Many people ask about how to maintain a garden building. Wooden sheds and log cabins need regular maintenance to ensure that the timber stays in great condition. Well-maintained garden buildings can be an extension of your home for many years to come, staying strong and sturdy as a practical and attractive outdoor feature. So, how do I keep my building looking good as new?
Treatment: Preservatives and Paint
One of the most important parts of maintenance is treatment. Timber is a natural product and needs to be treated with a high-quality wood preserver to prolong its life. While some garden buildings may come with a temporary preserver, it is important that you thoroughly treat your building, inside and out, as soon as possible.
You should treat your building after it has been erected, rather than treating the panels or the boards before. This is to make sure that the components will fit together securely and accurately – without the added layer of treatment. The underside of the floorboards, however, should be treated prior to installation.
Clear, tint or coloured?
You can treat your building with a clear or tinted timber preserver which allows the natural beauty of the wood to shine through. If you’d rather a bolder colour, you can use external timber paints. Many timber paints contain an integral timber preserver – giving you a richer, more opaque colour than a tint. These paints will usually still showcase the texture of the wood, so you don’t have to sacrifice the beauty of natural timber. We recommend any high-quality, solvent-based preservative, but the choice of colour is all yours!
You can get creative when painting your building. Blue and white stripes make a stunning beach hut. Bold or contrasting colours are always eye-catching for your garden. Pastel paint tones are always popular, and neutral tones blend into the natural colours of your garden for a timeless look.
It is best to treat your building on a dry day – preferably with no (or little) rain forecasted for the following days. Make sure you do any necessary re-coats of paints and allow enough drying time between coats. Timber brushes are specially developed for use on wood, with harder-wearing bristles and reduced bristle loss, so one of these would be your best choice.
How often do I treat my building?
You should treat your building annually to make sure the wood stays resistant to the ingress of water and protected from damp and rot. A regularly treated building will have a significantly longer life than one that has only been treated once. With regular and thorough treatment, a garden building can last for many years.
Tiger Tip: For a more professional finish, use painter’s tape to cover any fixtures such as hinges or handles before you paint your building. Also, carefully cover the glass of any windows or doors before you begin.
Roof: Felt and Shingles
Another important part of maintenance is to check to make sure nothing is in contact with your shed. This is especially important for the roof. Trim tree branches or bushes which are touching the roof of your shed or log cabin, as this could cause the felt to tear. It is also important to make sure that branches aren’t touching, or close to, any timber parts of your shed, as this could lead to repeated exposure to water when rainwater drips from trees.
Check the roof of your building regularly for damage or tears which could cause leaks. If you do spot a rip or tear, remove the damaged area and replace the material as soon as possible. Regularly check the roof for any foliage or build up of other debris, as this can end up water-logged and add pressure to your building. Wet leaves or branches staying on your roof for a long time can cause rips and tears, which eventually lead to leaks.
If you have a log cabin with gutter attachments, make sure that you clear these out regularly. Blockages will restrict water flow, which will not be helpful for periods of rain or snow.
Tiger Tip: Always check your roof for any damage after a storm!
Base, Doors and Windows
Before you install your garden building, it is incredibly important that the base is firm and level. A correctly installed base means there will be no unnecessary repairs in the future – prevention is better than the cure! An uneven base can mean that the panels or logs of your building twist and do not remain securely connected, leading to visible gaps which may let in water. It is much harder to fix an improperly installed base than it is to lay it correctly the first time.
Due to changing temperatures, natural timber expands and contracts over time. This can affect the doors and windows of log cabins, causing them to not open properly or not be square. You may need to occasionally unscrew the fascias of doors and windows to allow the timber to relax.
You should also regularly check the logs or boards of your garden building for any cracks or holes. Small cracks or holes can be filled with wood-filler, but for more significant damage you should replace the board. Click here to see How to Replace a Broken Board.
Tiger Tip: See our Build a Base Guide for more information on creating the perfect foundation for your garden building.