Can you paint pressure-treated wood?


You’ve just finished building your dream deck and are ready to enjoy a summer of BBQed burgers with friends on the weekend.

How do you protect the pressure-treated wood you’ve invested so much time and money into?

But can you paint or stain pressure-treated wood?

When can you paint the deck?

How can I paint my deck?

What type of paint or stain should I use?

Can you paint pressure-treated wood?

The simple answer is YES; you can paint pressure-treated lumber. It is recommended that you paint or stain pressure-treated lumber to increase its health, longevity, and beauty. This gives treated wood a strong start and allows it to last longer before replacement.  

You need to know a few things before painting any pressure-treated wood.

Wood needs to be fully dry; some call this “seasoning” or “curing.” This process takes roughly 4 to 6 months for most wood.

Painting pressure-treated lumber too soon can cause the boards to warp, causing major issues. Two ways can be used to test the wood’s moisture level. One is to dribble a few water droplets on the surface to see if any water is absorbed. The other is to use a moisture tester to determine if the level is 15 percent or less.  

How long before you can paint or stain pressure-treated wood?

You can paint or stain a pressure-treated deck or fence, usually one year after installation. With enough sunlight and warm air, the environment will quickly remove moisture from the wood. In shady or damp environments, it will take significantly longer.

Time can vary depending on whether the pressure treatment was kiln-dried (KD) or air-dried (AD). Markings on the wood will indicate whether it was kiln-dried or air-dried.

Kiln-dried pressure-treated wood is ready to paint right away. Conversely, air-dried wood needs 4 to 6 months of exposure to the environment to reach an ideal moisture level.

It is best to test both beforehand for optimal results.

Preparing the surface

When it’s time to paint your pressure-treated fence or deck, it is best to clean the surface with a pressure washer, soap and water, and light sanding. This will ensure that the paint adheres properly and leaves you with a quality finish.

Best deck paint for pressure-treated wood

Once your wood is primed and ready to go, the best paint for pressure-treated wood is exterior latex-based paint. It will leave a high-quality finish. Oil-based paint is not recommended for pressure-treated wood since it will not stick or absorb into the wood as much. Some professionals may use oil-based stains.  

Using a high-quality paint or stain will last longer and save you time in the long run.


As you can read, painting or staining pressure-treated lumber can be challenging project for many homeowners. With a decent amount of prep time, cleaning, sanding and priming, it might be a job for professionals.

If you want an elite painting crew to tackle your pressure-treated deck, pergola, or fence contact Alderson Elite Painting for a free, no-obligation quote today



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