Painting Pressure Treated Wood – Everything You Need To Know

Wood is wood, so you can Tom Sawyer away at it any way you like, right? Wrong!

Every single species of tree behaves differently, so you can only imagine how complicated it can get when humans get involved. Well, it’s not that complicated – after all, you can do this project yourself, even without prior wood painting experience.

To make sure things go smoothly for you, today we’ll talk about what to pay attention to and which paints to pick. Also, I’ll take you through the step-by-step process. Here we go!

What’s the Issue?

Pressure-treated wood is the result of treatment that is supposed to make wood more durable and more resistant to mold, pests, and general decay. This sounds fantastic, no matter what project you have in mind.

So, where’s the problem? To put it simply, it’s the moisture. As in, the process leaves the wood quite wet. It makes it very difficult to work with it. However, even if you win that particular battle, the wood will warp and shrink as it dries.

The most crucial step is to let the wood dry completely before painting it. Even then, make sure to pick up appropriate primers and paints, as well as not skip steps when working on your project. 

Which Products to Use When Painting Pressure Treated Wood?

You must pick latex-based primers and paints since oil-based ones will simply not do. Here are a few highest-rated and most recommended products.

Kilz Klear Multi-Surface Stain Blocking Interior/Exterior Latex Primer/Sealer

One of the top recommended products, and as a bonus, it works as both primer and sealer. One bucket will cover up to 1,500 sq. ft., so it could be more than enough to do both jobs on your project. 

It’s versatile and works on multiple surfaces, including drywall, masonry, plaster, bricks, and even plastics. Offers a smooth finish, great coverage, and excellent adhesion. Plus, it has mildew protection for wood surfaces. 

Kilz Adhesion High-Bonding Interior Latex Primer/Sealer

Another good choice from the same manufacturer, but this one is better suited for anything inside your house. It has excellent adhesion and will work on different surfaces.

It’s also very good at covering stains and even blocking odors. Once it dries, it cleans washes up and cleans easily. 

PRESTIGE Paints Exterior Paint

A lot of pros list this one as their top choice. It comes in 40 shades, 4 finished, and 2 formulas (exterior and interior). It can go on without a primer, and in some cases, you can skip a sealant with this one as well.

The paint also works on masonry, cement, vinyl, aluminum, and factory primed siding. It offers a smooth application that is completely beginner and amateur-friendly.

Since this paint is 100% acrylic, it washes well. All it takes is a bit of soapy water to keep your surfaces pristine and clean looking. Perfect for any job in and around the house.

Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch Latex Paint

A reliable paint option that comes in 31 deep and primary colors. Perfect for exterior items as well as interior pieces in the bathroom or kitchen. Besides wood, it can also be used on ceramic, plaster, masonry, and metal.

This paint is known to be durable and stays vibrant for a very long time. Also, it dries within only 30 minutes, for those rush projects. That bit doesn’t quite apply the same way to pressure-treated wood, but using this paint can still help you save some time.

It also looks nice if you apply only a single coat. It’s a great option if you’re painting a deck and want to cover the metal hardware as well.

Montage Signature Interior and Exterior Eco-Friendly Paint

This paint is truly a great option for someone who is working on a project that is supposed to evoke zen or a natural feeling. It comes in 18 neutral shades and a semi-gloss finish.

The texture is rather light and spreadable, so it will look nice even if you are not using a paint sprayer. That doesn’t mean that you should expect bad color payoff since it’s pretty pigmented.

Once dried, the paint is easy to take care of. It cleans effortlessly and it doesn’t chip or fade easily.

Painting Pressure Treated Wood – Step by Btep

Now that we have appropriate paint. It’s time to work on our project. Make sure that you have plenty of time to complete it. It’s not that it’s very complicated, but there is a lot of waiting involved. You’ll see in a moment.

Step 1 – Cleaning and Prep

Before you even take a look at the paintbrush, you have to do some cleaning and prep. The paint won’t bond properly to a dirty surface, and there are a couple of other things we should do at this time as well.

Start by taking stock of the situation. Check for mildew and any other type of damage. This is the time to address it by using mildewcide, fillers, or whatever the situation calls for. If you’re working on old wood, you’ll want to also check for any signs of rot or other types of decay.

If everything gets a pass, it’s time to clean. Take some soapy water and a brush with firm bristles, and scrub away. Once you got to every nook and cranny, rinse well.

Step 2 = Drying

This part is the reason why you have to plan well before you start with this project. Drying can take days, weeks, even months. Your local climate will have a huge impact, especially if you live somewhere with a lot of humidity.

Here’s how to know you’re ready to paint: sprinkle a few drops of water onto the wood. If the wood absorbs it quickly, that’s a green light. If it beads up, you’re not there yet.

Want to skip the waiting game and you happen to be in the market for new lumber for your project? Buy KDAT or wood that has been kiln-dried after the treatment. There’s still going to be some waiting involved, but it won’t be as bad.

Step 3 – Apply Primer

Don’t skip the primer, especially if it’s for a project that is supposed to be out and exposed to the elements. Even if it isn’t, a primer will make the paint job last longer.

You’ll need to apply a thin coat. The best tool for it is a paint sprayer, but you can use a roller or a brush if you are skilled enough. Even with a sprayer, have a brush on hand for detailing and hard-to-reach places.

Allow the primer to dry completely before proceeding. Most primers dry in 1 hour but give it 3 to be on the save side.

Step 4 = Apply The First Coat

If you have opted for a spray gun, this job will be easy. Apply a thin and even coat of paint all over the surface.

Latex paints are dry to the touch in an hour, and you can proceed to the next step only 4 hours after finishing this one. However, it wouldn’t hurt to leave it be for a full day. When you give that little extra time between coats, it helps to prevent the paint from chipping for longer.

Step 5 – Apply The Second Coat

Finish with the second coat of paint. This will make the color stand out more and last longer. Make sure it’s a thin coat as well, or the paint will start chipping quickly.

Speaking of chipping, outdoor surfaces will chip quicker than indoor ones. Also, vertical surfaces will keep the color longer than the horizontal ones. Plan on repainting at some point, or better yet…

Step 6 – Apply a Protective Sealant

This is an optional step but highly recommended for outdoor surfaces that will be exposed to the elements. It will at least double the lifespan of the paint.

Besides the ones mentioned above, check out Eco Advance Wood Siloxane Waterproofer Concentrate and Deck Armor-Total Wood Protection by Seal It Green if you’re looking for products other people liked for this job.

Can You Stain Pressure Treated Wood?

Of course, and it’s actually easy to apply and maintain.

Remember to pick up some latex-based stain here as well. The steps should resemble the ones above, you’re only not applying as many coats.

Some of the highest-rated stains are Ready Seal 520 Exterior Stain and Sealer, #1 Deck Premium Semi-Transparent Wood Stain for Decks, and Thompsons Waterseal Solid Waterproofing Stain.

A Few Words on Maintenance

Your wood may come with the first year and regular maintenance tips that include treatments to prevent mildew and UV damage. Most of those tips won’t work after the paint job, and you’re super lucky if you got information that goes into detail about how to treat painted wood.

Adding mildewcide into both the primer and the paint will go a long way to protect your project, while the paint itself is a good UV protector. As long as you didn’t paint over mildew, chances are that you will not encounter big problems later on. And the ones that you do encounter, you can deal with by washing the areas in question with a bleach solution.

If the bleach is not helping, it may be the time to call a pro in. And if the problem is more than a few spots here and there, it’s better to refurbish the whole area. Pick up a paint stripper, treat the root of the problem, and repaint everything.

Know When to Call in the Pros

Though the job may be labor-intensive, it’s not too complicated. However, there are times when it’s better to call in some professional help.

You live in a very humid area, the wood you want to paint needs a lot of TLC, or the area is just too big. In these 3 cases, it’s far better to have someone with more experience take on the project.

The Time Has Come to Paint!

You should feel confident to start your pressure treated wood painting project now. You know the steps and what types of paints are required and have some great recommendations. Just make sure to not miss a step! And remember that is the project is too much you can always call a professional.

Another project you need to look into to is staining wood. Depending on the placement of the wood and the kind of wood you have, it may need to be stained and we’ve some great tips to do so.