Part 4 - Staining Treated Wood

How long do I need to wait to stain or paint my deck or fence?

staining a deck

Pressure treatment with waterborne preservatives leaves some moisture in the wood that may affect the penetration and drying of stains and paints.

  • For optimal performance of paint and stain coatings, allow the treated wood to dry prior to application. To ensure the wood is dry for staining, painting or sealing, test the wood with a few drops of water to see if the wood is dry enough to readily absorb water. As soon as the wood is porous enough to accept the stain, paint or sealant, it is ready for application. Typically, treated wood will dry and be ready for finishing 60 days after installation. However, estimating exactly how long treated lumber will take to dry is hard to predict and will depend on the time elapsed since pressure treatment, sun exposure, local temperature and recent weather conditions.

What do you recommend I use to stain or paint my deck or fence?

staining a fence

We recommend a good quality oil-based or water-based stain or exterior wood water sealant product. Always follow the manufacturer’s application and use instructions.

  • Semi-transparent stains are best for color. Paint or solid-color stains will show wear on frequently used pathways, such as on stairs or entryways. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and the advice of your local paint dealer for best results.
  • Apply a high-quality oil or water-based finish with UV protection to prevent the wood from turning gray from exposure to the sun.

How often should I apply a finish?

  • Most water repellent coating manufacturers recommend an annual application.

Topics covered in our 10-part series

Part 1. 10/28/21
AWPA Category uses of pressure treated wood and end tags explained


Part 2. 11/04/21
Common treated wood sizes in nominal and actual dimensions plus popular project plans

Part 3. 11/11/21
Hardware and installation tips including field treatment for end cuts
Part 4. 11/18/21Staining treated lumber

Part 4. 11/18/21
Staining Treated Wood

Part 5. 11/25/21
Care and maintenance


Part 6. 12/02/21
Tips for shoveling snow and ice removal on wood decks


Upcoming Topics

Part 7. 12/09/21
Safe handling

Part 8. 12/16/21
Research on treated wood used in raised garden beds

Part 9. 12/23/21
How wood is pressure treated

Part 10. 12/30/21
How to interview contractors and check references

If you have missed a topic or have suggestions for other treated wood related subjects, let us know.

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