Can you paint pressure treated wood?

Pressure treated wood is used for numerous outdoor projects. Because it’s been treated with chemicals, people often wonder, “Can you paint pressure treated wood?” While you most certainly can paint pressure treated wood, it’s important to be sure it’s had proper time to dry as well as knowing which kind of paint will adhere best. Continue reading to learn the ins and outs of painting pressure treated wood so your next outdoor project will be a success. 

What is Pressure Treated Wood? 

Pressure treated wood is simply wood that’s been treated with chemicals to protect it from moisture and insects. The chemicals it’s treated with don’t necessarily make the wood stronger but prevent it from prematurely rotting. Wood structures that will be constantly exposed to moisture or the elements are often built with pressure treated wood. Fences, playgrounds, decks, railings and playground equipment are typically constructed with pressure treated wood to hold up better over time. 

When to Paint Pressure Treated Wood 

The most important thing to consider when painting pressure treated wood is drying time. It may take up to 3-4 months for it to completely dry out enough to paint. One easy way to test if pressure treated wood is ready to paint is to drop some water on its surface. If the water droplets bead up, you’ll know the treated wood is still too damp. Once the droplets are absorbed into the wood instead of being repelled, it’s ready to be painted.

When Not to Paint Pressure Treated Wood 

Be very aware that if you attempt painting pressure treated wood before it’s fully cured, it can leave you with a disaster. If you paint one side of the wood but it isn’t fully dry, you will most likely deal with some pretty severe warping. The non-painted side will dry faster and when that happens, you’ll end up not only with warped wood but with peeling and cracking paint as well. 

How to Paint Pressure Treated Wood 

Painting pressure treated wood involves steps that you wouldn’t necessarily take when painting regular lumber. Below is a list of step-by-step instructions you’ll need when painting pressure treated wood:

Step 1. Thoroughly Clean the Wood

Making sure the wood you’re working with is clean is the first step you’ll need to take before painting. Using a stiff-bristled brush and a solution of soapy water, scrub the entire surface of the wood. Follow up the cleaning with a good rinse and let dry. 

Step 2. Let the Wood Dry 

If you have an upcoming project that involves pressure treated wood, make sure and plan ahead when considering drying time. Be prepared that it could take as long as a few weeks to a couple of months. If you have a deadline on your project, it may be worth purchasing pressure treated wood that has already been through the drying process. 

Once the wood feels dry, test it out by using the water droplet method mentioned earlier in this article. If water beads up on the surface of the treated wood, it needs more time to dry. If the water absorbs into the wood, it’s dry enough to go forward with your painting. 

Step 3. Apply Primer 

Once you know your wood is completely dry you can begin applying your primer. Make sure and purchase a primer that is designed for exterior pressure-treated wood. A paint sprayer is fast and efficient but also using a brush may be necessary to catch all the detail work. 

Step 4. Apply Paint or Stain 

After you’ve allowed proper time for the primer coat to dry, you can start applying your top coats. We recommend applying two coats for the best protection and coverage. Stick with using latex paints as they tend to work best when dealing with pressure treated wood. Avoid using oil-based paints. 

Can You Paint Pressure Treated Wood Conclusion

Pressure treated wood may need a few extra steps in preparation for painting but other than that it’s a fairly straightforward process. However, if you feel your painting project may be more involved than you would like, and you live in the Boise area, calling in the professionals at Boise Home Painting is always a great option. Our team of experienced painters will be happy to answer all of your questions or give you a free quote. We serve the entire Boise area including Meridian and Eagle. Don’t hesitate to contact our office today!

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