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Garden Shed Care & Maintenance

Your garden shed, or other garden timber building is either something you may have inherited or something you have invested in, and this guide will help you explore and decide on the ways to keep your garden shed or other timber garden buildings not only looking good, but protect it and keep it in tip-top condition. No timber can last forever, but a few hours spent looking after your garden shed will pay dividends in the long run.

Garden Shed Treatments

There are a range of treatments available to care for your garden shed or timber building. These treatments can be used to care and maintain your garden shed by preserving, protecting, and also colouring your shed if you wish to make a statement in your garden. The treatments fall into five categories, these are

  • Wood Preservatives
  • Garden Paints
  • Exterior Wood Stains
  • Exterior Wood Oils
  • Exterior Wood Cleaners

Before you start it will be helpful to identify if your timber is a virgin timber (i.e. untreated) or pressure treated tanalised timber, or previously treated with some other treatment. If your shed has been a new purchase, then your supplier will give you this information as standard.

Un-treated garden shed

If you have a garden shed that has no treatment, then it probably falls into one of two camps.

1) Cedar

The timber is cedar, one of the more expensive timbers commonly used for garden buildings, a wonderful timber with amazing durability due to its natural oils, rich smell and red colour and needing little or no treatment. The cedar will fade to a grey hue over time, and this may be the desired effect you are after. If you want to keep the cedar looking as fresh as the day you had your shed installed then the timber should be treated with either a clear wood oil or a wood stain that is suitable for covering an oily wood. Beware of some of the water-based stain and preservative on cedar, as it may leave the cedar looking patchy due to the resinous oils within the timber. Cedar should last un-treated for 40-60 years but needs a little TLC to look much younger…

2) Redwood or Whitewood Timber

The timber is either a redwood timber or a whitewood timber. Both are softwoods. The redwood is the superior slow grown timber, with the whitewood being faster grown, a less expensive product and more likely to move and decay due to it’s more open grain. Both of these types of timber are the most popular in garden shed building and must be treated either at the manufacturing stage or immediately when you install your garden shed.

With the un-treated redwood shed, or un-treated whitewood shed, it is recommended that a wood preservative is used. Some of the woodstains also act as wood preservatives, but every manufacturer offers different solutions to timber treatments. Make sure that you choose a product that has a preservative within it. Many of the modern wood preservatives are water-based, easy to apply and chemical free. Oil based preservatives were, and sometimes still believed to be superior in treating garden sheds, but our belief is that buying a quality product is key. Ensure with all products that special attention is paid to the end grain of the timber and that the product is applied so that it spreads into the grooves where the timbers overlap.

If you are choosing a paint to preserve and treat your shed, it is worth using a primer to help seal the timber and stop ‘bleed through’ from naturally occurring knots within the garden shed. When your garden shed starts to become weathered, you may find there is some shrinkage within the cladding. A little movement is natural, so our advice is to prime your shed, apply one topcoat, and then after 4-6 weeks, re-visit the shed and check for any bare timber. Touch up with primer and re-apply the final topcoat with your chosen colour.

Treating a Tanalised Garden Shed

A tanalised garden shed is a shed that has been constructed from a pressure treatment to preserve the timber from rot and decay, and it’s important to realise that nothing quite beats pressure treated timber for effectiveness in preservation and longevity. You can identify pressure treated wood by a greenish tinge to the timber (do make sure when buying a garden shed that you are not buying a shed with greenish stain masquerading as tanalised!). Pressure treating timber is not something you can do yourself at home, it needs industrial equipment and professional knowledge. This leads to on average a 30% increase in costs over standard timber prices, so you should expect to pay a 30% uplift in price for a garden shed made of tanalised timber.

Tanalised timber is already treated, but if you wish to colour or stain your tanalised garden shed, then our advice is to wait for at least 8 weeks after your garden shed has been installed. This allows the timbers to be exposed to the elements, and make sure that any excess residues are removed from the surface of the timber making it easier to apply other products. It is important that a suitable product is applied over tanalised timber, as this type of treatment gives the timber an ‘oily’ finish, and some treatments will not give your garden building a good finish. Oil-based stains and quality timber paints with suitable primers should be used. When in doubt, the best way forward is to email the shed manufacturer direct.

Previously Treated garden Shed

If your garden shed has been previously treated, and you don’t know what it has been treated with, as long as the treatment has weathered, i.e. is over a year old, then you should be fairly confident that all treatments and preservative can be applied. All products need to be applied to a sound base, so with some sandpaper, soft wire brush, clean rag, protection for yourself, rubber gloves/eye protection/mask, sand down and clean all inconsistencies ensuring the wood is clean and dust free. If there is staining in the timbers, then it follows that a lighter stain or product will not re-colour. If you wanted to re-colour the timber from an existing darker colour then an opaque type stain or paint would have to be used.

Avoiding Decay

Regardless of what garden shed you own, the elements will lead to wear and tear. Guarding your shed against the elements, ensuring that the base is free draining, that it is not standing in water and that all water runs away from the timbers is really important. By keeping your shed in tip-top condition following a few basic rules will pay you back tenfold.

We are not affiliated with any trade paint company, but we do use the following paints and treatments on our garden sheds:

OSMO – oil based protection

Osmo – click here

TEKNOS – water based protection

Teknos – click here

shed trreatment

Painted doors at Beer beach

shed treatment with stain and paint

Treated with Osmo stain and internal paint