With the right preparation, pressure-treated wood can be painted or stained. Before it can be considered for this process, however, the wood requires at least three to four months of weathering to allow the chemicals in the lumber to ooze and evaporate before preparation can begin.
What is Pressured-Treated Wood?
Wood that is chemically treated with preservatives, such as chromated copper arsenate or CCA (an arsenic-based chemical) or alkaline copper quaternary or ACQ (a water-based chemical), under extreme pressures become pressure-treated wood. This is typically done to protect the lumber from insects and extend its longevity.
Using soapy water and a stiff bristled brush, scrub all surfaces to be painted, removing any chemical residue that may be left. Rinse well with clean water and dry completely. Pressure washing the wood is not advisable because doing so creates nicks and chips in the wood, leaving it vulnerable to insects. Drying the wood may take several days or weeks, depending on the temperature and humidity in the area. It's important to allow the wood to dry thoroughly before attempting to paint; otherwise, the paint or stain will not adhere to the wood properly.
Selecting the proper paint or stain is important when deciding to cover pressure-treated wood. A water-based stain is recommended for proper absorption into the wood. Paints need to be acrylic-based latex exterior use for CCA-treated wood, exterior or interior use for ACQ treated wood. An acrylic-based latex primer is also recommended for painting pressure-treated wood. The primer provides a set surface for painting, eliminating the need for multiple coats of paint color.
CCA-treated woods should not be used indoors, because they're designed for outdoor use only. ACQ-treated woods can be used inside the home for moldings and trims; however, they should never be used for eating surfaces, such as tables, cutting boards, or countertops. Regardless of the type of wood being used, follow general safety guidelines when doing any home construction or decorating project, and wear proper eye protection and gloves.
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