Style and Design
Finished in a traditional five sided design, this Oakley corner model is available in two sizes to fit most small to medium gardens. It features a pent roof for water run off, double doors to the front and four large fixed windows for a lovely bright interior. Simple in its conception, the Oakley will fit nicely into the corner of any garden to provide an attractive feature as well as shelter or shade depending on the weather.
The Oakley is manufactured in 7mm overlapping woodwork mounted on a 28 x 28mm wooden frame. The roof is of 8mm solid sheet osb finished in roofing felt while the floor features 16mm wooden board construction. For safety, the windows are glazed in virtually unshatterable polycarbonate. There are weather resistant door handles for ease of opening and the doors are secured by a bolt internally and by an external catch.
The Oakely comes in two sizes, nominally 7' x 7' and 8' x 8' (1.98 x 1.98 and 2.34 x 2.35m). Both versions have an overall height of 6'6'' (2.00m) and feature a double door opening of 5'9'' x 3'1'' (1.75 x 0.94m).
The timbers of the summerhouse are pressure treated prior to delivery and come with a 15 year manufacturers' Anti-rot guarantee
Depending on where you buy the Oakley, you may find an assemby/installation service available at additional cost.
Unless you have purchased an installation option, the Oakley will be delivered in pre-formed panels ready for DIY home assembly.
See the details of sellers and prices given above.
We think this one is a bit like the curate's egg - something of a mixed bag. The overall design is fairly standard, with its pentagonal footprint ideally suited to the corner of the garden. The windows are large, meaning you get plenty of light to the interior, but they are fixed and thus can't be opened for ventilation on a hot day - that will have to come via the doors. On the other hand, the fixed windows are good from the point of view of security. There are no hidden issues with the design - what you see is what you get - a simply constructed, five sided corner summerhouse available in two sizes.
The construction has its plus points. The 28 x 28mm wooden frame is perfectly adequate for a building the size of the Oakley, and we're pleased to see a 16mm wooden floor as standard. Often with cheaper models you find the floor is manufactured in osb solid sheet and while this will generally do the job, real wood tends to reinforce the structure and to have better moisture resistant qualities. You don't get a real wooden roof though. The 8mm osb roof is about the minimum specification you'd expect to find in this type of building and although we'd always prefer real wood, it should do the job. Be sure however to apply the felt covering carefully to minimise the risk of water ingress and deterioration.
Unusually for a summerhouse the overall construction is of overlapping boards. You often come across this in cheaper garden sheds but we're far less used to seeing it in summerhouses which tend to be of tongue and groove construction. The difference is largely self explanatory. With tongue and groove each board features a "tongue" along its length which fits snugly into a groove along the length of the adjoining board. This makes it difficult for water to penetrate and leads to a strong, robust structure, particularly as tongue and groove planks are generally specified at 12mm upwards. With overlap wall panels however the timbers don't interlock in the same way, they simply overlap. While this can contribute effectively to water run off it does lead to a structure which lacks the strength, rigidity and durability of tongue and groove. The wood used tends to be thinner too - in the case of the Oakley we see it's specified at just 7mm. This means it's more susceptible to damage and won't give the same strength of structure as tongue and groove would. The thinner woodwork would be more susceptible to warping and deforming over the life of the building - and it would be less suitable to support, say, shelving and heavy items. Well none of that sounds too great - are there any plus points? In our opinion just one when you're comparing overlap to tongue and groove for a corner summerhouse - overlap tends to be noticeably cheaper.
But that's not the whole story with the Oakley. The use of cheaper materials in the construction means it has been possible to produce a pressure treated building while maintaining the price at a budget level. Usually budget garden buildings are dip treated only prior to delivery and while this is enough to protect the wood up to the time of delivery its not sufficient for long term protection. As a result it's necessary to apply a further protective finish at the time of erection or shortly after. We actually recommend doing this prior to assembly. The Oakley's pressure treated timbers save you this additional job and therefore a considerable amount of time. The pressure treatment has a further advantage in that a treatment which you brush on by hand will require to be re-applied on a regular basis. Annually is usually specified (although you can sometimes get off with less). Pressure treatment protects the timbers over a long period of time without any further work - with the Oakley the manufacturers are confident enough to offer a 15 year guarantee which is likely to more or less cover the life of the summerhouse. So in that sense there's a distinct advantage to the Oakley's pressure treatment - and that at a price which other pressure treated buildings are unlikely to match. Bear in mind though that even pressure treated timber will take on a worn and weathered look when exposed to the elements from time to time so if you want to keep your Oakley looking fresh and new rather than old and a little tired, you'll still need to apply a decorative finish and maintain it regularly over the years.
With a simple design like this, installation is unlikely to pose much difficulty as long as you possess some basic DIY skills and a simple toolkit. Even pressure treated bearers will be liable to rot if exposed directly to ground moisture though so we'd suggest you pick a location where water doesn't collect and erect the summerhouse on a suitable base. Have a look at our Summerhouse Bases feature if you need any ideas. We cover a range of pre-formed bases there which are ideal for a pentagonal summerhouse like this.
Security will be an issue with the Oakley as delivered although if you're not keeping anything valuable in it that may not be too much of a concern. The budget nature of the building means only a very simple catch is provided to keep the doors closed so you may want to think of adding a good padlock assembly or perhaps a rim lock if your DIY skills extend that far. The overlapping timber construction isn't particularly robust or resistant to breakage either.
In conclusion, while we see some advantages in the Oakley's budget construction, most notably the pressure treated timber and wooden floor, we think the 7mm overlap panelling is a little too low a specification for a corner summerhouse if you're looking for a building to last. Yes, there's a 15 year guarantee, but that will only cover rot and won't affect damage, distortion and the relatively lightweight construction. If you're looking for a cheap building for the shorter term which you can put up quickly and don't want to have to treat, the Oakley will fit the bill. Otherwise we'd suggest you take a look at tongue and groove buildings in a similar style and price range such as the Picton, Hampton, Barclay or Standard and Premier 7x7 and 8x8 and spend a few more pounds and a little more time and effort applying a preservative decorative finish. In fact, you can now buy a pressure treated version of the Picton to save you doing even that. And if you can stretch your budget a little further we'd certainly recommend you have a look at the Forest Garden Arlington. You'll find the same style, design, features and pressure treatment as the Oakley but with a robust tongue and groove construction. We think the Oakley we think will probably have a certain limited appeal and on that basis we've awarded it three stars.