Have you been noticing small animals and insects have been hanging around the bottom of your shed? Many animals and insects will love to set up their home under your shed and they can cause a lot of damage.
Lattice panels are the most popular choice for shed skirting, and often the least expensive. They can either be installed by themselves or with framing to add stability and help keep larger animals from breaking through. A great advantage is that lattice allows plenty of airflow to keep moisture from harming the underside of the shed and the lattice itself.
If you are undecided as to what type of skirting you want, take a sightseeing ride. Mobile homes often have skirting that uses the same materials that you can use for your shed. You can get a good idea of how the different types look and also how well they stand up to aging and weathering.
What Does Shed Skirting Do?
You may have your shed built up from the ground a bit instead of having it flat on a slab. You may have the shed raised up quite a bit to allow the shed to be level on a slope. Shed skirting allows you to have the all-important airflow underneath the shed while keeping animals from making a home under your shed.
Some animals, such as rats, squirrels and mice, can chew through a surprising number of materials, and if they smell that bag of dog food or deer feed you’re storing inside, they’ll work on something until they get in. Additionally, they can make nests in insulation materials and even chew electric wiring if your shed has it.
They can also chew through any exposed wiring on your tools. Mice and rats are notorious for chewing through things that seem to make no sense. If you don’t like the look of cinder blocks or concrete piers, skirting hides the structure underneath and makes the shed more visibly appealing. Some homeowner’s associations even require skirting for sheds that sit on blocks or piers.
Do You Need Airflow Under a Shed?
It’s important to allow airflow underneath a shed. It keeps moisture from building up underneath and condensing on the wooden parts of your shed. Some people mistakenly believe that treated lumber is waterproof, but it isn’t. The treatment delays deterioration from moisture, but the wood itself absorbs moisture just like any wood product.
Even the treatment won’t protect treated lumber from deterioration if it is subjected to a moist environment much of the time. Having your shed installed with at least a six-inch clearance from the ground will go far towards making the shed last longer. Airflow allows moisture to evaporate more quickly, keeping the underside of your shed dry more of the time. In order to get that required airflow you can read my article How High Should a Shed Be Off the Ground?
How Do I Protect the Underside of My Shed?
Since the underside of your shed is wood, you need to protect it from both moisture and any animal life that may try to chew its way through the wood to get inside or at least to a hiding place. Skirting underneath that allows for airflow will both keep animals out while allowing airflow to help your flooring components last longer.
What Can I Put Around My Shed to Keep Animals Out?
Almost any type of skirting will keep out unwanted animals to some extent. A good idea would be to think about any animals you see roaming around the neighborhood and identify any tracks you see around your yard. Asking the neighbors about any animal problems they have will also help. This will tell you how sturdy your skirting needs to be and whether or not you need to plan for some sort of barrier to prevent an animal from digging underneath the skirting. For some help with keeping animals and insects out of your shed read my article 8 Ways to Keep Insects and Mice From Living in Your Shed.
What Are the Choices for Shed Skirting?
Treated plywood – Treated plywood is plywood to which preservative chemicals have been applied by brushing, spraying or dipping the wood in the chemicals. When installing, plan to leave a little distance between the plywood and the ground. The plywood eventually will deteriorate if it is in contact with damp soil.
Lattice panels – These panels are relatively easy to cut to size and install. They are available in wood, treated wood or vinyl. If you have mostly large wild animals around, such as cats, raccoons, rats and groundhogs, lattice will keep them out. If you also want to keep out the smaller pests such as mice, you can attach screen material behind the lattice to keep them out. The advantage of lattice is that it keeps things out while allowing plenty of airflow to keep blowing underneath.
Concrete blocks – Concrete or cinder blocks provide the sturdiest shed skirting available. They also can add to the stability of the structure. It is important, however, to install some kind of barrier between the blocks and any wood they come into contact with under the shed. They can be difficult to install and cut to fit. Some people choose to use bricks, which are easier to fit around an existing shed and add a nice accent to its appearance.
Unfortunately, concrete blocks and bricks are usually the most expensive type of skirting you can choose. This will also block off airflow under the shed. One choice is to install air vents or just leave out a few bricks and attach screen to the backs of the surrounding bricks to allow for airflow.
Pressure-treated plywood – This type of plywood has also been treated with preservative chemicals. The difference between this type and treated plywood is that the chemicals have been applied under pressure, forcing the chemicals into the wood cells themselves, creating better prevention against moisture damage than the type of plywood that just has the chemicals applied to the outer surface. However, it should not come into contact with the soil, as it is not waterproof.
Wire mesh – This is a choice that allows plenty of air to flow under your shed while keeping out animals. Chicken wire with a small mesh is best for keeping out all sizes of animals. Keep in mind that a mouse can get into any space it can get its head through. If you can’t obtain chicken wire with a small enough mesh, you can install a double row around the shed. Installation is easy, using a staple gun to attach it to the shed framing.
Vinyl skirting – For vinyl skirting you can use scraps leftover from vinyl siding or purchase vinyl skirting from a supplier for mobile home skirting. It’s especially convenient for a shed built on a slope, as you can easily cut the vinyl panels to fit the slope and cover the whole bottom part. It comes in various colors to go with your shed. Vinyl siding scraps sometimes have a bonus in the form of tiny vents built into them to allow airflow. Vinyl is easy to keep clean also.
Vertical metal roofing – This would be a great choice if you already have some scraps available from a roofing project. You can use corrugated metal roofing panels for skirting. You may wish to install additional small posts to attach the metal panels. Like the chicken wire, metal can be bent and partially buried to keep out digging pests.
Treated wood lattice – If you plan to use wood lattice panels, remember that the lattice will reach the ground and be subject to weather. It should be treated with a wood preservative to keep it from deteriorating. Fortunately, treated wood lattice is available. It can be painted to match your shed or in an accent color or left with its natural color.
Pros and Cons of Shed Skirting
Pros – Shed skirting helps to keep out unwanted animals. If you have a problem with groundhogs or roaming dogs digging in your yard, you can use wire mesh or metal that can be buried to prevent the digging. Skirting makes your shed more attractive, especially if it’s higher off the ground than a couple of inches. It hides the posts or blocks underneath.
Cons – Unfortunately, some animals are actually attracted to shed skirting, as it creates a nice, enclosed hiding space. Some animals may see it as forming a great space for a nesting spot. If you have animals around that may be able to dig underneath, it would be a good idea to prevent this when installing your skirting, even if you don’t have that problem yet. The other problem is that many kinds of skirting close off airflow from under your shed.
The most enclosed the space, the longer the soil underneath will remain damp. Once the moisture does evaporate, it will tend to condense on the underside of your joists and subfloor, causing mold and mildew problems or even rot. Remember, even treated lumber absorbs moisture. If using solid-type skirting, some sort of venting should be planned.
How to Install Shed Skirting
For lattice skirting, installing it with frames is the best and most stable way to use this type of skirting. For wood lattice, using 1x4s for the framing is sufficient. Build your frames to the needed size according to the distance between the bottom of your shed frame and the ground. Remember to leave a bit of space underneath so the panels don’t touch the ground.
Prime and paint your frame. Also prime and paint the lattice before you attach it to the frame. Cut the lattice to fit your frames. Use stainless steel screws with washers to attach the lattice to the frames. Use 3- or 4-inch metal straps to attach the frames to the shed frame. You can also use T-hinges on one so that the frame can swing upward to allow access for inspecting the shed underside.
For vinyl lattice, you’ll need a fine-toothed blade if using a circular saw. U-channels or cap molding is used instead of frames, with either liquid nails or small galvanized bolts to attach them. Attach the U-channels to the shed frame with screws or use furring strips attached to your shed frame, then attaching the U-channels to the strips.
Chicken wire is also an inexpensive choice and one of the easiest to install. Be sure to get the kind with small holes to keep out mice or plan to install a double row with one offset from the other to form smaller mesh. Installation only requires a staple gun and wire cutters for tools.
One good idea is to dig a small trench around the shed first. Bend the length of your chicken wire at a 90-degree angle to provide protection underground, then bury this side with the bend facing your shed. This will prevent digging animals, such as dogs and groundhogs, from digging underneath your wire skirting. Digging animals will dig into the bend and quickly become discouraged.
Metal panels are another choice. They come in various colors, so you aren’t limited to the bare metal look. You should overlap the panels at the edges and use screws that come with an attached rubber gasket to both join them and attach them to the shed frame. This will seal out moisture from the screw holes.
Be careful not to screw them down too tightly or you might cause a dimple in the metal. Neoprene washers between the metal and wood frame will keep moisture from collecting at the connections. Drilling pilot holes will help when attaching the screws. To keep your screws lined up, you can drill the pilot holes through all the panels at once along a straight line.
To allow for airflow, get vents to install throughout the metal panels. They needn’t be large vents. There are vents with fins or mesh made from metal or plastic available. Another solution is to cut out small shapes in the panels using stencils. These can be very decorative. You can also use metal mesh instead of panels. This mesh comes in various patterns and is sturdier than chicken wire.
Shed skirting will not only protect your shed from invaders but add curb appeal to the shed. Investigate the various types available. You might be surprised at the variety of materials that can be used. Ask your supplier about installation so you can evaluate the difficulty. Many people use skirting around their sheds and decks, doing the installation themselves. There’s no reason you can’t do the same.