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How to Get Your Shed Ready for Winter

If like most people, you use your shed primarily for storage of garden tools and equipment and other warm-weather items, it will probably sit unused most of the winter.

Getting your shed ready for winter means give it a good cleaning, check doors and windows for air leaks. Also make sure weather stripping is in good condition and clean the gutters and around the outside so rodents don’t move in.

Another good idea is to check for any leaks or cracks at this time. Also, go inside on a windy day and shut the shed completely to check for air movement. You can track down cracks in this way by seeing where the air is coming from. Inspecting the roof for any broken roof covering such as shingles would be a good idea now also.

How Do You Seal the Bottom of a Shed Door?

Door sweeps are the best way to seal out drafts around the bottom of your shed door. They come in wood or metal with a rubber or rubber-wrapped part on the bottom which lightly sweeps over the top of the threshold. They are fairly easy to install.

Measure your door from the inside, then cut the sweep to fit. You’ll need a hacksaw if you get the kind with a metal base. Position your sweep on the inside of the door so that it just barely touches the threshold. Mark your screw positions, drill your pilot holes, then attach the sweep.

How to Fit and Seal Shed Windows

Unless you have a pre-hung window for your shed, you’ll need to have glass cut to size. Place it into your window frame, then hold it temporarily by carefully tapping in panel pins or small finishing nails into the frame around the front of the glass. Next, make sure your glass and window frame are completely dry and clear of dust and debris.

Seal the windows using silicone or other sealant, removing your temporary nails as you go. Take care to put in a good bead that contacts both frame and glass all the way around. Then you can install your beading and outer frame.

How Can I Keep My Shed Warm in the Winter?

Insulation is the most important part of keeping your shed warm in winter. If you don’t have it insulated, any heating source you can add will be far less effective. If your shed is wired for electricity, an electric heater will do nicely. Some people use heat lamps or infrared bulbs, which can emit a surprising amount of heat.

Other choices include a propane or wood stove. You’ll need to plan for a chimney for the wood stove. Kerosene stoves are made to be safer than they used to be, but they still should be used with caution and adequate ventilation. There are also battery-operated electric heaters available for those without a wired shed.

If your shed is not yet built, you could consider a radiant heating system. This is a system installed under the floor. It warms the flooring, causing the heat to slowly rise to heat the shed. It doesn’t add much to the floor height but does need electricity to operate.

Should I Put Plastic Over the Windows?

Many people put plastic sheeting over their windows to seal out drafts in winter. However, if you really want this to be effective, plastic sheets and duct tape just won’t do the job. There is window film available made for just this purpose.

There are films made for privacy and reducing glare, but you’ll want an insulating film. The film comes with instructions, but it is stretched over the window. Then you use a hair dryer over it to shrink the film into place firmly all the way around.

Should I Insulate the Ceiling?

Actually, if your roof is insulated, additional insulation in the ceiling is not necessary. It makes more sense to put insulation under the roofing, as this will insulate the whole upper space and help keep the shed cooler in summer.

You can install insulation under your roof between the rafters or truss chords. Popular choices are spun fiberglass, which comes in rolls, and polystyrene foam board. The foam board is waterproof, which is another advantage, and doesn’t need all the installation precautions that the fiberglass insulation requires, such as a respirator and other equipment to combat the tiny glass fibers that may come loose and scatter. If you want to insulate your shed read my article What’s the Best Insulation for a Shed? [Batt, rigid or loose fill?] to find out what will work best for your shed.

How to Check Roof for Leaks and Damage

Shed roofs should be checked periodically for roof damage just as your home’s roof should. Check for any broken or cracked shingles or any standing up, and any slight warps. To check for leaks, checking from the inside is the easiest. Look all around the inside of the roof and the top parts of all the walls to check for signs that water has come in.

Follow any moisture flow up to where it enters your roof. One way to do this is to go inside the shed, shut the door and cover any windows, then check for any spots where light is coming in.

If you can’t see any leakage, you can make sure by having someone else stand inside the shed while you pour water onto the roof. Start low and go back and forth slowly in rows, using plenty of water to imitate heavy rain. Your assistant should be able to spot any leakage this way.

How to Re-seal Roof if Needed

If you see a damaged shingle, it should be replaced as soon as is practical. Remember that cold shingles can be brittle, while hot shingles can tear fairly easily, so handle accordingly. First slide a flat bar under the edge of the shingle to break loose the sealant. Prying up the nails is next, then removing the old shingle.

Slide the new one underneath where the old one was set. Nail it down just above the adhesive line. Apply some sealant on the new shingle’s next-door neighbors to keep everything snug.

There are many roof sealants on the market. Some are designed for different types of roofing materials while others will work on any kind of roofing. Asking your supplier would be a good idea, as some sealants work better on pitched roofs than others. Application methods can be discussed also.

Sealants can also be divided into water-based and solvent-based types. The water-based types are less expensive and give off fewer fumes, but they are not as weather-resistant as the solvent types. The solvent sealants usually recommend using a respirator to apply, so avoid trying to use one on a still, humid day.

To make things even more confusing, sealants are made from various materials:

Acrylic sealants are made to deflect ultraviolet rays to prevent sun damage. While they do prevent some moisture problems, they are not waterproof.

Polyurethane sealants are more moisture-resistant but provide less ultraviolet resistance.

Silicone sealants are very good protection against both moisture and UV rays, handling virtually any weather condition. The only downside is that they are more expensive than other types; however, since you will be coating a shed roof and not your house roof, the cost may not be prohibitive.

Rubber sealants are actually liquid rubber, often in a thin water-based form. It’s easy to apply to small leaks and cracks.

Sealant tape is meant for repairing small leaks and roof seams but is not meant to seal a whole roof or large section.

A sealing coating on your shed roof usually lasts between 10 and 20 years. The lifespan depends on the sealant chosen and the thickness of the application. The application itself is very important to do correctly, as this has an impact on how long your sealant will retain its properties.

Roof sealants must be applied to a clean roof, and should not be applied to a cold or wet roof or before rainfall is expected before the sealant has had adequate time to cure. Thicker sealants, such as rubber or silicone, may be harder to apply, but the thinner ones usually take multiple coats. In hot weather, the heat will likely make the thicker varieties easier to apply but may make the thinner ones too runny.

All types may be applied with a brush or roller, while the thinner ones can be applied with a paint sprayer. For small repairs, such as tacking down an errant shingle, sealant is available in tubes like calking and can be applied the same way.

Should I Remove Snow from the Roof?

Light snow won’t need to be removed. The type of snow, wet and heavy or dry, will also place a part in whether it needs to be removed. A few inches of heavy snow should be removed. The more the snow, the longer moisture will be in contact with your roofing. You also don’t want any snow avalanches once the snow starts to melt.

Another problem is caused by the phenomenon of how heavier snow melts in the sun. The sun’s heat will actually melt the snow from the bottom where it contacts the roofing, especially if the roofing is dark. Even with heavy snow, once the snow melts down enough, it will start melting from the bottom.

The melted snow will form ice at night if temperatures are cold enough. This will not only keep the snow on the roof longer, but when the ice touching the roof starts to melt, you have the potential for a snow avalanche sliding on a thin sheet of ice.

How Do I Replace Door Weather-stripping?

Weather-stripping is one of the easiest ways to protect your shed from moisture damage. Weather stripping comes in many forms, from brass strips that are nailed on to foam strips. Foam strips come with an adhesive on one side and a protective paper backing that is peeled off when attaching it to your frame. There are also rubberized weather strips with the same adhesive and backing. These come in various forms and thicknesses.

If your door weather-stripping has seen better days, replacing it is not a problem. Remove your old strip first. If it is worn in just a place or two, go ahead and replace the whole strip on that side. Replacing the strip in pieces won’t give you the protection you need, and the strip is inexpensive enough that you don’t have to scrimp when using it.

Remove the old strip slowly so that the old adhesive comes up with the strip. If it still sticks to the door frame in places, you’ll need to remove it. Get one end up, then pull slowly to keep it from breaking. Clean your frame with mild soap and water to remove any dirt and let it dry thoroughly before installing the new strip.

You can measure your door frame and cut the strips to size first or start attaching the strip a little at a time, cutting the strip once you get to the end of the frame. Don’t go all the way around the door frame with one strip, as they don’t fit around corners well this way. Go slowly when attaching the strip, removing the paper backing a little at a time.

While you can reposition the strip if it starts to go off-kilter, every time you lift it up and replace it you lose some sticking power. When done, run your finger down the strip with some pressure to make sure it sticks firmly.


Getting your shed ready for winter takes some care. There are some ways to get it ready while it is being built, such as adding insulation or installing a radiant floor system if you plan to spend a lot of time working inside it in the winter. Others need to be addressed over time, such as dealing with water or air leaks or a drafty window or door. It’s all part of maintaining your shed over time, just as you maintain your home.