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How to paint a shed

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Difficulty: Low

This job is relatively straightforward, whether you have DIY experience or not. Before you get started on any of our 'how to' guides, please take a moment to read through our DIY safety tips.

Refresh your garden shed and style it your way with our range of cuprinol paint, furniture and those little finishing touches. Whether you want a man cave, a den for the kids or a relaxing summer house, spruce up your shed and create your great escape in the garden. 

Tools for the job


Why should I paint my shed?

Painting your shed will refresh and revive it, while protecting it against the elements, like UV rays which cause wood to grey over time and rain water which creates splits and cracks.

Unless your wooden shed is made from cedar or pressure treated timber it needs regular treatment. When you first build your shed – and every year after that – prolong its life by treating the external timber with a good quality wood stain or preserver.

Which paint should you use?

Use a treatment or colour that’s formulated for rough sawn timber. Most colours and stains have been specially developed to colour and protect sheds, fences and other garden wood. Garden colours will also give you a richer colour while allowing the natural texture of the wood grain to shine through. 

How long will it last?

Most specialist paints are designed to last up to five years. 

What tools do you need?

Painting by hand will take some time so you might want to consider using a pump or power sprayer (pumps are five times faster than using a brush and power sprayers are 10 times faster). If you decide to use a sprayer, make sure you use paint that’s been formulated for use in that sprayer type (for example, only Cuprinol Garden Shades or Cuprinol sprayable paint can be used in a Cuprinol sprayer).

Preparing your shed

First check that your shed doesn’t need any structural work. If you’re painting an older shed, you’ll need to clean it. Wipe any debris, spider webs, mud and mould from the walls and roof, remove any algae, lichen, fungi or moss using an appropriate fungicidal wash and make sure all cracks in the wood are cleaned properly.

Next apply caulk where needed to cover all the gaps, making the shed waterproof so it doesn’t let in rain or snow. If you’re using a silicon-based caulk, or something similar, you need to wait for about a day after applying the sealant for it to dry. While the caulk dries, use sandpaper to chip away at loose or patchy paint that may have been left behind from previous paint jobs. This step can be skipped if you are working on new sheds.

Apply wood primer

The next step is applying an oil-based primer. As well as providing an extra layer of protection against the elements, the primer makes it easier for you to spread the paint evenly. 

Paint your shed

Once the primer is dry, apply the first coat of paint - in dry conditions, above 5°C. Use a long-nap roller to spread the paint with the grain of the wood. Slowly move around the shed until every wall is covered, then wait for the first coat of paint to dry completely. The shed is then ready for the second, and final, coat of paint. Apply it in the same way as the first, making sure the paint is distributed evenly.


If you want to use multiple colours on the same wall, apply the wood treatment and primer, wait for them to dry, then attach thick sheets of paper or nylon to the walls, using duct tape. Paint the colour you want in the exposed area, wait for it to dry, remove the covers, and then paint the other colours.

Make sure you cover the areas you’ve already painted with the same sheets, to prevent any overlaps or colour runs. By using this approach, you can even create models. All you need is a very large sheet of paper, or several smaller ones, tied to each other. You then have to make a large stencil. This will allow you to paint a flower, or another design, on the side of your shed without worrying about dripping and errors.


If you don’t want to paint your own shed, you can always hire a professional and make sure they follow the steps outlined above for optimum results.

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