4 Easy Steps For Painting Pressure Treated Wood – Detailed Guide

can i paint pressure treated wood

You may not be following these steps earlier for your lumber but now you should!

So, some extremely important things that you need to focus on when you are to start painting your pressure treated wood are jotted down here:

You may encounter some complicated situations while painting pressure treated lumber, which could be caused by the similar treatment that enables the material to last outdoors. For producing pressure-treated lumber, the milled wood such as cedar or pine are soaked using chemical preservatives.

These preservatives do reduce the wood’s natural susceptibly to rot and insects but leave the wood wet also. This wet state of the lumber gradually leads to the peeling of paint.
Furthermore, for painting pressure-treated wood you should be ready with a dose of patience.

This wood type isn’t like others and you will need some additional time to ensure that the paint lasts for long. Note that you will waste a day’s effort in case you paint before the wood is ready.

Just wondering how to paint pressure-treated wood….Don‘t worry! You are required tos follow the undermentioned instructions.

Project Outline

  • Clean the pressure-treated lumber thoroughly
  • Let it dry! (This may take weeks or months) Assess the moisture
  • Prime & cure
  • Apply initial coat of paint
  • Apply top coat of paint

Materials + Tools Needed

  • Garden hose
  • Stiff-bristled brush
  • Mild liquid detergent
  • Exterior paint primer
  • Paint sprayer
  • A 4-inch paintbrush
  • Latex exterior paint

Read below to know the process in detail:

paint for pressure treated wood

4 Easy Steps For Painting A Pressure Treated Wood

STEP 1: Thoroughly Clean the Pressure-treated wood

Before you start the paint job, you should wash away any dirt or debris that is on the wood. You need to perform this using soap + water and scrubbing every inch of the lumber by using a rag.

Further, rinse the soap off the pressure-treated wood and dry it using a clean dry rag.

Deeper Cleaning

If the wood is not in a proper shape and requires a deeper clean then using a power washer or a commercial wood cleaner will be perfect for the job. This is usually done for the pressure-treated lumber that has been sitting for a long time showing signs of wear and damage.

can pressure treated wood be painted

STEP 2: Let it Dry and Assess the Moisture

The drying time may be stretched out for a couple of weeks or a few months between the chemical usages for treating the lumber. Now, how will you know when the wood feels ready? Just sprinkle some water when the wood feels dry to touch.

In case the water soaks in, then stay assured that the wood can be painted. Start the waiting game again if the water still beads up. If you have a time sensitive project on the cards then you should select pressure-treated wood. After treatment this should be marked as having been kiln-dried after treatment (KDAT).

The timing for painting KDAT wood is significantly is shorter.

can you paint pressure treated wood

STEP 3: Prime & Cure

Once you have the confirmation that your wood is dry, then you can start painting pressure-treated wood.

For exteriors you can begin with primer formulations and ensure that the manufacturer lists that the coating is ideal for pressure-treated wood.

A paint sprayer may be the easiest for priming or painting pressure-treated wood. If the job necessitates detailed work then opt for a brush instead.

how to paint pressure treated wood

STEP 4: Apply 2 coats of paint

After priming and allocation of adequate drying time, you should apple 2 top coats. Expectedly you should go for 2 coats, but remember to avoid using oil-based paint here for your pressure-treated lumber. Latex offers a much better performance

The finish of any outdoor applications is subject to various elements. It’s obvious that the paint lasts longer on vertical surfaces (fences) rather than horizontal surfaces (decks).

If repainting is something you do not appreciate then consider staining your pressure-treated wood (check out for details below).

Another option you have here is to let the wood weather away and turn gray and then use a protective sealant instead. Even sealant also needs to be reapplied with time. Many people consider all this less demanding than repainting but this leads to scraping away of the parts.

Staining VS Painting Pressure Treated Wood

As mentioned above also, you can choose between staining and painting pressure-treated wood. This can be done after primer cure. But both these options come with a set of positives and negatives.

paint pressure treated wood

1. Staining the Wood

For changing the color of your wood you can use a stain. This is easy to apply and penetrates deep inside the wood.

But note this is not going to fill any imperfections or cracks like the paint does. Even the color options at your disposal will be less too as these offer more shades of brown.

2. Painting the Wood

Pressure-treated wood can be painted with vibrant new colors adding new life to it. With loads of color options and much brighter colors unlike stain, the paints can be used for your lumber.

Some people do ask, can one paint over exterior stain? We have answered thus below in our FAQs section.

The paints tend to fill any sort of imperfections and cracks too giving your wood a smoother appearance. But the paints do not soak well and take slightly longer to finish.

What Kind Of Paint Should Be Used On A Wood Deck?

When you paint you deck its gets full of life and many of the homeowners paint their posts, stairs, and railings and prefer to stain the decks.

As discussed above in the write-up also the stains have the ability to hold better, especially the foot traffic than paint. This is the reason as to why people prefer to stain their decking.

It is certainly possible in every way to paint the decking boards. Though painting tends to hide the grain completely. Matchless personality and glamour is what the paints do to your deck surfaces.

The deck painting ideas also comprise of patterns, like the stripes/checker-boards, or faux rags.

primer for pressure treated wood

A good quality of primer needs to be applied on the wood of the deck, as well as all sides of the boards prior to installation. Though a bit troublesome the entire process could be but this will surely go a long way keep the moisture away from underneath your deck. Otherwise there could be centration and expansion of decking boards leading to chips and peels of the painted surface.

You can go for two paint types when you want to paint your deck:

  • Oil-based
  • Acrylic


Both these products are amazingly good and can be used by any homeowners. Slow drying forms part of the oil-based paints and keeps the outdoor applications with zero error.

While acrylic paints have low VOC and they clean-up quicker.

One best option for deck wood is solid color stain. They are similar to paints in terms of performance and created to withstand foot traffic with ease. But solid color stains are not as tough as paints and come with less color opyions.

For accenting & painting your outdoor deck just follow these easy steps:

  • Fix any screw heads or popped-out nails.
  • Fill any cracks that are bigger than 1/4″ wide with epoxy putty.
  • If any stain, paint, or sealer was used previously on the wood, then use a stain or sealer remover for that.
  • Clean all wood surfaces by applying a deck wash product. Allow sufficient drying time, at least for 48 hours.
  • Use 80-grit sandpaper for sanding any lifted grain or ridges. Clean-up left over dust.
  • Use painter’s tape with plastic sheeting for protecting adjacent surfaces or sidings.
  • Cover near-by plants using plastic for preventing any damage.

Some awesome products that you can use for painting and staining your deck:

DEFY Extreme Exterior Wood Stain

DEFY Extreme 1 Gallon Semi-Transparent Exterior Wood...*
  • WATER-BASED SEMI-TRANSPARENT WOOD STAIN – This environmentally friendly, water based deck stain...
  • FORTIFIED WITH ZINC NANO-PARTICLE TECHNOLOGY– It’s like sunscreen for your wood. Tiny zinc...
  • EXTREMELY DURABLE, QUALITY THAT LASTS – DEFY Extreme wood stains are made with the highest quality...

THOMPSONS WATERSEAL Waterproofing Stain

THOMPSONS WATERSEAL TH.042851-16 Semi-Transparent...
528 Reviews
THOMPSONS WATERSEAL TH.042851-16 Semi-Transparent...*
  • Prevents Water Damage
  • Advanced Polymers Provide Fade Resistant Color
  • Coating Resists Mildew and UV Damage

The ONE Paint and Primer

The ONE Paint Paint and Primer: Water Based House Paint...
453 Reviews
The ONE Paint Paint and Primer: Water Based House Paint...*
  • PAINT AND PRIME: 2-in-1 painting solution that allows you to quickly paint and prime all at once
  • ONE COAT ONLY: No need to apply a primer or undercoat thanks to the paint's thick, opaque formula
  • MULTIPLE SURFACES: For walls, laminate cabinets, wood, metal, plastic, brick, stone, glass, and more

STORM SYSTEM Storm -Penetrating Sealer & Stain Protector

STORM SYSTEM Storm Protector Penetrating Sealer & Stain...
253 Reviews
STORM SYSTEM Storm Protector Penetrating Sealer & Stain...*
  • Wood deck protector - A true oil-based semi transparent stain and sealer meant to protect and...
  • Storm Wood Stain Protector is a semi transparent sealer that penetrates deep into the wood for added...
  • Compatible with any wood species. Great for wood staining Mahogany, as a Mahogany sealer, Cedar...

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. Will Anything Happen If I Paint Pressure-treated Wood Too Soon?

Ans1. If you happen to paint on a pressure-treated wood that’s still wet, then it will result in paint failure. As the wood won’t be able to absorb the paint and it will dry-up on the top with very little adhesion.

Best way will be to wait for 6 months at least.

Q2. Why Cannot I Use Pressure-treated Wood Inside?

Ans2. Even after installing the pressure-treated wood inside, some people have asked about its threats to have it inside. The answer for this is ‘No’. As the wood is treated to keep itself protected from outdoor elements that may cause it to decay, rot, or have termite infestation.

Q3. How Long One Should Wait For Painting Pressure-treated Wood?

Ans3. The opinions vary widely for this, as some people say it is right to wait for a year and some say it six months. Before you start your painting project, just do a simple sprinkle test for assessing the dryness of the pressure-treated lumber.

After you sprinkle water, if the water gets absorbed then it’s ready to be painted.

Q4. Can I Paint Over Exterior Stain?

Ans4. If the stain happens to be latex then you can paint over the stained siding. After the stain had weathered away, then firstly I sanded it, applied an exterior acrylic stain-blocking primer, and latex paint on top. With stain the sidings tend to weather away faster.

Q5. Which Primer Is Supposed To Be The Best For Pressure-treated Wood?

Ans5. The undermentioned three products are supposed to be the best primers for your pressure-treated wood:

  • KILZ Premium High-Hide Stain Blocking Interior/Exterior Latex Primer/Sealer
  • Rust-Oleum 207014 Marine Wood & Fiberglass Primer
  • KILZ Original Multi-Surface Interior Oil-Based Primer