The last thing I wanted to see when walking into my shed the morning after a stormy night was water dripping down a roof truss landing at the base of a stud. By just pressing my boot against the lumber and feeling that squishy compression I could tell that it was time to remove the rotting pieces of my shed and replace them with fresh lumber.
You can fix a rotting shed by replacing the rotting portion with new weather treated lumber. Stabilizing the area, cutting out the rotting portion and replacing it you will lengthen the life of your shed. Do not forget to correct the cause of the rot, because if you do not the rot will return.
Wood soaks up a lot of moisture, way more than other materials used for building a shed. Shed Builder Mag estimates that roughly 280,000 wooden sheds are built each year in the United States alone. This doesn’t even come close to the number that are already out there all over the world. That being said, there are so many different types of sheds and different problems that can occur. Here we will discuss the most common problem areas of a shed and how to fix them.
How to Fix Rotten Components of Your Shed
Admittedly, fixing the rotten components of your shed is no easy feat and can be relatively time-consuming. Some parts could deteriorate to a level that might be very difficult to fix. This is often a result of long periods of time that the wood is exposed to moisture and humidity.
Unfortunately, the longer the wood goes untreated the worse it will get accelerating damage further into your shed and could lead to a complete collapse. Regardless, you can still fix these components despite how bad they have become.
If you want to know just how fatal moisture and rot can be to your shed than check out this article.
Most of the techniques to fixing your shed are simple and can be done yourself. You can simply purchase new quality materials that are chemically treated and durable as well as the materials to waterproof the area of your shed that is more susceptible.
Finally there are many different components of your shed, such as your door, siding, floor, walls, studs, roof, windows, and so on that could be the cause of the issue. I’ll break down every part and explain how to fix them, but first what are the tools you will need?
What tools do you need to fix your shed?
This list will handle almost every job, but just be sure to plan your work out first before going to the store as every job is unique and may require something a little more specialized.
- Saw(cirular saw, sabre saw, jigsaw or hand saw will do. Just make sure you ensure the saw will fit in the space you are cutting)
- Ladder(only necessary for taller work)
- Personnel Protective Equipment(safety glasses, gloves, etc)
- Replacement lumber/material
- waterproofing materials(outdoor caulk, replacement roofing material, paint/stain, etc depending on the job)
How do you repair rotten shed siding?
The most common area that your shed will rot is the base of the siding. If your shed is not elevated sufficiently from the ground than it is likely making contact with the soil which is full of moisture. You will likely start seeing signs of rot first on the side of your shed least exposed to sunlight whether the shed itself blocks the sun or garden plants/bushes do. You want to inspect he outside of the your shed for signs of rot at least seasonally. Rot can set in very rapidly and once it makes its way inside of the siding can start to weaken the structure.
There are multiple ways to replace or repair the siding.
- Standard – If you are set on keeping the same design that simply purchasing the necessary replacement boards will solve the issue, this will likely be the larger cost as you are replacing more wood particularly if you have vertical siding. This will likely also not solve the issue of defending against future rot.
- Quick Fix(cheaper) – There is an alternate, cheaper option however. If the rot has not spread very far up the siding than you can remove the bottom board(for horizontal siding) or cut only the bottom 4″ to 8″(for vertical boards) and replace the bottom board it with either a heavy weather treated piece of lumber or some type of metal/polymer replacement. This is my personal favorite as it will both treat the problem as well as solve any future issues.
Once you have decided than there is little else to do other than get started.
- Take the siding off – It is critical you use the safety gear in this step as there are likely rusty nails, screws and tons of splinters. If you are using a power tool than be careful not to cut through a screw/nail as only certain tools are made to do this and it could seriously damage your tool or hurt you. Also be careful not to cut through the sheath wall behind the siding if you did not intend to do this.
- Replace the material – Once ALL the rotten wood is gone, you can replace it with your chosen material. Be sure once the siding has been removed to inspect the sheath wall for signs of rot. If you caught it early enough than you likely will not have an issue, but this is the best time to check.
- Waterproof – This is perhaps the most critical step. Proper identification of the cause of the rot is so important to preventing you from having to do this same thing every year. If you replaced it with a different material than simply use the outdoor sealant(like caulk) when it is dry and you are done. If you used wood than you should consider a waterproof paint/stain or removing the soil/plants around the base and replacing it with a weed barrier and layer of rocks to enhance drainage.
This should just rap things up, check out the video above for a better visual of how to get this done.
How do you repair rotten shed doors?
Repairing the rot on a shed door is a little more cut and dry(no pun intended), but unless your door is also made up of relatively easily replaceable slats than you should consider replacing the entire door. Cost tends to be a big issue here as a door can easily run you hundreds of dollars, however searching online at a place like craigslist or Facebook marketplace can usually turn up a few good prospects.
A few things to consider during the planning process will affect how you go about this.
- Is your door custom made?
- Is it larger than a standard size door?
- Can you contact the installer or manufacturer for advice or warranty?
These questions will likely save you some headache, but it is time to get to the replacement. If you are just going to replace the door than you can just head down to your local Home Depot, Lowes or other hardware store with the proper dimensions. If you are going to replace a portion of the door than put your gloves on.
- Remove the rotten piece – PRO TIP try to keep the majority of the rotten wood intact and do this before you go to the get the replacement lumber. This is the best way to measure the size of the replacement piece as you already know it will fit and there will be minimal cutting involved to fit it in.
- Replace the material – Attach the replacement piece however you desire but make sure that your screw/nail sit flush with the wood.
- Waterproof – Again possibly the most critical step. Often times the rot was caused by water that splashes onto the bottom of the door and does not easily drain/dry. if there is not roof overhang above the door than this will be challenging to solve and you may be better off painting/staining it with a waterproofing formula.
Again, depending on the damage done it may be better to just replace the door, but every situation is different. Lets move on to the floors.
How do you repair rotten shed floors?
NOTE: This is only for wooden floors with wooden floor joists. If you have a concrete pad as your floor/foundation or you just place plywood on top of the concrete that simply replace the piece of flooring.
Floors are perhaps only second to the roof in complexity and this is because it could be totally out of sight until your foot goes right through. The major concern here is that the structural floor joists have rotted. This will likely also be coupled with a floor panel that is also rotted. The way we go about this one will be a little different as you have to identify what is causing this. Below are a few of the most common options:
- Your Shed is sitting directly on the ground – If this happens and your soil is extra moist or water pools under your shed than you have a much bigger problem than a little rot. Your shed should never have just been placed on the ground with no protection from water damage. If this is the case than you really need to move the shed after the repair and either raise it up, put it somewhere else in the lawn with a proper foundation or lay a proper foundation for your shed and move it back onto it.
- Roof leaks – While this is a sign of more problems, it may also mean that the structural stability of your shed floor is still intact(maybe not your roof though). If you caught this early enough than likely your floor joists are fine and you only need to replace the floor panels. By removing the rotted portion of the floor before planning your job you can properly identify the required replacement pieces.
- Wall leaks – Eventually if you allowed the siding to rot through the wall as well it will make its way tot the floor. You can identify this if the rot appears to be “hugging” the wall(generally within 2″-6″ of the wall and spreading along the wall). You will need to tear up the floor in order to identify if the floor joists are affected as well.
Now that we have identified the potential causes we can dive into the repair.
- Remove the floor panels – Be careful as you are doing this because you are likely standing on the rotting portions as well. If you are unsure of how far the rot has spread, than completely remove the floor panels so you can inspect all of the floor joists.
- Stabilize the floor joists – This is a very important step as the entire shed draws its stability from the floor which means that the majority of the stress is also on the floor. You will want to identify the pieces of wood that are free of rot and place something under them for support. If it is a perimeter joist or sill joist than you need to find a way to hold up all of the other floor joists that depend on it for stability. You can use cinder blocks, other pieces of wood, a car jack, etc. Just make sure that it is supported.
- Remove the rotten floor joists – This can be a little arduous as there are generally many more nails, screws and joints to disassemble. Make sure you have plenty of daylight left for this next part as you do not want to stop in the middle of this. While your shed is being stabilized by other means than the normal joists there is a higher chance of collapse, so do not rush but move efficiently.
- Replace the floor joists – Now you simply need to do steps 1-3 backwards. Most of the metal joints(if any were used) can be reused as long as they are not significantly rusty. Once the new joists are in, remove the stabilizers and replace the floor panels.
- Correct why the wood rotted in the first place – The reason why this is not the first step is because if you are going to move a shed, it is dangerous to do so if it is structural compromised. If you need to replace a wall or fix the roof, you will likely find yourself on a ladder inside the shed or standing on the rotten boards(again a bad idea).
- Waterproof – Just like all of the others, waterproof the floor. Whether it is properly caulking a wall both outside and inside or painting the floor panels, consider the risk of not doing so and having to do all of the work you just finished again next year.
If you are looking for an easy way to move your shed so that you can fix the foundation that it is on than check out this article wrote about it, you likely don’t have to take your shed apart to move it.
How do you repair rotten shed walls?
The walls of your shed typically see any weather that makes it through the siding. Lets specify what we are calling the “wall” of the shed. It is the part of the shed that is attached to the wall studs, but may also have siding attached to it externally. While siding is not required, it is common in most modern wooden sheds and can protect your walls from the weather. The good part about the wall is that it is very easy to replace because as long as you are not touching any studs, there is not a risk of compromising the structural integrity.
- Thoroughly inspect the site of the rot – Perhaps the most important step, you need to identify if the rot has spread to a stud. If this is the case than hold your horses as you will need to address the structural integrity of the shed before you move any further.
- Remove the rotten wall – Yes, the most fun part. Just stand clear and you can throw things at it, use a sledgehammer, anything you want. I always love the demolition portion of projects and this is one that you can go all out on, just make sure you don’t break a stud.
- Replace the wall panel – You will likely have a bunch of nail heads sticking out or screw heads. Hammer the nails all the way in or unscrew the screws and then get a couple of extra hands and nail/screw the wall into place. If you don’t have an extra pair of hands than you can put a couple nail/screws into the base of the perimeter joist and use it as a lip to place the wall panel on as so you can screw/nail it to the studs. Just make sure to remove them once you are done.
- Replace any siding – Likely if you had siding that you had to replace all of it.
- Waterproof – Just like all of the others, waterproof the wall. What does this mean? In addition to using weather resistant materials, it may be a good idea to install siding or paint the outside of the shed and caulk the crevices. Siding is generally more water resistant as it is not always made of wood. If the damage was caused by a roof leak than lets move on to that near the bottom of the page.
In addition to the wall often you have to replace the studs as well. this is a more complex part and you should consider doing this in between steps 2 and 3 above. Just be careful not to weaken the rotten stud while you are removing the wall panel as this can risk the structural integrity of the shed.
How do you repair rotten shed studs?
Studs are what holds the roof up, connects the walls and transfers the weight of the entire shed to the floor and foundation. While it is relatively simple to repair a single stud, allowing rotting studs to get out of hand can rapidly degrade the support for the shed and can lead to it collapsing on you or your equipment. The good part is that if your shed was built to code, there are studs every 16″ or 24″. This means if only one stud is affected, the studs surrounding it are more than capable of holding up the wall and roof.
The most efficient way of replacing your stud is to use the replacement 2×4 as a jack before removing the rotted stud and putting the replacement in its place. I will explain below.
- Place the replacement stud – Place the replacement stud within a couple inches of the stud you will replace. This will keep the support of the stud intact while you are removing the rotted one. I like to put a screw in the stud to attach it to the piece of wood that the rafters rest on(also called the top wall plate) which keeps it from moving.
- Remove the rotten stud – Be careful not to tear through the wall as it will still be nailed/screwed to it. I will more often then not cut the nails or screws with my reciprocating blade multitool which just makes the process significantly easier. Once all screws/nails are removed you can easily pry it loose.
- Replace it with the new stud– Now unscrew the single screw from the new stud keeping it in place and use a hammer or mallet to gently knock it into place. Screw/nail the stud into place and that part is finished.
- Waterproof – Hopefully you were able to identify the cause of the rotting stud and move on to correcting the issue. You can paint/stain these parts of the shed, but that should not be necessary as the only parts you truly need to water proof are the roof, external to the walls, and the foundation/floor. If there is water inside the shed where the studs rest than that means one of these other locations is leaking.
Again, stud repairs are generally pretty easy, but the difficulty comes when you have to fix what is actually causing it.
How do you repair rotten shed roof?
This is one of the toughest parts of a shed to repair, and it’s also very time demanding. Generally, roofs are more vulnerable to moisture and tend to degenerate way faster when not properly constructed. This happens when the roof is not waterproofed properly, or the quality of materials is poor.
The worst part about a rotting roof is that if you don’t take care of it quickly, much more of your shed will begin to rot. Because it is the part that keeps out the majority of the weather, it is essential that of all the places you can skimp on materials, the roof is not one of them.
- Inspect the rotting pieces – Do not take this project lightly. of all of the undertakings, this one you should consider hiring a professional to replace/repair the roof. If it is a small patch job than replacing a single panel and some roofing felt or shingles should be easy enough, but if the rafters or trusses are rotting than you really need to replace all of the components because the roof is at risk of caving in.
- Remove from the outside in – What I mean by this is to start taking the shed roof apart from the outside standing on a ladder. Start with the facia and other external decorative pieces. Once those are out of the way you will need to remove the roofing material which may include shingles, roofing felt or other waterproofing materials.
- Remove the roof panel– You should really have an extra pair of hands for this as once you remove the last screw/nail than it will likely just slide off. have someone already holding the panel to that it does not know you from the ladder.
- Replace parts of the trusses? – This question will either extend the project another day or have you rapping things up shortly. If any of the structural material of the roof is compromised you must replace it. This means that you will need to remove every single roof panel and then move on to the rafters. If you only need to replace a single rafter than you only need to take the panels off on that side. If you can keep the majority of the rafter intact than you can use it to cut the new one. If you need to replace the ridge board than you will have to remove every rafter carefully to do this. Again, if your repair is this extensive than I highly recommend contacting a professional.
- Reattach all of the new material – Now that the structural components of the trusses are sound you can replace the roof panels, the roof felt and shingles. This is the perfect time to assess the quality of the the waterproofing as really all of the components outside of the rafters are supposed to stop water from entering the shed.
How do you repair rotten shed windows and window sills?
The likely cause of rotting window/window sills is improper installation. The way that the flashing external to the window is supposed to sit it should not allow any water in between the sill and the window. Unfortunately if the wood attached to the window is rotting you will likely have to replace the entire window unless you are skilled at removing and placing the pains of glass into another frame. The sill on the other hand is much easier to replace as you only need to cut out the rotten part and replace it with new wood before correcting the waterproofing.
- Remove the window – This you will have to do if you are going to replace it or the sill. You may need to remove pieces of siding and flashing in order to get at all of the nails that are holding it on.
- Cut the rotted part off the sill – You can either cut an entire side of the frame out or cut only the piece that needs replacing. The reason I often will cut the side out is because it is easier to measure and cut the entire piece instead of a smaller part.
- Replace the part of the sill– My preference when attaching a new part of the sill is to use wood glue. This will hold a tighter bond and will not require a nail to hold it which may scratch the window or create a gap. I will apply the glue and use pin nails to hold it in place as long as the pin nail sits completely inside of the wood.
- Replace the window – Whether it is a new window or the old one, fit it nicely into the space and use a good outdoor caulk to waterproof the edges.
- Waterproof – This means properly installing flashing around the window. This will stop any water from getting in between the sill and the window and prevent any future problems.
Now we have covered repairing just about every part of the shed, lets move on to how to prevent the shed from rotting in the first place. You may also find some good ideas for waterproofing that may avoid future headaches.
How Do You Prevent the Rot of Your Shed?
If you wanted a few quick ideas on protecting your shed from rotting in the first place than we will list them below, but if you want a more in depth explanation than check out our article on how to keep all water from inside you shed and stop rot before it happens.
- Waterproof the base and floor
- Make sure your shed is raised up off of the ground and is not making contact with the dirt
- Proper drainage around your shed perimeter
- Cement or rock foundation
- Routine inspections for rot and other damage
- Check for roof leaks on a regular basis
- Proper ventilation to encourage evaporation
- Use quality weatherproof materials
- Use a waterproof paint or stain
- Move/Place your shed in an area with good drainage away from trees and on flat ground.
In conclusion, I could not possibly cover every possible way that your shed could be protected or damaged, but if the damage in our shed is more extensive than what we explained here than you really should consider hiring a professional to build and entirely new shed from scratch.
If you are struggling with a wobbly shed and are unsure of what to do about it, check out this article we wrote about finding out why your shed is wobbly and how to fix it.