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Are You Still Listening to "The Guy At Home Depot"?

RealDealPhoto. Getty Images.

In mid-December of 2009, I bought a brand new Suzuki M50 Boulevard off the showroom floor from Jim at Bettencourt's Honda-Suzuki in West Bridgewater (Massachusetts). I still owned a 2004 Kawasaki Ninja 500R, which I immediately put up for sale. The Ninja was in my shed along with the lawnmower, beach chairs, yard tools, plumbing tools, and my kids' toys and bicycles. I needed to build a motorcycle-specific shed and it had to be built in hurry. I held off picking up the new bike and Bettencourt's was fine with keeping it in their storage container until my shed was built. They'd given me a great price on the bike and they were very accomodating about the shed…

2009 Suzuki M50 Boulevard, the reason I needed a motorcycle-specific shed…

I built the floor of the shed out of pressure-treated lumber, dug and poured concrete footings, and then I built the ramp (on a concrete pad), walls, and the roof, which included a cheap plastic skylight like the first shed had. Because this shed was actually an addition that was made part of the original shed, I only had to build three walls. My goal was to get the shed weather-tight and finish it after the new bike was home. After two months, Bettencourt's grew a little impatient with my progress or lack thereof, and that's when they started calling me weekly to see when I was picking up the bike, which I'd already made several payments on. The New England weather wasn't cooperating and when does it ever? As a result, it was taking a lot longer than I thought to build my 8' x 10' motorcycle shed.

I went to Home Depot to buy the trim and all they had was finger-jointed pine (shorter pieces of pine that are finger-jointed and glued together to make one long board) and the more expensive plastic. I wanted solid pine but "the guy at Home Depot" assured me that finger-jointed pine was just as strong, if not stronger, than solid pine, even when installed outdoors. So, I bought the finger-jointed pine which was already primed, based on the word of "the guy at Home Depot"

I trimmed the shed and the doors using the finger-jointed pine and when it was weather-tight and lockable, I picked up the bike. After the shed was sided I painted it…

It wasn't much more than a year later that the finger joints started to show themselves through the paint and a year after that, the joints started to come apart. It looked horrible. I had made a huge mistake listening to "the guy at Home Depot"

Fast forward to 2019. By that time the shed looked awful. All the trim I used on the double doors was coming apart and starting to rot, there was even mushroom-like mold growing out of it. I knew I had to strip it and redo it, but fixing your own mistakes is never fun and my motivation was very low…

For a couple of years, I stared out at the shed doors from inside my house, knowing it was time to redo them because they'd become such an eyesore. It had clearly gotten away from me…I looked into roll-up garage doors and for around $700 I could've had one custom-made to fit my opening, which would have been nice, but I really didn't want to spend the money, which is how I got into this mess in the first place. I should've just bitten the bullet and bought the plastic trim when I was originally building the motorcycle shed…

I had a lot of lumber left from another project and I decided to forgo the roll-up door, save $700, and use the lumber I had. Okay, I cheaped out again. But, how would I trim it out? I didn't have a lot of trim so I was looking to use as little lumber as possible. One Saturday when my wife was away on a "girl's weekend", I went to work on the shed doors. When merely thinking about doing something becomes more stressful than actually doing it, it's time to get it done.

I decided to match the doors on the motorcycle shed to the doors on the original shed I built 30 years ago, after all, those doors had survived the brutal New England weather. I really didn't have a definitive plan, but I wasn't winging it either. I decided to use blocks under the galvanized hinges just as I did on the original, and two vertical pieces of solid pine in the middle to mount the locking hardware on.

I removed the old finger-jointed pine that spanned across the doors and under the hinges, one at a time and then I cut new blocks out of solid pine. To prevent anyone from using a cordless drill to unscrew the hinges and gain access to the shed, I originally used two galvanized carriage bolts per hinge making them essentially tamperproof. Once I mounted the new block and secured the hinge to it with deck screws, I drilled from the inside of the shed (original hole) through the new block and slid a galvanized carriage bolt through, and tightened it on the inside. I did the top four the first day and I installed the two long pieces in the middle along with all the hardware (handle, barrel bolts, and hasp). My goal was to make it lockable by the end of day one. My current motorcycle and Westinghouse whole-house portable generator were inside the shed…

The next day, I replaced the lumber under the bottom two hinges and I cut out the rotted bottom portion of the door opening trim and replaced it with plastic. When I was done I took a step back, looked at it from a distance, and decided I needed to dress it up a bit. Using some plastic I had laying around, I ripped some narrow pieces and trimmed out the top, bottom, and middle of the door to give it a more symmetrical look.

When the trim was complete, I went into my basement where I knew I had an unopened gallon of green outdoor paint I bought years ago and never used. I found the unopened gallon and when I opened it the paint had settled and needed to be heavily stirred. I stirred the crap out of it and the paint mixed really well and it was still useable even after spending 10 years in my basement.

I painted the T-1 11 portion of the doors green and all the door trim white and I think it looks a lot better than what I originally did in a big hurry back in '09-'10. Because it's a mix of solid pine and plastic with no finger-jointed crap, it should last. I finished phase one of the project by painting the door to my original shed to match.

There's still more to do. I'm going to replace more of the rotted trim, paint the entire building (same color/white trim) which is 20' x 10', cover the 20-year roof shingles on the original 30-year-old shed with new architectural shingles that match the ones on the motorcycle shed, and finish by hanging a couple of gutters on the front which I hope will keep water off the bottom of the doors, something I should've done years ago. I'm in and out of the sheds on rainy days and all winter long, and it'll be nice not getting soaked while standing directly under the drip edge to unlock and lock the doors, which is a lot like water torture.

Because I was able to use leftover lumber and paint and reuse the existing hardware, my building costs were minimal. All I really had to buy for this project were deck screws.

Unless you have a garage, and I don't, sheds are a very important part of any home. Because mine is in the side yard and not buried around back where it can't be seen, it's part of the whole visual of my house. It was well beyond time to spruce it up and I have to admit, the hardest part was just getting started… My goal now is to finish everything before the first snowfall, which in Massachusetts, could happen at any time…   

What should you take from all of this? Do NOT listen to "the guy at Home Depot"!