Which is best choice? Contractor says pressure treated pine does not hold paint because it might still be wet. He prefers primed and painted yellow pine. This is for a rental. On my home I live in, I have seen the untreated Yellow Pine (fascia) fail in <8 years even though it was primed both sides with Kilz. 19 years ago I had treated pine 1x4 trim installed and painted and still is good. Oil base primer will be used regardless. Is there a pressure treated 1x4 spec. or brand that is more dry & paint friendly? This is Houston so high heat & humidity and lots of rain.

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    I think the contractor knows what he's talking about ... pressure treated wood needs to dry for weeks or even months to be reliably paintable.
    – William S.
    Mar 28, 2015 at 15:29
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    You will be much happier with the yellow pine. 'Pressure Treating,is a very generic term - there are many ways to do it. The pressure treating process is designed to pull the treatment chemicals into the wood. Paint will do its best to stick to the stuff, but will never do a great job. Getting paint to stick to wood and the treatment chemicals (likely containing copper) is a challenge. The yellow pine will absorb paint, the pressure treated lumber will tolerate it.
    – Some Guy
    Mar 28, 2015 at 16:31

5 Answers 5


I think there is some confusion going on, pressure treated lumber for ground contact and yard / deck use is a completely different animal than the pressure treated radiata pine product that is used for trim, fascia, and barge rafters. This material is kiln dried and as a contractor since 1989 and a carpenter since 1978 the pressure treated resawn pine is used 80% of the time and is sold in all lumber yards including home depot and lowes. It is expensive but comes with a heavy prime that seems to be infused into the wood, no knots, and is rot and mildew resistant, very straight and does not shrink, split or warp. All the large lumber companies have their own brand name for this product. Its probably not used on some lower end tract homes because of its cost, but in the long run it is more stable than the clear resawn cedar and redwood we used to be able to use.(even in the 70's almost clear redwood 2x8's were extremely expensive, and they were usually somewhat wet so they would change a bit over time).

  • Thanks logrythm, yours is the correct answer. Specifically, #1 treated pine, kiln dried is the best choice. My Lowes and HD do not carry the kiln dried treated pine that you speak of but plenty of lumber yards do. I found my contractor from 19 years ago and he filled me in on what he'd used. It is not "wet" and does not need to dry like many of these posts say. There is definitely confusion about the #2 PT wood that is dripping wet and won't hold paint. YP can fail early as I pointed out in my original question. And it was in the middle of 12'-16' boards, not just the ends or edges.
    – Steve
    Jul 18, 2016 at 4:16

The pressure treated material will need to set unpainted for about 6 months. Not only is it excessively wet from the treatment process, it will leach some of the treatment through the surface for a time. In essence giving no surface the primer or paint to grip on. There may be water based stains that will work, but no opaque paints, especially oil based.

The yellow pine will be your best choice between the 2. If it is affordable there are other choices too. Yellow pine needs to be fastened on place really securely. If it wants to move it will. You will need to prime it on all sides before cutting, let it dry, and prime the cuts before securing it in place. This will keep the material a little more stable, less prone to rotting in exposed conditions.

  • There are lumber yards that sell kiln dried PT wood. I would go this way.
    – DMoore
    Mar 28, 2015 at 16:02
  • I have seen those products, as a word of caution, do you think the treatment that is through out the wood, and on the surface without a chance to weather off, be enough of a problem for the paint to adhere?
    – Jack
    Mar 28, 2015 at 16:37
  • I have painted them. The lumber yard near me sells them at about 1.5 cost of the PT but they are paintable straight away, and I have had less warping isssues.
    – DMoore
    Mar 28, 2015 at 23:50

I don't think pressure treated wood should ever be painted. It just never works in the long run, no matter how long it stands in the open unfinished. PT wood has high amounts of metal and mineral salts in it that will always retain moisture from the surrounding air. It will always be wetter and change size more dramatically through wetting and drying cycles than plain-old untreated wood will be.

Just get the straightest grained knot free untreated 1x boards that you can find and afford, paint them, and use those. More important for the life of wood trim than the specific material it is made of and the paint put over it is the design and geometry of the trim work and the quality of its installation. Is the trim drained properly? Can it dry out quickly after rain? Is it nailed properly? Is it fitted nice and tightly? These details matter the most. I can elaborate on them if you'd like. I've worked on many old homes with 100% wood exteriors and I've seen what works and what doesn't.


I totally disagree with the general statement that pressure treated wood should never be painted;

It depends on which pressure treatment (Copper Azole) one is talking about and perhaps wood type as stated by another commenter.

I have pressure treated posts that were primed and painted. The result was indistinguishable from the untreated fence panels. Also a deck with much pressure treated wood painted 15 years ago, and only now in need of repainting. Much of the pressure treated lumber at HD are air-dried, and paintable.

And if you have some money buy Boral Trim - pre-primed, paintable and looks 100x better than pressure treated lumber.


If all sides..edges..and ends of untreated wood are painted correctly..with high end acrylic latex..or Kilz/Kilz 2..Zinser..2 coats..and exposed areas are repainted before issues arise..that board may never rot.

If you call yourself "painting"..leaving bare places..just changing color of ends/not adding paint until it stops soaking in ..dry brushing..not caulking or filling ALL holes..if there's a place for water to get to the wood..and rotting starts..its not the fault of wood type..its the painters fault.

I suppose you could pay to get high end treated. If you're paying like that..I would use PVC or cement trim. Any treated you buy from most anywhere..may not be consistent. Paint/stain..might stick..it might not. When paint peels partially..it shows those places..even with 20 coats of paint applied. You will put a lot of time and money into an attempt to hide stuff like that. There's a good chance of that happening. Even if it only affects 1 out of 5 boards..it don't look good. That wont happen to properly painted and maintained untreated wood.

That treated has more potential to twist or split. May as well use treated trusses..so ends don't rot..or sheeting behind siding.

I'm not sure that you painted the untreated correctly..or as good as you think. Oil based Kilz is not typically used as an exterior primer. Its close to the cheapest primer..and its better for blocking/covering stains. Its rarely used inside or out to prime bare wood for new construction. I wont say never..because you did it.


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