A Quick Guide to Waterproofing Your Shed

A garden shed is a worthwhile investment, but for you to reap its benefits in the long run, waterproofing your outdoor building is a must. 

Water leaks are the enemy of sheds and their contents. To keep your outbuilding watertight and in pristine condition throughout the year, it must undergo regular maintenance.

Preventing water and moisture from coming inside your shed sounds like a strenuous task but it is not as challenging as it seems, especially if you use our guide below.

Why Waterproofing Your Shed Is Essential

Wooden sheds are susceptible to water damage.  Serious and commonly overlooked side effects of prolonged water damage in most sheds, particularly wooden material, are decayed wood structure, rusty tools and equipment, to name a few.

To prevent saturating the material from happening, it is time to take action and keep that rainwater away from your building structure. Without further ado, here’s how you can waterproof your garden shed.

Note: Even if you live in drier parts of the country, water is still and can be a threat. Further, with at least some rainfall that every state and city experience, even small amounts of moisture can harm your shed. 

Spotting Leaks and Damage in Your Garden Shed

Checking the leaks before you waterproof your shed can help you determine if there are any damage or weak points. This also allows you to address issues beforehand.

Typically, rain hits most of the exterior surfaces. So when it comes to checking your shed for leaks, the best time is after it rains, so you will be able to locate a wider range of potential leak problems.

The common signs of a leak are damp areas and discolouration. If any of your stored items are wet, that also indicates that your shed is leaking. Trace the flow of the water to find the source of the leak, starting from puddles near walls or on the ceiling.

Aside from looking for leaks, it is always a good idea to examine your garden building for damage. This step includes checking for any sign of wood, cracking or seepage through the floor.

If there are any damaged areas, you need to repair them before you begin with the waterproofing process. Otherwise, the wooden structure may only continue to rot, or the water may keep getting in.

Waterproofing Your Shed

By following these steps below, you can manage the entire waterproofing process yourself. Let’s get started!

Step 1: Start With the Right Base

Check your shed building if it makes direct contact with the ground. If yes, then it is likely to be vulnerable to dampness and there is a greater chance of insect infestation.

To save time, money, and countless hours of frustration, start with the first step: making sure your shed sits on the right base.

If you have the expertise in this area, you can build your own base. Other ways, you can opt for a built-in top quality wooden base to raise your shed off the ground.

For larger and heavier duty sheds, you may have to turn to a concrete base. Just make sure to use floor bearers that sit on top of the concrete base to keep the air circulating.

Not only does elevating your shed limits the impact of rainwater—ensuring that moisture from the soil and pooling does not seep into the timber structure, but it also wards off both insect infestation and dampness while allowing air to circulate underneath the shed itself.

Note: You also do not want your shed to make direct contact with a paved surface. Water can collect on pavement as well since it cannot absorb into the ground.

Step 2: Clean the Gutters

Clearing the drainage of your shed gutters, including the debris like mud and leaves, is an excellent way to keep the garden building watertight. If the gutters are neglected, it is common for large pools of water to form.

If your shed does not have gutters, you might as well consider purchasing and installing them at some point. This is to prevent any drainage issues you may be dealing with in the future. At the same time, letting you collect rainwater in a bucket at the bottom of the runoff which you can use to water your garden at a later time.

Step 3: Check Your Windows and Doors

Another step you need to consider in keeping your shed watertight is maintaining your windows and doors. Timber naturally shrinks over the course of time, causing cracks to appear around the windows and door frames.

Whether those cracks are minuscule or huge in size, water droplets can still squeeze their way in, causing a long-term water damage. Since we do not want that to occur, what you can do is to fill any cracks or gaps you may find with the use of expanding foam or builder’s caulking. As for the doors, you can fill in the gaps with excluder tape.

Further, rot is something you must also prevent from happening when it comes to your shed windows and doors. Any signs of rot should be dug out with your tool and fill it in with a wood filler. Then sand and repaint the area to make it seem like the spot had never been touched.

Step 4: Check the Condition of Your Roof and Protect It

When it rains, the roof is likely to be the most area of the garden building to get wet. Let alone your roof takes the most punishment from the harsh elements. This being said, extra care is vital to ensure the overall structure of your shed, from top to bottom, stays in good condition.

If your shed roof is covered in roofing felt or felt shingles which are prone to deteriorate over the course of time, then a thorough maintenance check is necessary. You also need to pay close attention to the edge and ridge line of the roof, including to any areas where the roofing material is nailed into place.

Adding any shingles or other roofing material can add an extra layer of protection to the roof, ensuring that the timber material underneath does not get wet. The process of patching felt is fairly straightforward. 

Simply lift a damaged shingle and spray sealant underneath before applying a patch of extra felt and pressing down. Shingles that have been torn can be repaired by applying sealant on the lower edge where the rip has occurred and pressing together until the tear holds together.

On the other hand, if your roofing felt is especially worn,  you can simply switch it out with a waterproof shed membrane, fresh felt or you could add EPDM rubber sheeting. The option you choose will ultimately come down to how much you’re willing to spend to ensure your roof is absolutely waterproof.

Step 5: Treat Your Shed With Wood Preservatives

If you are going to apply the wood preservative yourself, you will want to make sure there is plenty of space for you to move around your shed at no cost. Having enough room also invites more airflow, keeping your outbuilding nice and dry.

Now when it comes to choosing wood preservatives, a water-based stain can be your best bet. Water-based stains and paints are both perfect to use as they are quick to dry, keeping dampness to a minimum.

What’s more, this type of wood preservative contains fewer volatile organic compounds which makes it a less toxic alternative.

Step 6: Insulate and Ventilate Your Outbuilding

When your shed is insulated, it will be highly resistant against the external climatic conditions. Plus, the low humidity inside ensures that your objects inside remain dry and safe. This can result in longer life both for your items and the shed itself, and at the same time, reducing costs incurred on their maintenance.

To insulate, install a pair of static vents on both sides to let air in to enter and exit freely. Investing in vents with bug-proof meshing is also ideal, particularly if you wish to keep the bugs at bay.

A good airflow throughout your garden shed is important and is critical for moisture management. When ventilating the structure, make sure to install ridge vents and that your soffits are properly ventilated. Functionally, a soffit protects rafters—boards that support a roof—from the elements. Keeping moisture away from the rafters can help lessen the chance of mould.

The colder it gets outside, the more humidity begins to condense in the air. As a result, the tools and equipment inside of your shed may become damaged, defeating the whole purpose of waterproofing your shed in the first place. 

You can keep heat trapped within your wood shed by insulating and ventilating your shed.

It is true that waterproofing your shed requires you attention, time and effort. It may be a demanding task at first but it eventually can benefit you and your shed. We hope this guide will motivate you to set aside time to care for your garden building so you can make the most of it for years to come.

Bonus: here are some amazing ways you can utilise your shed!