How Long To Wait Before Staining Pressure Treated Wood| Detailed Guide

Did you know about wet wood disasters? It can destroy your whole project! It will not adhere to paint layers. It will damage wood outlook and many more.

How to avoid this?

Simple answer is to Wait, Wait, and wait until the wood dries up.

A question arises here, how long you have to wait. This article will focus on this topic.

How long to wait before staining pressure treated wood? It takes two to three days to wait before staining treated wood. However, this time may increase from 4 weeks to one month depending on factors like the type of treated wood used , humidity level and temperature.

Wood is an extremely porous material. It is likely to absorb moisture more quickly. To protect lumber, it is passed through certain preservatives under pressure. After this, it becomes available to be sold in markets. But it is still wet. In this condition, it would not adhere to paint layers. When to paint then?

Keep reading to know the answer!

Factors that determine the dry time of pressure-treated Wood

Wait time for each wood type is different. Why?

There are various factors that actually affect the dry time of treated wood. Depending on them , you have to wait from 4 weeks to 6 months longer.

Let’s see what are these factors and how to determine the right time to wait:

Type Of Wood Used

Will you paint your projects right after completion? It mainly depends on what type of treated wood you are using. There are two main types of lumbers that workers use quite often in outdoor projects,

Wet treated Wood

This type of wood is treated under high pressure with lots of preservatives. As a result, moisture stuck deep inside the wood that takes time to evaporate. If you use this wood lumber in your projects, you may have to wait for 2 to 3 weeks to dry it completely. However, in tropical areas like Florida, you may have to wait for 6months to one year to make it moisture-free. Too Long!

Kiln-dried pressure treated lumber:

This treated wood type has already passed through the kiln heat to make it moisture- free.So, it would take less time to dry. Probably two to three days under ideal environmental factors like humidity and temperature.

It’s more strong and ready to paint after purchase. However, its too expensive and not available for sale in retailers shops mostly. Despite the advantages, it’s not widely used.

Type Of Paint You Want To Apply

Will you use a water-based formula or oil-base formula?

It’s important to plan what type of paint you will use before you startup. There are two types of paints available for treated wood

  • Water base Formula
  • Oil-based Formula

Water-based paints are easy to remove, and would stand no longer. For this paint type, treated wood should be 100 % moisture-free. Because this paint itself uses water.

Oil-based formula is more durable and weather-resistant. It is recommended to use such paints on exterior projects to get long-lasting results.

However, it also depends on your budget. If you want to apply cheap paint then go on with water-base formula. But you may have to apply it more than once. Painters often use base primer seals to make water paint last longer

Temperature In Your Area

Another factor that contributes well to determine the treated wood dry time is the weather. If you are living in coldest zones like Canada where winter is too long, you have to wait more extra weeks to stain your wood. It may be 2 weeks to one month. But keep a double check on the wood through a repeated water test.

In dry hot areas where sunlight is easily accessible throughout the year, treated wood is likely to dry soon. In Asian countries where the summer season is too long of about 6 months, dry time will be too short.

In tropical areas, it would take more time than you expected. Because frequent rain will increase the humidity factor. So, it may take more than 4 weeks here.

Humidity Level In Your Area

Its double-check procedure. Moisture may exist in the environment or inside the treated wood. The humidity level should not exceed 55 %.In the scenario, if moisture hits above 55%, the chances of wood to get damage will increase. Exterior wooden frames and floorboards will swell up.

However, moisture inside the wood should be 8% to 25% depending on the humidity level outside too. It’s clear now that if the humidity level hits beyond this level you may have to wait more before starting paint.

It happens in tropical areas mostly. The best solution is to expose wood directly to sunlight as much as you can. In this way, moisture will evaporate regularly.

What Happens If You Stain Pressure-Treated Wood Too Soon

Painting treated wood early before drying is just like feeding fish more food even if it has eaten much. What happens, the fish belly will swell up. The same happens with wood. When you stain wet wood its pores are already full of vapors, can’t accommodate the paint moisture anymore. Still, you paint it. As a result, wood tends to swell up to accommodate extra moisture.

It may contract to its previous size when dry. However, in this swelling and contraction movement, wood will damage its originality. It will no longer retain its previous outlook. This type of damage contains cracks, splits, blemishes on the treated wooden surface. That looks ugly even painted.

How To Determine If Pressure-Treated Wood Is Ready To Paint

There are so many opinions on how long to wait for wood before.paint.In other words, there is no exact time frame. So, workers often rely on guess games. But we ‘ve a solution to this problem.

There are two ways to determine whether treated wood is ready to stain or not. The first one is a rather simple technique that everyone can experiment free of cost.

Do Water test: Pour clean water on a wooden piece that is expected to dry. If the water absorbs instantly, wood is ready to paint. It means pores in the wood are ready to adhere to paint layers. If water beads up, wait for a few more days then repeat the same test to check if it’s dry or not.

how long do you have to wait to seal pressure treated wood -water-drop-on-wood

Use Wood Moisture Meter: To avoid guess games, try to use technology. You can use a pin-type wood moisture meter to detect whether it is dry or not. Insert the pins inside the wooden piece and switch on the meter. Electric current will start flowing from one pin to another giving the reading on screen. That would tell you about the current water-resistant of the wood.

Should You Let Pressure Treated Wood Dry Before Staining?

Yes , of is compulsory.

Woodworkers must have to wait before stain treated wood until it dries completely. To increase the lifespan of wood, it is usually passed through certain chemicals under pressure. During this process, it is likely to catch moisture in pores. When it comes to shops for sale, it is still wet.

So, it is recommended to wait before the stain.

However, you can build your project with it. Staining should always be the last step.

You might think that your projects will take longer if you have to wait too long. Remember if you don’t wait all of your hard work may end up in no result.

Wood may lose its quality and immediate painting may result in cracks.

How Long To Wait Before Staining Pressure Treated Wood Deck

Finally, your wood deck is ready. Going to paint it…wait, read on to know should you paint it or wait for some days more.

Depending on the type of lumber used, humidity level, and moisture inside the wood, it may take 2 to 3 days to paint your deck after its build.

If you are using premium treated wood, it’s more likely to paint right after it’s done. However, wet treated wood may take a few weeks to stain.

The best way is to apply a water test or check the moisture level of the wood. If it ranges from 6% to 25% then it’s ready to paint. However, if the humidity level of your area is above 50 %, it’s better to wait for one or two extra days.

All of the hard work of the painting may result in nothing if you do it without drying it fully.

How Long To Wait Before Stain Pressure Treated Wood Fence

Wood fencing is topmost DO IT YOURSELF activity. When you buy lumber for fencing, it’s not ready to stain immediately after purchase. It has humidity that needs to be dry off completely prior to stain. If you go on without drying it, the stain would not stand longer.

So, it’s essential to know the exact time needed to wait. Depending on factors like the type of treated lumber, humidity in your area, and size of logs, you have to wait from 4 weeks to even 6 months before the stain. For wet treated lumber, the wait time may exceed up to 6 months. In tropical areas, the humidity level is high that prevents bigger pieces from drying out soon.

However, kiln-dried treated lumber takes less time as it is already exposed to the heat of the kiln. So, it may take less than 2weeks or more than 4 weeks depending on the humidity level in your area.

Size is another factor. Bigger pieces of 4×4 will take more time to dry than smaller ones.This is because moisture may be deep inside the pores.

The best way to tell if wood fencing is ready to paint is to apply a water test. Sprinkle water directly on the wood. If the water drops soak into woods, its ready for stain. It tells that Pores are closed now to accommodate more moisture. If water beads up then wait for a few days to let it dry completely.

Best Stain For Pressure-Treated Wood

There are so many strains available in the market. However, you should do proper research prior to place order. To save your time, we’ve separated a few top products that you can use anywhere on deck, fence, or any exterior projects.

Stain Colours For Pressure-Treated Wood

Choosing the right stain for your wood is a pretty straightforward process. But know the wood type first whether you are using lumber or wood itself. For treated lumber that you use mostly for fencing, we recommend

For treated wood brown stain is the best option. It’s up to you to use any shade from dark to light. For outdoor use, darker stain stands longer. Whilst for indoor, light shades are more preferable. Here’s Few stain color recommendation for treated wood

how long do you have to wait to seal pressure treated wood


In the end, I would say Wait is the only option before staining pressure treated wood. To boost the outlook of your woodworking projects, check wood moisture at first. Dry wood is relatively more stable and stronger than wet lumber. Choose wisely! Though kiln-dried treated lumber is costly yet it is worth its price. So, I would suggest not using wet wood.

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How long do you wait before staining pressure treated wood in your Country? Share your experience with us. Godspeeds!

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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