Painting the walls of a shed can transform the design and provide long-lasting protection to the timber. It’s important to use a paint that is durable and looks great, even after several years.
Sheds are in nearly every garden up and down the country and used for everything from storage to relaxing inside. An old shed at the bottom of the garden can look out of place and quickly bring down the appearance of the whole space. Untreated sheds turn grey after a few years, as the UV from the sun damages the timber and the colour begins to fade.
Painting a shed has multiple benefits. The paint can completely transform the appearance of the garden building to match the rest of the space around it. Most shed paints even come in contemporary grey colours to bring an old shed up to date. Painting the interior in white or a similar colour gives the appearance of more light inside, ideal for finding stuff when used as storage space.
The other benefit of painting a shed is to provide protection to the timber. Most sheds arrive with untreated wood that is completely exposed to the elements outside throughout all seasons of the year. During the summer, the suns rays can dry the timber and fade the colour, leading to cracking and a grey appearance. During the winter, wood can be vulnerable to absorbing moisture, which can lead to dampness during periods of lots of rainfall. Frequent damp and moisture in timber can result in rotting that eventually damages the structure of the shed.
If you have spare emulsion paint sitting around you may consider using it to paint a shed. Emulsion is designed for the interior of a house and may pose some additional challenges when used to paint a garden building.
Can I paint the Inside of my shed with emulsion?
For a single skinned shed, we don’t recommend using emulsion when there are better alternatives available.
As a general rule, a single skinned shed should be treated with proper garden building paint that is suitable for both the exterior and interior of the wall. If the shed is lined with a vapour barrier and insulated then emulsion can be used, as the interior wall will be different to the exterior.
Most of us don’t have a fully insulated shed, and emulsion paint is not suitable for the typical shed that’s being used to store garden tools. The single skinned timber wall is the same piece of wood also touching the exterior of the building and maintaining the overall structure.
The wood is still effectively exposed to the same conditions and can experience issues with damp and water working its way through during the winter months. As wood is porous, it can expand & contract slightly with different humidity levels throughout the year. These slight movements can let water seep through where the panels join together, causing damp issues inside the shed. Garden building paint provides a water-proof layer and also protects against mould and fungal growth.
Another challenge with emulsion is that it is not the most durable paint and can eventually begin to fade or wash away. Areas of a shed that are exposed to knocks from garden equipment or water spills could soon see patches of emulsion needing to be touched up. The interior of a shed is exposed to massive variance in temperature throughout the year, including sweltering heat in the direct summer sunlight and freezing conditions for several days at a time during the winter. The paint needs to be durable enough to withstand all of these temperature changes without flaking or peeling away.
The result of using emulsion is likely to look okay for a few months, but it’s not a suitable long-term solution. We recommend using garden paint that will provide durable protection throughout the year and keep the timber protected. If you are looking for a budget solution, a low-cost garden paint should be fine on the interior as it’s not exposed to as many harsh conditions as a shed exterior.
Can I paint the outside of my shed with emulsion?
Emulsion paint is not suitable for the exterior of a shed and will soon begin to fade and lead to other challenges.
Protecting the exterior walls of a shed is vital to extend the life of the garden building and avoid issues such as damp and the wood beginning to warp. A shed is standing in the garden and exposed to all weather conditions throughout the year. The exterior is protecting the contents inside against everything from snowfall to direct sunlight.
Using emulsion will result in the paint beginning to fade away within a few months, especially during a winter with lots of rain and the wood underneath will soon be visible again. Emulsion will also not provide enough protection against damp and moisture. To maximise the lifetime of a shed, the walls need to be protected against water getting into the timber and leading to rot.
For the exterior of any garden building, we recommend investing in high-quality paint designed to protect the wood and last a long time. Garden building paints are extremely durable and can last for over 5-years before a maintenance coat is required. Once the paint dries, the tough coating will protect the wood with a waterproof layer and also contains chemicals to inhibit rot and fungal growth.
Lots of choices are available for garden paints. The premium brands such as OSMO & Protek are available in lots of colours and are extremely hardwearing. Many brands available at local DIY stores such as Cuprinol Garden Shades also work very well. Most paints will require several coatings to provide maximum protection and build up a thick layer of defence against the outside weather.
Tips for painting a shed
Painting a shed can lead to mixed results, especially if it’s the first time. Following our tips can maximise the results and lead to a shed that looks great for years to come.
Best time to paint
It can be tempting to go outside and start painting a shed as soon as you have an hour spare, but unsuitable conditions can result in a poor finish. For a new shed, we recommend painting the building as soon as possible. This ensures it is protected quickly from any weather conditions that could begin to affect the timber. If it’s not possible to paint straight away, then it’s okay to leave the shed for up to two months, but we wouldn’t wait any longer than that.
Painting a shed just after it has rained or is going to rain not long after finishing is also not a great idea. If it has been raining, the timber may have absorbed water that will need to dry out again before painting. Applying the paint too quickly after rainfall can result in moisture getting trapped inside the timber. The ideal conditions for painting a shed are when the weather is warm and dry.
Preparing the shed
If a shed has already been painted within the last few years, it may be difficult to paint again if the water repellent effect of the last paint is still active on the surface. This can make it difficult for the new paint to stick on top. We can test by putting some water onto the shed walls and if it beads on top, the previous paint is still repelling the water. Sanding the walls can remove the repellent effect of the previous coating, allowing for the new paint to be applied easily.
The exterior of the shed should be completely clean before painting. When it rains, mud can often splash up against the bottom of the shed and will lead to the paint flaking if the mud is painted over. A hosepipe and brush can clean the shed before painting. Any objects nearby should also be removed and paint sheets can be used. Paint often splashes everywhere when painting a shed and it’s not the easiest paint to remove once dry.
Applying the paint
When garden building paint has been sitting for a long time, the pigments can fall to the bottom of the tin. Be sure to mix the paint first before applying it to the shed. We like to start from the top and work our way down the walls. This way, we don’t miss any patches and avoid paint running down the walls over areas that have already been painted.
At least two coats provide the most durable protection. We usually wait until the next day to apply the second coating. This ensures the first layer has hardened completely before applying the second on top.
Guide: Can I plasterboard a shed?
Overall, we would not recommend using emulsion paint on the inside or outside of a shed. The only time emulsion is suitable is when the shed is lined and insulated, as the interior wall will be different to the exterior.
An emulsion is designed for use inside a house and is not durable enough to provide the protection required for a garden building. It may look okay to begin with but will begin to fade eventually. Stick to a paint designed specifically for garden buildings that will provide protection for many years to come.