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how to paint a storage shed - step by step guide

How to Paint a Storage Shed: The Complete Step-by-Step Guide

A freshly painted storage shed kits can completely transform the look of your backyard. Painting your old, worn-looking shed is an easy and affordable way to spruce up your outdoor space. But there's more to painting a shed than just grabbing a can of paint.

Follow this step-by-step guide to learn how to properly prepare and paint the shed, using the right materials and techniques for a durable, long-lasting paint job.

Key Takeaways

  • Gather supplies like exterior paint, primers, brushes, rollers, scrapers, fillers, sandpaper, tarps, and cleaners.

  • Prep the surface by inspecting for damage, removing loose paint, cleaning, sanding, caulking gaps, and priming bare wood.

  • Paint the trim first, then roll walls in 3x3 ft. sections using 2 coats of paint. Allow proper curing time between coats.

  • For best results, choose a dry day to paint, go from top to bottom, use tape for clean lines, and box paint between coats.

red storage shed with double doors windows and roof with shingles

    What You'll Need to Paint a Shed

    Painting a shed isn't too difficult, but having the right supplies makes the job easier and the results better. Here's what you'll need:

    Paint and Primers

    • Exterior paint formulated for wood - Either semi-gloss or satin is recommended for durability and moisture resistance.
    • Oil-based or acrylic latex primers
    • Paint sprayer (optional for large sheds)

    Painting Tools

    • Paintbrushes - 2-3" angled sash brush, 4" trim brush
    • Paint rollers - 9" roller frame and cover, extension pole
    • Paint trays and liners
    • Paint scraper for removing loose paint
    • Putty knife for applying wood fillers
    • Sandpaper - Both handheld sheets and sanding block/sponge
    • Painters tape
    • Tarps/drop cloths

    Prep Materials

    • Pressure washer or hose and scrub brushes
    • TSP substitute to clean and etch the wood
    • Caulk and caulk gun for sealing gaps
    • Wood filler epoxy for repairing holes and damaged areas

    Safety Equipment

    • Gloves, goggles, mask/respirator

    With these supplies gathered, you'll be fully equipped for your shed painting project. Now let's go over how to properly prepare your wooden storage shed before applying the new paint.

    man painting a wooden storage shed green

    Preparing your Storage Shed for Paint

    Proper prep work is crucial for getting great results painting your shed. Taking time to correctly prepare the surface will help the new paint adhere better and last longer.

    Follow these steps to get your shed ready for painting:

    1. Inspect the Shed for Damage

    Before doing anything else, thoroughly inspect all surfaces of your shed. Look for areas where the existing paint is badly cracking, peeling, or bubbling. Check for any damage to the wood like dry rot, termite damage, or warped boards.

    Make notes on areas that need repairs or wood replacements. Addressing these issues now will extend the life of your shed and prevent further deterioration.

    2. Remove Loose Paint

    Use a paint scraper to remove any cracked or peeling sections of old paint. Get down to the bare wood underneath. This allows the new paint to adhere properly.

    Be careful not to gouge or scratch the wood surface when scraping off paint. Work slowly and gently.

    3. Clean the Wood Surface

    Give your shed a thorough cleaning from top to bottom to remove built-up dirt, mildew stains, cobwebs, and other grime. You want the wood to be as clean as possible before painting.

    The best method is power washing. This blasts off stubborn dirt and debris using pressurized water. Set the pressure washer to under 700 psi to avoid damaging the wood.

    If you don’t have access to a power washer, use a garden hose with a nozzle attachment. Add an all-purpose cleaner like TSP substitute to a bucket of water and scrub the surface with a stiff bristle brush. Rinse thoroughly.

    Let the shed dry completely before moving on to the next steps.

    4. Sand the Wood

    Once dry, sand all surfaces to be painted. Use 120-150 grit sandpaper wrapped around a hand block for easy grip.

    Sanding smoothes the wood grain and removes any gloss from old paint that remains. This helps the primer and new paint adhere properly.

    Be sure to sand both horizontally and vertically to evenly smooth and scuff up the surface. Don’t press too hard to avoid creating dips in the wood.

    5. Caulk Gaps and Fill Holes

    Inspect all seams, joints, corners, and areas where the trim meets siding. Use a flexible, paintable caulk to fill any cracks or gaps. This helps keep moisture out.

    For any nail holes, gouges, or damaged spots, fill with a water-resistant wood filler epoxy. Allow to fully cure before sanding smooth.

    6. Prime Bare Wood and Patches

    Apply 1-2 coats of exterior primer to any exposed bare wood, repairs, or new additions before painting. This could include patched holes, replaced trim boards, or newly constructed elements.

    Priming creates a uniform surface for the paint to stick to. Use an oil-based primer for the best protection on bare wood. Make sure to allow ample drying time between coats.

    Once prepped, your shed is ready for painting!

    wooden shed with double doors in the process of painting

    A Step-By-Step Guide to Painting a Shed

    Once you’ve prepped the surface and selected your paint, it’s time to get to work. Follow these steps for flawless painting:

    1. Read the Label First

    Before starting, read the manufacturer's instructions on the paint can label. Follow any special directions for the best application results with that specific formulation.

    Look for information on drying time between coats, proper temperature, primer to use, and any precautions when using the product.

    2. Set Up Your Painting Area

    Cover any nearby plants or structures with tarps to protect them from drips and splatters. If painting indoors, lay down drop cloths under your work area.

    Pour paint into trays or buckets, and have your brushes, rollers, rags, and other materials ready to go. Set up your ladder if needed.

    3. Paint the Trim First

    It’s best to paint the trim and borders first before covering larger wall areas. Use a 2-3” angled sash brush for trim pieces like corners, windows, and doors.

    Painting the edges first gives you a clean defined border to work up to. It also prevents brush marks on the trim from painting the walls.

    4. Apply First Coat with Roller

    For large flat areas like walls, use a 9” roller cover attached to an extension pole. This allows you to quickly coat large sections.

    Dip the roller into the paint tray, then roll back and forth across the ramp area of the tray to evenly distribute the paint on the roller. Apply in approximately 3x3 ft sections.

    Maintain a wet edge as you go to prevent lap marks and unevenness in the coat. Finish by gently rolling vertically to smooth out the finish.

    5. Inspect the First Coat Thoroughly

    Once the first coat is applied, inspect the area for any missed spots, drips, or uneven coverage. Catching flaws now will ensure the final paint job is flawless.

    Look at the surface from multiple angles in good lighting. Use a work light if painting indoors or in shaded areas.

    6. Apply Second Coat

    Follow recommended drying times before adding a second layer, checking the paint can for guidance. Two coats provide adequate protection for most sheds.

    For the second layer, use crisscrossing strokes to help cover any gaps or thin spots. Work top to bottom methodically.

    Inspect again, and apply any necessary touch-ups to create a perfectly coated surface.

    7. Allow Proper Curing Time

    It takes outdoor paints 2-4 weeks to fully cure, so avoid heavy use of your shed during this time. The paint will be soft and susceptible to damage until completely cured.

    Park vehicles, equipment, and other objects away until the paint has hardened. Avoid leaning anything against freshly painted walls while drying.

    With some care, while curing, your paint job will last for several years before needing touch-ups or reapplication. Just do routine cleaning and upkeep.

    Drying time is also impacted by temperature. In warmer weather, the paint dries faster:

    Temperature Between Coats Full Cure
    60-70°F 2-4 hours 7-14 days
    70-80°F 1-3 hours 5-7 days
    80-90°F 1-2 hours 3-5 days
    90-100°F 30-60 minutes 1-3 days

    Plan your painting project during moderate temperatures around 70°F to allow adequate drying time between coats and proper curing.

    Helpful Tips for Painting Your Shed Like a Pro

    Follow these additional tips from the pros for getting flawless, long-lasting results:

    • Choose a dry, warm day to paint. Avoid high humidity or rain.

    • Always paint from top to bottom on walls to prevent drips.

    • When cutting in edges, pull the brush toward you to prevent brush marks.

    • Work methodically in 3-4 ft sections for the most even coverage.

    • Box in your paint cans to prevent skinning over if taking a break.

    • Apply painter’s tape around the trim for super sharp edges if desired.

    • Allow 2-4 hours dry time between coats, and 2 weeks for full curing.

    With preparation, patience, and proper application techniques, you can achieve professional-looking results by painting your own shed no matter your skill level.

    shed painted black on a deck with outdoor furniture

    Transform Your Old Shed with a Fresh Coat of Paint

    Transforming a faded, peeling shed is simple with proper preparation, high-quality exterior paint, and the right tools. Follow key steps like cleaning, priming, and painting with exterior-grade paint to ensure durability.

    Maintain results by regularly cleaning and touching up paint as needed. A well-cared-for wooden shed treated this way will last for decades.


    Should I paint a shed by hand or use a paint sprayer?

    Painting a shed by hand is a common and effective method. It allows for better control and precision, especially around corners and edges. However, for larger sheds, using a sprayer can save time and effort.

    What kind of paint should I use on my outdoor shed?

    Use exterior latex acrylic paints or oil-based paints formulated for outdoor wood surfaces. Both provide good protection.

    Should I also paint my fence when painting my garden shed?

    Yes, painting the fence and shed together will provide a cohesive, finished look. Use the same type of paint for both.

    Can I apply a second layer of paint without sanding in between?

    In most cases, it is recommended to lightly sand the first coat of paint. Sanding helps to create a smooth surface, remove any imperfections, and ensure proper adhesion between the coats.

    How long should I wait before applying a second coat of paint?

    It is important to follow the manufacturer's instructions on the paint can for the recommended drying time between coats. Typically, you should wait until the first coat is completely dry to the touch before applying a second layer.

    Can I touch up areas of my shed after it has been painted?

    Yes, you can touch up areas of your shed after it has been painted. Simply use the same paint and application method to cover any blemishes or areas that need improvement.

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    About The Author

    Andy Wu - Resident Expert

    Andy Wu - Resident Expert

    Andy Wu is the resident backyard products expert and hails from Atlanta, Georgia. His passion for crafting outdoor retreats began in 2003.

    As a fellow homeowner, he founded Backyard Oasis to provide top-quality furnishings and equipment, collaborating with leading manufacturers.

    His main focus is on sheds and generators!

    In his spare time he like to hike the tallest mountains in the world and travel with his family.

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