By Enda McLarnon / a few months ago

How To Improve Your Garden Shed Security With Affordable Tips

In this article we offer great advice on how to improve your garden shed security with these affordable tips.

It is surprising just how much value is contained inside a garden shed in the UK. Mowers, power tools, bikes etc quickly add up. Protect them and make it tough for thieves who want to make an easy theft.

When it comes to improving or even adding basic security to your shed, there is something that we strongly suggest you do. Grab a piece of paper and go and have a look in your shed. Make a quick few notes on what is stored in there.

Then visit Amazon or a store near your home and figure out roughly how much it would cost to replace all of these. You might be surprised at the figure. Having a list like this does a couple of useful things:

  1. You have a good idea of what is in there and its value - very useful to make sure that it is added to your home content's insurance policy
  2. It also gives you an idea how much it is realistic to spend on any security measures you might want to take.

If for example you only have a few hand tools, a mower and some odds and ends, all you really need is a decent lock and good quality hinges. On the other hand, if you have an expensive mower, a few bikes, various power tools etc, then very quickly the cost to replace those can quickly add up.

I did this with my own garage and a shed that I use for gardening tools. The value, or cost to replace the items in there was over £2,000. There were items in there like drills, saws, gardening gear, extension leads, tools etc. Like many people I had gathered those up over the years, and they do quickly add up in price.

Review Your Insurance

It is always worth a quick call to the insurance company who does your home contents insurance. Some companies include the contents of your shed and some do not.

They can be added to your policy, and sometimes that is free of charge, or there may be a small charge. Either way it is worth finding out, and making sure that you get them covered. It is always better to be safe than sorry.

garden shed security

TOP 10 TIPS FOR SECURING A SHED

Just below I have included my top 10 tips for securing any type of shed or a garage. Sheds can of course be made from brick or block, from wood, from metal and from plastic.

They all need some slightly different types of security, but the principles remain the same.

There is also a balance to be had between being very secure and your own ease of getting in and out of the shed.  At the end of the day no-one wants to have to open 5 or 6 locks to get a spade out.

List of Tips: I have listed my tips below. You can click on any of those and you will be taken straight to the section, directly related to that tip.

  1. Tip 1 - Initial Inspection and Checklist
  2. Tip 2 - Matching Security to the Value of the Contents
  3. Tip 3 - Basic door security and locks
  4. Tip 4 - Window Security
  5. Tip 5 - Shed Alarms
  6. Tip 6 - Lighting and Floodlights
  7. Tip 7 - Internal Shed Security
  8. Tip 8 - Shed Location
  9. Tip 9 - UV Marking
  10. Tip 10 - Proper Shed Foundations

SHED SECURITY TIP 1. - Do an Initial Check & Make a Short Checklist

Complete an external examination of the shed as it only takes a few minutes to do this. Write down any areas of weakness. The best way to do this is to pretend you are a burglar. Then just have a look and see is there an easy way to break in when there is no-one around?

SHED INSPECTION CHECKLIST

  • Is the wood rotten?
  • Is the window(s) an area of weakness, cracked, easy to prise open etc?
  • Is the roof easy to get through?
  • Can you easily see through the window to see what to steal?
  • Can the shed be seen from surrounding houses?
  • Is the lock a standard shed lock that is easy to open?
  • What condition are the hinges in?
  • At night time is there any surrounding light?

This does not take that long to do and in a very short time you will be able to make a list of areas that you can improve. Here is an example of what I found when I checked my garden shed.

  • Single glazed window on the side that has a top opening, and easy to see through
  • Hinges are fitted externally with straight head screws - 1 screw missing on each hinge
  • No lighting at night time

With a list like that it is then easy to figure out what security measures you can take to rectify those areas of weakness. In my case I added a security mesh to my window, and also hung an old net curtain on the inside of it.

I replaced the old screws on the hinges with new coach screws that are very hard to screw out and remove. I also added a remote sensor floodlight that would come on if it sensed any movement.

I can't remember the exact cost but it was under £60. It took me around 4 hours to fit everything so not too bad, and a big improvement in the security of my shed.

SHED SECURITY TIP 2. - Watch Your Costs

Match any security improvements you are going to make to the value of your contents. Honestly it is easy to get carried away and spend a lot of money on various security measures. Try not to do that and buy what you need based on the value of what is inside.

Later in this article I show you what things you can get to help secure your shed, and you should only consider those items, that you really think are worthwhile spending the money on.

Bolts, hinges and good padlocks cost around £10 each, and that may be all you need to do. Flood lights you can get from around £20-50 depending on what features you want. Shed alarms  only cost around £10-30.

In most cases you will not need to do everything, but if you do one or two at a time then you can spread the cost a bit. The bottom line is that you should work out the approximate value of your shed's contents first.

The best way to do that is to check the replacement value or how much it would cost to replace whatever items you have in your shed. Then you can think about how much it will cost to protect these items.

SHED SECURITY TIP 3. - Start With the Basics

Start with the basics of any good security. The most likely part of any shed that a burglar will go through is the door. Don't leave the door open or unlocked at anytime, unless of course there is someone around the garden.

When I am working around the shed or garage I am in and out all the time, so I don't bother too much about locking doors. However when you are not there, what is the best way of securing the door? The material of the shed will play a large part in that of course.

Some people will have a standard slip bolt lock where you can attach a padlock. These are similar to gate locks and are often referred to as pad bolts.

These are probably the cheapest lock that you can fit to a shed and they cost around £6 for a basic version of these. You can get heavier versions which are tougher and those cost around £10 on average.

You can also get some very good ones that come with a combination lock. like the one that I have shown just to the right.

Most of those are zinc plated and galvanised to avoid rust, and as long as they are properly fitted they will do a good enough job.

Good Quality Outdoor Padlocks

My advice though is to use a good quality waterproof padlock, and not one of those flimsy cheap ones out of a pound shop. After all why fit a good quality bolt, and then protect that with a padlock that can be opened easily.

A good quality outdoor padlock will cost around £8-15 and they will last for years. The best type are called closed shackle padlocks as only a very small amount of the metal loop is showing, and is great to deter the bolt cutter thief.

I do like the Yale locks that I have shown above as they have the Boron shackle, and although a little more expensive than some, they work really well, and buyers have given them a 95% buyer satisfaction rating.

Shed lock bars also called hasps are also quite popular for many UK buyers. They work by a clasp folding over another small bar and then having a padlock attached. These are actually a better choice as only one set of screws are exposed. These are also called padlock and hasp sets.

These can be used in sheds, garages and even in small outside offices.

You can also buy heavy duty shed locks that have a sliding bar and a combination style lock. These are also very effective at keeping thieves at bay. These are also called Combination locking bolts and they cost around £10-15 depending on which brand you decide to go for.

If you have a normal typical house door fitted, then I would recommend having a dead bolt system in that lock. There are locks called "Rim Press locks" which are strong and tough and easy to fit. These cost around £15-20 and again these are a nice solid lock.

Shed Bars

Shed Bars are the best choice if you want to add the most security. These bars run across the full length of the door and are padlocked at one end.

They are easy enough to fit and do offer good protection, but they are more expensive at around £25-50.

Plastic Sheds

Most wooden and metal sheds can easily handle any of the security type fittings mentioned above. Plastic sheds though usually come with some form of padlock hasp for security.

You can of course add to that but that will mean drilling holes and using bolts, washers or plates to secure the locks.

My only word of caution here is that by drilling holes in the shed you may invalidate the warranty so wlasy best to check the warranty details. In most cases the hasp and bolt with a good quality padlock is a pretty secure method.

Attaching Fittings

When attaching these it is always best to use coach screws or clutch head screws rather than the ones that you will get provided.

These two screw types are difficult to unscrew and that of course makes them harder to remove. This simple tip will put many burglars off even trying to break in.

Coach Screws

Coach screws can be driven right into wood, making them hard to unscrew.

How Many Door Security Fittings Should You Have?

Ideally if you can have two fitted then that would be a good choice. If you already have some system fitted in the centre, then it is worth considering adding one at the top and bottom for really good security.

If you have nothing fitted then fit a padlock device about a third of the way down from the top, and a third of the way up from the bottom.

SHED SECURITY TIP 4. - Window Security

We have taken care of the door and typically the next weakest point in your shed will be the window. Now if you don't have a window fitted, then you can skip this tip and move on to the next one.

For those of you who do have a window or windows fitted, then your first job should be to make sure, that it is never easy to see through. Most burglars work on instinct and opportunity. If they glance inside and can't see what is in there, they will not hang about and waste time.

If however they see power tools on display they will try and steal those. They are easy to pick up and remove and also easy to sell on. There are a few cheap ways to make it hard for them to see inside your shed or garage.

You can obstruct the window when you are not there by a simple wooden shutter, even an old piece of plywood will do the job. It is easy to forget to do that, so covering the window with bubble wrap, or hanging a net curtain is probably a better idea.

You could also fit a laminate window which is pretty hard to smash or use reinforced glass. Usually windows in a shed are small and it may not be as expensive as you think to replace them with tougher glass.

A really simple fix and probably the best idea is to fit some type of security mesh on the outside of the window. That makes it hard to see through and burglars will not take the time to try and break through that. It only slightly restricts the light and works very well as a deterrent.

Those with a home office where there is some expensive computers, routers or business equipment would probably be better off with a security grille as shown to the right.

You can also buy window shutters, but they can get expensive, and you do have to open and close them if you are going to be using the shed on a regular basis. These come as internal shutters or as external shutters.

window security grills

These are also pretty easy to make yourself and makes an interesting DIY project All you really need is some weatherboards, a few hinges, a couple of locks and padlocks.

Finally with reference to windows you can also fit shed alarms to those, and I have covered that in the next tip just below.

SHED SECURITY TIP 5. - Shed Alarms

Door and window alarms are a very good idea if you have expensive items inside your shed, garage or a home office. These days the majority of these shed alarms are wireless, easy to fit and actually pretty cheap. 

You don't need to do any wiring and many of these run off batteries so you don't even need to have electric in your shed.

These cost around £8-15 for a couple of motion sensor alarms with remote controls, and work like a treat. Simple window alarms will cost under £5 and are simple to fit, and work very well.

You can buy a more sophisticated alarm system if the value of your items is high.

Click Here to Read About the Best Shed Alarms

SHED SECURITY TIP 6. - Lighting

Lighting and flood lights are definitely one of the best options to keep burglars away from your shed. Most thefts are done at night when people are asleep in their beds.

There are any number of choices for these. Something as simple as a solar light or a few of them attached to your shed can be enough to keep thieves away from your shed. 

A good floodlight with a motion sensor is a great idea. These are not that expensive, easy to fit and if pointed at your shed, can be a great deterrent.

I have shown three options below. The first is a solar powered option that sells a lot, and gets great reviews from buyers. The second one is one that you can wire into your main's supply, and that is the one that I fitted. The third one is a battery powered option so no electric required.

The important thing is to have some form of lighting that kicks in if there is movement. You may get the odd light as a cat passes by, but that does not happen often, and it does help keep burglars away.

SHED SECURITY TIP 7. - Internal Security

So far we have dealt with the outside of the shed and the whole idea with that is about prevention. I want now to look at the inside of your shed and what you can do there to frustrate the potential thief even more.

Assuming the thief actually gets into your shed, what can you do to deter them even more.

Just think of their grumpy face if they found your lawnmower chained to the floor. Personally I built a cupboard out of strong wood and fitted a couple of doors. I keep my power tools in there so as number one they are out of sight. I then used internal hinges so as the doors could not be screwed off.

The doors have a hasp bolt at the top and bottom and each has a shackle padlock fitted. I also have a couple of tool boxes in there and they are locked as well. That may sound like over kill but my power tools are good quality and they were expensive.

It takes me around one minute to put them away and lock up the doors. That is worth the time and effort I think.

You can also buy what are called site boxes as these can be bolted to the ground if you wish and have heavy duty locks on them.

Usually they are made from from sheet steel with some type of powder coated finish. These are ideal for use on a work site, but also good for  workshops, sheds or garages.

The feet have bolt holes for fixing to a solid base to avoid complete removal.

It is easy to fit a hasp to a floor and then use something like a bicycle lock to attach your lawnmower to. In fact you could chain a few of your larger items together, and attach the chain to a floor or wall. The general idea is to make it hard for the thief to lift things and get away quickly.

SHED SECURITY TIP 8. - Location

The location of your shed is important. Ideally it should be able to be seen from a window in your home. If it is tucked out of the way and you can't see it, that is not the ideal location.

So if you are planning on a new shed then just keep in mind that the location you choose, should be able to be viewed from the house.

If you are in a situation where the shed exists and is out of view, then have a look and see if neighbours can see it. That is better than nothing.

In these modern times though it is pretty simple to fit a motion camera which can be monitored on your TV or even on your phone.

Please always bear in mind though that any security measures you go for, do need to be balalnced against the cost of the goods inside the shed.

SHED SECURITY TIP 9. - UV Marking

Mark your items with a UV pen. You can buy UV pens in many shops and use those to securely mark items of high value in case of theft. This is a quick and simple thing to do and goes by the fancy name of black light. The better ones come in the form of a property marketing kit, and is recommended by police forces in the UK.

If your property is recovered then police checks will show up your marked items and you will get them returned. Use your house name or number followed by your postcode e.g. 75 EX2 7TG.

Where do I mark my property?

Mark the item somewhere behind or underneath the article but make sure the police can find it. If you don't want to use a UV pen you can scratch or etch a marking on to the more expensive tools and that at least makes it recognisable.

SHED SECURITY TIP 10. - Solid & Secure

I know quite a few people who buy a shed and simply place it in the garden. My recommendation is to always make sure it is properly anchored to the ground.

Ideally a shed should be built on a solid foundation and bolted to the ground. That is even more important for smaller sheds which are very easy to push over. The really small sheds are really very easy to push over.

If a shed like this is also out of sight, then it is not too difficult for a thief to push it over enough and steal your stuff. All shed should be set on a good foundation and bolted down in some manner.

Hopefully you have found my top 10 tips on shed security useful. If nothing else I hope they have at least given you some security ideas.

In most cases a simple alarm system, some type of lighting and few decent locks are all that will be required. Do that some weekend and you will not have to worry about the contents of your shed.

About the author

Enda McLarnon