Care and maintenance for your timber garden building

Timber Garden Building 002

A timber garden building can be a valuable addition to your home. Not only does it offer extra space to work, rest and play, it’s an investment that can add lifestyle as well as financial value to your home.

There’s a wealth of choice available on the market. Professional log cabin suppliers such as Hortons Group offer summer houses, workshop sheds, garden offices, play houses, log cabins and many other timber garden buildings that can be customised to your requirements.

Regardless of whether you choose a play house for the kids, a summer house for relaxation in the garden, or garden office for your home business, it’s important to look after it well. Wood is a natural material, which is why proper care and maintenance can make all the difference to the lifespan of a log cabin, allowing you to enjoy it for many years to come.

Moisture control

Keeping your garden building dry is one of the most important aspects of good timber building maintenance. Make sure you think about the

Roof                     Wide eaves are essential to protect the exterior walls from rain. Site your garden building away from trees so that water doesn’t drip onto the roof, or use waterproof roof tiles for added protection.

Foundations        To protect moisture from penetrating from below, it is advisable to set your garden building on a concrete base that is slightly wider than the base of your building. The foundations should be well insulated from the elements. Also make sure that the joints between the walls and the floor are secure so that water cannot penetrate.

Drainage              Situate your summer house or play house higher up in the garden, or on an elevated foundation to avoid drainage problems leading to excess moisture around the timber shed. If possible, add guttering to the roof to direct rainwater well away from the building.

Insulation            If you’re planning to use the timber building all-year round, keeping warm in the winter may be a challenge. Insulating the walls, roof and floor is highly recommended. Extra heating can take the form of traditional electric heaters, underfloor heating or a woodburner. To get rid of condensation and prevent damp issues, make sure you open windows and doors on dry days, and whenever necessary.

Timber treatment

As soon as your garden building has been erected, you should consider applying a timber treatment or wood finish to give it protection against varying weather conditions. Exposed to the elements, untreated wood is likely to deteriorate more quickly.

Many log cabins are made with pressure treated timber, meaning a wood preservative has been forced deep into the pre-cut timber. This is a good start, and also offers protection against insect and fungal attacks. However, in order to get the best protection for your building, even pressure treated timber will need an additional coat of a water repellent treatment to guard against wood rot.

Choosing a timber treatment

There’s a wide variety of stain based timber treatments on the market, with many different wood stains and paint colours to choose from. They include:

·        Water based treatments can be applied directly onto timber surfaces, which must be dry, sound, and free from dirt, grease and organic growths. Sand down the surface to remove any previous paints or coatings first, and apply at least 2 coats. Reapply every 1-2 years.

·        Solvent or spirit based treatments are long-lasting and offer a greater degree of protection against wet and dry rot. Stir the wood stain first, then apply by brush, ensuring all end grains are coated well to create a good seal. Reapply every 3-4 years.

·        Oil based treatments soak deep into the timber to provide protection, while enabling the garden building to ‘breathe’ – expand, contract and settle naturally. An oil based treatment offers effective UV protection, and contains strong fungicides and water repellent properties. Reapply every 4-5 years or more on weather facing elevations.


Applying a timber treatment

The best time to apply a timber treatment is during the drier months of the year. Make sure the building is completely dry while you’re applying the wood treatment, and also while it’s drying.

Use plastic sheeting, dust sheets, newspaper and masking tape to protect the area around the log cabin as well as any parts that don’t require treating, such as hinges, handles and glass. Then start at the top of the building and work your way down, focusing on one wall at a time. Wait for the timber treatment to dry completely before applying a second coat. Finally, remove masking tape and sheeting when you’ve finished.

You should reapply your wood stain treatment regularly, according to the instructions on the tin. If you’re not sure whether it’s time to retreat your shed, spray a little water onto one of the walls and check if the water beads and rolls down. If it does, you can postpone your timber treatment for another year. However, if the water soaks into the wood, it’s time to apply a fresh coat.

Regular cleaning and checking

The only way to make sure your summer house or garden office stays in good condition is a regular cleaning and maintenance programme, so that any problems can be spotted and dealt with before any damage is caused.

Unfortunately, wood being a ‘living’ material, it’s affected by all weather conditions. While the sun can bleach and crack varnishes and paints, the wind can dislodge loose materials, and rain can penetrate and weaken unprotected surfaces.

Check the whole building, inside and out, while you give it a good clean, removing dust and debris with a damp cloth. Use a mild detergent to get rid of grease marks, plant sap or bird droppings.

If you spot any areas where wood stain or paint is peeling or has worn away, make a note to deal with these as soon as you can. Also check for rain damage and water leaks, perhaps around the windows and doors or along the roof. You may need to reapply a timber treatment, or waterproof the area with a silicone sealant.

Bear in mind that timber is a natural product that will expand and contract with the weather. When your log cabin is first erected, you can expect a period of ‘settling’ while the wood acclimatises to its surroundings. Minor cracks and splits can form over time that you can fill in with the help of a flexible sealant, however they shouldn’t compromise the structure of the timber building.

Written by Julie Hanson

Julie is passionate about property – development, investment and portfolio planning. Along with husband Alec, Julie is actively building a property portfolio while helping others to do the same.

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