4 tips on how to paint pressure treated wood

Let’s start with the basic before asking the questions on how to paint pressure treated lumber.

Some tips on how to paint pressure treated wood

What is pressure treated wood?

Pressure treated wood is wood that has been subjected to a special treatment procedure in order to better resist external factors such as moisture, insects, mold. This treatment can even protect against fire hazards by making the wood fireproof.

First of all, it is necessary to place the wood in a pressure chamber, then the pressure is removed from the structure with a vacuum pump.

As soon as the pressure of the wood structure reaches zero, the chemicals necessary for high pressure treatment must be introduced into the chamber.


This type of treated wood is actively used in construction, in the manufacture of fences, the building of bridges and the construction of docks. Wood is a material that is easily affected by water and all sorts of pests, it can rot and collapse. Therefore, if it is not treated properly, it will not last long.

After the above-mentioned procedure, treated wood can become one of the strongest materials that effectively resist damage.

Some tips on how to paint pressure treated wood

Types of Pressure Treated Wood

Copper Azole Treated Timber

This is lumber that is pressure treated with copper preservatives. Treated wood resists insects, decay and damage well. Pressure treated wood contains liquid copper azole injected into the wood under high pressure. Copper helps preserve wood.

CCA Timber

This is a pressure treated wood that used Chromated copper arsenate (CCA). This method gives the material an attractive greenish tint.

Some ecologists warn of the dangers of using such wood. But studies done in this area with this substance have shown that it does not leach, and therefore is completely safe for woodworkers.

Exterior Fire Timber

It is a pressure treated lumber that is actually fireproof. It suits the best for areas with hot weather to prevent risks of fire.

Painting Pressure Treated Wood

It is best to prefer the primer and water-based paint and avoid oil-based paints, which are not a good option for treated lumber. Choose latex primer and latex paints that are designed for treated lumber.

If you paint the treated lumber without waiting for at least two to four months, the wood’s chemical and moisture content will try to find their way outside the wood as it dries out.

1. Clean surface

Make sure that the entire surface of your pressure treated lumber is free from dirt and dust.
Remove loose chemicals and dirt, use hard bristled brush and then wipe the clean with clean cloth.

2. Completely dry before painting treated wood

Let the wood dry thoroughly. This is very important, otherwise the paint will not normally stick to the surface. Be patient or opt for kiln-dried pressure treated lumber.

3. Primer

When the wood is dry, you can begin to prepare the surface for painting. To do this, apply a layer of primer.

Choose a product suitable for pressure treated wood.

Use a paint sprayer or regular brush. The brush will be more effective at applying foundation, it will be more even and will spread the primer thoroughly.

4. Apply paint

Let the primer dry and begin painting. One day will be enough to dry the primer. Choose your favorite color and start painting process. Dry layers before applying new ones, apply the paint thinly.


Do You Need To Paint Pressure Treated Lumber?

Some people may question the neccessity to paint pressure treated lumber. This kind of pressure treating gives wood beautiful color and people are often tempted to leave it as it is.

We assure you that no kind of treatment can make your wood immortal, paint coating and sealing pressure treated wood can significantly expand its lifespan.

Some Details

The only suitable paint option is exterior latex paint. Choose quality paint, as painting wood is a painstaking journey.

Horizontal surfaces fade faster than vertical ones. Therefore, with horizontal surfaces it will be more efficient to stain pressure treated wood rather than paint it.

Pressure treated wood can be painted. Before you paint pressure treated wood, make sure it is dry both on the surface and inside.

On the contrary, before applying the stain, pressure-treated wood should be dry only on the surface – not necessarily inside. This distinction is important because some wood finishes, such as wood stain, are breathable. Other coatings, such as paint, trap moisture.

Is it okay to paint pressure treated wood straight away after purchase?

Do not paint wood immediately after purchase. If the wood has not been kiln-dried, then it was dried under normal conditions, which requires much more time. Therefore, the wood is most likely still damp after purchase, and it should not be painted in this state. Let it dry before you start painting.

For the most part, woodworking companies don’t give it sufficient time to dry. They are basically in a hurry to sell the product sooner.

By the weight of the lumber, you can understand if it is still damp. If the wood is too heavy after purchase, then it has not dried out properly. The surface may also be slightly damp.

If you want to start painting right away, buy kiln-dried timber. Such wood was dried at a high temperature, which means it is ready for use. Such drying is safe for wood, the process is fully controlled to prevent deformation.

Of course, such wood will be more expensive than the one that was dried under normal conditions, but it is necessary if you want to paint immediately after purchase otherwise you have to wait longer to properly dry the pressure treated wood.

99b89d0497 1

What If You Paint Treated Wood Too Soon

The primer and paint will start peeling off fairly quickly when painted immediately. In damp wood, the chemical preservatives increase wood’s natural vulnerability, make the wood structure slightly less dense and wood fibers weaker.

The paint will be very poorly applied to the surface and you will have to repaint the wood. So it’s pretty pointless.

Such wood would probably warp very soon.

Paint won’t dry on damp wooden surface.

This way you will spend more paint and more money.

Pressure treated wood requires enough time to completely dry berfore applying paint, if you didn’t choose kiln-dried lumber.

How Do I know When My Lumber Is Ready To Be Painted?

Feel Test

  1. With this test, you rely on your senses to check if the wood completely dried. Inspect the wood for dirt and moisture using sight. Feel it.
  2. Press on the wood, moisture will ooze out of the wet lumber.

While it is difficult to tell if the wood is thoroughly dry this way, you will still find signs of surface moisture.

Water Test

If you didn’t find any moisture in the previous test, test the dryness of the wood with water. Drop a few drops on the surface, if they are easily absorbed, then the wood is dry. Water soaks inside the dry lumber. If water beads remain on the surface, the wood is too wet.


Digital Moisture Tester

There are devices with which you can check individual parts of the wood. They have extensions that will check the wood, but you need to calibrate the device before use. You can find them in a hardware store.

Painting pressure-treated wood with a high moisture content may cause peeling, cracking, blistering or discoloration.

Check the internal dryness of pressure treated wood with a moisture meter. For outdoor wood, aim for a moisture level of 15 percent or less. If pressure treated wood is going to be inside, it should be about 12 percent or less. For new pressure-treated wood, this may mean allowing several weeks to dry before painting.

Non-contact moisture meters calculate the internal humidity using an electromagnetic sensor. Pin type counters require tiny holes drilled into the wood. Meters can be rented or purchased for $75-$175.

Don’t discount hiring a professional painting company

There are a number of reasons why this can cost you less in terms of effort and frayed nerves. You have to be experienced to paint treated wood.



Pressure-treated wood requires a professional eye before embarking on a painting project, during which you will have a lot of complications. It takes months for the wood to re-contract, the paint may crack or not adhere correctly.

To create such wood, they take a lumber saturated with chemical preservatives.

Such preservatives reduce the brittleness of the wood against pests and decay, while leaving the wood slightly damp, which will lead to the inevitable peeling of the paint. A person with experience can determine if your wood is ready for painting.

Material quality

Professional painters have quick access to the highest quality paint, primer, brushes, and more. Therefore, you do not have to worry about the quality of materials.

An experienced person knows how to prepare pressure treated wood, properly clean it with the necessary means, which brush or roller is best, they are ready for anything in terms of painting pressure treated wood.


You will have to allocate quite a lot of time for this case. After all, not only do you need to buy pressure treated wood, you need to prepare it, purchase materials, dry everything, and measure the time between applying layers. Professionals will save you time that you can spend on more pleasant things.

409bafd312 2

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you paint directly on pressure treated wood?

It is absolutely essential to apply a primer first before painting the wood. Pressure treatment makes wood less susceptible to paint. The primer will prepare the surface and ensure a reliable application of paint to the wood.

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions, avoid primers that are too thick, and let the wood be thoroughly dried.

How do you get paint to stick to pressure treated wood?

As it was mentioned above, you would need to use primer to ensure that paint sticks to pressure treated timber. Prefer using separate primer and paint, combinations would not be a great idea.

Also, once again, do not paint wet wood. The paint will peel, the wood will warp and the whole process will turn out very difficult, do not neglect drying process.

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

Several factors can influence this. Bad weather and damp conditions can delay this process for a very long period. With good weather, the pressure treated lumber will dry out in 2-3 weeks. It is better not to adjust the drying of the wood yourself, leave it to dry naturally and be patient.

How do you prepare treated wood for painting?

You thoroughly clean it and let it dry. Painting treated wood has to be done carefully, with primer applied as the first stage of this process.

What are the steps for painting pressure treated wood?

1. Prepare the working area. Wash the surface with soapy water. Get rid of any dirt to leave a soft and smooth surface.
2. Use power washer if needed.
3. Make sure the wood is dry.
4. Apply a latex primer to dry wood.
5. Once the base is dry, apply at least two coats of latex paint.
6. Read the manufacturer’s instructions to allow sufficient time to dry the wood between coats.

Final Thoughts

The idea of ​​painting pressure treated wood is undoubtedly a good one. The tree will become brighter and more resistant to external factors. But get your knowledge before embarking on this business.

Learn the basics of how to paint wood, what is the best way to paint pressure treated wood, how to prepare it, how to make pressure treated wood ready for painting. Mistakes will cost you money, time and energy. This is especially difficult for impatient people, because the paint and primer need to be allowed to dry, and several hours will not be enough here.

We hope our article has well armed you in the face of the difficulties that may arise in the matter of painting treated wood.

You can always hire a professional who will do everything for you, and if you do everything yourself but time is still precious to you, choose kiln-dried wood and high quality paint, only latex, oil will not work.

Leave your comments and share your experience on how to paint pressure treated timber!

Leave a Comment