Wood Preservation – Getting Your Garden Shed Shipshape

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How’s your garden shed looking? The spring sunshine is wonderful, but it tends to highlight winter damage and show up the tatty bits. It’s time to get your shed shipshape for what we’re hoping will be a long, hot summer. You need wood preservative… and you need it now!

Is your shed dying for wood preservation attention?

How do you tell if your shed needs attention? If the structure itself has suffered in the winter storms, you’ll need to get busy with DIY shed restoration before using a wood preserver. Replace shorn-off screws, hammer in replacement nails or add more if anything’s come loose.

Shed doors are exposed in all weathers and can bow and twist more than the body of the shed. If your door has come loose wait until the wood is dry then fix the doors so they close smoothly, sanding the edges if necessary. And clean the door frame clear of spider webs, compost, leaves and insects.

The less damp, the better. If any of the wood has rotted, see if you can replace it. Seal any gaps with plastic wood or gap filler foam. And replace any worn, cracked, bowed or tatty-looking shed roofing felt. The summer sun can make old felt go all crispy, then it cracks and leaks the following autumn.

How’s your putty? Old, brittle putty leads to leaking windows, which means condensation and damp inside. Make sure your shed windows are watertight and check the putty is good for another year. If not, it’s a ridiculously simple job to re-putty each window. Do it indoors and out for a really good, strong seal. Alternatively, you can use silicone to seal your shed windows, basically the same stuff used in fish tanks and aquariums.

Finally, give the entire outside and inside of your shed a good brush and wash to remove dust, dirt and webs. Top Tip: Don’t use a Karcher jet or power washer on your shed. It’s far too powerful!

Now you’re ready for shed maintenance. It’s time to choose your favourite wood preservative.

Garden shed renovation – Exterior wood finishes for sheds

The fine art of wood preservation is particularly important for garden sheds. You can easily suffer algae, rot and mould, all of which can shorten the useful life of your shed. The sun’s heat bleaches and bows wood, the damp makes it swell, snow puts pressure on the integrity of the roof. The list is endless.

Creosote is hard to get nowadays unless you are a farmer, it’s also a toxic and dangerous product. Luckily there are some excellent wood preserver products out there that are either solvent or oil-based and there’s something for every exterior wood preservative project and budget.

Ronseal shed and fence preserver

We recommend Ronseal Shed and Fence Preserver, which is brilliant at protecting your shed from rot and making it waterproof.  It penetrates deep into the wood, giving long lasting protection through all weathers. It can be applied to rough, sawn and smooth timber, and you can either brush it on or spray it using a garden spray system. Be aware however that not all garden spray systems are solvent-resistant meaning that the washers and seals may start to perish after a day or two, resulting in leaks. If you can get the job done in a day then it’s still a cost effective way of doing large areas quickly. 

Top Tip: You can also use wood preservative on the inside of your shed for a belt-and-braces wood preserver job. Be sure however to allow for good ventilation during application and drying.

What if you have a brand new shed?

Most sheds come with a base coat of wood preservative already added. But you should always treat your new shed straight away, once it’s installed, with a good quality, water-resistant wood treatment. Exterior wood oils and decking oils can offer additional protection if used over the top of a wood preservative. If the preservative has been freshly applied, leave between 24 and 48 hours before applying any oil based products on top.

How often should I seal my shed?

Once a year is great. Doing so can keep wooden buildings in good condition for many years after their expected sell-by date.

Exterior wood dye for sheds

What about exterior wood stains and dyes for sheds? Our customers rate Ronseal Decking Stain pretty highly, an exterior varnish that protects and colours decking as well as any other type of exterior wood. It dries to a lovely semi-translucent matt finish, comes in all sorts of fab natural colours, repels water, includes UV filters to help prevent your shed going grey and works beautifully on hard and softwoods.  Best of all, it’s really easy to apply with a brush or roller.

sadolin-woodshield-superior-flexible-paint-for-wood

And how about wood preserving paints? We love Sadolin’s Woodshield, as it’s so much better than ordinary gloss paint. It is flexible, resists cracking, peeling and flaking, doesn’t need a primer or undercoat and can be painted over existing gloss paint or wood stain. It dries in four hours or less, delivers a gorgeous opaque finish and gives your garden shed up to eight years of protection. Nice!

Garden shed restoration and decor – Next steps

Once you’ve restored your shed to its pre-winter glory, think about ongoing garden shed maintenance. Make it a habit to check your shed every time you’re in the garden, and fix problems as soon as they arise.

Even if your shed is already old, there’s plenty you can do to keep it in good nick for years to come. Take a look at this article, from the Chiswick Herald, about one of Britain’s oldest sheds.

If you’d like to take things a step further and transform an ordinary wooden outbuilding into a stunning outdoor living and fun space, here’s a link to loads of photos of fabulous creative garden shed ideas.

Your garden shed repair tips

Do you have any tips to share about shed repair, making your shed last longer or look better? Leave a comment below.

33 COMMENTS

  1. Hi, we built a log cabin last year and used pre treated log lap. After a few months we coated it with ronseal gloss yacht varnish but have now noticed it’s all going very mouldy?. Is there anything you can suggest we can do or have we ruined it? Why would this happen?

    • Hello Donna,

      Exterior wood can be prone to mould attacks, even after you have applied a product and this can be for a number of reasons, however the most common is the wood may have dormant spores in the wood when you receive it from the supplier/retail outlet. With some woods, they can appear fine in the warmer months and then over the winter mould can appear. Natural tannins that have become dormant when the wood is air or kiln dried can be reactivated in the damp cooler weather and then mould spores can feed of those tannins and spread. This is particularly relevant to Oak.

      Or the mould spores are in the wood dormant before application of a protective finish and again the colder damper weather again can re activate and aid spread.We have a great cleaner Barrettine Mould and Mildew Cleaner which is good for cleaning and removing black mould and algae. However if the Yacht varnish is sealing the mould in you may need to consider sanding back and starting again.

      Application of preservatives before a top coat can also help to prevent these mould from forming and we have a great range of preservatives to suit all your exterior wood needs on our website.

      If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to get back in touch.

      All the Best Samantha.

  2. Hi
    I’ve just had an untreated log cabin assembled in my garden . I’m in the process of covering it with Cuprinol wood preserver inside and out . Do I need to apply this to the timber floor also , before I apply a floor varnish ?
    Many thanks
    Jane

    • Hello Jane,

      My apologies for the delay in getting back to you. We do not often recommend preservatives for interior areas, however many people with summer house and log cabins do apply preservatives on the interior for extra protection. And it is a viable option that should be done with care.

      I would advice that test areas are carried out first to ensure that the products used together are compatible and there is no adverse reactions. Also only use a preservative that does not contain wax ( not moisture repellent) as the wax may cause issues with adhesion of the varnish

      For further advice please do not hesitate to get in touch with our friendly team on 01303 213838.

      Kind Regards Samantha.

  3. I’ve just had an untreated shed and aviary built in my garden for my pet rabbits. I’ve painted it in 2 coats using Cuprinol Garden Shades. It’s not been ideal weather conditions to paint and has been very humid. I didn’t use any preserver before I applied the Cuprinol paint, which in hindsight I should have. Is there anything I can do when the weathers warmer to prolong its life and protect the wood further.

    • Hello Clare,

      Thank you for getting in touch with your enquiry. Now that you have applied the Cuprinol Garden Shades it is not possible to apply a preservative, the paint will prevent it from penetrating the wood.

      To prolong the life of the current paint, ensure it is kept clean and dry and any breaks in the paint are re sealed with a patch repair or fresh coat as soon as possible. This will avoid any moisture penetrating the wood and causing damage.

      When applied well the paint should last at least 5 to 6 years. If and when it starts to fade or fail you can strip back to bare wood and apply a preservative to help prevent mould and rot. Any animals should be removed from the area during application and whilst any products are curing, once dried animals will be fine, but always check manufacturers guidelines before use. I hope that helps and please do let me know if you have any further questions.

      Kind Regards Samantha.

  4. Hi,
    I just bought a fully assembled shed that was built using untreated wood but has vinyl siding. Should I treat the inside walls and floor with the wood preserver? And add something else over that for the floor? TIA

    • Hello Kay,

      Could you get in touch via our contact us page. With an image of the shed and which are wood and are in need of protection. And is the floor wood, if so what type? With further information perhaps I can narrow down some options for you.

      Kind regards Samantha

  5. Hi,
    My shed has been treated with Crysolite (solvent based, high penetration, water resistant) for several years, but I have just finished the last of it (3 sides done). I have found that Crysolite seems to keep the shed weatherproof, but splatters everywhere, and the colour is almost black (the label said green) – a less sober appearance would be good. Should I buy more of the same or is there another product you recommend?

    • Good Morning Jill,

      I am not familiar with the product Crysolite that you have mentioned, but from the name and description, I would guess that it is something similar to a creosote product. If this is the case then you could look at Barrettine Creocote as this could be a similar product. You will need to check the product is right for you and carry out test areas to check for compatibility and adhesion.

      I hope that helps and if you have any further questions please do not hesitate to get in touch.

      Kind regards Samantha.

  6. I have just purchased a new untreated shed/bar in pine. I want to keep in natural looking so what should i use to preserve and treat it with. Bear in mind I want to do the least amount of maintenance and once built I will struggle to repaint the back and one side? Also should I do the same to the inside as the outside? Thank you.

    • Good Afternoon Billy,

      My first recommendation will be a good quality preservative such as the Barrettine Premier Universal this will help to provide protection against mould, mildew and rot and you can apply one or two coats of this.

      And then for the best protection the Barrettine Log Cabin Treatment can be applied over the top to help make the wood moisture repellent and slow down the silvering process caused by damage from UV. It does require regular maintenance, depending on exposure annually or bi annually, but this is straightforward just re apply a fresh coat to a clean dry surface and this will prolong the protection of the preservative as well as the wood.

      If you have a look at the products and let me know what you think or if you have any questions.

      Kind regards Samantha.

  7. Hi,

    I’m in the process of treating mould inside my garden shed. There are two types of mould, one black, and the other is like little roundish balls. If I use a
    proprietary mould killer, does it have to be washed off after application, or can I apply Barrettine Premier Wood Preservative after the fungicide has dried.
    I ask this because the mould is at the bottom near the floor, so it’s a hands and knees job, at at 75 years of age I’m trying to reduce working in a cramped corner as much as I can!

    • Good Afternoon Mike,

      Thank you for your enquiry. The Barrettine Mould and Mildew CLeaner does need washing off after it has been left on for a period of time.

      Apply using your chosen method
      Scrub the treated areas and leave to dry for 20 minutes (or to maximise biocidal effect, leave for 24 hours to dry before washing off)
      When dry, rinse off all substance
      Repeat if necessary (although a second application is not normally required)
      The wood is now ready for finishing

      I hope that helps and if you have any further questions please do not hesitate to get in touch or call one of our friendly advisers on 01303 213 838.

      All the Best Samantha.

    • Hello Michelle,

      It will only be of benefit to treat all the wood before assembly. This allows you to cover every nook and cranny very easily and will prolong the life of the wood. I would recommend the Premier Wood Preserver from Barrettine. This will protect against Mould, mildew and rot as well as help to make the wood moisture repellent.

      Kind regards Samantha.

  8. Hi I have just bought a brand new shed that has had a treatment on it what would be the best product to apply inside and out to protect it thank you

    • Hello Sandy,

      Thank you for your enquiry. We do have a great range of Shed Treatments on our website and it would depend on what the current finish is and what look you are hoping to achieve. If you take a look at the products and get back to me if you have any questions or you can email me direct at wood@finishes.direct

      Kind regards Samantha.

  9. Hi ! I wonder if you can advise, please. My husband (who is 84 and has Parkinson’s 1) is attempting to mend the shed as he has found what he thinks is dry rot in one corner. He has cut out a large square of the wood and bought some filler, and paint ,,,it cost a lot but he says it is useless ! Have you any idea please as to what we should be buying to treat it ? Thankyou (we live in France, but the advice from the local diy shop was to buy the filler and a tin of paint so he doesn’t want to go back there again ….) We can probably obtain a UK make via one of the services who send things to France if we cannot buy something here ! Many thanks

  10. I have a 3 year old wooden shed. When i bought it new , I used waterproof stain tocoat. Over 3 years i see some spots that were turning black. I suspect that the water seeped in and there is light wood rotting. This year i pressure washed it along with wood cleaner and have recoated with waterproof stain , this time a darker color so that it can hide the dark spots.

    Can I coat it with varnish so that is fully sealed and gets a glossy look? Would it harm if i coat with Varish on top of Stain?

    Thank you
    Jon

    • Hello Jonathan,

      Can you email me with details of the stain that you have used to wood@finishes.direct? It may be a stand alone product that offers enough durability or there may be something suitable to go over the top. But to help with this I will need to know the brand and name of the product used.
      All the Best Samantha.

    • Hello,

      The best thing to do is check with the suppliers of you shed, but generally speaking most sheds will come with a basic protective treatment.

      I would recommend a top up with the Barrettine Premier Wood Preservative to help protect against mould, mildew and rot. Always try a test area first and if you have any further questions please do not hesitate to let me know.

      Kind Regards Samantha.

  11. I have had a shed built with pressure treated wood. I was hoping to use Cuprinol garden shades, but the chap who installed it did not recommend this. He has said to use a Ronseal preservative.

    What would you recommend? Which preservative? then which paint can I use? does it need a primer/ undercoat? or is there an all in one out there?

    • Hello,

      Thank you for your enquiry. You can actually use both. The preservative helps to prevent mould mildew and rot from attacking the wood. Preservatives soak into the wood and some contain wax to repel moisture, they can be coloured or clear.

      The Cuprinol Garden Shades is more about giving the wood some colour and helping to make the wood water and weather repellent. It can be used over a preservative without wax. Always try a test area first and if you have any questions please do not hesitate to get back in touch.

      Kind Regards Samantha.

  12. Hi, I have a shed that has previously been painted using a mix of creosote and engine oil. I have started to rub it down but it’s impossible to get it all off. What type of paint would you recommend using over it? I assume a water based paint will just let the oil seep through? Many thanks Ali.

    • Hello Alison,

      The only thing I can recommend really is to try and Pressure wash the treatment off. And this is only really likely to work if you the creosote and oil was applied over two years ago. You can then apply an oil based product over the top but I would not like to make any guarantees with this. Sorry that I can not be of more help.

      Best Wishes Sam.

  13. Helpful article – thanks.
    I have a 4-year-old shed build using pressure-treaded shiplap and I have never treated it with anything – what do you recommend I treat it with? I know you recommend Ronseal Fence & Shed Preserver, but this is only available in coloured formulations; as my house is buit of grey stone, I actually want the wood to turn grey with age and sunbleaching.
    Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

    • Hello Simon,

      You could have a look at the Total Wood Preserver from Ronseal, it is available in a clear finish. But the clear product contains no wax and so offers little water repellency.

      We also recommend a top coat product for exterior finishes to give water repellency and because most will contain UV protection I would recommend the Osmo Decking Oil as although marketed for decking would also be suitable for use on your shed. A 750 ml tin will cover aprox 18 meters squared, as it needs to be applied thinly. But as it has not UV filters in it would be ideal for protecting your wood whilst letting the natural silvering occur. I hope that helps and if you have any further questions please feel free to let me know.

      Best Wishes Sam.

  14. I am 76yrs old and bought in error 12ltr fence treatment in dark oak but after trying to spray it on my shed with my ronseal spraygun bought both from b&q northwich find it keeps blocking up I have only recently found out that there is a special treatment type for spray use only which I did not know anything about but have wasted a third of the 12ltre tub so how do I thin it to go through the spraygun as I cannot afford to waste it?regards ron

    • Hello Mr Hassett,

      I’m sorry to hear that you have had a problem such as this, whether you can thin the product you are using will depend on the product itself. It will be worth have a good read of the information and instructions on the back of the tin. It should say somewhere on there that the product is or isn’t suitable for thinning and if it is what would be suitable to use. Another clue would be in what you need to wash the apparatus with. So if you have to clean brushes with water, then its possible that you may be able to thin slightly with water or if you have to clean with spirit then that is what you can use to thin. But over thinning can cause problems in its self, so do read the instructions carefully. Hope that helps – Kind Regards.

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