Rust is a fascinating and often misunderstood chemical reaction between iron-containing metals and oxygen. Oddly, some people believe rust works like an infection, spreading and growing by itself. However, rust is not alive.
This unique and often problematic reaction is only possible when moisture, air, and iron (or other oxidizing materials) meet. How can you prevent tools from rusting in your shed? I will show you several simple techniques.
How To Prevent Tools From Rusting In Shed
The best way to prevent tools from rusting in your shed is by sealing out all forms of moisture. Placing metal tools inside a shed is not enough to prevent dampness from reaching them. Ensure no water or moisture can reach them by using proper storage containers, cleaning techniques and installing moisture barriers.
There are many ways to keep all your tools looking like the day you bought them, or at least in good condition. I will walk you through a dozen different ways to help prevent rust. You can use all of these techniques or combine the most useful ones for your unique circumstances.
The 12 best ways to prevent tools from rusting in a shed include:
1. Seal Your Shed With A Moisture Barrier
Whether you live in a swamp, or the driest desert on earth, the planet is still seventy percent water, and moisture will get inside.
Seal your shed up properly with a moisture barrier below the floor. Add sealant in any cracks or corners, and then paint the inside, outside, and floor with waterproof paint.
Finally, check your roof and always ensure that outside water has drainage to move rain away from the foundation.
2. Store Tools Using A Vapor Corrosion Inhibitor (VCI)
There are several types of Vapor Corrosion Inhibitors or VCIs. Common VCI products include capsules, mesh liners and zipper bags which are infused which rust-inhibiting compounds that vaporize and attach to tools’ metal surfaces.
3. Keep Tools Clean
The dirt is abrasive and will scratch up the surface of your tools. Sadly, the more scratched the surface; the more metal is exposed.
That can lead to easier oxidation and rust formation over time. It’s important always to clean off your equipment after you use it to prevent any moisture pockets from getting trapped near the metal where they can do damage.
4. Store Tools Properly – Keep Tools Off The Ground
Gravity works. It’s crucial to pick up your tools and put them away, preferably hanging them rather than placing them inside drawers.
Doing this will allow any condensed moisture to do what it does best and move downward toward the ground.
While this won’t prevent water microparticles in the air, it will help reduce rusting on your tools. Placing tools in containers like drawers and boxes traps the air and any moisture inside with them.
5. Remove Nearby Plants For Ventilation
Good ventilation is essential to keeping your shed dry. When you first clear space for a new shed, take the time to clear a few feet of extra open area around the shed.
Doing this promotes airflow and helps reduce moisture in the area. Remember to keep weeds, grass, and other plants away from your shed when you do yard maintenance so it can ‘breathe’ and dry out properly.
6. Control Humidity Inside
There are several ways to help control the humidity inside your shed. Opening or closing windows is a great, simple method to move more air and evaporate more moisture.
Roof vents are also a smart addition. You can always prop the door open and place an electric fan in the doorway to move air around as well. This last technique is critical when you have no windows or vents in your shed.
7. Raise Shed Off Ground
Although it’s technically allowed in many places to set a shed on the ground, this is a bad plan. Elevating your shed on a cement pad or using blocks to lift it off the ground is a much more efficient way to keep things dry inside.
When your shed doesn’t touch the ground, there’s far less risk of standing water eating away at its base.
8. Keep Hand Tools and Power Tools Separated
This tip is a little less obvious, but you need to store power tools and hand tools separately. Hand tools are light weight and can easily fall or get knocked down.
If you keep them over your power tools, you’re likely to scratch the finish on those expensive, larger tools, and that will let moisture get into the covered metal.
Additionally, power tools create a lot of dust, which can easily absorb and store moisture, so keeping them clean and away from smaller tools will help stop rust.
9. Avoid Scratching Tools – Sand Out Imperfections
Tools that get used are going to take some damage over time. Just as you need to sharpen a knife, you should sand and buff scratches out of other tools.
The smooth surface helps prevent excess moisture from getting into the metal surface. Nicer, better cared for tools work better, and have a longer working life. Plus, it’s a lot easier to seal a tool if it’s smooth.
10. Use A Protective Coating
Coating tools with a protective layer of oil can save you a lot of trouble. I prefer Rust Prevention Magic (RPM), from Amazon.
Not only is RPM lab certified and award-winning, but the carnauba wax base works better than a spray for locking out moisture. The durability is second to none. Plus, no one wants greasy feeling tools that can slip out of your hand easily.
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11. Get A Well Built Shed
Cheaply made sheds are the epitome of ‘you get what you pay for. We’ve all seen a million rusty, falling-down cheap metal sheds in the backs of yards.
If you’re going to buy or build a shed, spend a little bit more on treated wood and the right sealants.
It may cost you a few bucks more to put up, but in the long run, it will save you thousands on replacement tools and having to buy another shed when yours’ collapses from rot or rust.
12. Choose The Right Tools (Materials)
Picking higher quality tools will always save you headaches and trouble down the road, not to mention replacement costs.
Not only are good stainless-steel tools less likely to rust because of the high chromium content, but they often come with better warranties.
If you need a new tool, it’s always better when the manufacturer replaces it than paying out of pocket. Remember to fill out your warranties, register them online or send them in, and spend the extra dollar or two to upgrade.
Helpful Tips To Know How To Prevent Tools From Rusting In Shed
Most tools contain some iron. For example, steel is made of iron and carbon. The only way to prevent rust is to seal out every possible source of moisture.
Arid climates like the desert may seem water-free, but there is still moisture in the air, and it will get inside your shed and rust your tools if you don’t protect your gear.
Here are some helpful tips to know how to prevent tools from rusting in your shed.
- Did you know that stainless steel and aluminum can corrode and rust over time? Though it takes longer, it’s not impossible, especially if you’ve been rough with your tools and their surfaces are scratched or pitted.
- Even when you’re careful, it’s possible to seal rust inside a protective layer like oil causing eventual rusting on your tools.
- Always check the seals around where your tool connects to its handle. Seems like these are the most likely place for a little extra moisture to sneak into your equipment without notice.
- Drop moisture-absorbing silica gel packets (also known as “the Do Not Eat stuff” that comes with shoes) into tool cases and drawers where you keep metal parts like screws, nails, and hinges.
No one wants rusty tools. In fact, too much rust can make your equipment useless because rust breaks down the iron inside metal tools through oxidation.
Fortunately, if you catch it early, you can remove rust. Then you need to smooth out the tool surface and seal it to prevent further damage.
Additionally, proper storage and good moisture barriers inside your shed will help keep all your tools in great condition for years to come.