Can you paint pressure treated wood?


Pressure-treated wood has a great aesthetic with many benefits. Some people like this type of wood as it is, others want to give it a new paint job to make the mid standout. But, can you paint pressure treated wood?

The answer is yes. You can head out and hire a trusted painting service or you can paint it yourself. With our guide below, you will be able to grab some tools and give your pressure-treated wood the fresh new look it deserves.

About pressure treated wood

What is pressure-treated wood?

Pressure-treated wood is created using high pressure and some preservatives to be absorbed by the wood to extend its longevity.

Some of the preservative agents used in this type of wood include Copper azole (CA), micronized copper azole, copper quaternary, and more. 

Those preservatives are absorbed by the wood to reduce the decay and make the wood more resistant to moisture, fungus, rotting, and degradation.

Types of pressure-treated wood

  • Above-ground pressure-treated wood

This type of wood comes in handy when there is enough drainage and ventilation. It is usually used in places that are 6 inches above the ground (hence the name) and places that are easily accessible for maintenance or replacement 

  • Ground-contact pressure treated wood

If you need to use the wood just above the ground level, this is the wood type for you. It retains the chemicals better and is useful when it’s difficult to maintain or replace the wood.

Can you paint pressure treated wood?
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What is pressure-treated wood used for?

People use pressure treated woods for many structures, such as fences, decks, pergolas, arbors, ramps, stair stringers, garden beds, wooden swing sets, and more.

The good and the not so good

  • The good

Pressure-treated wood is used for many outdoor structures to help those outdoor structures remain its beauty for a long time. Pressure-treated wood also protects those structures from rotting, insects, and fungus. 

  • The not so good

Pressure-treated wood takes a very long time to dry up since it has lots of moisture. Furthermore, the preservative chemicals still stay inside the wood after evaporation.

Also, pressure-treated wood is recommended against use for indoor applications

Can you paint pressure-treated wood?

Now that you know well about pressure-treated wood, should you paint it?

The answer is: Yes, you can paint pressure treated wood, even though you don’t necessarily have to.

We don’t recommend painting pressure treated wood since the wood itself is already quite resistant to outside elements.

But, if you really want to transform your pressure-treated wood into something more beautiful, here are some tips and tricks you need to know. Let’s take a look at them below

Before starting painting

Here are things that you need to keep in mind before painting pressure treated wood

Don’t rush

If you recently installed your wood, don’t paint it straight away since the wood still likely contains some chemicals. Let the wood settle for around 3 to 4 months for the chemical to evaporate.

Make sure the wood is dry

And before painting, make sure that the wood is dry enough. There are many ways to test if the water is dry enough for the paint job. Here’s the simple way to tell if your pressure-treated wood is ready for painting.

Pour a bit of water into the surface of the wood. If the water beads, then it isn’t ready. If the wood soaks the water, then it is dry enough.

Weather can affect the dry speed of the pressure-treated wood. If put in a warm and sunny spot, the wood will dry up somewhat faster but it may cause unwanted warps.

So try to put the pressure-treated wood in a dark and damp place. The wood will naturally dry in a couple of months. If, however, the wood is in a cool damp location, the drying process will take longer.

If you happen to have kiln-dried pressure-treated woods, you can skip this process.

That is also one of the main benefits of kiln-dried pressure-treated wood; it has all the great properties of normal pressure-treated wood but you won’t have to wait for it to dry. The wood may still contain the chemicals though.

Use the correct primer and paint

Natural pitch, as well as water in your wood, wants to escape the wood. So as the wood surfaces start to heat up, the wrong paint will start to peel off the wood.

Can you paint pressure treated wood?
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Make sure you’re using the proper paint and primer when you’re painting pressure treated wood. You should try to stay away from oil-based paints for this type of wood since the wood surface is resistant to it.

Instead, try to stick to latex primer and latex paint, also known as water-based primer and paint. And make sure to get high-quality paint and primer.

Maybe you are interested in How to Paint A Staircase Railing? 9 Steps from Start to Finish

How to paint pressure treated wood:

Painting pressure treated wood requires some patience, a lot of them actually. Here are the steps for painting pressure treated wood:

Wash the pressured-treated wood

After the wood passes your water test, you would think that you can finally grab a paintbrush and start transforming your wood. But no, put those things down. You need to clean the wood first.

You should use a stiff brush and soapy water to remove dirt and grime on the wood surfaces. The soapy water also helps remove some chemicals on the surface so that the paint and primer can adhere better.

However, you should not use a strong pressure washer for this task as you may damage the wood and push the water deep into the wood. Using the strong pressure washer will only lengthen the time you have to wait after washing the wood.

Now that the pressure wood is thoroughly cleaned, you will need to let it dry again (this is why patience is the key for painting this type of wood). The drying process this time will take a few weeks, then you can test the water again using the mentioned method.

Apply the primer to the pressure-treated wood

You can now apply the primer to the woods. After that, remember to wait for a certain amount of time for the primer to dry. You can find from the instruction from the manufacturer of the primer the amount of time needed.

Read more: How Long Does Primer Take To Dry?

Paint the pressure-treated wood

Once the primer is set, apply at least 2 coats of paint. Just like the primer, you will need to wait for a specific amount of time recommended by the manufacturer between each coat of paint.

What will happen if you paint pressure treated wood too early?

The pressure treatment of the wood involves lots of chemicals and water. Those chemicals and the water penetrate deep inside the wood by external pressure applied on the wood.

If you don’t wait the needed amount of time and paint the wood straight away, those chemicals and moisture inside the wood will find the way to escape the wood as it dries out.

As the chemicals and moisture make their way to the surface of the wood, they won’t be able to escape the surface since it has been covered by layers of your paint. This results in 2 things:

  • The moisture will make the wood warped overtime.
  • The chemicals will peel off the paint when it tries to escape the surface

Can you stain pressure treated wood?

Some people also wonder if it is possible to start pressure-treated wood. And just like the case with paint, the answer is mostly yes.

Staining pressure treated wood is actually easier than painting pressure treated wood in some cases. However, with staining, you won’t have as many color options as painting.

If you are still uncertain about your painting skill, consider hiring a professional

The painting process should not be too difficult for people who know what they are doing.

If you want to paint your porch or deck, just measure the dimension of them and figure out how much paint you will need to use. After that, you can head to stores to get the paints and tools needed for the job.

However, if you are uncertain about your skill, or simply don’t have the time to buy things and paint, you can always hire a professional painter to take care of the job for you.


So, can you paint pressure treated wood? We believe you have your own answer now.

In summary, you don’t necessarily have to paint pressure treated wood. If you do want to paint the wood, just follow our tips and tricks above and you should end up with a brand new look of your wood structures

Thanks for reading.