What colour should I paint my shed?
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We even had the water butt painted. It was an old green plastic water butt. I researched online to find an attractive alternative.
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.
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.
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).
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.
For those of you planning to buy a new shed, there’s more advice on how to avoid buying the wrong garden shed here.
Or if you’re thinking of building a shed yourself…
Here is an inspiring story of how to build a shed from scratch, from salvaged bricks, windows and boards. It’s helpful to know when you can learn to do something yourself – such as bricklaying – and when you really have to pay for an expert (laying the concrete base!).
And to organise and revamp your shed storage:
Re-organising your storage makes it so much easier to find everything, so I got artist William Ford to upcycle the inside of my shed. He’s done some stunning things – using artificial turf on the walls, and an old pond grid for hanging storage. See how he did it here – there are some good practical tips:
More ideas for revamping your shed
There are some more shed decorating ideas in this post
And let me know what colour you’ve painted your shed and how you chose it.
Shop my favourite garden books, tools and products
I’m often asked for recommendations of good garden tools, books and other things. So I’ve put together some lists of products I use myself and have found good. Now you can get them easily from The Middlesized Garden Amazon store.