Staining or Painting Pressure-Treated Wood is the better option?

Using pressure-treated lumber has been a lifesaver for outside projects since it extends the life of wood in tough outdoor situations.

A procedure that preserves wood can, if done incorrectly, destroy a stain or paint finish. This begs the question: should I paint or stain my pressure-treated wood?

The question is, how can you put it into practice without having to see all of your hard work undone in a flash?

Instead of painting pressure-treated wood, you should stain it, according to the experts.

The main reason for this is that pressure-treated wood rarely has good paint adhesion because of the pressure treatment technique.

However, as we’ll see later, pressure-treated wood can be painted if the necessary measures are taken.

The key is to learn how to work with pressure-treated wood and how it differs from other types of lumber.

Can You Paint Or Stain Pressure Treated Wood?

Preservative chemicals and water are injected into the wood grain using a high-pressure method.

The purpose of this approach is to keep the wood from rotting and hence increase its usefulness.

This makes pressure-treated lumber excellent for outdoor settings like decks and fences, where it would be exposed to weather and moisture on a frequent basis and would otherwise degrade rapidly.

When a stain or paint job fails, it’s because of this pressure treatment. It’s common to find pressure-treated wood that’s still damp a week or more after it’s been treated.

To get the best results from staining, the wood must be completely dry before applying the stain.

Staining a pressure-treated wood fence is something we’ll discuss in greater detail in this piece.

Painting on pressure-treated wood can be difficult because of its preservatives; this is why it is best to stain rather than paint, as the painting takes additional preparation.

What Types of Pressure-Treated Wood Are There?

There are two types of pressure-treated wood: above-ground and ground-contact.

The color difference between the two types of pressure-treated wood may be clearly seen in the image below.

Also Read:  How Are Concrete Statues Made?

Diverse varieties of pressure-treated wood have different uses, but the processes to prepare them for staining or painting are the same regardless of where and how they are used.

Above-Ground Pressure Treated Wood

Above-ground wood is meant for usage in situations where the wood is easily accessible and can be easily changed or maintained.

This sort of wood is used by builders where it will be at least 6 inches above ground level. In addition, the wood should be well-ventilated and allowed to drain when wet.

Above-ground wood can be utilized as deck rails or deck boards if they are easily accessible and replaceable.

All of the fence slats, as well as the top beams, rafter, and arch of the pergola gate, are visible in the photo.

Ground-Contact Pressure Treated Wood

Ground-contact wood has been treated to retain a higher concentration of preservative than above-ground wood.

As a result, it is best suited for above-ground applications or scenarios in which it will come into touch with the earth.

Some ground-contact wood applications include fencing using in-ground fence posts, such as the posts in the pergola gate above.

When working with wood that is less than 6 inches from the ground, or where it may be poorly ventilated and difficult to repair or replace, you must utilize ground-contact wood.

Home Depot is now stocking more ground contact 2x material and ground contact wood decking.

How to Stain Pressure-Treated Wood

Pressure-treated wood is relatively simple to stain.

However, you must be careful while staining the wood because doing so too soon will lead your stain to be “rejected,” resulting in your work (and money) being wasted.

Take the following procedures to ensure the success of your work.

Check to check if the wood is ready.

When you first acquire pressure-treated lumber, it is frequently damp, and if it is, you will have no success staining it right away.

Wet wood cannot adequately absorb the stain. If you have kiln-dried pressure-treated wood, you can stain it right away.

Check to see if the board has an “ADAT” (air-dried after treatment) or “KDAT” stamp or tag (kiln-dried after treatment).

Also Read:  How to Hide Pipes on Outside Walls?

This type of lumber can be stained right away (as long as it hasn’t been wet since you bought it, such as being outside in the rain).

Use the “sprinkle” method to see if the wood is ready to be stained. Sprinkle some water on the wood and time how long it takes to absorb it.

When the water has been totally absorbed, you are ready to stain. Water will pool or bead on the surface of unfinished wood, indicating that it still retains too much moisture.

To remove dirt and debris from the wood, wash it.

If the wood is brand new, you don’t need to bother about this step, though a quick wash won’t harm you.

If you are staining wood that has been installed for some time, you must first clean it to remove dirt and other material that may interfere with the stain.

Applying a cleaning solution to the wood will help loosen the substance you wish to wash away.

Allow at least 10 minutes for this solution to soak in, but follow the guidelines on the package.

We demonstrated many methods for cleaning a wood fence without using pressure washing.

Following that, rinse the solution with a garden hose or a pressure washer (especially if there are tough stains).

Then, wait at least 24 hours for the wood to dry (and since the last rain) before staining it.

One last time, prepare the wood.

Seal off the area with painter’s tape or a tarp to avoid getting stains where you don’t want them (such as on patios, furniture, or house siding).

Sweep the wood with a broom to remove any leaves or dirt that may have accumulated while it dried.

Stain the wood with the stain.

After opening the stain container, stir it thoroughly to ensure that the color is consistent throughout, and then pour it onto a paint tray.

Begin by applying a little amount of stain to a spot of wood and making sure you like how it looks.

This is your final opportunity to change your mind, so don’t waste it. Begin staining the wood whenever you’re ready to commit.

Also Read:  110 vs 220 Hot Tub: What's the Difference & Which is Better?

Allow the stain to cure for at least 24 hours before walking on it.

A paint pad applicator is the best instrument for applying stains. It can be attached to a pole for easier application without bending over.

You can also stain a deck with a roller, which is much faster.

You could use a brush, but this would be sluggish and uncomfortable on a deck because you will be on your knees much of the time.

Instead, use the brush to stain between cracks or deck boards, as well as any other difficult-to-reach spots.

How to Paint Pressure-Treated Wood

As previously stated, it is preferable to stain rather than paint pressure-treated wood.

However, if you follow a few simple procedures, you may achieve fantastic results with painting as well:

  • First, make sure the wood is totally dry before painting, and then prepare the wood as indicated in the staining preparation procedures above.
  • Then, apply a coat of primer to the wood with a bristle brush. This primer is intended for use on pressure-treated wood.
  • After the primer has set, paint the wood with two coats of latex paint. To achieve the greatest results, you may need to apply another coat of paint or more.

How to Seal Pressure Treated Wood

  • Most exterior stains contain some sealant to protect the wood against moisture. 
  • If you want to showcase the natural wood grain and color while ensuring a higher level of protection, consider a clear sealant to protect the surface. 
  • A product that combines stain and sealer adds both protection and pigmentation, but sealants are not recommended to be used on top of stained wood. 
  • When sealing pressure-treated wood, choose a product designed to be UV repellant.
  • Apply sealant using the same method to apply stain.


Staining or painting pressure-treated wood doesn’t have to be a frustrating experience; in fact, the process is quite simple and straightforward.

It’s possible to have an excellent-looking finish that will last for years if you follow the instructions provided for preparing and applying stain or paint correctly.

You May Also Like