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How to prepare your shed for winter

7th February 2017

Act now to prepare your shed for winter by paying attention to routine maintenance jobs and upgrading heating, ventilation, insulation, and storage systems. Here’s how to stop bad weather damaging your garden shed, tools and equipment.

At a glance

  1. Check your roofing felt for wear and tear
  2. Check and upgrade your rainwater drainage
  3. Maintain windows and doors
  4. Apply wood treatment
  5. Upgrade insulation, lighting, ventilation and install heating
  6. Invest in adequate tool storage systems
  7. Inspect your roofing felt

    Your roofing felt is exposed to the elements 24/7, it's your shed's first line of defence.
    Image: Waltons

    Roofing felt is a bitumen-based roofing material available as a single skin which is often covered with felt “shingles”. It’s cheap and very commonly used to clad shed roofs, but the downside is that felt deteriorates significantly over time.

    Get your stepladder out and give your shed roof a thorough once over. Pay particular attention to the apex, and edges of the roof, plus the areas around nail heads, as these are the most likely to to fail first.

    You can patch roofing felt shingles: Lift the edge of the damaged shingle and spray the area beneath with gutter sealant. Wait for the sealant to dry, then slide a patch into place before pressing down firmly. Now lift the upper edge of the torn shingle so you can spray the lower side of the split. Press together, replace and apply sealant around the edges.

    If your felting is seriously worn or damaged, consider replacing it with new felt or, alternatively with EPDM, a waterproof rubber membrane which can be made to order as a single sheet, and which, if properly applied, lasts for many years.

    Consider drainage options

    Gutters and water butts keep water off your shed and ready to be used on your plants.
    Image: Shutterstock

    At the very least, your shed roof should have a decent overhang so that rainwater runoff falls to the ground rather than trickling down the walls. All the same, undirected runoff can create muddy puddles and may result in water collecting under your shed base, causing rot and decay.

    Keep existing guttering clear of leaves. If you don’t have guttering, installing it enables you to collect rainwater which you can direct into a water butt for future use. You may also need to take additional measures to avoid flooding. An excellent drainage solution for small buildings is to build a French drain.

    Water always follows the gradient, so select the wall which rises from the lowest lying side of your shed site. Now dig a trench alongside it, making sure that you angle away from your shed base by about 45 degrees to ensure you don’t weaken your shed foundation. Fill the trench with graded stone and shingle.

    Maintain windows and doors

    Window frames are susceptible to water damage and rot when left untreated.
    Image: Shutterstock

    Wooden window frames, door frames and surrounds require regular maintenance to keep them in functional condition. Check and oil hinges, handles and locks, clear window vents of debris and check draft excluders and seals and replace as necessary. Replace any broken panes before the weather gets too bad.

    Wash down wooden frames with hot soapy water before inspecting, paying particular attention to joints and end grains, for paint blistering, water ingress and rot. Treat water penetration by removing paint to allow the wood to dry before treating with end grain sealant and repainting.

    Use a screwdriver to gently probe woodwork for rot. Dig out affected areas, treat with preservative and fill with exterior grade wood filler. Allow to dry then sand, prime and paint.

    Apply wood treatment

    A yearly coating of wood treatment will keep your shed looking it's best for many years to come.
    Image: Shutterstock

    Quality garden sheds are constructed from timber pressure-treated with wood preservative and guaranteed to last for a decade or more – with the right maintenance. To make sure your shed lasts it’s vitally important to apply timber treatment each year.

    Make sure you have adequate access all around your shed, so you can get in there to apply woodstain, and to make sure air circulates easily, wicking away damp before it can build up.

    Apply quality wood preservative. Water-based stains offer excellent protection, are quick drying and offer excellent fungicidal qualities. Spirit-based stains are thinner and easier to apply, but they do take longer to dry, and are less environmentally friendly than water-based products.

    Install upgrades

    Heating and ventilation protect your shed from damp in Winter months.
    Image: Shutterstock

    A fully functioning garden office, work room or workshop, requires a host of upgrades including installing insulation, heating, ventilation, lighting and more – especially if you need to protect soft furnishings from damp. But while you may not feel you need to create a fully livable space in your garden, all sheds benefit from some improvements.

    Adequate ventilation prevents damp buildup which can damage tools and equipment. A pair of mesh-backed static vents inset in the gable walls of your shed is the minimum required to get the air moving. Make sure you install vents high enough so that they won’t be blocked by benches, tools and equipment.

    When the temperature drops below the dew-point, humidity in the air condensates on exposed surfaces – shortening the lifespan of expensive tools. Installing insulation along with ventilation and preferably some form of heating is the way to stop this happening.

    Dark evenings make lighting a must. From LED battery powered lights to solar lights and mains powered systems, make sure you’ve got enough light to see what you’re doing.

    Storage solutions

    Cabinets, drawers, and tool boxes will help protect your tools from the elements.
    Image: Shutterstock

    When you’re not using your tools and materials, pack them away in cupboards, draws, cabinets and boxes. You may wish to protect power tools from the predations of damp by moving them indoors during the winter. If you do leave tools in the shed during the cold wet months, make sure they’re not left lying around, and do consider placing silicon sachets in tools boxes to absorb damp before it causes damage.

    Regular maintenance and forward planning are all you need to make sure your shed rides out the winter in tip-top shape. By applying these simple measures, your shed, tools and equipment will give you years of good service.

    Lead image: SAPhotog

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