Three ways to make your shed a pleasure to use
PUBLISHED: 09:00 30 April 2020 | UPDATED: 08:34 01 May 2020
Three simple steps to make your shed a pleasure to use and the envy of the neighbourhood.
A well-maintained and orderly shed is a joy to use and a pleasure to visit – not just somewhere to house the lawnmower and cultivate spiders, but also a haven in a busy family garden.
One spring day spent sorting it out can keep a shed happy for an entire year, making it easier to keep in good order through the summer and extending its lifespan.
You’ll need a dry, fine day and, perhaps, a ruthless streak as you sort through the contents. Depending on how it’s already set up, supply of DIY materials may also come in handy.
Empty it and air it
What’s that lurking down behind the deck chairs? The end of a sack of potatoes that has gone past seed and into rotten horror? A broken bicycle? The spare blade for the hedge trimmers you threw out two years ago? As you empty the shed completely, divide the contents into two piles: things to be returned; and things to be thrown away.
Prop the door and any windows open so the air can circulate. Check the condition of the interior wood. If it’s mildewed, check the vent is open and unblocked, allowing air to circulate (had it been blocked by stacking something against it?).
If you don’t have a vent, consider fitting one: a louvred plastic grill is easy to install and inexpensive. If one vent isn’t doing much, fit another one on the opposite wall to get a through draught. If any boards are broken or damaged, patch behind them.
If there’s a wet patch on one wall, check there’s nothing leaning on it on the outside. However, if the floor and/or the bottom of walls are wet, you may need to replace the shed (and get a better base for the next one).
TIP: Whitewashing the interior while it’s empty will make the shed look bigger and make it easier to spot problems in future.
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If a shed is just four walls and a roof, it will become a dumping ground – because dumping stuff on the floor is the only way to store it. If there are shelves, hooks or hangers inside already, make sure they’re being used logically – and don’t be shy about removing or altering them to improve them.
If there’s no storage, work out what shelves, hooks or hangers are needed (you can have a good guess at this even before emptying the shed). The aim is to get as much as possible off the floor.
The things that will be used most often should be nearest the door, where they’re easy to reach and put away properly after use.
Don’t screw or nail directly into shed walls. Attach horizontal batons to the vertical beams and fix everything on those. If there’s a potting bench or work bench, consider what additional storage (draws, boxes or shelves) could make better use of the space beneath it.
TIP: Don’t neglect the back of the door: you can fit shallow, net-fronted shelves or hang light objects (fixed securely) there to maximise the storage space.
“It doesn’t matter how big the shed is, the solution is the same: treat the outside,” advises Craig Atherton of C and C Sheds. He recommends using an oil-based exterior paint for the best weatherproofing. If there’s a little greening of the exterior boards, a stiff brush should remove the worst. “But you can just paint straight on top,” says Craig.
It’s vital to check the roof. If the felt is torn, it will need to be recovered. “You don’t need to remove the old felt,” says Craig. “Just refelt straight over the top.” If there are windows, replace any cracked panes with a fresh piece of polycarbonate and make sure they open and close smoothly.
TIP: Use a length of scrap wood (ideally 4-6in wide) as a kind of rigid, moveable dust sheet at the base of the shed to keep grass down while you paint the bottom of the walls and to avoid dabbing the brush into dust and mud on the floor.
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