Wooden Sheds And Wood Shed Maintenance

Wooden Sheds


On the most practical level, galvanized and painted steel is a better material for most building applications than wood, but there are times when wood is the material of choice.

  1. When a homeowners association requires it.
  2. When it is needed to fit in aesthetically
  3. When it is a personal preference.
  4. When it is the only material available.
  5. When initial cost is the major consideration.

In such cases, wood will do very well. Keep in mind that it must be maintained well if it is to last. More on that subject at the end of this page.

Wood is good

Wood is a wonderful building material. Wood is a renewable building material. Wood is a strong building material. Wood can be worked into almost any shape or size by experts who work with it.

Problems with wood as a shed material

The only problems with wood are fire and water, and of the two, water is likely responsible for more wood structure damage than fire. Wood will not rot except in the presence of moisture, and keeping the moisture out is a perpetual problem that has plagued builders since the first planks were split out of a log. Granted, some woods handle moisture better, with less rot than others. Among them, cedar, redwood, and cypress. Unfortunately, these are also among the least renewable sources for wood building materials. It is not that they can’t be regrown, but that they take a considerable amount of time to do so, and despite the fact that they are rot resistant, they still suffer the ravages of the wetting and drying cycle.

Keeping proper moisture balanced

Keeping the proper balance of moisture on a consistent basis is the goal for builders and owners, and this involves sealing the buildings against high humidity, and excess drying cycles. The standard method for doing this is to apply paint or sealer to the wood to prevent the introduction of moisture. When properly applied, and properly maintained these work very well. The problem is usually in the “properly maintained” part of that equation.

Wooden shed maintenance

Proper maintenance of a wooden structure involves cleaning, and resealing or painting the structure at least every 18 months, and preferably every year.

This is the procedure you should follow:

  1. Loose paint should be scraped off
  2. The building should be well cleaned, and allowed to dry if a pressure washer or other cleaning method involving water is used.
  3. All joints should be caulked.
  4. The proper paint or sealer should be applied according to the manufacturers specifications.
  5. The roof should be inspected for damage, and any needed repairs performed.
  6. All openings should be inspected, and weatherstripping or caulking used to seal any potential leaks.

Do these things on a regular schedule and your wooden or composite building can last as long as a steel sided building.

Maintaining A Shed


“It is hard to maintain out something that is engineered in.” That is what I always said to people who did not place enough emphasis on planning before starting a project, and then spent thousands on labor and material to keep something up, when the numbers could have been much smaller.

I figured that out during my lifetime of property maintenance work. The statement is true, and will be true forever.  If you buy a properly engineered, and properly built building, made of the proper materials, you will have little to do to maintain your building in the best condition.

If  however, you have chosen a wooden building, or a wood composite sided building, you should supplement the information below with annual cleaning, sealing, painting or staining, and prepare to adjust hinges, and add weatherstripping where and when it is needed. If you have composite shingles, you need to be prepared to replace some of them after a high wind, and all of them on a regular schedule. It is just a fact of life with those types of buildings.

Note that the material below is based on maintaining metal or steel clad structures. The information is minimal, because the work is minimal, but just doing these few things will add years to the life of your structure.

Maintaining Metal sided structures

Most storage buildings require little in the way of upkeep, but like all structures they will benefit from a little attention, and will offer longer, better service and help to preserve your investment. Just add these inspection items to your lawn, garden and home exterior maintenance program, for spring and fall if you like.

Start with inspection.

A brief, periodic inspection of the building is a good place to start. Check for such things as:

  • Roof and corner damage.
  • Door operation.
  • Window operation.
  • Weather stripping.
  • “Levelness”.

If a door or window is not opening or closing properly, the reason could be that the building is no longer level. A minor shift could cause a corner to sag, which could, in turn cause a wall to be out of square. When this happens, the first sign could be a sticky door or window. If this is the case, use a standard spirit level to check, and adjust the shims where needed to bring it back to level.

Moisture can be another problem The nature of wood is to absorb moisture. When humidity is high, it can swell causing sticking problems with doors and windows.

Weatherstripping:

Degraded weather seals can allow moisture in as well. To visually check on the condition of the weather stripping, stand inside the building and look at the door. If there is an excessive amount of light coming in around the door, there is a chance that it might need to be replaced. Moist or discolored spots around the door, or door framing is another indicator.

Cleaning:

Keeping your storage building clean will extend its life. Pay particular attention to the roof of the building and such problems as fallen tree branches. Tree branches on the roof of your building can cause other debris to build up , which can cause moisture problems, which can in turn degrade the roof, or weigh it down to the point of sagging. I have seen debris collect on the top of a storage building  for long enough for a tree to grow a foot tall in the soil of the gathering debris! This can also cause insect problems in your storage building.

The same is true of the bottom of your building. If you have dirt building up as mounds, or small dirt trails coming up the blocks, termites could become a problem.

When the exterior walls of the building get grungy, you can clean them with some water and mild soap, using a soft bristle brush, and a garden hose for rinsing. Do not use abrasives that could damage the paint, and cause future problems with corrosion.

Other concerns:

If you find loose screws in the siding, you can “snug” them back in place, adding a little silicone caulk around the threads and head of the screw is also helpful. Just make sure they are snug, and don’t strip the threads.

Doing these few small tasks will assure your buildings long and productive life!

Shed Maintenance Advice


You have found your “just right” shed, financed it in a way that doesn’t blow the family budget, carefully planned the placement of the building so that it doesn’t cause problems with your lawn, landscape, or maintenance activities, and have it assembled, delivered, or built safely and securely in your own back yard! Congratulations! That may have seemed like a lot of work, but the work isn’t over yet.

Storage shed maintenance

With anything you buy or build, there is always some maintenance involved. Storage buildings are no exception. Some storage sheds, particularly the painted metal buildings, like steel storage sheds, are pretty easy to maintain. Some, like wood or composite wood type materials require a little more maintenance to stay in good condition and protect your belongings for the long term. We recommend making a checklist, and setting up a schedule to check the things on your list. This may seem like a lot of time, but it will only take a few minutes each month, and can save you a lot of time and money on repairs and losses as the building ages. When you find something that needs to be done, set a time to repair it, get whatever materials you need, and do that little job before it becomes a much larger issue.

Common storage shed maintenance practices

There are some maintenance practices that are common to all types of buildings, one that is often overlooked is leveling.

Leveling

If your building is set up on blocks, you may need to level it up on occasion. If you notice sticking doors or windows, or separations, it could be that the building is slightly out of square because it is no longer level. Checking for level can be done with a common “spirit level”, and any problems can usually be corrected by driving a tapered “shim” under the low area until the spirit level bubble is centered.

Cleaning

Dirt and grime can cause a building to age prematurely, periodic cleaning with mild detergents, and no abrasives will make it last longer, and look better throughout the life of the building.

Moisture control

The elements are the enemy of most building materials. Moisture can cause rust, corrosion, and rot. Keeping your storage building sealed against moisture is one of the most important activities for you buildings longevity, and the safety of it’s contents. Make sure that all fasteners are snug, all joints are sealed, and all weatherstripping is in good working condition.

Metal sheds

Metal buildings require little maintenance, usually consisting of periodic cleaning, “snugging up” fasteners, checking for leaks and applying a little silicone sealer when and where it is needed, checking door and window seals, and replacing weatherstripping where needed, and a little touch up paint if you do find a scratch or nick. For cleaning use a mild detergent, and rinse thoroughly. Do not use abrasive cleaners as these will thin the protective coatings.

Vinyl and plastic sheds

Vinyl requires little care, like painted metal, periodic cleaning, fastener checking, and properly sealing seams, joints, and doors and windows will be the major issues. As with metal buildings, use a mild detergent, and no abrasives.

Wood and wood composite sheds

Wood building maintenance is a little more difficult than other types of buildings, and the problem is almost always the same: Keeping moisture out. In high humidity, wood takes on moisture and swells, when the humidity is lower, wood releases moisture and shrinks. This constant swelling and shrinking can have an adverse effect on your building. When wood gets wet, and stays wet for a time, it is susceptible to fungus and other elements that can cause rot. There is no such thing as “dry rot”. If wood has rotted, it was exposed to moisture at some time. The goal for maintaining any wood structure is to keep the moisture out. That is what paint, wood sealer, and caulk or for. The same practices required for other building materials apply to wood and composites, but they will also need to be resealed or painted at least every 18 months, and preferably every year for maximum longevity. Check all seals and seams, and caulk as needed. Check the weatherstripping and replace as needed.

These practices will only require a little time, but will increase the longevity of your building, and save it’s contents from unnecessary damage.

Shed Maintenance


It is not enough to just buy or build a shed. There will come a time when you will need to perform maintenance and minor repairs. This section will guide you through the process and offer information on setting up a preventive maintenance program that will not eat all your spare time.

Preventive maintenance for sheds

First and foremost, prevention is the key to any good maintenance program. This should start at the very beginning of the process. Your choice of materials will set the pace for your maintenance needs in the future. Other preventive measures would include things like avoiding tool and equipment dings, dents, and damage which can compromise the integrity of the structure.

Shed materials

It is just hard to avoid the fact that galvanized and painted steel will outlast wood or composite sidings. It is not a sales tactic, it is just the truth. It is also true that such materials will require less maintenance over the extended life of the building than their wood and composite counter parts. These are just the facts. Knowing this to be true, makes choosing material based on ease and longevity a ‘no brainer”. However, ease and longevity are not the only factors in choosing a building or the materials used to build it.

Other factors may include, appearance, price, and local restrictions. Sometimes it may be necessary to blend an additional feature such as a shed with the home and landscape, and in such cases, wood may be the best choice. Budget restraints may make wood or composite siding the initial best choice, although the additional maintenance costs over several years will probably make the steel siding a more economical choice in the long run. Home Owners Associations seem to prefer wooden structures over metal structures, so if you have a HOA where you live, you may have little choice in the matter. Whatever the reason, wood and composite sidings will require a higher level of maintenance.

Metal shed maintenance

Maintenance for metal sheds is simple. Once a year, or more often if you like, you should perform the following inspection and follow up:

  • Keep the top free of debris like tree limbs. Such things can cause a build up of organic materials that can add stress to the structure. Denting or sagging could result, and water damage could be a consequence.
  • Give the building a good cleaning to remove grime. Use a mild detergent with no abrasives.
  • Check the building to be sure it is level. The first indication of this will probably be sticking doors. If the doors should become “sticky” between anual inspections, check the structure with a spirit level, and adjust it as needed.
  • Tighten or replace loose or missing screws. This will help to avoid water and wind damage. check with a nut driver and tighten as needed. The addition of a small amount of silica sealer to the threads of screws that were extremely loose may help to preven this in the future.

Wood shed maintenance

Wood rot occurs only in the presence of moisture. There is no such thing as dry root, If wood is dry and rotting, water was present at some point to initiate the rot, and the rotting will stop once the moisture is removed.

Knowing this, we can understand that the most significant danger to a wood or composite structure is moisture, so preventing moisture is our main objective. This simply means, that we need to keep the wooden surfaces from being penetrated by moisture by sealing them with paint or sealer and caulk. Some woods are resistant to moisture damage, but even these will benefit from proper sealing.

Once a year, your wooden or composite structure should be:

  • Inspected
  • Leveled
  • Cleaned
  • Re-sealed

This is the best preventive maintenance possible. Special attention should be paid to any openings in the structure such as doors, windows, and vents, as these are usually the primary entrance points for rain or irrigation water, and the first places to show signs of damage. This should be done whether it appears to be needed or not. All joints should be re-caulked, and all surfaces should get a coat of paint or sealer. Shingles should be inspected and replaced if needed. Doing this consistently will add years of life to your shed.

Vinyl shed maintenance

All of the applicable points for wood and metal sheds should be taken into account with vinyl sheds. They should be cleaned, sealed, and leveled at least once per year.