Roofing, siding, and flooring for garden structures

Unlike the roof, siding, and flooring for a house, those for a garden structure can usually be quite simple and inexpensive. Most homeowners desire only a reasonably waterproof shelter for garden equipment or a place to relax and entertain during good weather.


A shake or shingle roof is a good choice for many garden structures. Either one blends well with trees and plants and has a long life. For a house, many codes require a 4-to-12 pitch on shingles or shakes (4 inches rise to every 12 inches length), but most building inspectors will let you have much less pitch (and thus less roof) on a garden structure, because it is not a living area.

A built-up roof is also a good choice, particularly for a roof with very little pitch. If you live on a hillside where the roof can be seen from above, consider some attractive colored gravel, rather than the usual grey or black rock.

The corrugated and other fiberglass roofing panels work very well in many garden situations. They are lightweight, require a minimum of support, and are easy to install. They come in a variety of colors and shapes.

Equally good are corrugated and flat panels of asbestos-cement board. These are light-grey in color but can be painted to harmonize with other structures. They last almost indefinitely, are fireproof, and efficiently block off the sun’s heat.

On some garden structures, a copper, slate, or tile roof is a very good choice. However, these roofs are comparatively expensive.

For a garden shed, a very low-cost and attractive roof is one made almost flat and covered with 30-pound building felt.

Loose gravel over the felt keeps the sun away-the main thing that deteriorates this inexpensive roofing.


There is a wide variety of house sidings available today which are suitable for garden structures. It is wise to go to a large lumberyard or building materials company and look through their stock and their catalogs before making any choice.

The ‘standard’ house sidings -batten or lapped wood boards, stucco, and masonry veneer -are equally good in a garden. Stucco or masonry needs to be laid up on the job; unless you have had some experience with these materials you should call in a professional. Wood siding is comparatively easy to install yourself, and even easier today because siding boards are available that are exceptionally straight and uniform and factory-primed for painting.

Metal and vinyl sidings are available in various shapes and colors. They need very little maintenance and are very easy to install.

Shingles and shakes make good siding for garden structures and if left to weather naturally, will blend nicely with most landscaping. Applying shingles or shakes as siding is much easier to do than applying them as roofing.

The 4 by 8-foot or larger panels of exterior-grade plywood and hardboard used for siding today go on quickly, and the panels are inexpensive. Many are made with a variety of textured, rough-sawn, and grooved outer surfaces; others are ‘overlaid’ or otherwise given a very smooth surface for painting. You can attach them directly to the studs on a simple garden structure and have a fairly sturdy wall.

Fiberglass and asbestos-cement roofing panels will also give you a lightweight, easily-applied siding for a garden structure. They require practically no maintenance.


There’s less of a variety of materials to use for floorings suitable for garden structures.

The concrete slab is probably used the most. It’s solid, durable, and immune to termites and rot. However, there is considerable work involved in pouring a concrete slab yourself, and if it is laid on soft or adobe soil without adequate steel reinforcing, unsightly cracks may appear in time. A concrete floor can be covered with one of the attractive exterior vinyl floor tiles available today; or with one of the new outdoor carpetings.

Wood floors are particularly adaptable to hillside situations where the floor will be above the ground. Construction is the same as or similar to that of a house floor. Use solid wood planking or exterior plywood (most flooring panels are for interior use and will delaminate if exposed to the weather).

All wood members touching the ground should be treated with a preservative. It’s also a good idea to eliminate weeds by using a sheet of plastic on the ground under the wood or spraying heavily with a weed killer.

The ready-mix cold asphalt that comes in sacks will make a durable floor for a garden work center, and is one that you can easily lay yourself. For a small area, rent a tamper to do the job; for a large area, use a big lawn roller.

Brick or wood blocks can be laid on a sand base for a sturdy garden shelter floor.

The simplest and most inexpensive flooring is a 4-inch layer of gravel of ½ to 1/2-inch size. It drains well and is not difficult to walk on.