More and more ordinary sheds are being converted into places of extraordinary activity. Workrooms, chill out space and hobby dens are all evolving from the humble 6×8. But to make a shed a comfortable place to work, rest and play, the structure has to be insulated. And that’s against the cold in winter and heat in summer.

 

Beware the Bubble

Before making any changes to a shed ensure everything you do isn’t increasing the risk of fire. Bubble plastic is often tacked to the inside of a shed and yes, it insulates (it’s its job!) but it can aid the spread of fire quickly through a wooden structure. It will also trap a lot of moisture in the shed and papers may curl and metals rust. It’s a quick way to insulate but think carefully about long-term consequences.

 

Framed

A shed will have a frame onto which the outer cladding is fixed. And that creates an instant gap perfect for foil backed polystyrene or insulation. The stuff is easily cut to size and, if your shed is wooden, it is a simple job to fix it to the frame. Walls and roof spaces can therefore be sorted within an hour or so.

 

Floors, Doors and More

That however leaves the floor and a lack of workable frame unless you are erecting the shed from scratch. Same thing goes for doors.

  • Floors: simply laying a carpet or rug will insulate and keep your toes warmer, but again the problem of moisture will arise. Wooden floors breathe and the moisture is trapped resulting in the possibility of mould. A good way to insulate a floor is to put a breathable membrane down and then wooden laminate. The laminate can be cheap or as expensive as you want. Most sheds only need a few sheets so maybe check out any housebuilders who may just be throwing out off-cuts.  A rummage in your local skips may just unearth exactly what you need – check with the owners before actually taking anything out though.
  • Windows are draughty especially the single glaze of Perspex most sheds have. It’s a simple matter to turn it into double glazing. Perspex is readily available and easily cut to size. Whilst at the windows check for any small gaps – it’s where they occur in most sheds. A squirt of wood filler or a beading of wood will do the trick. Draughts are so annoying and wear your comfort levels down.
  • Same goes for the door. Ensure it fits (obvious but after time shed doors do tend to slump a bit) and again think draughts. Ready-made, off the shelf draught excluders will make things snug and cosy.

 

Vent it

But saying all that, never forget about ventilation. Moisture in the air needs to either stay in the air or condense. Wherever possible keep your shed ventilated. And heating. I have to say to be aware of all health and safety aspects of all heating you consider. Carbon monoxide is a killer, fire is obvious but often overlooked and ideally anything you use is programmable or easily connected to a thermostat. A tubular heater designed for greenhouses is a great choice for gentle heat powered by electricity.

Warmer in winter also means cooler in summer if you sort out opening windows, doors and maybe even an extra opener somewhere.

 

Safe and Sound

Above all make whatever you do safe and sound. And if you do convert your ordinary shed into something special, fit a lock and alarm. It all makes perfect sense.

Phil McCann

Phil McCann is our gardening expert and has appeared on BBC Gardeners' World as a horticultural consultant as well as being a member of the Royal Horticultural Society.

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