How to Waterproof your Shed
Many sheds have faced the devastating effects of prolonged water damage — rotting wood, rusty tools and equipment, and much worse. If you want to extend the life of your garden shed, as well as the equipment and tools within, your shed must undergo regular maintenance to keep it watertight throughout the year. To save time, money, and countless hours of frustration let’s examine how you can waterproof your shed
1) Start with the right base
If your shed makes direct contact with the ground, it will be susceptible to dampness. There’s also a greater chance of insect infestation. To avoid this issue, it’s absolutely vital your shed sits on a base. You can build your own base if you have the expertise, but you can just as easily buy a sturdy wooden base that will raise your garden shed off the ground, warding off both insect infestation and damp.
Utilizing a wooden base will aid you in your endeavors to keep your shed waterproof because it will allow air to circulate underneath the shed itself. Because the base will be touching the ground, it should be pressure-treated to help it fend off rot.
While wooden sheds serve to support smaller sheds, you may have to resort to a heavier duty solution for a larger shed. In such an instance, you may have to turn to a concrete base. The one major downside to concrete bases when waterproofing shed is that their solid mass stops air from flowing beneath your shed. To fix this issue, give consideration to using floor bearers that sit on top of the concrete base to keep the air circulating.
2) Clear gutters
If you want to keep your shed watertight, as well as waterproof wood you’ll want to improve the drainage of your gutters by clearing up debris such as mud and leaves. It’s common for large pools of water to form due to backed up gutters which could potentially lead to minor flooding.
If you don’t have gutters installed on your shed, you should consider purchasing and installing them at some point. Not only will you solve any drainage issues you may be dealing with, but you can also collect rainwater in a bucket at the bottom of the runoff which you can save to water your garden at a later time.
3) Don’t forget to check your windows and doors
Maintaining your windows and doors is an essential part of keeping your shed water tight. Wood naturally shrinks over the course of time, causing cracks to appear around window and door frames. Though these cracks may seem minuscule in size, water droplets can still squeeze their way through and cause long-term water damage.
To keep your shed waterproof, fill any cracks or gaps you may find with builder’s caulking or expanding foam. You can further protect your doors by filling in gaps with excluder tape.
In an ideal world, you should have a door that’s equipped with a threshold to keep the outside world from blowing in (such as rain water during a storm). If you don’t have a threshold, you can improvise by using a weather bar instead.
Lastly, check your windows and doors for signs of rot. You can easily do this by softly probing each surface with a screwdriver. If you find any soft patches dig it out with your tool and fill it in with a wood filler. You can then sand and repaint the area to make it seem like the spot had never been touched.
4) Check the condition of your roof
Because your roof takes the most punishment from the elements you’ll want to take extra care to ensure it’s in good condition. This is especially the case if your roof is covered in roofing felt or felt shingles which are prone to deteriorate over the course of time. Pay close attention to the edges and ridge lines of the roof. Also pay attention to any areas where the roofing material is nailed into place.
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.
If your roofing felt is especially worn then outright replacing the material is a viable option. If that’s the case, 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.
5) Treat your shed with wood preservative
Pressure treated wood will always serve as a shield against fungus, rot and insect infestation. However, even sheds with a fifteen-year anti-rot guarantee should be treated on an annual basis because the treatment process will begin to weaken over the course of time. You can think of this step as “topping off the tank.”
Before applying the wood preservative make sure there’s plenty of room for you to move around freely to make your job easier. Having plenty of space also allows for excellent airflow which in turn will keep your shed nice and dry.
When it comes to wood preservative selection, a water-based stain is the best option. Water-based stains and waterproof shed paint are perfect because they’re quick to dry which helps to keep dampness to a minimum (especially with good airflow). Furthermore, a water-based stain is a better choice than a spirit-based stain because it contains fewer volatile organic compounds, making water-based stains the less toxic alternative.
Even if you’ve gone through all of the above steps, you’ll still need good airflow throughout your shed to ensure it stays dry. You can do this by installing a pair of static vents on both sides of the building which will allow air to enter and exit freely. Keep out bugs by investing in vents with bug-proof meshing.
You should also consider the possibility of adding insulation to your shed. 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 (which defeats the whole purpose of waterproofing your shed in the first place). You can keep heat trapped within your wood shed by adding insulation.
As you can see, keeping your shed waterproof is a big job. However, if you don’t take the time to maintain your shed properly, you’ll likely have to pay extra money down the road to not only repair or outright replace your shed, but possibly the equipment inside as well. Set aside time to care for your shed and you’ll increase its longevity for years to come.