How To Paint Pressure Treated Wood

Best Water Based Primer For Pressure

Paint Treated Wood–Tips and Tricks

Kilz has a wide range of products and is a trusted brand in the paint industry. Kilz Premium may as well be called Kilz Primer for Pressure-Treated Wood. It is an ideal primer for interior and exterior pressure-treated wood. This premium primer offers a quality finish that seals and hides marks such as stains or knots. It bonds to a variety of surfaces, even those in humid areas of your home. Cleaning up is easy with just warm water. Kilz Premium contains no volatile organic compounds and has a low odor. This one-gallon tin can cover up to 390 square feet!

Your Wood Should Be Dry

To paint treated wood, the wood you wish to paint or stain must be fully dry before any type of staining or painting can take place. As we have discussed, this is of utmost importance. The dry time of treated wood is long, therefore if you are going to purchase this type of board, you should ask your supplier how long its been allowed to cure and inspect it personally before its loaded.

Check with a sprinkle test to see if the water absorbs into the wood at an adequate rate, and check the wood for the designation KDAT to ensure it has been kiln-dried after pressure treatment. So, can you paint treated wood right away? No, you must for it to be dry.

Can I Use Kilz On Pressure Treated Wood

Best Water-Based Primer KILZ Premium If you’re looking for something that dries fast, then this KILZ primer for pressure treated wood will do the job. It is a water-based primer, which allows it to dry fast to touch for you to save time and be able to apply the paint sooner. After one hour, you can already recoat.

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Apply The Proper Paint


Check that your primer is cured completely. If it is, then its time to paint! Like with primers, choose a latex-based paint. These are best for painting pressure treated wood.

Apply at least two coats. Allow the paint to dry completely between each coat. Think about what you are doing with the wood when picking your paint.

If this is an outdoor project, quality outdoor paint is best. For indoor projects, you have your choice of different finishes, as long as its good interior paint. Choose whatever color you wantthats the fun part!

What If You Paint It Too Soon?

Water activates the chemicals in pressure-treated wood. Dont paint it before its had time to dry. If you do, the chemicals will keep the paint from adhering to the wood.

Painting pressure treated wood before its dry means youll likely end up with poor coverage or peeling paint. Of course, this results in wasted time and money.

Painting vs. Staining

While the pressure treated wood already lasts longer than others, studies have shownthat finishing wood with either paint or stain adds even more to the long-term durability of your wood.

Staining is a great option for pressure treated lumber, especially for outdoor projects. Wood absorbs stain easily, and its simple to apply. Keep in mind that with stains, you are limited to shades of brown, and it doesnt hide blemishes in the wood.

How Long Does It Take For Pressure

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The length of time it can take pressure-treated wood to dry varies greatly due to factors such as the environmental climate the wood has been stored in, and how long it has been at the suppliers. You may need to wait for several months for the wood to dry completely before you can begin sealing or painting the wood.

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Ground Or Ground Contact

Lumber that contacts the ground or is in the ground often contains double the amount of preservative as above ground. It is used for projects within 6-inches of the ground that are exposed to moisture or dampness from vegetation, debris, or sprinklers. Ideal for deck posts, beams, or joists, stringers, planter boxes, and retaining walls.

Painting Guidelines To Keep Your Fence Looking Fresh

Not long ago we shared some best practices for wood fence protection and outlined the steps for proper wood maintenance. Finishing wood before it is exposed to destructive elements for extended lengths of time is perhaps the most important maintenance tip for any wooden structure. If you have a fence, deck, or stairs made with pressure-treated lumber, you might be wondering if you can paint pressure-treated wood to match your design preferences. You can definitely paint pressure-treated wood, though there is a certain process to follow to ensure the paint will last.

When wood is referred to as pressure-treated, it means that it was saturated with certain chemical preservatives that protect it from rot and fungus. The process is done under high pressure to allow the chemicals to penetrate better, leaving the wood rather wet. Thats why its important to exercise patience and allow the wood to dry thoroughly before painting this will help you avoid peeling paint from your treated lumber. Since the chemicals used to pressure-treat wood contain toxic substances, its also important to use proper protectionwear gloves and a dust mask.

Follow these steps when painting pressure-treated wood to get lasting results:

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Can You Paint Pressure Treated Wood

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People often wonder: can you paint pressure treated wood? The answer is, yes, but there are some important things to consider for best results. There are extra steps you need to take that arent necessary with regular lumber.

Pressure treated lumber needs time to dry out completely before its painted. Showing a little patience, then applying the proper paint and primer will be your best chance at a successful and long-lasting outcome.

Flatten Imperfections And Create A Keying Surface

YellaWood®: When can I paint or stain pressure treated wood?

Depending on the condition of your wood, you might consider sanding the surface to be protected. If the surface has been previously painted, you will want to do this step. I usually run 40 or 60-grit sandpaper over the surface using a small palm sander. Even if the timber is flat, the light sanding roughens the surface enough to create a good key or bond with the paint.

Safety Note! Weve already spoken of the types of chemicals used to pressure-treat wood. All of them can be dangerous to the eyes, skin, and lungs if you dont take the right precautions. Be sure to sand in a well-ventilated area, using a good quality dust mask, long-sleeved shirt, and eye protection. Also, be sure not to burn offcuts or wood shavings from pressure-treated wood. The smoke and fumes will be dangerous, carrying a long way.

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Should You Paint Or Stain

The question of staining versus painting depends more on the look you wish to achieve, as both finishes can be applied to pressure-treated wood. However, it will help if you understand the pros and cons of each.

First, you need to decide between using film-forming or penetrative finishes. Paints form a thin film-like layer over the surface of the wood, with the continuous layer slowing the rate at which water reaches the timber. Paint will not prevent decay to timber from humidity, but it will slow the rate at which liquid is absorbed into the wood fibers. Paint also has pigments that protect from ultraviolet damage. These same pigments also obscure the wood grain.

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Penetrative finishes include stains. These products penetrate the wood structure and partially block the woods pores, allowing the wood to continue breathing. Stains often have added water repellents, pigments, and sealers. They offer reasonable UV protection and prevent water ingress while allowing the wood grain to show through. When applied to pressure-treated timber, oil-based stain is preferred to latex-based.

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What Paint And Primer Should You Use

When selecting your paint system, you can choose between oil-based and latex paints. Oil-based paint uses inorganic pigments suspended in a carrier oil that binds the pigments to the wood surface. In contrast, latex-based paints use inorganic pigments mixed with latex resins and water.

A good quality latex-based paint will usually outlast an oil-based product for three reasons. The first is that the latex-based coating is more flexible than the oil-based one once dry. Wood is organic therefore, it swells and moves with changes in temperature and humidity. Oil-based paints can crack over time, while latex-based ones can accommodate greater movement before losing surface-film integrity.

The second reason latex-based paints last longer is they are more able to breathe while they also shed water. This feature ensures less water gets trapped under the paint film. When using impervious oil-based coatings, the paint will blister and lift if water gets trapped between the wood and the paint.

The third bonus for latex-based paints is the UV protection they offer. Their acrylic polymers are more resistant to sunlight than their oil-based counterparts, which means their deterioration to sun exposure happens more slowly.

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What Happens When Pressure

Your primer or paint coating will quickly peel if you are not patient enough to give it sufficient drying time. Typically, wet pressure-treated lumber has the treatment chemicals oozing out of its grains, albeit subtly. You may, therefore, not realize that this is happening.

Thus, you will immediately repel the paint or primer coating after it has been applied. Also, the paint coverage on wet pressure-treated wood will undoubtedly be poor. Thus, painting pressure-treated wood directly is pointless as you will be compelled to repaint it.

It will also cost you more to paint such lumber. This is because you will have to redo it again when the loosely attached coat peels after the lumber dry. Hence, let the wood dry well first, then you can think of applying paint.

Dry The Piece Of Wood

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As explained previously, the wood requires drying time due to the chemicals used to treat it and the water used to cleanse it. This process can take anywhere from just a few weeks to a few more months. Pressure-treated wood which has been kiln-dried following preparation will dry out considerably quicker. If you have a venture that cant wait, select kiln-dried wood.

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Painting Pressure Treated Wood: Step By Step

There are many reasons to paint pressure treated wood. It may have weathered and turned gray over the years, you dont like the blotchy color, or you want to protect it from weathering. You may also have a specific color scheme to blend with other buildings or landscapes.

New wood that is kiln dried after treatment has 6% to 8% moisture content and will dry more quickly than preserved wood that skips the kiln. Wood that has turned gray with age or was installed six months or 20 years ago is probably ready to paint. Do not paint newly installed pressure treated lumber unless it absorbs water during the splash test.

If you have to replace damaged planks youll need to let them cure before painting. I tend to have half a dozen spare planks in my wood rack just for such a need. That means I can paint and replace all at once without waiting. Alternatively, purchase what youll require and let them dry over the offseason so theyll be ready when the next season starts.

Why Is Painting Pressure Treated Wood The Best Option

Is it better to stain or paint pressure treated wood? Or rather leave it like that

Looking at the treated wood, you may feel theres something missing. It looks dull, plain, and worse, uninviting.

This can be expected as pressure-treated wood usually comes in green, tan, brown, dark, and natural wood color. It is most common that treated wood has a greenish color, so better to paint pressure-treated lumber or stain it than to just let it be.

Paint will not only give it a pop of color but also provide an extra layer of protection from elements. The odor of certain paints also repels insects. Plus, paint protects the wood from dust and moisture.

Sure, some websites advise against painting treated wood and instead suggest you stain pressure-treated lumber. This is because of the poor output when varnish or multi-coat paint is used.

  • Do put a gap between boards.
  • Use a dust mask and eye protection when working on the wood.
  • After cutting the wood, apply a wood preservative to seal end cuts.

    In installing fences using pressure-treated wood,best to use water-repellent sealers/preservatives that contain a mildewcide.

    Pressure-treated wood is durable, but you should inspect your fence at least once a year. Replace broken boards and check the nails and screws condition.

    In case there are cracks, you can use waterproof wood glue. Also make sure that you clean your fence every three years so that you can remove the dirt or any mildew that has developed.

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    Dry And Assess The Moisture Content

    After you have washed the wood, you will need to allow it to dry completely. For this type of wood, this could take a long time, even up to a few weeks. If you think that it looks and feels dry, you can test it by dropping water onto it. If the water beads, then it is not yet dry. If the water is absorbed, then you are ready to paint.

    Is It Better To Paint Or Stain Pressure

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    It is better to stain pressure-treated wood because a stain will produce better results and last longer than paint because it creates a stronger bond with the wood.

    Even after pressure-treated wood has had ample time to dry, the chemicals used to treat the wood will hinder how well the paint bonds to the wood. As a result, the paint will peel and fade, requiring additional coatings every couple of years.

    In comparison, stain soaks into the wood grains, creating a tighter bond than paint and, therefore, a longer-lasting finish that requires less maintenance. Stain can also be combined with a sealer to further preserve the finish.

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    How To Paint Pressure

    You must follow a few steps when you are painting pressure-treated wood. If this is your first time learning how to paint pressure-treated wood, youll gain some insight you might only learn through experience, which will shorten your learning curve.

    Here are our top tips and tricks to help you nail your painting of pressure-treated wood the first time.

    Apply An Alkyd Primer

    Next, use an alkyd wood primer suitable for exterior applications to ensure the paint adheres to the wood surface without peeling. You can apply primer with a paint sprayer or opt for a paintbrush if a surface requires a more detailed application. Primer also helps you fill imperfections in porous surfaces, ensures the color of your paint applies evenly, and covers the wood completely. Let the wood dry for a couple of days before moving on to the next step.

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    How Long Should You Wait Before You Paint Pressure Treated Wood

    What time should I wait to paint pressure treated wood? You dont need to wait before you paint a kiln-dried pressure-treated wood however, if the wood is not kiln-dried, you should hold on for it to fully dry take from two to four months. Yes, patience is a major key to this project.

    What happens if you paint treated wood too soon?

    Even the treated lumber will deteriorate and decay with time – and it will happen much faster if it is not sealed with a finisher like stain or paint or water repellant.

    Can you paint pressure treated wood that has been stained?

    Because of the pressure-treating process, exterior paint is less likely to adhere to pressure treated wood and more likely to peel. Some experts advise staining or sealing over painting, but paint can be successfully applied by following extra precautions.

    How To Paint Pressure Treated Wood

    How To Paint Pressure Treated Wood

    Lee has over two decades of hands-on experience remodeling, fixing, and improving homes, and has been providing home improvement advice for over 13 years.

    Deane Biermeier is an expert contractor with nearly 30 years of experience in all types of home repair, maintenance, and remodeling. He is a certified lead carpenter and also holds a certification from the EPA. Deane is a member of The Spruce’s Home Improvement Review Board.

    domin_domin / Getty Images

    • Working Time: 1 – 2 hrs
    • Total Time: 1 – 2 days
    • Skill Level: Beginner
    • Estimated Cost: $20 to $50

    Pressure-treated wood is incredibly hardy, but it doesn’t last forever. Its surface can become gray and splintery, which in turn accelerates the weathering process. Or the reddish-brown or natural tone of new pressure-treated wood may not suit a homeowner or do-it-yourselfer who wants a more vibrant color. Painting is a great option for brightening up the wood and for helping it to last longer.

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    Can You Spray Pressure Treated Wood

    The short answer is yes you can spray the finish coat. You must add a few more steps to prepare for this process. The entire perimeter of the deck must be covered in drop cloths. If the drops are left on the grass too long, it could result in the burning of the lawn. You also need to pay attention to where the overspray of the stain will end up. Most airless sprayers have a psi of 2800 or more! That could potentially spell disaster if done improperly.

    When using a paint sprayer, its crucial to back brush everything that gets coated to get a consistent finish.


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