The interior of a shed can look just as good as the exterior when the right materials are used for lining the walls. If you’re going to spend a lot of time inside, making it warm and comfortable is a smart idea.
Lining the interior walls of a shed has many benefits including improving the appearance and reducing heat loss. As we spend more time at home, the shed has turned into far more than somewhere to just store tools. Many homeowners now use their shed as a workshop or man-cave, and this can involve spending long periods inside, even during colder months.
Sheds don’t usually come with any material on the interior walls. The wooden framing for the structure features exterior cladding of tongue & groove timber, leaving the interior open and untreated. Installing interior shed walls is a simple task and can be completed as a Do It Yourself job over a weekend. The result is a more usable building that is the perfect escape to work on a project or get out of the house.
Why line the inside of a shed?
It’s not common to find sheds where the interior walls have been lined. We struggled to even find sheds where the manufacturer would carry out this work for us. For lined interior walls, a summerhouse or garden room is often recommended, but this can be beyond the requirements and budget of a shed workshop.
The most common reason for lining a shed interior is to improve the sound and heat insulating properties. A shed built from 8mm timber is going to do very little to prevent heat loss in the winter. This can result in items such as electrical equipment getting damaged in freezing conditions. On-going use of an electric heater inside a shed also leads to expensive electricity bills due to their high wattage output.
Improving the insulation inside a shed can reduce heat transfer and allow the building to retain heat for a longer period. In the summer, the reduced heat transfer results in less stifling heat when in direct sunlight The thicker walls also work to insulate sounds, resulting in less noise outside if you will be using loud power tools inside the shed.
Lining a sheds interior walls with wood alone will not be enough to provide a high level of insulation. The space in-between, where the wood framing sits should be filled with insulation. Lots of great insulation products are available for a shed including PIR insulation boards and foil-backed insulation. The insulation is installed and then the interior walls are lined with wood.
Guide: How to insulate a shed
Storage in a shed can be tight when there’s just the floor to use. Installing shelving and hanging brackets onto the walls is a great way to increase the storage space. The exterior cladding is usually unsuitable to attach an interior shelf to due to not being very thick and creating a hole penetrating the exterior waterproof surface.
Lining the interior wall of a shed can get around this by allowing shelves, brackets and hooks to attach and hang from the interior wall for storage. The same idea is common when attaching a tv bracket to a plasterboard wall inside a house; plywood is used to provide extra strength. When the interior walls are being used for storage, be sure to choose a wood that has sufficient strength and thickness to hold up heavier items.
If improving the aesthetic inside a shed is the aim, lining the interior is also a great idea. With the interior boarded, the walls will be flat and hide all of the shed framing behind. The walls then become a blank canvas to decorate however you see fit. Garden building paints can bring the interior of a shed to life and create a bright & comfortable environment. We have seen many great examples of pub sheds where the interior wall has been turned into a bar theme with memorabilia hanging from the wall.
Best materials for interior shed walls
In our opinion, the best material for shed interior walls is plywood at 9mm or OSB at 12mm. Both of these provide a solid internal structure that can survive bumps and knocks when moving tools around. There are several other materials that also work great depending on the budget available and the level of finish required.
Plywood is an engineered wood created using lots of thin layers of wood veneer that are glued together. The layers are joined together so that the adjacent pieces have their wood grain rotated by 90 degrees. Resin is used to fix the wood fibre layers together into each board.
Plywood has a lot of properties that make it great for lining the interior of a shed. For its thickness, plywood is very strong, making it great for attaching items to the wall or being positioned somewhere it may get knocked regularly. This strength can also be used to add structural support to areas of the shed that are storing heavy items such as power tools. As thinner plywood can often be used when compared to other woods, this also makes it lightweight and easier to work with.
Due to the cross-graining in plywood, it doesn’t shrink or expand as much as other woods, which is particularly important if it won’t be treated. Wood naturally shrinks and expands as the level of moisture in the air changes. Over time this slight movement can cause gaps in a shed. The increased durability of plywood reduces any movement and maintains the integrity of the shed.
The grain is visible in plywood, particularly after painting, but can be removed by sanding. The biggest challenge is the price as plywood is usually more expensive compared with similar options. This makes plywood most suitable for smaller sheds or projects with a larger budget. Lots of different thicknesses are available from 3.6mm to 18mm. we recommend using at least 9mm plywood as it’s more sturdy to work with and provides better insulating properties.
Oriented strand board is created by compressing lots of layers of wood strands together whilst adding adhesives. The surface is typically rough and slightly uneven so it’s easy to spot compared with other wood materials. OSB is commonly used for load-bearing materials during construction so makes light work of use inside a shed interior.
Compared to plywood, OSB is a lot more affordable and has become the go-to wood for many DIY garden building projects. A lot of different thicknesses are available from 9mm to 18mm and we find 12mm is the perfect choice between durability and cost for a garden building interior wall. When purchasing oriented strand board, the technical details will list the wood as either OSB2 or OSB3. The OSB3 board provides higher moisture resistance and has a slower swelling rate. For a shed, OSB3 is best as the wooden board can be exposed to high moisture content during the colder months, especially if the shed is not ventilated.
The biggest downside to OSB is the rough design on the surface. Many of us do not like the pattern and this can often make it unsuitable. If you can live with the textured appearance on the walls, OSB is a good choice and will provide similar properties to plywood at a lower cost. the OSB board can always be painted with thick garden building paint which will reduce the pattern, but it does always seem to remain partly visible.
Medium-density fibreboard is created by breaking down softwood or hardwood residuals into wood fibres. The fibres are then combined with wax and a resin binder, before being formed into boards using high pressures and temperatures. The surface of MDF is smooth, making it ideal for painting and getting a room-like feel inside with minimal additional work.
MDF is a popular choice due to being good value. Compared with plywood, the price of MDF is lower and just as widely available. Another benefit of MDF is that it is easy to work with and makes a good choice if this is a first DIY shed project. The smooth edges make it easy to cut, even for detailed designs.
A challenge with MDF is that it will soak up a lot of water, posing a challenge for use in a shed. To avoid this, the board needs to be treated with a high-quality wood treatment, especially on the edges to avoid any water getting in. MDF is also very dense, and while this is good for sound insulation, it can make the board heavy. The shed should be structurally strong to begin with if using thick MDF to ensure no damage will be caused to the wooden frame. 6mm to 25mm options are widely available and we would recommend a 9mm or 12mm MDF board for interior shed walls.
Shiplap, or the very similar tongue and groove is commonly used to construct the exterior of a garden building, including sheds and summerhouses. The actual material of shiplap is timber and is a natural wood rather than engineered. Both shiplap and tongue & groove are defined by the slots they have cut out on the top and bottom of each panel, allowing them to slot together. They don’t come in boards and each piece of the cladding needs to be attached together. Although more time consuming, the smaller pieces can make it easier to work with compared to an engineered wood board.
The surface of shiplap is planed smooth, allowing it to be painted straight away without any need to sand first. We recommend looking out for a slow grown timber due to its increased durability and strength. The timber can be prone to absorbing moisture, causing expansion and contraction. We recommend treating shiplap with a suitable wood treatment to protect against moisture and dampness during the colder months. The same treatment can be used that is applied to the exterior of the shed.
Using shiplap or tongue & groove creates a consistent look and feel throughout both the inside and outside of the shed. Different levels of thickness are available, usually between 8-12mm and can be purchased from most wood suppliers.
Before beginning to line the interior walls of a shed, it’s important to consider whether interior walls are needed. If the shed is going to be used for storage of outdoor equipment and tools, they are going to be fine without the additional insulation and cover. There will also be slightly more space without lining the interior, as items can be placed against the back of the exterior cladding, which will be covered when lining the interior walls.
For a shed where only a small bit of extra storage is required, it is possible to attach a shelf or hook to the wooden framing. The biggest cost for the shed interior walls is the material, especially when using plywood. For larger sheds, we recommend choosing a lower-cost wood board if an interior wall is required.
The biggest deciding factor is whether insulation is required. The use of insulation is dependent on spending time in the shed and storage of any items sensitive to cold temperatures. In the long run, you may be able to save money compared to running an electric heater regularly in an uninsulated shed.
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Installation & wood treatment
Lining the interior of a shed with wood is quick and simple. The most time-consuming task is installing the insulation, which needs to be completed before so that the interior lining can seal the insulation in place.
To begin, it’s important to check for any gaps in the exterior cladding where rainwater could get in. These can be sealed using a wood filler or drought exclusion tape around windows and doors. You could also treat the interior side of the cladding to prevent damp damaging the wood as it can be difficult to access once the interior wall has been created.
With the exterior wall prepared, work on the insulation can begin. For rigid insulation boards, the gap in between the sheds wood framing can be measured. The boards should be cut to slot tightly in between so that they hold themselves in place. Once the insulation board is in position, aluminium tape can be used to seal up where the insulation meets the framing and create an airtight seal. With multi-layered foil insulation, it can be stapled onto the wooden framing to fill all of the interior wall space inside the shed.
After the insulation is in position, the material for the shed interior walls can be installed. The board should be cut down to size and then nailed or screwed into the sheds wooden framing. The interior wall can then be sanded and painted to achieve the desired result.
Guide: How to waterproof a shed
Sheds that you are going to spend a long time in should ideally be fitted with a vapour barrier. This is particularly true where insulation and heating are being used. Water vapour from warm moist air can penetrate into the wall of the shed and cool, leading to damp issues. A vapour barrier is a plastic sheet, placed on the warm side of the insulation to prevent the moisture from penetrating into the insulation where it could cool. Foil-backed rigid insulation board contains a built-in vapour barrier with the foil so anything additional is not required if the edges are sealed using aluminium tape.
Installing material on the interior walls of a shed is a great idea and can be completed over a weekend. As sheds become more popular as workshops and for storing electrical equipment, lining the interior walls can stop the cold air outside from getting in.
A good choice of materials is available for use as an interior shed wall. Our personal favourite is plywood due to its strength and smart finish. However, plywood can be expensive and lower-cost options can still work great such as OSB or MDF board.