What’s the Best Outdoor Storage Shed Material – Metal or Vinyl?

By Carport Central   |   Posted In: Prefab Metal Buildings, Customized Buildings

What’s the Best Outdoor Storage Shed Material – Metal or Vinyl?

If you could snap your fingers and travel back to early 20th century America, you’d be hard-pressed to find a barn, storage shed, or other outbuildings that weren’t made of wood. Why wood? A lot of it came down to the fact that America still had plenty of trees, wood was readily available, and it was relatively easy to work with. Essentially, wood was popular for reasons of familiarity and practicality, and there were really wasn’t much else out there in the way of other shed material options.

How Much Wood Would a Shed Builder Use, If Other Material Options Were Available?

But while wood was the default choice for most every outbuilding 100 years ago, one shouldn’t take that to mean that wood was (or is) an ideal building material. Wood does carry a distinctive look and is a pretty good natural insulator, but that’s about the extent of wood’s advantage over newer, more modern building materials. Wood also comes with its own set of liabilities, including the following:

  • Wood is fairly easy to cut and shape. However, if you’re not well-versed with a saw or don’t effectively measure-twice-and-cut-once, you could end up wasting a lot of building material. Prefabricated components made from metal or vinyl, on the other hand, come pre-measured and pre-cut, so there’s virtually no job site building material waste.
  • Wood boards and planks are sometimes hard to cut straight and true. The grain of the wood can cause it to bend or warp, and knots or other imperfections in the wood can also make it harder to work with. Because wood can’t always be depended upon to be straight, it can also be a challenge to keep your building corners and junctions square. Modern materials like metal and vinyl, on the other hand, can be used to create building components with much greater precision and more reliable consistency.
  • Wood requires treatment against moisture and pests and also has to be stained or painted. In addition, wood requires regular repainting, staining, or refinishing. As building materials go, wood requires a significant investment of both time and effort in terms of ongoing maintenance.
  • If you’re not careful with maintenance and prevention, wood can become a real liability in a hurry. Wood is a porous material, so threats from moisture are always a concern. If moisture is able to infiltrate, that can lead to several negative impacts, including wood rot and the growth of mold & mildew.
  • Wood is a natural food source for pests like termites. Once termites gain a foothold in a wooden building, rapid structural degradation can occur. Other types of unwanted critters like rodents and snakes also tend to find it easy to gain entrance and build nests inside of wooden sheds and storage buildings. Rodents, in particular, can do all sorts of damage to your valuable stored items.
  • One other significant drawback to wood is the fact that it’s so easily flammable. When it comes to fire threats, a wooden storage shed is essentially little more than a dry stack of kindling. One spark or one flame is all it takes to quickly spread and engulf your entire shed, along with all of its contents!

The Pros and Cons of Metal and Vinyl as Building Materials

Both metal and vinyl are two building material options that have some clear advantages over wood, several of which we alluded to above. Both materials can be fabricated into building components of exact specifications and measurements, which ultimately make building installation much easier and faster out on the site. Both materials are also naturally much more resistant than wood to threats from moisture, rot, insects, or other pests. So, all that is the same, which is a better building material for outdoor storage sheds – metal or vinyl?

  • Concerns About Fire

If wildfires are an area of particular concern in your location, or if fire threats, in general, are a concern that you’d like to be able to address with your storage shed, then metal and vinyl are both better options than wood. Vinyl sheds are designed to be fire-retardant, while a steel shed simply can’t burn because steel isn’t a combustible material. In terms of sheer resistance to high temperatures, steel gets the nod over vinyl. While the melting point of PVC can range anywhere between 212°-500°F, steel won’t melt until it reaches temperatures in excess of 2500°F.

  • Building Size Potential

This is one area where there is a real distinction between vinyl and metal sheds. While vinyl sheds are commonly fabricated for smaller uses, there’s a limit to the practicality of vinyl if you need a bigger building. Most commercially-available vinyl & resin sheds hover around 8’x10’ or smaller. While you can find some vinyl sheds as large as 11’x20’, the price can be quite expensive. A comparable 12’x21’ steel storage shed can usually be built for much less money. And what if you need a shed that’s even bigger? Steel structures are frequently manufactured and installed with widths of 70’, 80’, 100’, or even much wider. In terms of building size options, metal storage sheds definitely get the nod here. Plus, the larger the metal building, the more cost-effective it is to manufacture and install.

  • Customization Options

It’s possible for you to find a pre-designed, pre-manufactured storage shed that will work for what you’re looking for in either metal or vinyl. But if you’re looking for a storage building solution that’s individually designed to meet your exact needs, you probably won’t have a lot of success with vinyl. If you have some specific size, space, or building applications in mind, you’d be better off exploring your metal building options. Plus, if you’ll take advantage of the 3D Building Design Tool offered by Carport Central, you’ll have the ability to design the exact building you need, including the ability to choose from a variety of helpful customizations. In fact, you can customize practically every element of your storage shed, save your design, and even use it to get your personal building order started.

  • Low-Maintenance

One of the many significant drawbacks when it comes to choosing a wooden storage shed is the fact that it will require a good bit of regular, intentional maintenance. Thankfully, that’s not the case with either metal or vinyl. The good news with both building materials is that there really isn’t much that’s required in the way of maintenance. Neither metal buildings nor vinyl buildings require refinishing, and both types of buildings are relatively easy to clean, too. In many cases, all you need to do is hose it off, and possibly hose it out!

  • Strength & Durability Factors

While both metal and vinyl can be seen as durable materials as far as weathering is concerned, metal has a clear advantage when it comes to structural strength. For example, cold-formed steel possesses one of the highest strength-to-weight ratios of any commercially-available building material. What does that mean in terms of the possibilities for an outdoor storage building? It simply means that cold-formed steel offers greater structural stability and better design flexibility than anything made with vinyl or resin. In addition, a steel building can be certified to meet any required wind or snow loads in your particular area, as well.

Metal Sheds Are the Clear Winner!

While vinyl has its positive points for applications including vinyl siding and vinyl windows, vinyl really isn’t an ideal building material. Steel is the clear winner for many reasons. It’s relatively lightweight, it’s strong and rigid, it offers a simple building installation process, it’s more dimensionally stable, it’s incredibly pest- and fire-resistant, it offers more applications for larger buildings, AND it’s essentially 100% recyclable. Plus, in terms of outdoor building applications, steel also happens to be more cost-effective than vinyl. When you take a moment to objectively weigh all the factors, metal sheds are the clear winner!

Why You Should Choose Carport Central to Provide Your Perfect Outdoor Storage Shed

As you’ve probably realized by now, there’s really a lot to like about metal as a building material, and steel in particular. Want to learn more about the benefits of steel for framing and construction needs? Check out the helpful information provided by our friends over at BuildSteel. And if you’re ready to get the perfect outdoor storage shed solution that checks all the boxes and meets all of your needs, look no further than Carport Central!

At Carport Central, none of our buildings comes out of a box or off of some shelf – each and every structure is made-to-order, according to your exact specifications and chosen customizations. In addition, we’re happy to deliver and install your building nearly anywhere within the continental United States, for no additional charge!

You can reach out to us online, or if you’d prefer to speak with a live human, we have a team of friendly building specialists standing by to help! Just give us a call at (980) 321-9898, and let’s get started on providing you with your dream outdoor storage shed!


  • Carport Central

    Carport Charlie knows everything (almost) about metal buildings. Carport Charlie loves to show off his knowledge about steel structures and you can benefit of it too.

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