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Can You Paint Pressure Treated Wood?

Learn how to paint pressure treated wood with a few simple steps.

Pressure treated lumbar; can you paint it? I’ve learned the hard way that you can’t just slap paint on pressure treated wood and expect to get a smooth finish. You know I always say, “let me make the mistakes so you won’t.” Today I’m sharing the right way to paint pressure treated wood.

Sometimes the best lessons are learned through mistakes right? A little over a year ago I made a DIY outdoor table to hide the grinder pump well. It turned out really nice…at first. As you can guess, I made the mistake of painting the wood without primer and without making sure that it was fully dry.

What is pressure treated wood?

Pressure treated lumber is wood that has been soaked with a high pressure treatment of water and other chemicals to help it withstand outdoor elements.

You can guess that the extra chemicals will interfere with paint absorbing on the surface correctly; hence not being able to paint it successfully without it being fully dry.

can you paint pressure treated wood?

Can you paint pressure treated wood?

Yes, you can definitely paint pressure treated wood, but the wood needs to be fully dry.

Can you stain pressure treated wood?

Yes, you can stain pressure treated wood just like you can paint it as long as it’s fully dry.

When can you paint pressure treated lumbar?

You can paint pressure treated wood when it’s dry enough to accept a coating. There is a simple test you can do to make sure it’s ready:

  1. Sprinkle water on the wood
  2. If the drops are absorbed that means the wood is dry enough to paint
  3. If the drops bead on the surface, the wood is not ready to paint
  4. Wait a few more days and try the water droplet test again

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How to paint pressure treated wood

  1. Do the “sprinkle” test to make sure the wood is completely dry. See the above instructions on how to do this.
  2. Clean the lumbar with a soapy solution and a bristle brush. After you’ve cleaned the surface sufficiency, rinse it off and let it dry for at least 24 hours.
  3. Apply outdoor primer that is suitable for pressure treated wood. Primer is important to help the paint adhere and to also block the tannins (previous finish or natural stains) from seeping through the new paint. One coat of primer should be sufficient for well cleaned wood. Apply two coats for extra coverage.
  4. Apply 1-2 coats of outdoor paint. Latex paint works best on pressure treated wood.

What happens if you paint pressure treated lumbar too soon?

If you paint pressure treated wood too soon the paint won’t bond correctly. Not only does this lead to an uneven finish, but it no longer protects the wood from future elements.

I painted our “grinder pump well table top” a year ago. I did not wait until the wood was completely dry and this is what it looks like today, 1 year later.

painted pressure treated lumbar painted while it was wet

You can see the paint cracking and where the sap from the wood is breaking through the paint. What a mess!

I’ve learned my lesson and I know not to make this mistake again!

For more tips on painting outdoor furniture, check out my post with more details out outdoor painting projects.

Lindsey**

How to paint pressure treated wood

painting pressure treated wood

Learn how to paint pressure treated wood and how long you need to wait to let it dry out before you apply paint to it.

Active Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours
Difficulty Easy
Estimated Cost 20-50 Dollars

Materials

  • Cleaner 
  • Bristle brush
  • Outdoor primer
  • Outdoor paint

Instructions

  1. Do the "sprinkle" test to make sure the wood is completely dry. Sprinkle water on the wood and if the drops are absorbed that means the wood is dry enough to paint. If the drops bead on the surface, the wood is not ready to paint. Repeat this test after a few days.
  2. Clean the lumbar with a soapy solution and a bristle brush. After you've cleaned the surface sufficiency, rinse it off and let it dry for at least 24 hours.
  3. Apply outdoor primer that is suitable for pressure treated wood. Primer is important to help the paint adhere and to also block the tannins (previous finish or natural stains) from seeping through the new paint. One coat of primer should be sufficient for well cleaned wood. Apply two coats for extra coverage.
  4. Apply 1-2 coats of outdoor paint. Latex paint works best on pressure treated wood.
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