to many more detailed articles that discuss these specific aspects in more detail.

The first part of creating a great shed roof is the DESIGN phase

There are 5 main roof styles to choose from. Each of these styles have different characteristics and looks. Some are better at keeping the rain off, others better at complying with planning restrictions for shed heights and yet others when correctly designed can provide additional storage.

Find out more about Shed roof design here

shed roof Think carefully about your choice of roof style

Many sheds are built specifically for storage so maximising that storage space is critical. I thought this aspect of shed design so critical that I created a whole article specifically on shed lofts.

Read more about shed lofts here

Another aspect to consider during the design phase is whether you are going to incorporate a shed skylight. Allowing light in through the roof is a great use of space as it means that less wall space needs to be devoted to windows. However skylights do have their downsides too.

Read more about shed skylights here

Swiss Army knives are durable because of the MATERIALS they are built from

The materials that you use to cover your roof will greatly affect the look and durability of your shed too. The roofing materials that standard sheds are supplied with in the UK only last for 5-7 years. So every few years you get a leak in your roof and have to go up there to fix it or completely replace the roof covering. There is a wide variety of potential roofing materials and they come with a wide variety of price tags. This summary article gives the big picture of what sort of materials and costs to look out for.

Read more about different roofing materials here

shed roof There is wide choice of roofing materials

Many roofing materials are well known but there are some other less well known materials that are both durable and cost effective and are most definitely worth considering for a new or replacement roof.

Onduline roof sheeting is one such material. It has been used successfully for many years in a wide variety of climates and locations and it is suitable for both new and re-roofing projects.

Read more about Onduline roofing here

EPDM rubber roof membranes are not so widely known in domestic construction but have a long history of keeping industrial buildings dry. EPDM roof membranes are increasingly being used on domestic roofs and sheds.

Read more about how the EPDM rubber roof membrane is making the transition to domestic roofs here

Thin water proof membranes are the key ingredient for green roofs. Green shed roofs are increasingly popular because of their environmental credentials and visual appeal. The extensive green roof is the type that is most commonly used for sheds.

Find out more about extensive green roofs here

Visit this page to find out why green shed roofs are so popular and then find out which green roof plants might maximise your enjoyment of this new garden environment.

Of course with all these exciting new types of roof being discussed you could be forgiven for thinking that traditional roofing is going out of fashion. This is most definitely not the case traditionally constructed roofs are still extremely popular.

Read more about roofing components here

The final stage is CONSTRUCTION

shed roof Take time to develop a good plan of action

Before you even start building your roof please find out more about shed roof safety. When you are building your roof you are very exposed and working at height is one of the prime causes of accidents in the construction industry.

This article on roof safety highlights many of the key points to look out for and how to reduce the risks of working at height

Before you start construction of your shed you should have a good shed roof plan to ensure that you can build with strength and accuracy. There are a number of different methods for constructing your roof including ridge beams and shed roof trusses.

Read this article on how to construct the roof of your shed to give you a good start on the sort of frameworks that might work for you

We talked earlier about different types of roofing materials. The best way to ensure that you install the roofing correctly is to visit the manufacturers or suppliers website to learn about the specific details of the roofing system that you select. One roofing system that is fairly common is asphalt roofing shingles.

Read here about installing roof shingles

A final tip to help your shed to last longer (and also improve your water usage) is to install guttering around the perimeter of the roof. By preventing water from dripping off the roof and onto the ground near the base of the shed you prolong the life of the timber cladding and floor that would otherwise get wetter than it needs. You also have a great source of water for caring for your garden!

Read about how to install plastic guttering here.

Building a shed roof has many different facets

It can take a bit of time to understand all of the different facets and to pull them all together. Perhaps the biggest mistakes that people make is not taking time to investigate several different alternatives and just going with the choice that seems easiest at the time. There is so much more to the roof of a shed than just a sloping bit of plywood with a waterproof covering.

By using the suggestions above you should be able to design a roof that will increase the use you get out of your shed, improve its visual appeal and construct it out of materials that will minimise the amount of maintenance that you need to do.

The are three main stages of shed roof design;

Firstly, to decide on the look of the shed roof based on your local architecture, climate and other specific requirements.

Secondly, investigate a range of roofing materials to make sure that the building stays watertight and the roofing is of a durable type that is easy to maintain.

Finally, get on with the roof construction, taking care whilst working at height.

If you follow this advice you should end up with a great roof to your shed

Who knows, one day you might read an article by a Swiss Army knife designer about how their products should be more like shed roofs!

What Other Visitors Have Said

Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...

Green roof dilemma 
Hi John, bit of a sheddie me, so enjoy your articles, thanks. We have just completed my corner shed to fit a difficult spot and although it was a budget …

Rubber shed roof and installing a wood burner 
Hi there, I am in the process of building a rather modest 20ftx10ft shed from old pallets, its going really well but I'm a little stuck on the woodburner. …

Extra durable shed roof 
I live in West Lothian Scotland. The winds here are extremly fierce with gusts upto and sometimes over 70 MPH. I wish to build a small workshop 8 …

Shed Roof Problem 
I have recently discovered rot in the roof of the log cabin in our garden which is used as an office. I think the pitched roof is constructed with sterling …

gambrel shed 
hi have recently bought a canadian canoe 16' long thinking that I'll store it in my garage, but when I got home totally forgot that I have an up and …

Building a Green Shed Roof 
Hi I'm constructing a shed 5 metres x 2.8 metres with a sloping roof of 8 degrees, high point back to low front. The roof will be an extensive green …

Build or Buy Trusses?? 
I'm planning on building a shed on a 22x12 slab. The shed itself will be 16x12 with a 6ft covered porch. I'm wondering about the trusses, should …

wide span roof trusses 
I need to put a roof on a pole structure which will protect my small aircraft from the elements. I would like info on how to size wide span truss that …

Problem with shed roof eaves detail Not rated yet
I built a 14x14' lean to type shed. I had a man put the metal roof on it because I was having seizures at that time and didn't want to climb. He …

water proofing a concrete shed roof Not rated yet
HiJohn, Our 1950s ex-council house has sheds in the back garden that have a reinforced-concrete flat & horizontal roof and it badly leaks. What …

Extension to shed roof Not rated yet
Hi John, Firstly, Great site! I am building a shed extension for my summer house to keep all the dirty garden equipment. My extension is a 1.2m …

Shed Roof Alternative Not rated yet
Hello, sorry to bother you on what might appear like a sales pitch. I like your site and in particular I like the balanced view you give on material alternatives. …

Refurbishing a shed roof Not rated yet
I'm refurbishing an old, dismantled, 4m x 6m shed, that has a roof made of six panels (of tongue & groove boarding). These panels were held down very …

Framing a Gambrel Roof Shed Not rated yet
I am building a 8'x 12' shed with 2"x 8" floor frame and gambrel style rafter truss 5' H with ceiling joist that will be overhanging the 8'wall plate 3' …

Shed roof intersections Not rated yet
I'm building a 16x26 shop- 26 long-16 wide. the shop will have a shed roof and I'm it too an existing garage that is a 2x12 pitch hip roof. The …

Free Standing Shed with a Pent Roof Not rated yet
I was wondering how to finish off the high side of the roof. Drip rail does not seem to be the answer to keeping the water from getting in between the …

Shed Skylight Not rated yet
Hi John, I am looking for UK (pref London) suppliers of skylights that can be retrospectively fitted to a pent shed roof - anybody know - many thanks, …

Custom Search

Keep in touch with our monthly newsletter

Shed Building Monthly




Don't worry -- your e-mail address is totally secure.
I promise to use it only to send you Shed Building Monthly.