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Can you paint pressure treated wood? The answer is complicated. If you ask, can you paint pressure-treated wood: the answer will be why not. But if you ask if the process is convenient, we will say probably not. The reason behind this inconvenience is the treatment of the wood that makes it long-lasting.

That is why painting pressure-treated wood needs special preparation and application. Here is our expert guide on how to paint pressure-treated wood with some tips and tricks. But to understand the process, you need to understand what the pressure-treated (PT) wood is.

What is Pressure Treated (PT) Wood?

Wood is converted under pressure through a process that infuses chemical preservatives into the wood. Pressure-treated wood can persist for more than 20 years, even in the worst conditions.

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Pressure-treated wood is designed for outdoor use and is very reliable. In addition, the chemicals used in pressure-treated wood allow the wood to last longer and resist pests.

Process of Depressurizing

The process that makes pressure-treated wood begins by placing the wood in a tank that is then depressurized. The tank is then filled with the chemical that preserves the wood at very high pressure. This forces chemicals into the wood.

The chemical used to preserve wood is called chrome-plated copper arsenate. This chemical is very toxic and will kill termites if ingested. For this reason, pressure-treated wood is extremely resistant to termites.

Due to the extreme toxicity of chromed copper arsenate, companies have started using amine copper quat (ACQ) and copper azole to treat wood. These chemicals are less harmful to humans but still toxic to termites.

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Advantages and Disadvantages of Autoclaving Treatment

This treatment brings interesting advantages and benefits to the wood.

  • Greater durability.
  • Improved resistance against the action of insects and fungi.
  • Behavior against adverse environmental conditions is improved.
  • Greater stability.
  • Wood moves less in the face of environmental changes.
  • Fire retardant agents can also be applied during the process.
  • The costs associated with wood maintenance are relatively low.

Can You Paint Pressure Treated Wood: How to Do So?

There are several types of treated wood. Until recently, wood treated with a compound containing chromium copper arsenate (CCA) was the most popular type of pressure-treated wood. But the problem was skin absorbs the arsenic when you touch it. And consequently, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) asked the manufacturers to remove the product.

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Today, manufacturers are slowly switching their products to wood treated with a copper-based preservative that does not contain arsenic. However, when painting treated wood, there are variables that you need to consider before starting the process.

Things You Will Need

  • Broom
  • Sander
  • Roller and extension handle
  • Disposable brush
  • Disposable paint pan coating
  • Masking tape
  • Oil-based or Acrylic paint
  • Semi-gloss paint
  • Preservative

How to Prepare Pressure Treated Wood for Staining?

Pressure-treated wood is exposed to chemicals that preserve the wood and protect against rot. Pressure-treated lumber is typically used on roofs and other outdoor buildings. When you stain or paint this wood, special measures are taken.

The most important is to use a special kind of paint on pressure-treated wood. It is a slightly different type of paint designed to adhere to this special type of wood.

Some preparation may be needed to make the wood ready for painting:

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Cleaning the Pressure-Treated Wood

First, clean pressure-treated wood with water and a stiff brush, remove all dirt and grease from the surface. Then, allow the wood to dry completely. This will take at least a couple of hours or more if you live in a humid climate.

Mixing Deck Solution Before Clean

Mix a deck preparation solution designed to clean and prepare for staining pressure-treated wood.

Application of the Prepared Solution

Usually, the mixing instructions are indicated on the product. Generally, it is about mixing the solution with water. Wet down the wood and apply the solution with a brush. Cover the entire surface of the wood.

Scrubbing the Wood

Scrub the wood with a bristle brush. Rinse the solution off the wood with a pressure washer or hose with clean water.

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Drying the Wood Before Reapplying Paint

Allow the wood to dry again before applying a pressure-treated wood stain or paint with a brush or roller. Many pressure wood stains require a moisture content of 15 percent or less before staining.

Instructions: How to Stain Pressure Treated Wood

In this section below, we will explain the complete process of staining pressure-treated wood. Follow the steps below and get the ultimate result you desire for so long.

Checking the Wood Whether It's Dry or Not

After preparing, see if the lumber is dry. Test the wood for dryness. You don't want treated wood to dry out too quickly because it causes the wood to warp, chip, and crack. Although it is treated to prevent the rotting of wood, this does not mean that it will not warp over time. Drying too fast makes this happen. Do not try to force it to dry with fans or extra heat.  

Using Preservative While Drying

Apply a preservative outside while it dries. Use the kind of clear preservative made for treated wood. The manufacturer of the product usually recommends specific brands that work well.

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Avoid Using Wood That Dries Fastly

Make sure it's the type you use with fresh pressure-treated wood. This slows down the drying process, but prevents the wood from shrinking, curling, and cracking.

Applying Preservatives on Exterior

As soon as the project is complete, apply the preservative. Not everyone uses a preservative on the exterior of wet wood. Check the company's information that treats the wood to see if it is better for the product.

Check Whether the Wood is Drying or Not

Wait for the time specified on the preservative sealer. Attempting to paint leaves the wood exposed to rot too quickly and causes the paint to peel. Instead, check damp, dark areas where the wood is not exposed to the sun. An example could be the bottom of a roof. If those areas appear dry, the wood is normally dry at all times.  

Assess the Wood Regularly

Look for signs of mold, algae, and fungus on the wood. You will need to clean with a pressure washer or steel wool, bleach, and water if you find any. Allow it to dry. You don't have to wait that long as you don't have time to absorb the water that deeply.

Applying Exterior Prime

Paint with a coat or two of exterior primer. Use the correct type of primer. Most people recommend 100 percent acrylic primer and paint on treated wood. Oil-based primer tends to seal in any moisture in the wood and allows for decomposition. Acrylic paint breaks less often than oil. Paint it and allow it to dry completely before applying the second coat of primer.

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Finishing By Painting Final Coat

Finish the painting with two coats of exterior acrylic latex paint if this type of primer has been used. Make sure you allow the primer to dry at least overnight or according to the paint manufacturer's instructions. Paint the exterior of the first coat of acrylic latex and dry it before painting the last coat of the treated wood. 

Tips and Warnings

  • Painting on pressure-treated wood can result in new problems, such as cracks or flaking and a slippery surface to the touch. Weigh all your options before deciding on a course of action.
  • If it's paint or stains outdoors, such as on a deck or siding, protect near lawns, trees, or plants with plastic covers to avoid damaging them.

Final Words

So, can you paint pressure-treated wood? Yes, you can. It is crucial to make the wood look better, but the painting also helps to fill cracks and fix flaws. But be careful to choose the right kind of paint and sealer. And if you are not sure you can handle the job, hire professionals. We hope after reading this article now you can answer if anyone asks you, can you paint pressure treated wood.

Frequently Asked Questions :

How Long Should You Wait Before You Paint Pressure Treated Wood?

Some of the wood arrives at the home improvement store right after it is treated. You need to check the wood to see if it is dry. It has to be outdoors; do not stack and store 4 weeks to 6 months before starting to paint, or the paint will not adhere properly. The old rule of thumb was to wait at least a season before painting the wood.

What Happens If You Stain Pressure Treated Wood Too Soon?

Painting treated wood too soon can result in a bad outcome. This is because the stains do not stick to the wood and be peeled off easily.

What is the Best Way to Paint Pressure Treated Wood?

The best way to paint pressure-treated wood is to paint it after it has been dried thoroughly. Then put a coat of primer followed by the first coat of paint. Then, after drying completely, put the final coat of paint.

Is It Better to Stain or Paint Pressure Treated Wood?

Although both painting and staining need special preparation, the experts recommend staining the wood rather than painting.

What is the Best Sealant for Pressure Treated Wood?

For woods to be used outside, a water-repellent sealer is the best choice. You can also use semi-transparent sealant if you want the natural color.

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