Tackling Condensation In Your Garden Shed

Why is it that metal sheds suffer from condensation? And timber sheds don’t? And how do you stop condensation in metal sheds?

Well, it looks like you’re in the right place. Lucky for you, we’ve already written a helpful guide on insulating your shed. But insulation won’t solve all your problems.

So are you thinking about buying a metal garden shed? Or are you trying to fix condensation in an existing metal shed? Either way, this quick guide will give you some long-term fixes to show condensation the door!

So let’s start simple.

What does condensation mean?

Condensation definition: 

Condensation is where water settles on a cold surface as droplets when humid air comes into contact with it.

This occurs after evaporation in the water cycle (where liquid turns into vapour). And we’ve probably all seen this happen with a cup of hot coffee on a cold morning.

When next to a window (and outside is colder), steam from a hot coffee condenses on a window as droplets.

And your shed is no different.

Check out the video below for an explainer regarding condensation:

What causes condensation?

Condensation in your shed is caused when the outside is cold and the inside is warm. As the temperature outside gets colder, so does the fabric of your shed (metal in this case).

This is because metal sheds are usually made from thin, heat-conductive sheets. When it’s cold enough, it reaches what we call a ‘dew point’. This is the temperature at which air must be cooled for water to turn from vapour into liquid (dew).

Cold metal in contact with warm air means that droplets form as condensation on the inside of the shed’s roof. It usually happens at the roof because hot air rises, making it the moistest area.

Warm air rising can form condensation on:

  • Walls
  • The ceiling/roof
  • Windows

This is usually because it has nowhere else to go. The problem is, this condensation can then drip back down into your shed. This, in turn, can damage the contents of your shed. So if you don’t want to be left with rusty tools and mildew, read on.

Let’s learn how to stop condensation in your metal shed before it even happens.

hot glass mug/jar of coffee steaming by a window

How to Stop Condensation: Inside 

There’s no reason to shy away from metal garden sheds just because of concerns over condensation.

And to prove it to you, we’re going to show you how to beat condensation in metal sheds once and for all. Just follow these steps to save your metal bike shed or storage shed.

To stop condensation in your metal shed you need to:

  1. Keep the interior dry
  2. Provide adequate ventilation
  3. Combat moisture when building
  4. Properly insulate your shed
  5. Use a dehumidifier

And to do this, you could follow these steps. 

How to stop condensation in metal sheds:

  1. Lay a flooring moisture barrier when pouring a concrete floor
  2. (Optional) Install a timber sub-floor for insulation and ventilation
  3. Use anti-condensation roofing and cladding sheets
  4. Bolt shed to base and caulk base with silicone
  5. Spray insulation foam 
  6. (Optional) Fix polystyrene tiles to roof
  7. Use a dehumidifier 
Does my shed need a vapour barrier Garden Buildings Direct infographic with three tiles for different sheds and climates with icons and arrows regarding air flow, insulation, and vapour barriers
Use this infographic to decide if your wooden shed needs a vapour barrier.

Got it? Great. Now let’s have a look in detail at just how those steps will help keep your metal garden shed moisture-free.

Anti-condensation Roofing Sheets 

If you’re wondering how to stop condensation on steel roof sheets, we’ve got you covered. If you’ve got a large metal shed, condensation on the roof can be a real killer.

So what you need to do is find a way to absorb moisture and keep water away from your roof. This will help you prevent rust and damage to your metal shed. 

A good place to start is by constructing a roof with anti-condensation roofing sheets. These work by absorbing and retaining any moisture until it’s hot enough to evaporate. Plus, metal roof sheets form natural gullies to get rid of run-off water.

But you might still want to protect the underside of your shed’s metal roof. And we can’t blame you.

So to do that, we suggest using a spray cavity filler. A closed-cell polyurethane spray foam will help prevent condensation from forming.

You can also apply polystyrene tiles to help insulate your roof. To prepare to treat the underside of your metal roof:

  • Clean roof panels from the interior with methylated spirits
  • Dry them sufficiently
  • Using a spray glue (for polystyrene-metal bonding), fix tiles to the underside of your roof

Just check out how the guy in the video below does this:

Top tip: Make sure to buy a spray that isn’t affected by hot or cold. And try to work on a warm day.

Now, while this might not cure your little metal shed or condensation, it will help to insulate it. This can help ensure that there’s no contact between warm air and the metal surface of your shed.

This is especially useful as most metal garden sheds can’t be fully insulated. This is because they’re usually constructed with a rail system. So insulation batts tend not to stay in place.

But we’re not done there! Another area to work on would be your:

Ventilation 

Having good airflow through your metal garden shed will ensure that areas can’t get damp. It’ll also help to regulate the difference in temperature between your shed and outdoors.

You can always improve ventilation by simply opening windows (or skylights if you have them). This can also help to reduce condensation between double-glazing. But this is a time-consuming and short-term approach.

You might be better off installing wall vents in your metal shed’s eaves. Or, you could even install a whirligig or an electric fan if you’re hooked up to utilities. 

To help with this, you could also use a moisture trap or dehumidifier in your outdoor garden building. This will help to remove water from the air in your shed so there will be less chance of it forming as condensation.

Caulking

Another tip for dealing with condensation in a metal shed is to create a tight seal. Ventilation can help with airflow at the top of your shed. Then caulking can deal with moisture at the base.

After bolting your metal shed to a concrete slab or base, make sure to caulk the inside around the base. Use silicone or a mastic sealant around the inner rails. This can ensure that groundwater doesn’t seep into your metal shed.

From there, you’ll be ready to combat condensation on the outside of your shed.

Glass window with condensation and water steaking down it

How to Stop Condensation: Outside

Trust us, we’ve seen it all over the years, from people swearing off metal sheds altogether to trying to tell us to wrap them in plastic!

One of the quick fixes we hear a lot is using paint to stop condensation in metal sheds. Not any old paint, mind. And while insulation paint is thick and will offer some protection, it’s rarely the answer.

Sure, use it in combination with the other points in this guide. But if that’s your last-ditch attempt, it’s probably too late for your shed.

Instead, we like to combat condensation in metal sheds before it even happens. And you know us, we’re all about that base baby!

Condensation in Concrete Slabs

Most metal shed will usually be installed on a concrete slab. That’s because it’s easy to bolt them down and provide stability.

The problem with this, though, is that concrete is also very porous. This means that it holds moisture and can lead to dampness and condensation in your metal shed. 

But there are a couple of ways that you can save even a cheap metal shed from this fate.

If you follow these steps, you can stop drying water creating a condensation cycle in your new metal shed. 

Some metal sheds also come with bungs if you’re not bolting it down. So make sure to insert these as per the instructions.

If you are bolting your shed to a (dry!) concrete base, make sure the bolts go in straight. If they’re not straight, they won’t create a level seal and can let water in. If in doubt, you can always caulk around the bolt heads too.

Location, location, location  

Apart from being the name of our favourite TV show, location is super important to keep your metal shed dry.

Make sure to place your shed somewhere higher than the surrounding ground. This will allow water to run away from your garden shed and keep your foundation dry. Once you’ve sorted the base, it’s time to think about the roof again.

The lower your metal shed’s roof pitch and the deeper the corrugations in your roof sheets, the bigger the problem. This can lead to water that doesn’t drain properly, pooling, and condensation or ‘shed sweating’.

So make sure that you choose appropriate roof cladding. But also, situate your metal storage shed away from heavily planted areas. Shrubs and trees can block airflow to your vents. 

They can also cause condensation from dripping overhanging branches. And, their roots will hold water around your base.

Which might have you asking:

Interior of large metal shet with light coming through roof vent

Should I Still Buy a Metal shed? 

The short answer is – well, yeah! 

Don’t let this guide fool you – we’re here to help solve problems and buying a metal shed solves more than it creates. They’re practical and durable. Plus, they’re lightweight and come at an attractive price point.

Just make sure you follow the steps laid out in this guide. Then you can combat condensation before it even occurs.

Let’s recap:

  • Choose appropriate roof cladding
  • Seal and insulate your shed
  • Build on an appropriate, dry base
  • Install ventilation or aerate 
  • Use a dehumidifier
  • Check tools and contents regularly for damp
  • (Optional) Fix polystyrene tiles to the roof

Then you should have no problems at all.

And if you do opt for a metal shed, you’ll overcome a lot of the maintenance problems associated with timber sheds. It’s horses for courses, though. The only reason you tend not to get condensation in timber sheds is that there are natural gaps in the joins.

So if you want an air-tight metal shed that’s durable and easy to build – make sure to seal the base and bolts!

And if you’re still not sold, check out this handy guide on the advantages of metal sheds.

Shop Metal Sheds

FAQs

The best stage at which to combat condensation is before you even build your shed. If pouring a concrete base, make sure it isn’t much wider than your shed base. Otherwise, it’ll draw excess moisture. Also, allow the concrete to set and dry sufficiently. 

 

Otherwise, you can use a ventilated and insulated wooden base. We also suggest adding vents to your eaves. You can even use anti-condensation roof sheets, caulking, and insulation spray. These will all help regulate temperature and keep a tight seal. Then finish off with a humidifier.

Double-glazing will help to regulate indoor vs outdoor temperature. Then, installing air vents or opening windows can help to stop moisture from forming.

Yes, unlike timber sheds. But it’s nothing to be afraid of. The positives of metal sheds (price point and durability) far outweigh a bit of condensation!

 

Read back over our helpful guide to stopping condensation for more info.

If you’re working in your metal shed or using it as a storage shed, chances are it’ll be warmer than outside. But this doesn’t have to be a problem. What you want to do is regulate temperature rather than simply make your shed cool.

 

To do this, install ventilation and use a dehumidifier at the very least.

A lot of guides will tell you to use insulation paint. But for stopping condensation, this won’t solve your problems. Plus, a shed’s rail frames make it hard (or impossible!) to install wall and roof insulation batts. 

 

Instead, we suggest using an insulation spray on the underside of your roof. If bolting your rail base down, make sure to caulk on the inside and around bolt holes. Then you can also affix polystyrene tiles to the underside of your roof.

Timber acts as insulation so it doesn't get as cold as quickly as thin conductive metal. Timber also has gaps between joins. These allow hot air to escape and regulate temperature.