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Can You Paint Pressure Treated Wood?

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Pressure treated wood is designed to last for a long time, but that process also involves a few chemicals being added to the wood.

Because of that, many people do not like the green tinged look and want to give it a good coat of pain.

That begs the question of if you can paint pressure treated wood. 

It is possible to paint wood that has been pressure treated, but it is first important to consider how much moisture is in the wood.

This will help you determine what type of primer and paint you will need to use to minimize the risk of peeling.

If you follow the right process, you can paint the wood. 

Pressure treated wood is designed to withstand the elements.

Because of this, you will want to make sure that you do not do anything to compromise the integrity of the wood, or you may end up with rotting or pest infested wood.

Continue reading to learn how you can properly paint your pressure treated wood. 

How Should You Go About Painting Pressure Treated Wood?

The wood must first be completely dry. This will take quite a bit longer than it does with ordinary types of wood and if the pressure treated wood is brand new, it will need to dry for a couple of months at least depending on the season.

It is also important that the right type of primer and paint be used when painting wood that has been pressure treated. Do not use oil based paints, instead opt for latex primer and paint. 

There are four main steps involved in painting pressure treated wood:

  • Get the wood prepped – Before you even think about painting pressure treated wood, you need to make sure that the wood and surrounding area is completely cleaned. Use soap and water to do this. You will want to make sure that any debris and dirt is properly washed away and a clean surface is all that remains. 
  • Do some power washing – Once you have cleaned away the dirt and debris that you see, it is helpful to do a quick power washing using a pressure washer. This will really leave you with a very clean slate upon which to work. Once you have completed this stage, you will need to wait a bit so that the wood can dry. You will need the wood to be completely dry before you continue on to the next step. 
  • Primer after drying – When you have ensured that all of the wood is completely dry, it is time to apply your primer. You will apply this directly to the wood, whether it’s your porch, railings or deck. Make sure that you give it plenty of time to cure before you move on to the final step in this process.  Read our article on best primer for pressure treated wood.
  • Start to paint – As soon as the primer is cured, you are ready to start painting. Make sure that you use the right type of paint for the job and then apply it to the wood. You will want to use at least two coats, so make sure that you wait the requisite amount of time between them. 

While many people love the rustic look of pressure treated wood in its natural state, others would like to give it a good coat of paint. Following these steps will help you accomplish this effectively and give you a great piece of wood when it is all done.

However, it is important to follow each step in order to ensure that the paint is properly applied. If you’re wondering if you can use indoor paint outdoors, check out our article to explain why it isn’t a good idea.

Should You Wait Before Painting Pressure Treated Wood?

Wood that has been pressure treated using a kiln drying method can be painted right away. You can even paint the wood that same day it has been treated. However, any other method of pressure treating requires that you wait at least two to four months before painting. This is to allow time for drying. 

It is important to be patient before painting pressure treated wood. You need to make sure that it is completely dry before starting the job.

If you do not, the paint will simply start to peel away from the wood before you even have a chance to enjoy it.

While you might want to get started right away, it is important to wait a bit before you start to mix up the paint. 

What Happens if You Paint Pressure Treated Wood Too Soon?

The chemicals and water that were used during the pressure treatment process will impact the quality of the wood if you paint too soon.

These chemicals need to be allowed time to penetrate deep into the wood, where they will settle and do their job for years to come.

Painting too soon will bring the chemicals and the water back to the surface.

Not only can this reverse the pressure-treating process, but it also creates a surface that is not conducive to painting.

If you try to paint before waiting a few months for the wood to dry, you will likely find that the paint does not stick to the wood.

This impacts the wood and does not look good. 

How Do You Know When the Time is Right to Paint Pressure Treated Wood?

Pressure treated wood should only be painted when you are sure that it is clean and dry.

It is often difficult to know when the wood is dry because water and chemicals can be lying deep under the surface.

Make sure that you find out how long ago the wood was treated before you paint it. 

In order for the chemicals used in the pressure treatment of wood to do their job, water is used in order to get everything in its proper place.

This is why such wood actually becomes quite wet. You might not see it, but the moisture is there. 

Since you know it takes two to four months for this type of wood to dry, you will want to know when it was treated before you paint it.

It is also helpful to take into account the thickness of the wood. If you don’t know when it was pressure treated, then just wait a few months to ensure the drying process has taken hold. 


Pressure treated wood is very effective at minimizing the risk of premature rotting and decay. Because of that, it is important to keep the integrity of the wood in check, even when painting it. You might also be interested to know can you burn pressure treated wood.

If you are looking to paint this type of wood, you will want to keep the above steps involved in mind as you do so. 

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Jena Slocum Co-Founder

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