How to Make Treated Wood Last Longer

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Treated lumber is treated with a chemical that makes it resistant to rot and decay. The treatment only offers a resistance, not a cure from rot and decay, so some basic maintenance is required to keep the wood in good condition. Regular maintenance of the wood can extend its life span and maintain its attractiveness. Finishing the lumber, covering nail and screw holes, and treating any cut ends are three ways to extend the life of treated wood.

Things You'll Need

  • Paint, stain, or other desired finish
  • Brush or rag to apply finish
  • Cleanup materials & tape/drop cloths
  • Caulk
  • Concentrated wood treatment

Extending the life of your treated wood

  • Applying a sealant to the wood is the best choice no matter how the wood is used. Whether it is used for a deck, railing or other purpose, painting or staining the material will lengthen the life of the wood. To paint or stain the wood, make sure it is clean of all debris, and apply a thin layer of paint or stain to the wood and allow it to dry.

  • Filling all nail and screw holes is another way to extend the life of the wood. Anytime you drive nails or screws into the wood, it creates a tunnel for water to enter the wood and rot it from within. If you screw from the bottom of the lumber (where water doesn't fall on or rest) then it will decrease the amount of water that penetrates the surface of the wood. Also, you can use wood putty or caulk to fill any surface nail or screw holes.

  • Applying concentrated treatment chemical to any cut ends will increase the life of the wood. When you cut the lumber, it exposes the inner parts of the wood that are not as treated as the exterior is. If you apply some of the same treatment that is used on the lumber with a brush to any cut ends, it will help with the life of the wood.

Tips & Warnings

  • Make sure the wood is dry before applying a finish. The wood is delivered to the lumberyard wet and it takes several weeks to dry out. To test the wood to see if it is dry enough for finishing, drop a small amount of water on it. If it beads up, it needs to dry more. If it soaks in quickly, you can paint or stain.
  • If you are going to fill the nail or screw holes, it is best to do this before staining.

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