How to Paint Pressure-Treated Wood Fencing

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Painting the fence in your yard is an easy, albeit repetitive task that can improve the appearance of your home's exterior. Many fences are built using pressure-treated lumber, which is wood that is placed into a sealed chamber where chemicals that will preserve the wood are forced into the wood through pressure and vacuum. The addition of chemicals to the wood means that it has to be handled differently than non-treated would, not only from the painting or staining aspect, but also from a safety standpoint.

Things You'll Need

  • Work gloves
  • Sandpaper
  • Putty knife or tool with an edge that can scrape
  • Preservative for pressure-treated wood (for new boards)
  • Exterior stain or paint and primer designed for use with pressure-treated wood
  • 4-inch paint brush
  • 1-inch paint brush
  • If your fence is new, apply a preservative designed for freshly pressure-treated wood. Wait two to three months before painting to allow the wood to dry, and doing so will give you a better finish. Check for any boards that are damaged, and replace them if necessary. If your fence has been around for a while, skip to Step 2.

  • Prepare your fence for painting by washing off any accumulated dirt and debris, such as cobwebs. Sand down any rough spots, and remove any paint that is chipping or peeling.

  • Work on one section of the fence at a time. If staining, use stain designed for use on pressure-treated wood. If using paint, apply two coats of acrylic latex primer, followed by a coat of exterior all-acrylic latex house paint. Buy primer and paint that is designed for use on pressure-treated wood.

  • Paint one board at a time, starting on the top edge and painting down the front of the board and one side edge. Repeat this step until every section is completed, then go back to the first section and paint the back of the board and the unpainted side edge. Do this in every section until the entire fence is done. Use the 4-inch brush for most of the painting, and use the 1-inch brush for touching up spots that the 4-inch brush misses (like the areas where the boards are nailed together).

Tips & Warnings

  • Make sure you give the wood the proper amount of time to dry before you stain or paint it. If there's too much moisture in the wood, the paint or stain cannot be applied properly, and the finish won't be as good as if the wood was properly dried.
  • Because of the hazards of the chemicals, such as arsenic, in the pressure-treated wood, avoid contact with your bare skin. Wear gloves when handling the wood, and use safety goggles and a mask when sanding or sawing pressure-treated wood. Wash any areas of bare skin that have been exposed to it with soap and water.

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