Design & DIY

Cottage Q&A: Best shed flooring options

A blue-grey garden shed sitting on gravel By Stuart Monk/Shutterstock

We have a new shed (12-foot-by-20-foot) with a plywood floor. Before we put on a more permanent floor cover (vinyl, linoleum, laminate?), I would like to add some water-resistant protection on the plywood. The shed is on cement pillars at least six inches above the ground. Is that a good idea, and what kind of product would you suggest?—Don Whelan, Ancaster, Ont.

Nice to hear from you again, Don! (Readers with strong attention to detail will recall that Don asked us about his shed foundation options one year ago, in the Mar./Apr. ’20 issue.)

The good news is that none of our experts thought that moisture wicking up through the floor should be a problem. Since the shed is raised, air can circulate underneath. “In a shed, I wouldn’t say that water protection is needed,” says Sean Harris of the Little Building Company in Peterborough, Ont. “It’s more likely that moisture would be coming from above—snow melting off a shovel, for example.” The even better news is that you don’t necessarily need any kind of floor covering at all. 

“I’d recommend a good-quality stain instead,” says Cottage Life’s superstar project builder, Wayne Lennox. Heck, “Who puts flooring in a shed?” 

Well, not that many people. But we get it. Maybe you don’t like the look of plywood. Maybe you have a lot of leaky, wood-staining power tools and dozens of grandchildren prone to spilling their juice boxes everywhere that they go. If that’s the case, opt for vinyl. (You can even buy extra-tough sheet products designed for garage floors.) Laminate can be cardboard-like and buckle easily. And linoleum was really only cool until about the 1950s. (One source: “Does anyone even make linoleum anymore?”) 

If I pull up the carpeting in my cottage, can I paint the subflooring?

Another option is to paint the floor. “That’s what I’d do if it was my shed,” says John Debono, the owner of Well Built Bunkies & Sheds based in Port Perry, Ont. This would give the floor a protective coating that’s going to be easier to wipe off than bare plywood. If you go this route, he recommends a marine-grade paint, for extra durability.

Good luck, Don! Talk soon.

This article was originally published in the March/April 2021 issue of Cottage Life magazine.

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