How to Paint a Shed… the easy way!

Painting an outdoor shed? Find out exactly how to paint a shed the easy way!

little shed with black painted walls and white trim

Out at Little Pax Ranch, we have a little well house, which started out as a boring little tired shed in need of a paint job, but our wood shed got a bit of a makeover recently.

You know I love a dramatic before and after. And even better? An easy before and after… So when less than a single day produced this kind of a shed makeover, I was thrilled.

shed in need of a paint job
black garden shed with white trim

As you can see, we decided to paint our shed black. And, as usual, I’d like to show you how to paint a wooden shed, too. Whether it’s in your backyard or your front pasture, a charming pump, tool, or garden shed can absolutely raise your exterior appeal!

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Tools Needed to Paint a Shed

Painting a shed can be done with a brush and a roller, exterior primer and exterior paint. But the quickest way to paint an outdoor shed is to use the following tools:

Using the right type of paint for a shed is important. You need exterior paint, at the very least. I used this acrylic latex paint + primer, and I have been very happy with it. The application was easy, and I used the same paint on our tiny house several years ago and it still looks fabulous. The black has just a hint of blue undertones.

black shed out in field with oak trees and metal roof

As I say, you can paint a shed by hand using a brush or paint roller, but I find the job is MUCH faster using a sprayer! I was able to apply the paint to this entire pump house in about an hour with my Wagner Flexio 3000.

How to Paint a Shed

Wondering how to paint a shed? It’s easy! 

Step 1: Prep the Surface

Begin by removing any hardware and cleaning the exterior surface. Depending on the power of your pressure washer, you’ll want to spray the shed with the delicate to medium nozzle. You want to remove debris, dirt, grime, and loose paint. You do not, however, want to remove all the old paint, just any flaking paint.

pressure washing a shed before painting a shed

If there are places where the paint is still peeling or flaking after pressure washing, use a wire brush, scraper, or sandpaper to scrape or sand off the paint chips.

Usually you don’t have to worry about filling cracks, as most shed surfaces are textured. But if you do have unsightly cracks or places where water can get in, fill them with exterior wood filler or waterproof sealant now.

Let the shed dry completely.

Step 2: Prime the Shed

Prime all the areas of exposed wood or stains. If your previous finish is in particularly bad condition, you may want to prime the entire trim and walls of the shed. If you are going from a darker color to a lighter color, you may want to prime the entire shed.

priming the exterior of a shed

Be careful to avoid drips.

Let primer dry completely.

Step 3: Paint the Shed

If there are hinges or other hardware that you don’t want painted, cover them with painter’s tape now. If you do not want to spray the trim, you may want to cover with masking tape and paper now.

Fill the sprayer’s paint cup according to the directions. Spray the shed (again, according to your sprayer’s manufacturer instructions) in the direction of the wood grain. The right paint should give you excellent coverage. Just look how well this first coat of paint covered our shed!

using a sprayer to paint a shed black

Once the paint is completely dry (refer to the can’s recommended drying time), apply a second coat of fresh paint. Even if it doesn’t look like it needs a second coat, it is a good idea for protecting your shed.

Shed Painting FAQs

1. Why paint a shed?
Not only can it increase your curb appeal, but painting your shed will prolong the life of the wooden shed. A proper exterior paint job protects the wood from moisture and other damage.

2. Do you need to prime before painting?
I do recommend priming your shed before painting since you are trying not only to give a fresh coat of paint but also to weatherproof the shed as much as possible. If you have a previous paint job that is in good condition, though, you may only need to spot prime where the previous finish is damaged.

3. What’s the best paint for an outdoor shed?
Wondering what to paint a shed with, what color to paint a shed, or what sheen to paint a shed? There are many options, but the important thing is to use a high quality exterior paint.

If you’d like to save some time, use a paint + primer kind of paint (though as you see above, I still recommend priming raw wood with standard primer before using the paint + primer overcoat). 

I prefer using satin or semi-gloss, as these will be easier to clean than flat or eggshell and won’t show as many imperfections as high gloss paint.

As for colors, I love classic black and white sheds. I also love it when a little garden shed matches the home’s exterior colors.

4. How often should I paint my wooden shed?
This depends greatly on the quality of the paint job and the type of climate you live in. Generally speaking, every 5-10 years seems to be about right to maintain the finish and protect your building.

5. Do you paint sheds the same way you paint houses?
Typically, yes! These same methods (pressure wash + prime raw wood + spray with two coats) would work on fences, garages, and homes, and even furniture. Pretty much any exterior wood surfaces.

Other Exterior Painting Tips

Working on sprucing up your outdoor spaces? Check out these other helpful posts on outdoor painting projects:

how to paint a shed the easy way

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