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I recently built a fence from white cedar (pickets) and pressure-treated pine (posts and rails). I have been told that I need to wait before painting or staining the fence in order to give the cedar oil and treatment a chance to dry out, but how long should I wait? (People have told me everything from a few weeks up to a year.)

Is it best to stain or paint? If I paint, should I use a primer first, or can I go ahead with the first coat of paint? Should the pressure-treated pine be oiled or treated in some way before staining or painting?

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I don't know about the cedar, but I built a screened porch a few years ago using standard PT lumber for posts and railings and painted it with a coat of primer and a coat of exterior latex pretty much as soon as it no longer appeared damp. Of course the 6X6 posts had been up and drying for a while at that point, probably 6 months or so. The railings were installed last and were probably only up for 2 or 3 weeks when they were painted. When we moved from that house earlier this year there were no problems with the paint, and that was after about 2 years.

Interestingly, the only paint-related issue we had was some peeling on the existing deck railings, about 4 years old and never painted at that point, that I painted at the same time to match the new railings around the porch. I have no idea what caused it, but I can say that I didn't prepare this older wood at all and it probably could have used at least a good pressure washing prior to painting.

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I've heard to wait a year for it to fully dry out (so you could stain it next summer). I've also heard that you should never paint treated wood, and only use stains specifically designed for treated wood.

I would talk to the guys at your local paint specialty store though as they would probably know a lot more about that than anyone and be able to tailor their advice to your specific locality (cold winters? hot summers? near salt water? etc.)

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