Terrific Broth

The life of two scientists, creating a small home, in big mountains

Tag: Shed

The Shed Revolution Vlog – Painting the Shed and Adding Storage

Happy Labor Day, Everyone! With open arms, I welcomed my first long weekend since working full-time again. Slav has some work to do and it is hot outside (98F during the day), so I decided to completely hibernate in our air-conditioned rooms and take lots of naps. I love doing renovation projects and seeing things improve in my hands, but in a hot day like this, blogging about the work we did from air-conditioned room is waaaay more preferable. 🙂

Refreshing our garden shed is tedious work – all the materials are oversized and heavy, lots of surfaces make everything take longer, and Colorado sun does not make outdoor work more pleasant. However, what had stopped us from finishing the shed renovation during the past two weeks was not too much sun, but too little. It has been raining everyday in the afternoon, just enough to make the bottom of the shed a bit damp. We did not want to paint the shed in such condition that the paint seals the moisture inside the siding. So we waited while trying to complete as much as possible indoors.

One thing we did during these two weeks was to figure out paint colors for the shed. Initially Slav wanted a red shed with white trims – a standard farm-ish color combo. So I went to Lowe’s and got a few dozen of red color swatches. We both sank into the terrible “design decision paralysis” and neither of us dared to pick the final color, not to mention that there were still a few dozens of white color choices for the trim…

The major dilemma was that we wanted the shed to look good, but we did not want it to stand out. The shed was sitting at a far corner of our yard, neighboring some trees and the brown back fencing. Painting it bright red will inevitably bring too much attention to it. The current pressure-treated plywood (without paint) actually blends very well with the oil-treated cedar fencing. But we did not want to spend $100 on paint only to cover the entire shed the same brown as the color of the plywood.


Then I had an idea – why not do a brown stencil? We have a birch tree stencil that we used in our NC apartment and loved it. This stencil highlights the tree stems opposed to foliage,which should help the shed to blend in vertical fencing and tree branches.


This is the wall we painted with the birch tree stencil in our NC apartment. We picked a lighter shade than our sofa and it made the room so vibrant. Coming up with this idea was like a light bulb went on. It made us excited about painting the shed for the first time and just gave us such enthusiasm that we did not have before with other colors.

We decided to use a brown-cream color combination with the stencil on the shed, with a brown that is close to the fence color. So Lowe’s I went again. I have been visiting the paint desk in our local Lowe’s on average once a week. The staff there asked me “did you decided on which red” when she saw me. LOL. We both laughed when I told her that I needed brown paint – Ha! I wanted the brown to be more chocolaty, opposed the ones that are too earthy and too red. What I brought home in the end: “universal lumber” brown for the tree stems, and “cream in my coffee” for the background.


This is how they look like overlapping:


I was not 100% sure about the color. So staffs in Lowe’s put a drop of darker brown on top of the cream color when they mixed my paint order, so I can see how the two colors interact when they are on top of each other. It is this kind of detail makes me going back to Lowe’s over and over again.


Since the stencil covers the background and has openings shaped like the tree stems, I needed more “cream in my coffee” than “universal lumber”. The way it works is to paint the entire surface “cream in my coffee” (background) first, then stencil it over using “universal lumber” to get the tree stems. I also wanted to seal the shed really well with two coats of outdoor primer/sealer, so I got half gallons of “universal lumber”, one gallons of “cream in my coffee”, and two gallons of outdoor primer/sealer.


Attacked by vicious dogs while taking the photo – I was pushed down on the ground and my face was violently licked:


As soon as we had three sunny days in row, I got to work with my new paint sprayer. The two coats of primes were up lighting fast! The Wagner 590 has a 50 oz paint can attached to it. For our 8’x 11′ x 9′ shed, I only reloaded once (100 oz total) for a complete coat. So it went relatively fast.


It was an arm exercise though: 50 oz of paint is not light and I had to hold the sprayer up and move slowly and steadily across my path. It was just manageable for me with this amount of surface. For a garage of a few rooms, I would choose an air-pressure feed sprayer.

I used up rest of the primer on the trims. They were laid on some scrap wood in the garage and I just rolled all of them two coats with a roller.



One tricky detail about painting the trims was that they were all cut to custom-fit a specific corner or to cover a specific place on the shed. Slav labeled all of them exactly where they needed to be. I used my beloved label maker to make sure that the information was not lost.


After the primer dried on the shed and the trims, Slav put the trims up. The shed immediately looked more polished.


The afternoon shade of trees on the shed is so pretty and made me confident that the stencil would work well.


Annnnnd – this is the shed painted! I rolled the top panels and faces of the trims first, followed by stenciling all around, and finished by brushing the side of the trims and corners at the end.


I am not gonna lie. Working with large size of stencil is a lot of work. It took me three evenings to finish painting – I think it was about 8 hours. We did our last stencil wall painting together and it was a very smooth wall, so it did not take more than a few hours. But this time around, Slav had to work so I flew solo. With no one holding the stencil up, it was hard to tape it down perfectly straight. And once it was taped down, it wanted to slide down as soon as you put pressure on it with a roller. There was so much paint accumulated on the stencil so quickly, which add the weight and made the edge blurry. So I had to pause and clean it every an hour or so. When I finished the front and two sides, I was visibly tired and we were running really low on the brown color. So Slav said, “let us just paint the back a solid color. We have so much exterior paint in green and it will blend in better into our grass looking from the other side”. Boy I was so relieved!


But we absolutely love how the stencil turned out. It adds so much more interest on the shed than any solid color, yet it makes the shed disappearing when it gets dark outside like a camouflage. Slav definitely adores it, which by itself made all the work worthwhile. He wasn’t sure about the colors I picked at the beginning, but once it was done he was like “this looks great, babe!” He carefully put on the doors on after all the paint was dried, stepped back, took a long look at the shed, and nodded with smile on his face. I could not be more proud! 🙂

As soon as the outside was done and the door was put in place, we started setting up the inside storage. The biggest reason for refreshing this shed, instead of just demoing it, is to have our gardening tools stored here. This shed is a lot closer to our future vegetable beds than the garage, and we want to keep gardening stuff separated from Slav’s car work area for the sake of cleanness.

I’ve showed you the storage plans, with shelves on the left, lawn mower in the middle, and long-handled gardening tools hanging on the wall:


It turned out that wooden shelves would come out very expensive – at least $100 for just the wood alone, and a lot more with brackets, screws, and paint. Slav found a discounted plastic shelving unit in the Habitat for Humanity store for $10 (in white), which is too good of a price to pass. So we decided just to do plastic shelving for the shed. We completed this side of the shed with a similar shelving unit from Lowe’s (in black):


They are both pretty steady and work just fine. For $45 total they are totally worth it compared to >$100 worth materials and hours of building time.

It turned out we did not have any extra lumber in hand, so we nixed the wood storage frame idea in the right corner. Our shovels and racks are waiting patiently for their final placement:


I filmed a short video to show you the inside and what we ended up storing here (the Christmas tree did not make it here). Enjoy!

The Shed Revolution II – Rebuild The Walls and Our Plan for the Garden Pad

Yesterday we left off with a skeleton of the shed. Today, we are working on the new siding!


We got these pressure-treated, weather-proofing plywood from Lowe’s as new sidings. We are not looking forward to getting it completely sealed. All we need it to function is as a storage for our gardening tools and lawn mower. So plywood + some paint is perfectly sufficient.

Slav cut the plywood to size and bolted them onto the studs with screws:


It was not long before all the sides were up. The studs are not perfectly square – actually, the whole structures slops down to one corner. So there are some gaps between plywood sidings. We will cover them with trims down the road. Slav also cut some odd pieces to fill the gaps between the siding and the roof rafters.


Roxie, the daddy’s girl, was cheerleading for Slav the entire time:

Slav cut the door to size but left it unattached. It is much easier to paint when it is off the hinges.


We also want to paint the trims a different color than the siding, so Slav cut all the trims to size and left them unattached. I am the painter in the family, so the ball is totally in my court now.


This was what Slav left for me at the end of his work day. Clean, organized, every trim labeled, and all tucked under the roof. This man does construction the same way as he does cell culture inside a biosafety hood. Gotta love a man with good work ethics.


As soon as Slav finished his work, it started raining everyday for two weeks. It prevented me from painting the shed, but our lawn could use some water, so the rain was very well received. At the mean time, I did what I could do indoors – paint the door hardware for the shed.


I included door handles from our interior doors too since they all gonna go black. We replaced our stove drip pans a while ago, so I used them to pop up the door handles to make the paint job easier.

We have two black spray paint cans in hand. I had to say that the Rust Oleum one worked waaaay better than the Valspar one for this application. With Rust Oleum I got much better coverage – you really just need one coat. I had to use three coats with the Valspar to make the golden shine disappear.




The rain also gave me some time to think about the storage. Our gardening tools has grown a lot since we moved in. We used to just have a few shovels and racks, and now we have a lot more long-handled tools, a lawn mower, a wheel barrel, two short electrical saws for branches, a long saw for high branches, a hedge trimmer, and two leaf blower/vacuums. We also want to store a trash can in the shed for carbon-rich materials for future composting, such as cardboard, newspaper, and dry branches.




If we are lucky, we may be able to fit the Christmas stuff there too – they are green, right?


The shed is only 8′ x 11′, so we need to be smart on how to store all the tools. We want them to be in a single layer, meaning that you can get to any of them without removing or climbing over mountains of others.


And this is the plan I came up with:



We plan to put three shelves on the left for small tools and garden pots. and build a container at the right corner for lumber storage. The long-handle tools including shovels and racks will be hung along the back wall, so they are easy to reach and off the ground. This plan will give us enough room in the middle to park the lawnmower and wheel barrel. We should still be able to walk around them to get to all the tools.

The rain finally stopped after 15 days. It is time for paint! I got a Wagner paint sprayer a few weeks ago and cannot wait to put it into use. It supposed to make painting large surfaces a lot faster!

The Shed Revolution I – The Demo


I am so excited to show you this project we have been tackling for the last two months – our garden shed!  This is the longest project we have worked on so far, pretty much from the week we moved in. It wasn’t a lot of work, but it was not a high priority and always took the back seat when other projects went on. But we finally finished the shed last weekend and we could not be more happy with the result! In today’s post, I am gonna show you how we go from the rotten shed above, to this:








The shed was in bad shape when we moved in – all the sidings were rotten, trims started raising from the studs, and many shingles were missing on the roof. There were nothing but trash inside – used construction materials, broken electrical tools, buckets of unknown liquid, and some weird gas tanks. There were shelves running the back side of the shed, and a work bench was left behind, but they were constructed with thin plywood and started sagging in all places.



Cleaning out the shed

The first thing we did was to haul away the construction trash and cleared out everything from the shed:



We also needed to trim the trees and bushes around the shed. As you can see from the photos below, several tree branches were laying on top of the roof and definitely contributed to the missing shingles.



After trimming


Slav also trimmed off some low branches and bushes at the back of the shed, so we had enough room to push a wheel barrel around it.


After cleaning and trimming, we finally had chance to take a good look of the shed. Luckily, all framing studs and roof rafters were in good shape. The studs were bolted down to the concrete pad with galvanized bolts, and the whole framing structures were solid as a rock.



This discovery changed our initial plan, which was to take down the shed completely and rebuild. What we decided to do instead, was to get rid of all the trims and siding, basically demo the shed to the studs, and refresh the shed with new sidings, trims and the roof. We will be adding new storage in the shed to custom-fit our need. Instead using it as an over-flow storage, we would like to make it a garden shed that could get a lot more use.


Or a dog shed? Roxie seemed to enjoy the empty concrete and immediately went in for a nap. Maybe we should leave the shed as a playhouse for the dogs?

Demo the shelves, trims and siding

Now we had a game plan, Slav grabbed his pry bar and got to work:



The rotten trim and siding did not stand a chance – they came right off – sometimes with just bare hands! Removing all the nails and screws took even longer.



Soon, we had a clean frame to work with! We left the roof intact at this moment, since we have not learned roofing yet. There will be the phase II for the shed.


Slav also leveled all the ground around the concrete padding so we can set up proper drainage. There was quiet a bit of loose concrete at the back of the shed and he removed it with a much bigger pry bar.




Powerwash and seal the framing

After all the debris cleaned, the shed was ready for new sidings. But before we do, we would like to give the existing framing a good wash and a protective coat. After watching Slav power-wash our fence, I was eager to give it a try myself. So I volunteered to wash the frame clean.

The dirty frame before


After wash!


It was so much fun – I even wrote Slav’s name on the work bench:


After everything dried, Slav applied two coats of linseed oil on the framing. The studs looked so much better that we could hardly tell that they were old lumber from decades ago.


Now it is time for new siding and trims! We got pre-treated, weather-proofing plywood and trims from Lowe’s and a brand new miter saw from Harbor Freight Tools. The shed is about to look sooo good!



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