Can You Paint Pressure Treated Wood? [5 Secret Steps]

can you paint pressure treated wood

You may be wondering how pressure-treated wood can adhere to paint or stain. Treated lumber is one of the best things we can do to preserve our greatest renewable resource of wood. High-pressure preservative treatments let the timber be used confidently in a wide range of exterior projects such as fencing, landscaping, and defencing.

Can you paint pressure-treated wood?

Obviously, it is possible to paint pressure-treated wood. However, it is not as simple as just painting and all is done. It is a step-by-step process of cleaning, drying, pre-coating, and then finally painting the wood. The real job is applying the right kind of paint at the right time. To get the best result, the whole process takes time and a lot of patience.

Can you paint pressure-treated wood?

Unlike untreated wood, this kind of wood is treated with chemicals to make it enduring. These preservatives reduce adhesion on a wooden surface, which can make your painting job extremely tricky. If painted properly it may give a new look to your outdoor finish. Scroll down to see more!

Benefits of Painting pressure-treated wood

Why paint pressure-treated wood?is necessary to know as you can make your wooden structure stay longer. Let’s check out some of its advantages though it won’t last long.

  • Painted pressure wood is persistent and long-lived 
  • Stains or paint create an extra protective coating on wood  to keep it waterproof
  • Chemical texture and odor of  certain paints would keep rot and insects away from the wooden surface
  • Highly resistant from dust and moisture.

How to paint pressure treated wood (5 easy steps)?

If you are planning to give a fresh look to your outdoor wooden structures then it would possibly be pressure treated. Keep rolling and follow the step-by-step process of how to paint pressure-treated wood!

Step 1: Clean and rinse the Wooden Surface

Treated wood may get dirt during transport from one place to another. Before painting, it is necessary to make it clear from any dust or grime. Use dense bristle scrub brush and soapy water to scrub it clean. You may also use high-quality wooden surface wipes to get lasting results. While brushing, always follow the direction of grains. Otherwise, it may damage the wooden texture.

Finally, rinse the surface with clean water, and all is done. This works well in small projects like wood fencing in the garden, wooden shades in backyards, and wooden boxes.

For larger projects, you may use a pressure washer. Make sure to keep the pipe  6 inches away from the surface as it may damage the wooden fiber.

Step 2: Dry the wood surface completely

The second step is crucial but time-consuming. Treated wood may take weeks or even months to dry completely. Never expect it would dry overnight. Depending mostly on the type of wood and weather conditions, drying time varies. It may take enough to dry in moist and rainy areas. You need to wait otherwise if you paint without drying, it will not stay longer.

To get the best result, carpenters mostly use hot air guns for large projects.

Knowing wood is completely dried up for use is no less than a guessing game. 

A simple way is to pour water on the top of a bare wooden piece. If water does not soak in then it means wood is too wet to paint. But if water starts to soak in easily then the wood is dry enough to absorb paint.

Other methods to test wood dryness are through moisture meter. Using such tools would boost accuracy and adhesion which is essential to endure paint.

how to paint pressure treated wood

Step 3: Applying a primer coat

This type of processed wood is not too smooth to hold. To make it resilient, it is necessary to apply a coat of primer paint. Only use those primers which are specially formulated to serve outdoor projects. Check the label on the box and make sure before buying it. Read the instructions on the paintbox and follow them carefully to get the long-life results. You may apply paint with synthetic brushes. The thin coating dries quickly but it’s not persistent as the thick one which may take time to dry.

Acrylic Latex primer works better on pressure-treated wood than oil-based formula. You may double coat the wood also if it is too rough to handle. But drying multiple coated is time-consuming.

Step 4: Dry the primer

Applying paint without drying the primer coat properly would accumulate moisture underneath. You need to assure that the wood is surface dry to ensure proper paint finish. It may take one day or two depending on temperature and humidity level. If you want to get it done quickly you may use a hot air gun also. Read the instructions carefully on the paint box to know the exact drying time.

Step 5: Paint the wood finally

After the primer coat and spending enough time to get it dry, the wood is ready to give the final touch of paint. Always apply double coats of paint to get a smooth look. Latex paints work better on lumber used outdoors than oil-based paints.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long should you wait before you paint pressure treated wood?

New pressure-treated lumber is moist and can bend easily because it is treated chemically. For this reason, you should wait for at least  60 days or almost 4 months to construct anything from this wood.

Is it better to stain or paint pressure-treated wood?

Of course, it is good to paint or stain treated wood to get a fresh look. Also painting wood would protect it from further cracks, moisture, and dust.

What is the best way to paint pressure treated wood?

First, clean and rinse the wood with water and let it dry. Secondly, apply a primer coat and then again let it dry thoroughly. Finally, apply double coats of paint.

What is the best primer for pressure-treated wood?

Experts recommend outdoor latex paint as the best paint for pressure-treated wood. They also advise avoiding oil-based paints for this wood type.

Do I need to Prime pressure treated wood before painting?

Yes, Primer should be applied first as it serves as underneath the protective coating of wood. Let it dry properly, then apply any other paint.

Painting Pressure Treated Wood: Video Tuts


Getting the answer to can paint pressure-treated wood is clear in this article. If you are interested to give new look to your exterior wooden structures you can also paint or stain wood in the way mentioned above. Finding the right choice and right techniques of painting must get better results. Latex performs well for already treated woods than oil-based formula. Drying is a time taking process to give a long-lasting finish.

If you like this article do share it with your friends also and don’t forget to comment in the box. 

John Garner

Welcome from Woody Man Garner. A passionate wood craftsman and carpenter. Woodhunger is my dream site to explore whatever I did in my research projects on different types of woods. Let's be a part of my dream job!

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