How to Paint Treated Lumber White


Most wood used for residential and commercial use is pressure treated with chromated copper arsenate (CCA). The wood is treated with CCA to prevent decay and destruction by insects. Many consumers believe treated wood must sit out to dry or "season" for up to 6 months before being painted. However, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Forest Service, "it is not necessary to allow newly installed pressure treated wood to weather or season for long periods of time before applying a coating." In fact, they mention that unless the wood is still very wet it should be stained or painted as soon as possible to prevent surface damage that will hinder the ability of the wood to maintain its applied coatings. Proper preparation is also vital to a successful paint job that will last for years to come.

Things You'll Need

  • Lumber
  • Scrub brush
  • Mild detergent
  • Commercial wood brightener/cleaner product
  • Garden sprayer
  • Hose
  • White paint
  • Paint brush
  • Wash away any surface dirt from the lumber by scrubbing it with a mild detergent.

  • Mix the wood brightener product with water according to the manufacturer's directions if it is concentrated.

  • Spray the wood brightener onto the lumber using a garden sprayer. Allow it to sit for 15 to 20 minutes and then rinse it off with a hose.

  • Lay out the wood to dry in warm, sunny weather for 2 to 3 days.

  • Brush paint onto the individual boards. Coat the entire length of each board with each stroke in order to prevent lap marks.

  • Allow the first coat to dry according to the paint manufacturer's directions before applying a second coat.

  • Brush on a second coat of paint to eliminate the green show-through that can occur with treated wood and to give the wood an even appearance.

Tips & Warnings

  • Brushing is considered to be the optimal application technique. However, using a paint sprayer is a quick and easy alternative that is another option.
  • Paint is not recommended for horizontal surfaces that will receive heavy traffic or weathering. Paint has a tendency to peel and mar under these circumstances. Stain would be a more appropriate choice.
  • If the wood is still wet from being treated, allow it to air dry no longer than 2 to 3 weeks.
  • Applying more than two coats of paint or stain is not recommended; additional coatings will cause the paint to peel or crack quicker.

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  • Photo Credit lumber image by Albert Lozano from
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