Pros: durable shed, vented gables, lots of storage space, lock hasp for security, good assembly instructions
Cons: assembly can be tricky -- ideally a two-person construction job -- lock hasp
My brother purchased the Rubbermaid Big Max Shed for his yard. Being the nosey sister that I am ... I had to know every detail of his project. When I finally saw the shed in person, I stared at it in shock. This is one nice shed!
Buying the Shed
My brother wanted to reclaim his workshop space, which is in the garage. His tool space had been invaded by skateboards, bicycles, a grill, toys, and piles of gardening equipment. Building an extension onto the house was not an affordable answer. Enter the Rubbermaid Big Max Shed.
A home-away-from-home for my brother is the local Home Depot store. He purchased the Big Max Shed there for $498. He decided he wanted even more space than the shed offered, so he paid an additional $249 for an Expansion Pack. The Expansion Pack enlarged the 7' x 7' Big Max Shed into a 7' x 10 1/2' shed. Since my brother wanted to place a free-standing shelving unit in the shed, he needed the extra depth. After loading all the cartons into the pickup truck, he returned home.
About the Big Max Shed
This shed, without the expansion unit, provides 271 cubic feet of storage space (90"high x 84" wide x 84" deep). Constructed of heavy-duty plastic resin, the manufacturer states this shed will not rust, rot or require painting. The shed sides are a beige color, the roof is green, and the interior floor is gray. The shed roof is pitched, too, which is necessary for New England winters. The two front doors swing outward and have a lock hasp (lock not included). The door opening is 70" high x 60" wide.
This shed requires assembly, coordination and some sweat. Familiarity with tools is also a help.
The shed came in two boxes that were plastic wrapped together. Both boxes contained all the parts for the shed. The Expansion Pack came in a third separate carton.
Step-by-step instructions include plenty of illustrations. (If you are interested in viewing the instructions online, go to www.rubbermaid.com. In the Search Box, type: big max shed. Click on the Big Max Shed, item # 3784, and then click on Assembly Instructions. The instructions are available in English, Spanish and French.)
The instructions list all the parts included with the shed as well as the tools required for assembly (safety goggles, rubber mallet, Phillips screwdriver, liquid soap, and two step stools/step ladders). Liquid soap? you ask. The instructions state that: To simplify and to ensure proper engagement of all components, apply a mild detergent to dovetail and snap fits before assembling. Also, forget the step stools and go straight for the six-foot step ladders. My brother started to use step stools, but when it came to assembling the roof, even though he is six-feet tall, he needed the leverage a step ladder provided.
The instructions also state that this is a two person job. My brother started this project alone and went as far as he could before calling his wifes name. The two of them were able to align the walls and set the roof ... definitely not a one-man job.
Beginning the Project
My brother did not need to install a foundation for the shed. If he had, the instructions advise that the foundation be constructed before assembling the shed.
The instructions also state that the ground needs to be level where the shed is going to stand. Areas of fill dirt should be tamped or compacted before construction. My brother constructed his shed on part of the lawn.
The shed can be built directly on the ground; however, it is important for the ground to be very, very level. Otherwise the shed will be difficult to assemble and not align properly. My brothers preparation for the shed included digging out the area where the shed was being placed. He then filled the area with gravel for drainage. I asked him which gravel he used, and the answer is a brand called Mr. Granite -- the bag is labeled Step One Base Layer and is the type of gravel that is placed beneath brick walkways. After laying the gravel, he made sure the area was level.
Assembling the Shed
Im not going to bore you with step-by-step detail of how the shed was constructed. However, there are things you definitely should know.
The shed took about four hours to assemble (after the land was prepared). A Home Depot advertisement arrived in my mailbox a week after my brother finished his shed. The ad for the Big Max Shed says: Assembles in less than 60 minutes. Im not telling my brother ... hed start to choke and sputter. Hes competent at woodworking and practically rebuilt the kitchen when he purchased his house. So hes familiar with tools and how things go together. Of course, part of that extra time was spent assembling the expansion unit.
Most of the initial shed construction was done by my brother. He says it would have been a lot easier and faster with two people. If one person is constructing this shed, its important to make sure there is no wind. Otherwise prop bars will be necessary to keep the shed sides from tipping over ... my brother suggests prop bars as a building aid anyway if constructing it alone.
If the ground is perfectly level the shed will snap together with no problem. Much of the hardware is metal: screws, nuts and washers. The door hinges and wall connectors are heavy-duty plastic. The walls, doors and roof are all made of a very hard, durable plastic. The floor is a heavy-duty foam that I would never call foam ... it looks too durable and solid.
The floor has four pieces and the expansion pack has an additional two pieces that snap and screw together. After that the sides snap and slide together, using recessed plastic clips/latches. After the sides are up, then the front and back gables are installed. The gables have air vents in them to control the temperature so that inside of the shed does not become too hot. The gables are tricky since certain joints have to be matched. As my brother discovered, two people are needed -- one on the outside of the shed and one person on the inside to make sure the wall doesnt bow so that the gable lines up with the top edge of the back wall.
The door pins are molded into the doors. The gable end slides into position once the doors are properly aligned. After both doors are aligned then the gable end can be firmly seated, sliding it into position. There are four screws on each side of the gable to firmly attach the gable to the walls.
Across the peak of the roof there is a metal center beam which has to be bolted into position. The roof pieces tip on an angle to slide into a groove on the central beam. The trick is to stand at a high enough angle to insert the roof properly. My brother used a six-foot step ladder. The manufacturer recommends that in areas of extreme heat or snow that additional lumber beams be added for extra roof support. My brother added 2x6 lumber supports on both sides of the metal center beam.
My brother says the hardest part of assembling the shed was getting the roof to snap into place on the gable ends. He and his wife did that part together. Definitely a two-person operation. Once the roof is snapped into position, construction of the shed is essentially finished.
Inside the Shed
Once the shed was assembled, it didnt take long for my brother to reclaim his workshop space. The shed easily houses an upright free-standing plastic shelf unit that was separately purchased and placed along the back wall. The Expansion Pack included one wall-mounted organizer for tools, which holds 4 or 5 tools with handles, and also came with four brackets for shelves (the brackets will hold a 1x10 board).
Since they wanted to make optimum use of the sheds wall space, they purchased an additional Accessory Kit for the Big Max Shed directly from Rubbermaid (via telephone). This Accessory Kit cost $25 plus shipping and handling. It included one wall-mounted organizer for tools and four brackets for shelves.
Currently the shed is holding a large free-standing shelf unit, four bicycles, two skateboards, a grill and assorted gardening and yard tools, products and supplies. My brother purchased a lock for the shed door, too.
* Sides almost look like vinyl siding
* Shed offers a lot of storage space
* Gables are vented to regulate interior temperature
* Expansion Pack included four shelf brackets & a wall-mount for tools
* Optional Accessory Kit added four more brackets & a wall-mount
* Doors include a lock hasp
* Durable heavy-duty plastic shed sections
* My brother knows the shed is built well ... because he did the work
My brother says the only true dislike was that the roof was difficult to assemble. Properly snapping things into place and needing a taller ladder for additional height and leverage created a few difficulties. But with the help of his wife, the roof fit into position.
The lock hasp is made of plastic. A metal one is not available. This poses a security problem if someone really wants to break into the shed.
Also, it is very important to make sure the ground is packed firm and level before building the shed. If the ground is not properly prepared, building problems will occur.
If you do not like the color of the shed, you cannot paint it. Rubbermaid says paint will not adhere to their plastic.
This isnt a dislike, but it might prove an inconvenience for some people. This shed is only available at Home Depot. According to the Rubbermaid website, no other store sells it.
The Rubbermaid Big Max Shed was a good purchase. My brother and his family are very pleased with the results. The shed holds a lot of stuff and is constructed of durable material. When I visited his house, my brother and I were able to walk around inside the shed and stand completely upright ... no stooping! This shed also looks very nice in the yard. Hes a happy shed owner.
Update June 8, 2006
Just as my brother had feared, the plastic lock hasp broke. Since he wanted a secure shed, he purchased a metal hasp at the local hardware store. This metal hasp is long since it had to stretch beyond some grooves on the inside of the shed doors to securely anchor into place. Other than this breakage, the shed is holding up well to all types of New England weather. It survived several fierce windstorms, did well in 90-plus degree heat as well as cold weather and snow storms. During our rainy days (and we've had a lot of those lately!), the shed has remained bone dry. All the shelves and brackets are holding their positions, too. My brother and his family are very happy.
Update January 28, 2007
Thought you would like to know that a representative from Rubbermaid read this review and sent me an email. He said that the lock hasp on this shed is now constructed from metal and offered to send my brother one. I explained that my brother had already replaced the lock, but the representative said he would like to send one anyway. The new metal lock hasp came in the mail and looks durable. My brother is holding onto it in case he needs it. The shed is still holding up well, too!
Update -- August 1, 2008
This shed is still standing and doing what it's meant to do. The sun has bleached some of the color from the outside materials, but the shed is still solid and working great.
I hope you found this review useful.
Enjoy your day,
Please read my other reviews:
Black & Decker Cordless Lawnmower
Droll Yankee Flipper Bird Feeder -- squirrel proof
Rubbermaid Tool Tower
Craftsman Long-Handled Weed Digger
Fiskars Power-Lever Bypass Lopper
Upside-Down Tomato Garden
Step 2 Grass Hopper Wheeled Garden Stool / Cart
Suncast Easy-Reach Hose Reel Cart
Swan Tuff and Flexible Garden Hose
Gilmour Advanced Variable Oscillating Sprinkler
Craftsman 3-Drawer Portable Toolbox
Rubbermaid Jumbo 50-Gallon Roughtote
Cramer Stop-Step Ladder
Copyright 2004 Dawn L. Stewart