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Should You Paint Your Pressure Treated Wood Project?

Posted 1 July 2010 5:39 PM by dgauthier@ufpi.com

We often get asked for our painting recommendations for pressure treated wood. Our recommendation is short and simple: Don’t.

We do not recommend the use of a conventional multi-coat paint system or varnish.  The performance is nearly always disappointing, and repainting often has to be preceded by scraping and sanding.  By nature of its make-up, pressure-treated lumber does not need protection from the elements, so applying an opaque paint or stain is gilding the lily. If you want to keep it looking new for years to come, here are some simple maintenance tips we do recommend.

So, you don’t care what we say, and you want to paint your pressure-treated wood project anyway? That's fine. Start with an outdoor primer/sealer and make sure the wood is dry. If you just bought the wood wait at least 60 days (don’t let it lie about loose or it will warp). Pour a bit of water on the surface of the boards. If the water beads, it’s not dry enough. If the water soaks in, it’s ready. 

It’s not only water that wants to escape from the cells of the pressure treated lumber, but natural pitch wants to come out as well, once the surface heats up in the sun and starts to dry out. Once it does, it will peel any finish you’ve applied. 

Be sure to follow the paint or stain manufacturer’s recommendations and remember that horizontal surfaces will get much more punishment than vertical surfaces.

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