Painting your garden shed is a good way to preserve it while updating its appearance to harmonize with your yard and garden, which have probably changed over the years. If the shed has been there for a long time, it's probably had more than one mold infestation, and you can address those with your choice of paint. The painting job involves preparation, such as scraping and cleaning, so take steps to protect your garden from the fallout.
Choosing Paint and Primer
Choose the type of paint for your shed based on the material it's made from. Wood siding usually needs priming, and the best product is an oil-based, high-adhesion, stain-blocking one that will prevent bleed-through. A good primer also seals wood and preserves it, on both a new shed and one that's being repainted. Add a mildewcide to the primer to combat mold, and topcoat with exterior latex house paint. You can also use latex house paint on a metal shed, as long as you primed with a product formulated for metal. If your shed is vinyl, you must use specially formulated vinyl paint with reflective pigments; otherwise, your shed could melt in the sun.
The preparation for painting may include extensive scraping and possibly even power washing, depending on the condition of the shed. Before you get to that, it's worth it to spend time protecting nearby garden areas from the impending onslaught of paint and wood chips. Instead of laying plastic on your shrubs, ground cover and flowers, consider pounding in strategically placed two-by-two stakes at a 30-degree angle to the ground. That way, you can attach plastic to the stakes with a few staples to keep it from lying directly on the plants. This will also ensure that the plastic stays in place when you're power washing or if wind starts blowing.
Preparing for Painting
A power washer will remove flaking paint from wood or metal siding faster than a scraper, and it's also a quick and effective way to clean off grime and blackening from mold. Before power washing, treat moldy areas by washing them with a solution of chlorine bleach and detergent.
Applying the Paint
Choose a dry day with little or no breeze to paint. Try to avoid working in the full heat of the afternoon sun, or you may have problems with cracking or peeling. After filling holes with exterior wood filler and caulking trim with acrylic latex caulk, apply a single coat of primer. Metal primer tends to dry faster than wood primer, so it's best to apply that with a hand-held sprayer. After the primer dries, apply the first coat of paint with a brush or -- to speed things up -- a brush and roller. You'll need at least two coats for full coverage.
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