Painting a Timber Building

Painting a timber building is a great way to inject colour into your outdoor space. From the grandest gazebo to a “shabby-chic” shed, you can make the most of your investment by protecting it and making it beautiful. It’s not difficult if you follow a few simple guidelines, and it will repay your time and trouble for years to come.

If you are keen to make your own design statement and paint your new shed yourself, this can be a fun DIY project over a weekend. So what do you need to consider before dunking your brush?

Choosing the right products 

Your timber building will be exposed to all types of weather for many years to come. It’s important to use the right products to protect your investment and keep your garden building sound and watertight. The correct paints and stains will save a lot of time and greatly reduce potential problems in the future. Paint brush on wood

Here’s an area where you really do get what you pay for. They’re not the cheapest on the market, but a good trade paint or stain such as Sadolin, or Dulux Weathershield Quick Drying Opaque will protect your summerhouse, shed or garden office for years to come. These more specialist types of paints can be sourced through a good local trade paint centre such as Brewers, or if you don’t have a paint centre in your area, then there are many online retailers who will deliver directly for a charge.

What about environmental choices?

Many of our customers choose a painted shed because they love the outdoors or want to reduce their carbon footprint by working from home. It makes sense that they look for an environmentally sound choice of paint that will also offer a healthy place to work or play. Traditionally, paints and treatments for outdoor wood were solvent-based, but this is no longer the only option.

painted garden building

Solvent-based paints provide a high-gloss finish but have long drying times. The volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in their composition give off a strong odour while they dry and continue to off-gas over time, with possible impacts on air quality and our wellbeing.

Happily, paints formulated with a water base now offer a high-performance alternative. Not only do they dry faster and have much lower levels of VOCs, but they don’t need an undercoat, and you can clean brushes with just soapy water. Over time, water-based paints tend to discolour less than solvent-based, and as your timber experiences natural movement due to changes in moisture levels through the seasons, these paints flex with the wood rather than splitting and cracking. This extends the time period before repainting is necessary. Most manufacturers recommend six years between repaints, saving you time and money.

Preparation is everything!

painting the inside of a garden building
For log cabins, painted sheds, summerhouses or garden offices supplied ready for painting, you need to get to work within three months of assembly to protect your warranty. No need to factor in sanding-down time: all of our ready-to-paint sheds are smooth planned and good to go. 

However, if the timber has not been factory pre-treated against insect or fungal decay, then a clear preservative treatment MUST be applied first. This is something you can do yourself quite easily if you are self-building, or our team can do this for you as your building is being assembled.  

The latter option means they can treat all the end grains of timber before assembly. If you are doing your own finish, it’s vital to coat end-grains of timber such as under doors, to prevent water from soaking in.

garden building painted

Check the weather

Before you start, check the weather forecast! Choose a fine, dry day, and not too cold. Paint performance and drying will be impaired below 10 degrees C (50 degrees F), and paint applied to wood that’s already wet will blister and flake later. Paint spraying needs to be done when it’s not too windy. 

Make sure you have a safe means of reaching higher sections. Many of our garden buildings conform to UK planning guidelines requiring them to be below 2.5m high when within 2m of a boundary, but even so you’ll need a sound ladder or steps for work around the roofline. For larger structures, you may wish to rent a scaffold tower.

Protect your investment

Protect the surrounding fences, walls and ground with dust sheets, especially if you plan to use a paint sprayer. Your neighbours won’t thank you for covering their prized Azalea in bright blue paint! Next, protect windows with newspaper and masking tape, especially if you plan to use a paint sprayer. And it may sound obvious but do think ahead about keeping pets and small children out of harm’s way.

Paint can be applied with a brush, or for a larger building, a paint sprayer is a more practical option. These can be rented from most tool hire shops if you don’t need one longer-term. Have smaller brushes ready for fine detail work, and it’s a good idea to have a supply of rags or paper towels handy to deal with spills. Garden log cabin with veranda

Check out YouTube

As with painting indoors, plan your time, start at the top and work downwards, and work out where you can pause without creating a visible edge, such as at the corner of a building or behind a guttering down-pipe. YouTube has some useful how-to videos if you need more guidance. Arrange regular supplies of tea and biscuits (or equivalent!) and you’re away.

Finally, please make sure you dispose of paints responsibly. For tins containing water-based paint or paint residue, store them securely, remove the lids and allow the paint to harden before disposal. 

Then stand back and enjoy the result. Or why not invite a few friends around to admire your great weekend’s work?

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In need of further advice and information? Get in touch and talk to one of our friendly experts.

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