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By Nicola Hutchison on 16 Feb 2023

Painting your Timber Building: Avoiding UV Damage


We often get asked – how can I keep my shed a more natural colour?

You don’t want any of those bold opaque colours. You’re wanting something naked, that blends with the surroundings, and shows the natural beauty of the timbers on the inside (and outside) of your shed, summerhouse, garage or garden room.

Then we tell you you need a dark tint to provide UV protection to the timbers – dreams shattered – or is it?

We understand the need for the natural – after all, it is beautiful. However, just like ourselves, we’re going to need a little TLC and protection to make sure we and the sheds last as long as possible.

In this article, you’ll learn why you need to paint your shed with a darker tint and what your options are so you can choose the best option for your timber building dreams. 

Why do we need to paint our timber building? 

Quite simply, it offers protection to the timbers from external elements. Timber loves moisture – it doesn’t know what’s not good for it – sound familiar?

When you paint your shed, you minimise or avoid a number of challenges: 

  • Movement in the timbers
  • Sticky doors
  • Mould
  • Cracks, splits and warping
  • Most importantly – ROT

You can learn more here: How painting your shed will help it last longer

How do UV Rays impact timber?

But it’s not only moisture that can cause damage – here comes the sun doo doo doo doo!☀️

When it comes to the sun and UV rays – it’s like our own skin. We love it – but too much will cause damage to the skin.

Let’s take a look

Timbers Cracking and Warping

UV Rays will dry out the wood. They break down chemical components within the timber that help keep moisture levels – well, level – within the timbers. You need a bit of moisture in timber to keep it alive.

A shelf showing several used cans of Sadolin paint. The cans and the shelf are spattered with paint drips.

When they dry out too much – the timbers begin to crack and bend – like dry skin! This leads to point 2. 

Structural Integrity

If the timbers start to break down it will weaken the structure of the building. The timbers will become weak and begin to break down. Lessening the life of your shed. And it looks horrendous.

See if you can spot a shed in need of some real hydration the next time you’re wandering on your doggie walk. You’ll know what I mean when you see it. No one likes an ugly shed.

Timber Discolouration

We’re back on magical components. Let’s talk about Lignin. Lignin is a component of wood that gives it specific characteristics like wood strength, durability and resistance to decay. It is also the component that gives timber its colour.

When UV rays interfere, they break down this Lignin component and cause discolouration. You’ll find the timbers will change the timbers to greys or darker browns. On some timbers, this can work well – like Larch. On your redwood, it will come across as patchy and streaky and you’ll lose that beauty.

Timber is so susceptible to external elements and the right protection is vital for longevity. 

Painting your Timber Building: Avoiding UV Breakdown

So how do you avoid UV Rays breaking down the timbers in your shed?

We’re specifically talking about translucent paints here for a more natural look. You use paint with a dark tint in it. The darker, the better.

The darker the tint the better, as it can absorb the radiation and prevent it from penetrating the timbers underneath and protect from the issues above.

If you are after a natural appearance a translucent water-based paint is best. We use Sadolin Quick Dry range for Translucents.

A can of Sadolin Quick Dry exterior woodstain. Other text on the can says "Rainproof in 20 minutes."

Sadolin offers a range of different colour tints. Some are lighter such as Natural and Antique Pine. Darker options are Jacobean Walnut and Dark Olive which are in our current colour chart range. We chose these colours specifically for the UV protective properties.

How to expand the life of your shed…

There you have it Sheddie. We’re all about sheds that last a lifetime here and UV Protection is just one part of the bigger picture to ensure your investment lasts. We’ve had plenty of experience over the years experimenting with paints and yes – tints is one of those experiences.

Aesthetics are important but sometimes a little shift in tone colour comes with multiple benefits. Notching it up a shade or two will have you covered.

UV protection = dark tint. The darker – the better. Protection for you and your shed.

Shed love to you

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