Outdoor Shelter - Guide To Choosing A Timber Shelter For Your School

The PTA have a long list of things to buy, and this often includes: summer shade, wet weather timber shelter, parent waiting outdoor shelters and outdoor classrooms. Wherever possible the savvy school will look to combine all these in one substantial unit which, correctly positioned, can cover all categories.

In these circumstances you will require a solid structure, designed specifically for use in schools, which has a properly waterproof roof, and large overhangs to shelter the seating area.


Many structures can be installed onto tarmac or a slab base at no extra cost and this provides several advantages;Clean clear hardwearing floor which is not going to be affected by the seasonsEase of access as there is no step or ramp to get into the shelter

If you're considering installation onto grass, please remember that the extra footfall generated by use of the timber shelter will mean the grass area will become damaged and, without adequate levels of light/rain, will be unable to fully recover. This will mean problems with mud in winter and dust in summer. Flooring such as decking would be beneficial. However, this will create a step into the shelter and potentially create the need for a ramp to ensure that the facility offers access for all. Alternatively, grass reinforcement could be used to improve wear resistance of the natural floor.


Benching needs to be robust, smooth and at a suitable height for primary aged children whilst acceptable for adults to use as well. We would suggest 0.50m from the floor. There should be sufficient spaces for a full class of children ie up to 30 pupils - ideally all facing towards the same point for teaching purposes.


A variety of roofing options should be available to you; the primary function being to offer a dry interior. Where Bitumen roofing is offered, look for guarantees to ensure that you are going to get a decent lifespan from the roofing. Bitumen shingle tiles can have an attractive appearance and are available in a variety of colours with some quality manufacturers giving a 15 year manufacturers guarantee.

Sedum roofing when first installed.Cedar Shingle roofingBitumen Shingle roofing

If you wish to use the structure to demonstrate sustainable options in construction then consider either a living/sedum roof or cedar shingles.


Look for guarantees on the structure that can give confidence in its lifespan. Where choosing a natural material such as timber ensure that it is treated against rot: ideally pressure impregnated. Timber shelters should be correctly installed to maximise lifespan. Where upright posts are being concreted into the ground, be aware that this can cause a weak at the interface, where accelerated decay might occur. A far better method of installation is to bolt the posts to the ground. A small piece of DPC between post and ground will help prevent water ingress to maximise the life of the upright post.


No one wants to be responsible for purchasing the outdoor shelter that was destroyed in gales! Ask the supplier about wind-lift. Such features as the weight of the structure, inner ceiling design and number and positioning of uprights will all have an impact here. Have structural calculations been done to prove that this is not going to be an issue?

Finishing & Speed of Construction

Any timber product should be factory planed to minimise splintering - especially benches. Any product with upright posts should have the corners "pencil rounded" to soften edges and minimise damage should anyone bump into them. A structure such as this should be erected in just one or two days.


Make sure that the cost you have been quoted includes delivery and installation. Ensure you have asked about likely additional costs.


Use this opportunity to purchase a structure that is made of sustainable materials and demonstrates your school's commitment to the environment. Timber is the only natural, renewable, recyclable and bio-degradable construction material we have. Not only that, but it looks good too! Buy a timber shelter for your school and let it double up as an outdoor classroom and parents' waiting outdoor shelter. It will remain as a legacy to the school for many many years to come.

For more information about timber shelters visit our website.

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