August 8, 2021

What happens if you Paint Treated Wood too soon? What you need to know

What happens if you stain pressure-treated wood too early? If you paint treated wood too early, the wood risks damage. There is a greater chance that it will still be damp and the water will be trapped. This causes the mold to form, and the wood is quickly damaged. The wood will swell and shrink if painted too early.

Swelling and shrinkage damage wood by cracking and splitting. Treated wood needs time to dry before you start painting. This takes a lot of time and you have to wait days, weeks or months.

It depends on the type of treatment and what the manufacturer prescribes. Even if you buy it at the hardware shop, it does not mean it’s ready for treatment. Chances are it’s still wet and you will not be able to paint it right away. Using the right type of paint on treated wood will produce positive results. You’ll get better results with a compatible exterior latex paint, also known as water-based paint. Avoid using oil-based paint.

How to test wetness on treated wood 

The sprinkle test is a viable method of knowing if your pressure-treated wood is dry enough for paint. Sprinkle water on top of the surface of your wood. If the wood absorbs the water in less than ten minutes, that is a sign that it is ready for painting. 

Once the wood absorbs water on the surface, it’s ready for paint. For time-sensitive projects, it may be wise to go for treated wood marked as having been kiln-dried after treatment (KDAT). 

The timeliness for painting the wood is more condensed. If water beads form or gather on top of the surface, that is a sign that wood is not dry. Increase the drying time so that it will be safe to paint. 

Benefits of Painting Pressure Treated Wood

Prevents rotting

Whenever you use your wood without protection from natural elements, it is prone to rotting. The exterior environment is not safe from unfinished wood. That is why you have to protect your wood by painting it. Painting includes numerous stages, including staining and priming. That brings multiple layers that protect the wood from insects and other elements.

Rotting does not make the wood look ugly, but it leads to the collapse of your structure. Wood rots due to the infestation of molds and mildews. Termites also cause rotting. Painting wood right after installation is not enough to protect it from rotting. 

There has to be regular maintenance to control bacteria, moisture, and other natural elements that cause rotting. Insect attacks are damaging to wood. They increase the effects of aging. Long-lasting protection is what wood gets from stains. 

Protects wood from moisture

Penetration of water through the surface leads to rotting. To avoid rotting, apply waterproof paint. It comes with sealing qualities that do not allow the absorption of water. Wood absorbs water even if it is frozen. It gets to thaw. 

The moment wood absorbs water,  cracking and peeling begin. That is a gradual process that leads to the destruction of surface wood. A repetition of the process is a quick way of destroying wood. Paint comes with qualities that let go of water without absorbing it in the first place. Water repellents protect the wood from water damage. That prolongs the life of the wood. 

Multiple color options

You have a wide range of colors to choose from. Latex paint gives you effective results as you paint your wood. It gives you a beautiful finish that is easy to apply. The smooth finish easily comes when painting treated wood, and you do not easily get it from staining. It is ideal for beginners due to its ease of use. 

A lot of different colors to choose from.

How to Paint Pressure Treated Wood

Give your pressure-treated wood enough time to dry. That takes 30 or more days. You have to test a small part of your surface if you are not sure. When the wood is dry, clean the surface as you remove old stains, mold, mildew, and grease. 

Use a pressure washer or a deck cleaning liquid. The pressure washer has to be between 1500 and 2500 PSI. That reduces the chances of damaging your deck. The wood takes 3 to 5 days to dry. If you do not have a washer, clean the surface using soap and water. That is enough to remove dirt and debris. 

Gather your tools and materials as you prepare to stain. These include a roller or paintbrush and the paint. If the surface is poorly shaped, use a commercial deck, wood cleaner, and a power washer. 

Run a patch test before you start applying the wood stain. As soon as the wood dries up, apply a primer first on the wood surface as you prepare the bond between the wood and paint. Allow the primer to cure and refer to the manual for the drying time. 

Use latex paint, and a minimum of two coats is required. For a second coat, follow the recommended time window given by the manufacturer. The standard time comes in few hours.

Which One is Better, Staining or Painting Pressure Treated Wood?

When comparing staining and painting, it depends on the user’s preference. Stain is less slippery and more natural. Less slippery means that your deck is safe to use in rainy areas. 

In areas with high traffic, you are not worried about the type of shoes to wear that resists slippage. The paint lacks excellent adhesion to the surface due to the chemicals used for wood treatment. It leads to peeling. 

Paint sits on top of the surface, whereas staining penetrates inside the wood. That makes stain durable on wood and leaves a beautiful texture and looks on the wood surface. Wood stain is easy to use, and there is no need to add primer that brings slight changes to the look and feel of wood.

 The shade of wood stain is easy to control on pressure-treated wood. It does not peel like paint. On outdoor projects, wood is exposed to natural elements, and the paint lasts longer on vertical surfaces like fences than horizontal decks. 

Consider staining the surface before painting so that you will not have to paint the surface after 2 to 3 years. The other option is allowing the wood to weather and become gray and coat with a protective sealant. The sealant has to be re-applied, and the task is less demanding than repainting.

 Repairing requires the removal of old paint, which is a tiresome and time-consuming exercise. Painting requires running some tasks first before. The surface has to be prepared as you apply primer. That allows the paint to stick to treated wood permanently. 

It takes time and more resources, but it’s worth it. Painting makes the wood grain disappear. Unlike staining, which preserves the natural state of the wood, painting creates several layers. This way, the natural grain of the wood disappears. If you are a fan of natural items, painting may not be the best option.

David D. Hughes
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