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11 Aug 2021

Five ways to maintain and improve your summer house before you have guests over

If you're planning a garden party while the sun is shining, consult our tips from Which? Trusted Traders and keep your summer house in top condition

The weather might have been dodgy so far this summer but, with another heatwave predicted, you may be planning to do a lot more outdoor entertaining over the coming month. If you own a summer house or garden room, you'll want to make sure that it's in the best possible state before you start sending out invites.

If you've neglected your summer house recently, it's a good idea to check the structure to make sure it's both safe and functional. Treating the wood can help to preserve the building, plus patching up the roof will help you keep your summer house toasty once winter rolls around.

Keep scrolling as we run through five simple ways to maintain your summer house. We've also included some top tips provided by Shard Renovations Limited, a Which? Trusted Trader that works on log cabins, log homes and summer houses.

Garden rooms - check in with our expert buying guide covering garden rooms, garden offices, log cabins and summer houses.

How to maintain your summer house

1. Treat your summer house

Cracks and leaks can appear if your summer house isn't painted often enough.

You may have treated your summer house when it was first put up in your garden. However, running through that process again isn't a bad idea, especially if a long time has passed since the original coat was applied. If you're unsure if your summer house needs another coat, check the manufacturer's guidelines.

Shard Renovations Limited told us: 'We tend to treat summer houses every two years with a quality barn paint. Choose one that it tough, durable and retains its colour for longer. That way the rain will run off your summer house instead of soaking in.'

Treating your summer house effectively can stop the wood from rotting, splitting or warping, so you and your guests will be able to enjoy it for longer. The treatment should contain fungicide for preventing decay and discolouration.

When you're applying treatment to the wood, make sure the surface is clean and dry. In most cases, you'll need more than one coat for the treatment to soak in properly.

Treating the interior isn't essential, but running a brush over the inner walls protects the wood and makes it easier to clean.

You may also prefer the look of treated wood, particularly if the colour compliments your furniture.

2. Deal with mould

Long periods of damp weather can cause condensation, which can lead to mould appearing on your summer house.

If you spot signs of mould on your summer house while you're tidying up the garden, make sure you deal with the problem as soon as you can.

Possible causes for mould include insufficient ventilation, along with cracks in the wood. Check every side of the structure (inside and out) to make sure there are no weak spots on the walls.

Try and air out the building regularly, as moisture that builds up inside needs a way to escape. If you use your summer house to store damp items such as gardening equipment or bikes, this is especially important.

If your summer house doesn't have an air vent, consider adding one at the front of the building and another at the back.

You can deal with mould using a mild bleach solution, or mould and mildew remover spray. Some sprays will need to be left to fight the mould for a couple of minutes before you try to wipe the surface clean.

3. Check the base of your summer house

Try and get into the habit of checking the base of your summer house every couple of months.

If you notice subsidence, you may need to contact a professional and come up with a plan of action. An uneven base can cause the walls of your summer house to warp.

For example, you may notice that the doors start to jam easily and need extra force to open.

Look for signs of soil or plant build up around the base and clear that away. This is important as, left alone, the material holds moisture to the surface of the wood which could potentially cause rot.

Shard Renovations Limited told us: 'Add a layer of gravel around your summer house to protect the bottom from splashes of rainwater. This stops the timber from getting wet, which means it will last longer.'

If you need help with summer house repairs or want to replace the structure entirely, browse Which? Trusted Traders to find a reliable professional

4. Tidy up the roof

If you're able to do so safely, grab a step ladder and check the condition of your roof up close.

Ideally, you want it to be completely free from debris, so brush away any loose material. If you notice a build up of moss (which absorbs water), that needs to come off as it prevents the surface of your summer house from fully drying out. Clean out any leaf-packed gutters while you're up there as well.

According to Shard Renovations Limited, your summer house roof (and seals) should be checked annually.

Cut back overhanging branches as these can pierce your roofing felt and cause water to seep through.

You may notice that sections of felt have come loose due to bad weather, so get those bits replaced or nailed down once again. Note that felt panels aren't quite as tough as roofing shingles.

5. Get the temperature just right

Make sure you check that your heating system is still working before the cold weather returns. Ticking this job off the to-do list now means you won't be shopping around for a new heater in the middle of winter.

If you're hosting a garden party in the sun and want your summer house to act as a breakaway area, an electric fan can help you stay cool. A pedestal or tower fan is more suitable than a desk fan as you can move it around more easily.

Basic electric fans won't set you back more than £50, but we've tested models that cost far more. The £350 Dyson AM07, for example, is a bladeless fan with 10 different speeds to choose from.

See which electric fans have impressed in the Which? test lab with our full selection of reviews

Summer house tips from Which? members

Towards the end of last year, we surveyed more than 10,000 Which? members about garden rooms, including 1,264 who own one.

As part of our survey, we asked Which? members what advice they would offer on buying or maintaining a summer house. Take a look at a selection of the comments we received:

  • Insulation is important 'If I was installing one from scratch, I would make sure it had good insulation so it could be used all year round.'
  • Picking a location 'Carefully consider the position and orientation to the sun when deciding where to place it.'
  • Run a power cable to your summer house 'If you can get electricity to your summer house, it massively extends use into the colder months.'
  • Don't treat your summer house as an extension to the house 'Ours is a place for relaxation and solitude. Use it as a place to unwind if your daily life is hectic.'
  • Keep your space clutter-free 'Try not to fill the summer house with junk.'
  • Decorate the outside 'You can use solar-powered fairy lights to light up summer evenings.'
  • Consider adding sliding doors 'This prevents the doors from being knocked about by the wind.'
  • Consider quality of materials when patching up the roof 'Avoid cheap roofing felt.'

For expert advice on creating a space you can relax in, see our guide on how to build a summer house or garden room.