Painting a Steel Shed

A piece of metal with various different colours of oil paint on top, including reds, oranges, yellows, blues and various shades of off-white. It reads 'painting a steel shed' on top

Painting a Steel Shed

Painting a steel shed is something we get asked lot about here at Sheds Direct Ireland. The majority of people ask about it for aesthetic reasons. That is, they want a specific colour on their shed that we don’t offer (in one instance, pink) or they want to customise it in some way.  Others ask about painting it for upkeep reasons and they are less concerned about the visual side of it.

Today we’ll look at why, how and even if you should go about painting a steel shed.


Do you need to?

This is the first question you should be asking yourself: Does our garden shed need to be painted?” If you’re buying a new steel garden shed from us, there’s really no reason to paint them from a maintenance point of view – not at the start, anyway. Our sheds – and many others on the market – are galvanised. This means that there’s a protective zinc coating already applied to them. Painting over this adds very little in terms of protection. Once your shed has lived beyond a decade or so, it might be something worth considering, however.

A green and blue faded piece of metal seen up close. There are two rivets to the side which have a slight brown rust around them. There is a hinge to the left which is a darker colour also

That said, there are some reasons why you’d want to paint a steel shed, however. These might include:

  • If you live in a coastal area, where the salt-air can affect the galvanisation leaving your shed exposed and liable to rust. Painting it regularly would be strongly advised.
  • You might have an old shed that has long outlived it’s warranty and rust is beginning to become a worry
  • You might just want a different coloured shed


So if you’re looking at getting the brushes out, make sure you do the essential preparation work first. There are specialist paints for steel / metal panels, however most require a little groundwork before you can lash the paint on. Here we’ll look at everything to consider before painting.



This is the big first question: Do you disassemble it entirely and paint the panels, or just paint it as it stands? We can’t answer this for you, that’s an entirely personal choice, but there are obvious pros and cons to both choices.

If you are planning to pull apart your shed to reassemble it, we have a page that lists all our instructions; you can follow these in reverse order to disassemble your shed correctly. Just to note, we only keep the most recent version of our sheds’ instructions online. If you have a shed that is older than a few years, some of the instructions or dimensions may be different to what you have.

Painting the panels on their own might be the quicker and simpler option, however you might be missing some important parts of the shed that might need treating the most.



Like any painting job, make sure your surface is clean. Thoroughly clean down your shed, removing any dirt, grit etc. If you’ve had your shed assembled by our team, you will also need to remove the plastic wrap that is left on the shed (see why this is left on here). Warm water with dish detergent through it should be enough for most dirt and grime. Mkae sure to use a sponge with an abrasive side to ensure it’s thoroughly cleaned.

If you’ve mould growing on/in your shed, check out Hunker’s guide to removing mould from metal.


Sandblast if necessary

If your old shed has chipping paint on it, give it a sandblast first. This will remove the chipped paint and give you a smooth surface to paint over. If you have a shed that looks anything like this, you’ll need to look into sandblasting it. Once your shed is clean and free from chipping paint, you can move towards priming it.

a close up of a piece of metal which was painted a teal-blue colour, but which now has large pockets of brown rust cutting through the paint



Painting a Steel Shed: Primer

If you’ve cleaned off your shed and there is no protective coating on it, you’ll need to prime it first. Metal Primer is just a chemical application and it serves two main functions on your shed:

  1. It prevents the metal from rusting. Usually these primers contain zinc, which are absorbed rather than the metal on the sheds becoming rusted.
  2. It allows the metal paint to bind better to the shed. This will drastically reduce the chances of the paint flaking off in the future.

Both Hammerite and Dulux sell metal primers that are readily available on the Irish market. They can be costly, but over the life of your shed, they’ll be a small price to pay for a properly kept and sealed shed.



How you choose to apply the paint, as well as what paint you choose will have a drastic difference on how your shed will hold up over the years. We’ll look at the applicator first.


The Applicator: Should I use a paint-gun?

A man in military uniform holding a giant paint brush like you would hold a rifle. He is crouched, wearing ear-protectors, goggles and camouflaged clothes. The brush is white with white paint on the brown bristles. He's the soldier painting a steel shed

Not like that. 

The applicator just refers to how to get the paint onto the shed. You’ve two main options here: paint-guns or paint brushes.

Paint-guns will you’ll get a more even coat, use less paint and you’ll spend less time coating your shed by using one. However, they will be considerably messier if you’ve not used one before. There’s a certain knack to using them and if you don’t have it, you could end up with gloopy lumps all over your shed.

Brushes are the more traditional option. Brush painting will take a considerable amount of time, but it will be neater and you almost certainly not miss anything with one. When painting metal, it is generally advised that you used an edged brush

Because of the grooves and indents on metal panels, Rollers are not suitable for painting a steel shed.



While the amount of colours for steel paint has increased, it is still fairly limited. The Dulux Metalshield range is the the largest available, but it’s mostly just shades of green, blue and brown. Hammerite also have a similarly small pool of colours. While your colour options are limited, these companies offer fantastic products that shouldn’t be overlooked. It isn’t recommended that you use other non-steel paints on these sheds,

It’s also important to remember that there is a difference between metal-paints, which are specifically designed to go onto metal and ‘metallic paints’, which are just paints with a metal-like appearance. Here’s an example of some ‘metallic paint’, which would not be suitable to cover the surface of a steel shed with.

a shimmery marine blue-green painted surface with a metallic light green effect running through it in tiny, speckled piece

Metallic Paint


When to Paint

It should go without saying, but a calm, dry day is the perfect time to paint your shed. Avoid days where there is even a chance of rain or high-winds, as they’ll make the task impossible.


After Care

It’s very important to keep an eye on your freshly painted shed, especially in the first few weeks. Check for cracks, scratches or any other blemishes that may cause an issue. Scratches in particular can cause an issue, as they can become an entry point for rust. If you were to go to all the trouble of prepping and painting you shed, it’d be a shame to let a scratch go unnoticed and have your shed become


Warranty Notices

If you have modified your shed in any manner, your warranty will be voided. The adding of chemicals, including paints, can strip the coating off the shed. It is for this reason that we cannot honour our warranty on any modified, altered or painted shed.


Any Questions:

If you’ve any questions, call us at 01 864 4247 or message us on Facebook and we might be able to help more in person.

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Shed lead times: Steel assembly: 1 week.
Wood assembly: 4-5 weeks.
Steel Flat-packed delivery: 2-5 working days.