How to renovate a shed

So, in our totally random, out-of-the-blue effort to acquire outdoor storage, we adopted an old dilapidated shed. A neighbour down the road who we know quite well was getting rid of his old shed, and we snapped it up!

It definitely needed some love, but off the back of creating a bike shed from scratch, we were more than up for the challenge.

Here’s the before…

And following the makeover…

Building vs renovating

Renovating this shed was a lot easier and cheaper than building one from scratch. The total ‘build time’ was just over two weeks – which is an unbelievably quick turnaround for myself and Roy. (It did take eight months to do our bathroom – and we’re currently approaching seven months and counting for our downstairs bathroom). When we built the shed from scratch, it took around two months.

One thing to say for renovating a shed is that I found it more satisfying. Of course, the satisfaction of designing and building something from scratch is incredible, but taking something worn down and forgotten about and making it look almost brand new is very rewarding.

The renovation process

In a nutshell, there are six key stages to shed renovation:

  1. Figure out how bad it is

If the shed looks like it is beyond repair – then it probably is. Leave it be and hold out for another disused/unloved shed on Freecycle, Gumtree and the like. No doubt one will appear soon. The second-hand shed can be relatively rough around the edges but if it’s really falling to bits (i.e large holes in the roof, a missing door, a broken window etc) then it probably isn’t worth the effort. If the shed’s in that much of a state, it might end up costing you more to repair it than to buy or build a new one outright.

  1. Dismantle the shed

Admittedly I was not involved in this process – but Roy assures me that all is required is a decent hammer and someone to help. Getting the shed to the necessary location is another problem in itself though – we were lucky that the man we were getting the shed from had a van.

  1. Clean timber

This is essential in the renovation process. Sheds which are neglected in the garden look too weathered and are often at risk of greater weather damage. Removing any debris, algae or snail shells and the like is the first point of call. We swept all of the panels, removed the felt and felt tar from the roof (unfortunately for us, at some point in the shed’s life it’s owner had used far too much felt tar which made this job exceedingly tedious.)

After all the extraneous dirt and cobwebs were removed we power-washed each panel. This did an excellent job of removing any algae and ingrained dirt. A quick sand ensured the wood was prepped for painting.

  1. Paint

This is my time to shine. Roy’s not a fan of painting so I got stuck in. I’m a big fan of Cuprinol’s Garden Shades paint – as the colours are rich and it can be used to paint metal, plastic and stone. The shade I used was ‘Willow‘.

Two coats were enough – with about an hour in between each coat.

Painting the timber is essential, as a shed without paint or a sealant is more susceptible to algae, rot and mould, all of which can shorten the life of your shed. The paint also helps protect against the sun, which can bleach and bow the wood.

  1. Assemble

The shed must have a sturdy base to sit on – we used old paving slabs set into some soil. Other than that, it’s just a case of attaching all the bits together. This is definitely a two-person job.

  1. Add finishing touches

In The Big Lebowski, the rug ties the room together. With the shed, it’s the little details that complete the build. I painted both the window frame and hinges, and Roy created a trim for the roof. Roy has since also installed fairy lights and an Amazon Echo Dot because I said I wanted a radio in there. Sigh. At least I can check the weather hands-free if I need to…

With our shed, we had the added step of replacing the felt on the roof. The existing felt was covered in moss and the felt was pretty rotten. We removed all of the felt and used nails to secure fresh felt to the wood.  All that’s left to do now is acquire a small ‘Maria’s potting shed’ sign!

If you have any questions about the build feel free to ask away in the comments below…

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