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By Amy Hanlon on 13 Mar 2024

Shed Maintenance: How Painting Your Shed Will Help Your Shed Last Longer


While painting your shed might not be the most exciting thing in the world, it’s not only about keeping your building looking brand-new. Painting your shed extends the life of your building, so what’s not to love?

If you want your shed to last a long time you need to protect it from the elements with a bit of shed maintenance.

You should protect the wood with a splash of paint. But we’re not just talking about any old paint here. We’re talking about a proper wood preservative, like Sadolin, a Gillies & Mackay favourite.

With a good coat of this preservative, the wood in your shed will last a lot longer than without. This video explains why treating the wood is important and why we choose to use Sadolin.

Why does my shed need a preservative?

Sadolin doesn’t just make your building look great. It’s also a protective layer for softwood buildings.

Sheds are generally built from softwoods like pine and spruce. Clever Sheddies know that Scandinavian Pine, sometimes called Scandinavian Redwood, is the best softwood for exterior use in Scotland. But even the best timber is still timber, and it’s still exposed to the elements. So any added protection is more than welcome.

Why isn’t timber waterproof?

Trees need water to survive, and just like our body has blood vessels to transport fluids, timber has a network of vessels for transporting water. When the tree is cut down, those vessels make the timber porous. When timber is exposed to water, it will soak it into these pores just as it did when it was a tree.

One reason we choose Scandinavian Redwood is because it comes from a cold climate. This makes the pores smaller and the grain of the wood tighter, making it less likely to soak in water than timber from warmer climates like the UK. But all timber will soak in water to some extent.

The breathable nature of timber is an unlikely benefit because it means that timber buildings are less likely to suffer from condensation. Any water that gets in can also get out. But too much water will always cause problems in timber buildings. That’s why we need Sadolin.

How does Sadolin protect timber?

Sadolin offers three types of protection: penetrative protection, UV protection and preservative protection.

Why do sheds need penetrative protection?

When air has very high levels of moisture for long periods of time, like a Scottish winter (or summer sometimes) water can penetrate your building from outside. This happens because the porous timber takes in water from the air, and it moves through the timber to the inside of your shed. We call this process water ingress

Water ingress can be minimised by painting the outside of the building with Sadolin. Because Sadolin is water-based, it creates a porous layer, but the pores are much smaller than those found in timber. This means that you keep the breathable benefits of timber, but decrease the risk of water ingress. 

Sadolin protects your shed from excessive water penetration.

Will painting your shed provide UV protection?

A shed with a sun tan? I know it sounds odd, but the UV rays in sunlight can weaken and damage untreated timber over time. While your shed won’t develop wrinkles and sun spots, UV rays make timber brittle, discoloured and more susceptible to water ingress. 

Think of Sadolin as sunblock for your shed. Painting your shed covers the building in a protective layer that stops UV rays from getting to the timbers, preventing any damage that can occur over time. 

Just like sunblock, this protective layer must be reapplied to keep your shed safe from the sun. Depending on how exposed your building is, a fresh coat of paint every 5-6 years, with the odd top-up here and there, will keep your shed from sun damage. 

Will painting your shed provide preservative protection?

As well as water and the sun, timber can be damaged by insects and fungi. Timber is full of natural sugars which make excellent food for both insects and the fungi that cause mould. Left untreated, these pests will infest your shed and get munching. 

As well as damaging the timbers (and eventually the shed) insects and fungi can cause damage to the contents of the building, and are generally an unpleasant and unwelcome addition to your ShedLife. 

Thank goodness for Sadolin’s preservative protection – the paint contains fungicide and insecticide to deter these infestations and help keep your shed free from mould and beasties. 

What type of Sadolin do I need to protect my shed?

Two Gillies & Mackay Apex wooden sheds side by side. One is stained reddish brown and one is painted pale blue.The brown shed is painted with Sadolin Quick Dry, and the blue shed with Sadolin SuperDec

Sadolin comes in various different formulas:

  • Sadolin SuperDec – this is an opaque colour that completely covers woodgrain.
  • Sadolin Quick Dry  – this is a translucent colour which partially covers woodgrain.
  • Sadolin Classic – this is a solvent-based paint, which we don’t use at Gillies & Mackay.

What’s the difference between water-based and solvent-based paints?

As Sadolin explain here on their website, water-based paints contain far less white spirit, which is a volatile organic compound (VOC). VOCs are regulated to protect both the environment and people, as they cause unpleasant fumes that can be harmful at certain levels. 

Water-based paints have much lower levels of VOCs, as well as being easier to work with and clean up. that’s why we use Sadolin SuperDec for an opaque finish and Sadolin Quick Dry for a translucent finish.

Both of these paints come in a huge range of colours because excellent protection shouldn’t get in the way of looking braw! 

How does painting your shed help it last longer?

By protecting your shed from water ingress, UV rays, insects and fungi, a good-quality preservative like Sadolin keeps your shed in great condition not just for years, but for decades. Well-protected Scandinavian Redwood should last for 30+ years, and if you look after it well, so should your she

Remember that Sadolin is good, but it’s not magic. You’ll have to reapply the good stuff every 5-6 years to continue reaping the benefits of this great preservative. But every time you do, you’re helping your shed stay solid and secure for a few more years. 

Learn more:

Where can I buy paint for my shed?

What paint should I use on the inside of my shed?

Who do we recommend for painting your Gillies & Mackay building?

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