What colour should I paint my shed?

Posted By: Alexandra Campbell On: June 18th, 2017 In: Garden style & living, Sheds/sanctuaries

I have been debating the crucial issue of what colour to paint my shed.

Painting your shed transforms your garden. And if I paint my shed, it’ll also last longer. The wood is protected by the paint or stain.

Paint your shed with a single wash for a weathered look

I love Wenche Immink’s pale shed – she used just one coat of a pebble grey exterior paint. Wenche’s garden is open for Faversham Open Gardens & Garden Market Day, June 25th. It’s Garden 13.

Of course I also dream about a more dramatic transformation. I pored over the results of  the first ever Grand Shed Project at this year’s Grand Designs Live, which was sponsored by AXA Insurance.

This featured five inspirations for transforming garden sheds, including a Reading Snug, Sewing Shack, Miami South Beach Bar, Boutique Bedroom and an Outdoor Room. You can see them here, and AXA Insurance are also sponsoring this post.

I would adore a Reading Snug, but, for the time being, I am just going to paint my shed.

But what colour to choose?

Vintage-style blues, greys and greens must be the most loved shed colours at the moment. Who can resist a duck-egg blue shed with eaves and a window?

Duck egg blue is a good colour for sheds

Lindsay’s shed is such a pretty blue and goes well with her planting.

Location, location, location…

The first thing to consider is where is your shed, and what is it for? Our new shed has been designed to merge with the fence. We want it to minimise its impact, not make it a focal point.

Greens and blues are wonderful garden colours, and blend into the landscape.

Dark green helps a shed merge with its background

Green – especially dark green – helps a shed blend into its surroundings and is also attractive in its own right. This shed is seen on the Stonebridge Pond Allotments in Faversham (open for Faversham Open Gardens & Garden Market Day).

But if your shed is a focal point for the garden, your colour decision may be different.

Choose a pale romantic shade for your shed…

If you’re thinking of a pale colour, then test it carefully to see how it behaves out of doors. If you’re using a specialist outdoor paint such as Ronseal or Cuprinol, the colours seem to come out fairly close to what you might expect.

Choose pale, romantic colours for your shed.

Wenche’s shed is ‘romantic’, with its white rose climbers.

However if you use exterior or interior versions of paint ranges designed mainly for indoors, I have discovered that the shades look much paler outside under the sky.

For example, we previously painted our back gate in Farrow & Ball Hardwick White. This appears to be a mid grey inside but properly white outside.

Colours appear paler outside

This colour – Hardwick White – appears mid grey inside (in our house anyway).

When trying out pale paint shades for your shed, you may need to go two or three shades darker to get the effect you want.

Be bold and paint your shed a bright colour

Bright colours can work on your shed.

I love Angie’s lime-painted shed with its contrasting purple bird feeder.

There are some more brightly-coloured sheds in Revamp your shed – a short and easy guide here.

A white shed?

White sheds can be stunning. You might worry about white getting dirty. However, we had the back door (above the photo of the lime green shed) painted in Hardwick White for about seven years without repainting it. It does look a little grubby in the photo, but nothing that the odd wash wouldn’t have remedied.

White sheds can be romantic, seaside or modernist.

Paint my shed white for a seaside look?

This shed in a seaside-themed garden in Whitstable is painted white, as is the fence around it. It belongs to Janet Maxwell and Phil Smith, Clare Road, Whitstable, who have a room for rent via Airbnb.

Tie in your shed colour with your border scheme.

Rosie Turner’s bright pink shed has featured on this blog before, and it’s always very popular.

Paint your shed to echo your garden theme

Rosie Turner’s pink shed is a backdrop for her ‘pink garden.’

She chose this shade (Sweet Sundae from Cuprinol) because she has a long thin town garden, with everything on view from the house. The theme of the garden is pink. She has crab apples, pink clematis, pink hebes, pink peonies and more. (Links to Amazon are affiliate links, which means I may get a small fee if you buy through them, but it won’t affect the price you pay.)

Choose pink flowers for a pink shed?

Rosie Turner’s shed echoes her planting.

If you’re wondering whether you need to re-paint bright colours on sheds more often than darker colours, Rosie’s shed was painted around five years ago. It first appeared in 8 really simple, cheap ways of transforming your shed in 2014. The photographs above were taken in 2017. She hasn’t re-painted in that time.

Go over to the dark side…

Award-winning garden designer Charlotte Rowe once told me that dark colours make a boundary recede. In 12 Creative Tips For an Urban Garden, she explained that she often uses dark shades for fencing.

I also think there’s a big move towards using chunks of dark colour in kitchens. (Put ‘contemporary kitchens’ or ‘kitchen decor’ into Pinterest if you don’t believe me.) We’re about to re-vamp the kitchen and I’d like to echo at least one paint shade both inside and outside the kitchen window.

And when I wrote about the renovation of architect Tom Croft’s garden, I was really struck by how wonderful dark green doors looked.

Amsterdam Green paint as a shed colour

This barn door is painted in Amsterdam Green (Sanderson paints). I love it, and strongly considered it for my shed.

In the end, I decided to paint my shed dark. That’s partly because the shed in question is practical. It’s not one of those sheds that serves as a pretty focal point. It has been designed to blend into the fencing line.

Dark colours recede outside

Farrow & Ball Black Blue on the new shed.

So the final choice is Farrow & Ball’s Exterior paint in Black Blue. The shed has ‘disappeared’, and people don’t seem to notice it all.

‘We’ve painted the shed since you were last here,’ I say, encouragingly, when people come round. They look somewhat bemused and seem unable to spot a shed at all.

The garden shed before painting

The shed before painting. Don’t tell me you preferred it like this!

Paint your shed dark as a background

And the side view…

'Before' photo of the shed

This was the previous shed in this position – sorry about the poor quality of the pic, but you get the idea.

Paint the shed door in a contrasting colour

Painting your shed door in a contrasting colour – or just painting the door and leaving the rest of the shed as plain wood or brick – can be remarkably effective.

Paint the door to contrast with wood or brick

This is a very attractive shed in Anna Turner’s garden in Deal.

A Plankbridge shepherd's hut with a contrasting door

A Plankbridge ‘shepherd’s hut’ with a contrasting door. Once again, the dark blue makes the hut almost fade into the background.

Paint your shed door a contrasting colour

Jacqui and Richard Drew’s shed with a contrasting door. They are Garden 31 in Faversham Open Gardens on June 25th. Photo by Richard Drew.

And I didn’t just paint my shed…

We now have so many different elements on our terrace. There’s the shed, plus a bin store, log store, brown back door, white side gate and green water butt.

We decided that it would be calmer to paint everything the same colour.

Paint your shed - and also your bin store, log store and gate!

The back gate, the bin store and the log store are all painted in Farrow & Ball Black Blue.

Our gate, log store and bin store before painting

What the bin store and log store looked like before they were painted. The back gate was white, and our back door was brown. We bought the bin and log store from Wayfair and Wheelie Bin Storage Direct.

We even had the water butt painted. It was an old green plastic water butt. I researched online to find an attractive alternative.

Paint your water butt to match your shed

We painted the water butt to match the shed. It was green before.

The nice water butts were quite expensive, though. It was much cheaper simply to use the same paint we used for the shed. It may not last long – although it’s been eight months now with no sign of it wearing off, in spite of some hard rains.

Paint your shed as a backdrop for climbers

Wenche’s pale grey-white shed is a background for climbing roses. She’s painted the back gate the same colour. The bench and table in front of the shed are also painted in a harmonious wash.

Or do something dramatic…

I recently wrote about Jack and Carolyn Wahlberg’s charming low budget small garden. Jack has painted his shed and has also used CDs, which reflect in the sun.

Use CDs to reflect light off your shed

Jack and Carolyn’s shed with its unusual treatment of CDs.

Cover your shed with...

A shed at Sussex Prairie Gardens, covered in magazine covers. Possibly not the most long-lasting of treatments…but it’s fun.

The practicalities of painting your shed

When I decided to paint my shed, it was like doing a rain dance. The minute I bought the paint, the heavens opened.

We had booked a painter, and he had to cancel several times. You shouldn’t paint a wet shed. Or even a slightly damp shed. It must be properly dry, which means no rain for at least 48 hours.

If there’s any roughness, blistered paint or fungus, that needs treating first.

And there are counsels of perfection. Sand down the wood so that it is smoother. Use an undercoat. Use a spray paint for easier application (if you do, make sure the paint is suitable for use with a sprayer).

Use an undercoat or primer

The log and bin store getting their primer (undercoat). They were both new so needed relatively little preparation.

You’ll need two coats, and it makes sense if one of those is a primer. But painting outside is much more forgiving than painting inside a house. It won’t matter so much if it isn’t quite perfect.

Wenche used just one coat of paint to get a washed or weathered effect.

We simply used some leftover Farrow & Ball interior emulsion paint on one of our sheds about 10 years ago and it’s lasted pretty well. It’s faded, but the effect is still much nicer than its original orangey-brown wood.

Standard brown wood shed

You can just see our standard brown wood shed at the end of this path.

We painted our shed with leftover emulsion.

The same shed, painted with a wash of leftover paint. Even in winter, I like it better. We did this ten years ago, so it’s worn well but the faded look is part of it.

For those of you planning to buy a new shed, there’s more advice on how to avoid buying the wrong garden shed here.

If you’d like to go further than just painting your shed, read about the Grand Design shed project sponsored by AXA here.

And let me know what colour you’ve painted your shed and how you chose it.

Pin this for later:

How to choose what colour to paint your shed

10 Comments

  • Mike says:

    Great post!
    I love brightly coloured sheds, they do wonders for the garden style! gone are the days of boring green or brown. I am a big fan of the Cuprinol colours, and currently have a summerhouse painted in the soft green paint with light yellow window frames!

  • Great ideas here, thanks. I ‘d been wondering about a light grey – weathered garden chair colour – so it’s really useful to see an example. The black looks smart too.

  • Richard Drew says:

    Our shed is against a very dull, and fairly expansive, modern wall – having a contrasting door colour to the shed helps draw the eye away from less than attractive bricks. Hopefully the terracotta colour also draws the eye to the neighbouring clay pots.

    Our previous larger shed, in a different location, was painted a dark brown to minimise the visual impact.

    Colour can definitely play an important part in making a feature of a shed or ‘hiding’ it.

    There’s some great examples in this post.

  • Laura says:

    I think the choice of colour is such an individual thing that one can only suggest colours and the reasons to use such colours (as you’ve done in this post). My former shed was painted (and this will sound bad) a mustard for the body with a deep red for the trim and door. The colours worked (and the neighbors even liked the colours) although they don’t sound pretty in print. That shed was also a focal point. My current shed that came with the house is light grey. It’s not a bad colour, but at some point I will repaint it, and I may just paint it a darker gray with a contrasting trim that may be an even darker gray. Thank you for your post. It contained some good tips!

  • Catherine says:

    I think you chose brilliantly. That colour looks wonderful and is giving me ideas for my own shed, which came ready painted in a rather unnatural blue green and I have always disliked it!

Leave a comment

Just to prove you're a real person, please complete this simple sum * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.