Can You Paint Pressure Treated Wood?
Exterior House Painting

Can You Paint Pressure Treated Wood?

Posted on May 1, 2023

Can You Paint Pressure Treated Wood?

Adding a fresh coat of paint can transform the look of any surface, but when it comes to pressure treated wood, many homeowners wonder if it’s even possible. Pressure treated wood is commonly used for outdoor structures like decks, fences, and playsets due to its durability and resistance to rot and insects. And it is absolutely possible to paint pressure treated wood. However, its unique properties can present a challenge when it comes to painting.

In this blog, we will delve into the question, “Can you paint pressure treated wood?” and provide you with expert insights and tips to achieve a beautiful and long-lasting finish.

pressure treated wood

What is Pressure Treated Wood?

Pressure treated wood is a type of lumber that has been specially treated to make it more resistant to rot, decay, and insect damage. The process involves placing the wood in a large tank where it is subjected to high pressure, forcing preservatives deep into its fibers. These preservatives help protect the wood from moisture, fungi, and pests, making it a popular choice for outdoor projects like decks, fences, and playground equipment.

Essentially, pressure treated wood is a stronger and longer-lasting material that can withstand the harsh elements, ensuring that your outdoor structures remain sturdy and durable over time.

How to Prepare pressure treated Wood for Painting


  • Primer
  • Latex paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Roller

Painting pressure treated wood is definitely possible! However, it is essential for any DIY-er out there to follow these steps. Otherwise, your deck will end up less than stellar and you’ll be left with more work than you started with.

Step 1: Make Sure Wood is Completely Dry

If your wood has recently been pressure treated, you’ll need to make sure you give it plenty of time to dry. It is crucial for the wood to be completely dry before painting. If paint is applied before the wood has fully dried, the paint simply will not dry, or it will blister and peel over time. Typically, this process takes anywhere from a few weeks to several months, depending on the climate and the specific type of pressure treated wood. It is always best to ask a professional. 

If you want to check the moisture level yourself, you can try to perform a ‘water test.’ By sprinkling some water on the wood, it should absorb the water. If it still has not dried, the water will bead on the surface. The moisture content of the pressure treated wood must be below 14% before you get started. You can check your wood’s moisture measurement with a digital moisture meter.

Step 2: Clean the Wood

Once you’re sure that the wood is ready to be worked on, it is time to clean the pressure treated wood to remove any dirt, dust, or surface contaminants. Use a mild detergent mixed with water and a stiff-bristle brush scrub the wood’s surface gently. Rinse thoroughly and allow the wood to dry completely before moving on to the next step.

Painter’s Tip: Do not use a pressure washer on pressure treated wood as the high pressure can damage the treatment on the wood fibers.

Step 3: Prime the Surface for Painting

The last step of preparing your pressure treated wood for paint is to add primer! This will ensure proper adhesion and longevity of the paint. Because this is such an important job, it’s advisable to apply a high-quality exterior primer specifically designed for pressure treated wood. The best type of primer to use for painting pressure treated wood is latex primer. Starting with a brush, focus on areas that the paint roller cannot reach like narrow or recessed areas. Following up with a paint roller, roll the remaining surface area to cover evenly with the primer.

Once the primer is set and dried, you’re ready to move onto painting!

stained composite wood deck

How to Paint Pressure Treated Wood

If you’ve made it this far, you’re sure to be more than ready to get the paint on the wood. However, don’t be too hasty! There are specific steps you want to follow for painting pressure treated wood to get the best result. Be sure to follow each step carefully, you want to guarantee you’re protecting the integrity of your wood throughout this process.

Apply Paint

Using a latex paint, or a paint made specifically for painting pressure treated wood, you’ll follow the same process as the primer. Starting with a brush, focus on the areas that are hard-to-reach for the paint roller to make sure you’re fully covering the surface. Grab your paint roller and roll on your paint to cover the rest of the surface area.

Let the first coat dry for up to three hours before applying your second coat. Follow the same process for painting your second coat.

Painter’s Tip: You may want to consider applying a coat of water-repellant finish with a UV stabilizer to protect your wood even further and prevent fading!

Maintain the Painted Surface:

After the painting is complete, it’s important to maintain the painted surface properly. Regularly inspect the painted pressure treated wood for any signs of wear or damage. Touch up any areas that require attention to ensure the wood remains protected and the paint finish stays intact. Additionally, consider applying a fresh coat of paint every few years to maintain the appearance and longevity of the painted surface.

couple on a treated wood deck

DIY or Call a Professional?

As you can see, there are a lot of steps and specifics when it comes to pressure treated wood. It can be difficult to manage the moisture content and know when to use primer or when it’s not necessary, especially with a finicky product like pressure treated wood. So, do you take on the project or do it yourself? While small painting projects may be able to be handled on your own, it is best to call a professional when it comes to those larger projects to get the job done safely and efficiently.

Paint Your pressure treated Wood with CertaPro Painters®

CertaPro Painters® are experts in all things paint—including painting pressure treated wood. We’ll make sure you get the best result with as little disruption to your daily life. Our painting crews take care of everything from start to clean-up and leave you with a beautiful, protected deck for you to enjoy! To get started with our local painters, call our team or fill out our free, no-obligation form for a consultation!