Pressure treated wood may need painting and staining, depending on your project expectations. However, you need to work with dried lumber which leads to the question, how long does pressure treated wood take to dry?
As a rule of thumb, wait about 72 hours to one week for pressure treated wood to dry. But the longevity of this process depends on the humidity, temperature levels, and wood species.
We expect lumber from the shop will be kiln-dried. So, check the material for tags and marks or ask the hardware store staff if in doubt. Also, read this guide for more insight into the subject and avoid confusion.
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Importance of Working With Dry Pressure Treated Wood
Pressure treated wood is essential when constructing structures in wet or challenging environments. It has innate resistance against environmental hazards and pests.
Besides, wood is an invaluable building material. But it is prone to decay in specific scenarios, limiting its usefulness for multiple projects.
Areas susceptible to moisture that encourage bacteria and fungi growth do not accommodate natural wood products.
Moreover, environments harboring wood-boring insects significantly reduce untreated wood’s lifespan.
On the other hand, alternative building materials like concrete, steel, aluminum, and rock can work in the inhospitable locations above.
But they are complicated for beginners and more expensive.
Therefore, pressure treated wood comes in handy to combat natural wood limitations. It makes the lumber ideal for extreme environments.
Natural wood undergoes intense pressure during treatment. Further, the process forces air out of the lumber and infuses different chemical compounds deep into the grain.
Thus, the wood showcases superior protection from fungal growth, pest infestation, elements, and bacterial growth.
Further, pressure treated wood offers several unique benefits over untreated lumber. Check them out in detail.
Many fungus types attach themselves to lumber and grow even with the slightest moisture amount. They send their root structure deep into the wood, slowly decomposing it.
In addition, other wood-eating organisms, like bacteria and insects, can prey on this lumber. Hence, the wood will have a short useful life.
Fortunately, pressure treated lumber utilizes copper-based preservatives, such as copper azole or alkaline copper quaternary, to prevent fungal growth.
These compounds also provide insect resistance, allowing you to use the wood in consistently moist areas.
Besides, you can work on multiple above-ground and in-ground applications, like buried posts. And expect a durable project.
Untreated lumber softens when left in wet or moist areas. Moreover, it is vulnerable to bacteria, fungus, and other wood decomposing microorganisms.
Thankfully, pressure treated wood uses biocide, a copper-based preservative. This way, it stays safe from organisms thriving in moist environments.
You can use the lumber in various projects after treatment without worrying about water damage.
These applications include sill plates on potentially-moist concrete, decks constantly exposed to elements, and support posts for piers and docks.
Carpenter ants, powder post beetles, and termites pose a significant threat to wood structures. They easily bore through the material, weakening it.
Eventually, these organisms cause dangerous structural issues, especially for moist and exposed wood.
Nonetheless, copper ingredients in treated lumber deliver superior protection from insect damage.
In addition, borate and arsenic prevent insect activity. Thus, you can use pressure treated wood in insect-prone areas.
The pressure treatment provides a barrier protecting the lumber from insect damage.
Also, it discourages other nuisance insects like spiders and cockroaches from inhabiting your structure.
Fire damage is among the most dangerous threats to lumber-based buildings. Moreover, untreated wood increases the risk, causing severe damage when set alight.
However, the pressure treating process injects fire-retardant compounds. So, the lumber becomes fire damage resistant.
Better still, you’ll reduce the risk of wood catching fire. As a result, treated wood is a popular choice for structures in lifting-prone areas or near fireplaces.
Fire-retardant plywood is suitable for firewalls in semi-attached structures where flames can spread from one building to another.
Pressure treated wood is more expensive than natural lumber. The wood is also more affordable than traditional redwood.
Therefore, it is a perfect alternative for those with a tight budget.
Moreover, treated lumber is impressively durable, and you’ll not need any repair labor charge.
The wood is suitable for applications requiring fungal growth, microorganisms, insect damage, and water resistance.
In addition, you can use it for interior and exterior projects where steel would quickly corrode.
Treated lumber is more durable than natural wood. It survives even when exposed to consistent moisture or harsh elements.
The wood’s fungal and insect resistance also helps it to last longer.
Further, pressure treated wood is lighter than stone or concrete and, unlike steel, resists oxidation.
Variety of Sizes
Treated lumber comes in a wide size array to accommodate different applications.
For instance, it is available in the standard dimensional wood sizes, like twos by fours, two by tens, or twos by sixes.
Further, you will find it in square cross-sections, such as six by six, four by four, or round cross-sections.
The wood is ideal for building decks, piers, docks, utility poles, and lightning posts. And it is available as planking for siding, deck flooring, and other unique styles.
Ease of Use
Pressure treated wood is easy to cut using saws and fasteners like screws and nails penetrate easily.
Moreover, it is effortless to drill through the lumber, and you won’t struggle to shape it using a router.
The wood is lightweight and easier to maneuver than steel. Also, it does not need special techniques like welding to deliver a successful outcome.
Treated lumber is versatile and convenient for almost any project, from mounting a mailbox to constructing a full deck.
Besides, its resistance to insect infestations, water, and fungal growth guarantees a durable structure with minimal maintenance.
Finally, fire resistance varies, and the new treatment formulations are more eco-friendly than the earlier prototypes.
Saves Forest Resource
Treated wood’s longevity makes it environmentally friendly and safe. It also guarantees a reduced strain on forests as you cut down fewer trees.
Therefore, there is less need for deforestation.
Low-Maintenance and Repair Ease
Pressure treated lumber is termite, pest, and water resistant, protecting it from rot and water damage.
As a result, it requires significantly less maintenance to remain in good shape.
Further, repairing the wood is easy and inexpensive after drilling accidents or damage from children’s activities.
Can You Build With Wet Pressure Treated Wood?
You can build using wet, pressure treated wood. However, it isn’t a good idea unless you don’t mind shrinkage, cracks, and warps.
Besides, wet-treated lumber is heavier. Therefore, it contracts during drying, increasing warping and splintering.
The occurrence will also throw off your actual measurements for framing, decking, and fencing projects.
Lastly, you cannot stain pressure treated lumber immediately. You’ll have to let it dry completely to guarantee a long-lasting result.
How to Dry Pressure Treated Wood
We have two primary wood drying techniques: Kiln drying and air drying. Let’s inspect both strategies in detail to see their benefits and drawbacks.
Also, you will have a clearer picture of how to dry pressure treated wood.
This strategy is perhaps the fastest and most reliable. But it needs a large kiln to accommodate the lumber.
In addition, you’ll have to find a kiln-drying service if you do not have a homemade kiln.
Kiln-drying involves drying wood in a closed environment where humidity and temperatures are under control.
Further, controlling these variables allows wood moisture levels to come down to desired levels quickly and consistently.
While the process delivers speed and consistency over air-drying, it is more expensive. Thus, there is a trade-off between air and kiln-drying.
Also, you must decide how to utilize kiln-drying with different speeds, costs, and effort requirements.
Here are four ways to benefit from kiln-drying lumber.
Buy Kiln-Dried Pressure Treated Wood
This wood undergoes kiln-drying after pressure treatment. In addition, while it costs more than standard treated lumber, it saves time.
The lumber comes already dry. So, the method is most likely effective in every way.
Use a Kiln-Drying Service
Kiln-drying services dry treated lumber at a cost. But they come in handy if you bought standard pressure treated wood that needs drying as soon as possible.
Thankfully, the service is available in most areas. Hence, you’ll quickly find one by searching online.
Buying a Kiln
Purchasing a kiln is the most cost-effective strategy if you have to dry pressure treated wood regularly.
Moreover, a kiln can be expensive, so ensure you’ll need it for multiple projects before proceeding. Otherwise, you may end up dumping it in the store.
Building a Kiln
A kiln is a closed environment that allows you to control temperature and humidity. It is possible to build a kiln with some effort and time.
Besides, building a kiln is more cost-effective than buying one. It also allows you to customize the energy sources and the kiln’s size.
However, please learn the differences between various kiln types when using a kiln service, building, or buying this pottery oven.
Each category has strengths and weaknesses. So, let’s check what the kilns are and how they operate.
This kiln is similar to an oven. Its chamber is constantly at high temperatures to vaporize wood moisture.
But conventional kilns are highly inefficient in energy consumption.
The kiln dries lumber by circulating heated heat in the chamber. Further, the equipment is highly energy efficient, thanks to its ability to recycle heat.
Dehumidification kilns are popular with professional and amateur wood driers. They need almost no attention to dry the lumber without defects.
A solar kiln utilizes solar energy to dry the lumber. However, you’ll also need electrically powered fans to circulate air.
While too hot climates overdry the wood, freezing weather prevents the lumber from drying.
Thus, solar kilns are energy inefficient due to the fans’ power requirement.
This kiln takes advantage of water’s boiling point and atmospheric pressure. Therefore, it dries wood faster than any other kiln type.
Also, the kilns have small chambers and cost more to build and operate than other types.
We highly recommend kiln drying wood for quicker drying times and less warping risks.
Air drying dries wood purely by using airflow without additional heat sources. Further, the process involves letting the pressure treated wood stay outside to dry.
You do not need special equipment for the exercise. Hence, depending on the wood’s moisture content, it may take some time.
Stack the lumber and leave it to dry. Then, ensure equal airflow distribution to facilitate even drying and avoid warping.
Consider a criss-cross pattern when arranging the wood. And have extra padding between rows to expose all the lumber parts.
Also, while air-drying wood is cheaper than kilns, it offers less speed and consistency.
For instance, the air-drying speed depends on the environment’s temperature and how humid the pressure treated wood is from the supplier.
So, the process can take a week to a few months to dry completely.
Similarly, the air-drying consistency relies on distributing air evenly across all the wood parts.
Moreover, the exercise is not as easy as it sounds despite taking all the necessary steps.
Air drying pressure treated lumber is entirely possible. But although it guarantees no warping, woodworkers often face warping-related issues.
Besides, extreme weather conditions are beyond your control, leading to warping even after successful air-drying.
Therefore, we do not recommend air-drying pressure treated wood; it is the last resort.
The process also takes too much time, and the possibility of warping-related issues may compromise the project later.
Nonetheless, the above techniques will dry pressure treated lumber. Evaluate your budget and time constraints decide to decide the best technique.
How Do You Know Pressure Treated Wood Is Dry
Three primary ways to check whether treated wood is dry are by touch, applying the water test, and using the digital moisture meter.
Evaluate the wood with your eyes. Then, go over it with your hands to tell if the surface is dry.
Please remember to wear gloves for this test.
Alternatively, press a screw or nail into the lumber to check if water seeps around the fastener.
Sprinkle water on the pressure treated lumber. The material is dry if it absorbs the water droplets.
On the other hand, consider giving the wood more drying time if it is still water repellant.
Digital moisture met
Calibrate the device correctly and test two different spots. Then, get an average of the moisture content.
How to Make Pressure Treated Wood Dry Faster
Sometimes you want the treated lumber to dry faster to prevent mold and mildew growth.
The wood-eating organisms grow on wet wood, compromising its usefulness.
Besides, pressure treated wood is often wet after treatment. Therefore, you need to dry it before use.
Woodworkers use treated lumber for outdoor projects, exposing it to the elements.
Hence, speeding up the drying process keeps the wood from weather damage and rotting.
Moreover, pressure treated wood is susceptible to warping as it dries. So, it is advisable to dry it as soon as possible.
Warping occurs when the wood’s outer and inner layers dry at different rates. As a result, the material bends or twists.
Fortunately, you help reduce the warping amount by speeding up the drying process.
And here are a few tips to deliver properly dried pressure treated wood.
Stack the Wood Boards in a Well-Ventilated Area
This move ensures that the lumber dries evenly and prevents warps. In addition, it averts growing mold and mildew, keeping the wood in good shape.
Next, place the lumber on a level surface such as a driveway or concrete patio. Or use a tarp or other ground cover when stacking the wood on grass.
Let the Lumber Air Dry
Allow the wood to air dry after stacking. But remember, the drying time depends on the lumber’s thickness, weather conditions, and wood type.
For example, softwoods like redwood and cedar can air dry in two weeks, whereas hardwoods need several months.
Also, stacking the wood in a dry location away from direct sunlight helps it dry faster.
Consider placing a fan near the stack to circulate air around the lumber. However, ensure the fan does not blow directly on the wood. Otherwise, it will warp.
Alternatively, position a dehumidifier near the stack to remove moisture from the air. This way, the wood dries faster.
Move the Wood to a Kiln
Kiln drying pressure treated wood is a faster lumber drying technique. It involves using heat to speed up water evaporation from the lumber.
Further, heated air circulates the wood in a chamber and speeds up the evaporation rate.
Kiln dried wood is ideal for construction applications where the lumber experiences high moisture levels, such as docks and decks.
This lumber is also excellent for projects requiring a faster turnaround time, like furniture making.
You will need to buy a kiln to use this technique. Fortunately, we have small and large options to accommodate various tasks.
In addition, the kiln size depends on the lumber amount you want to dry.
Set the kiln according to the manufacturer’s directives and vent it properly to minimize fire hazards.
Next, lay the wood in the kiln and turn on the heat. The temperature should be between 130-140 degrees Fahrenheit.
Keep the lumber in the kiln for about 30 to 60 minutes per board foot. Then, turn off the heat and let the wood cool in the pottery oven.
Finally, remove the material from the kiln and use it for your work.
Use a Heat Gun to Speed Up Drying
You can use a heat gun in the absence of a kiln or access to one. However, set it on a lower setting to avoid overheating the wood.
Place the lumber on a heat-resistance surface and hold the heating device six inches away. Also, move it round to distribute the heat evenly.
Lately, check the wood periodically to ensure it does not get too hot or dry too quickly.
Allow the Treated Lumber to Season
Seasoning slowly dries the wood and helps it become more stable. Further, you can achieve it by stacking the lumber in a well-ventilated location away from direct sunlight.
Cover the material on top and sides to preserve it from elements. And leave the bottom open to allow air circulation.
The process may even need months, depending on the board’s size. Therefore, patience comes in handy.
Here’s a Video On How to Dry Wood Faster:
How to Dry Pressure Treated Wood Without Warping
Stack pressure treated wood and leave it to dry. This way, all the lumber parts dry evenly without warping.
Further, pressure treated lumber is notorious for warping and bowing.
The manufacturer treats the wood by dunking it into chemicals and applying pressure to force them in.
Therefore, the material will generally arrive at the hardware or lumberyard in a wet condition.
In addition, wet wood warps very fast. So, check out a few instructions to dry the wood without warping.
Avoid Drying Out Wood Boards
Pressure treated lumber is heavier than untreated or regular wood. Besides, the treatment process submerges the material in a liquid preservative.
Hence, although the exact moisture content varies, the treated material features a higher water level.
Work with the lumber before it dries. Then, secure it in place while still damp.
This way, the wood will dry straight and not warp.
Clamp the Wood
Clamp the material to a workbench and let it dry there.
However, this tip works best when you only need a small lumber amount. Or if you could not use damp lumber.
Use Screws, Not Nails
Use screws when the wood dries and warps. Also, please note that nails produce a lot of force., making them an unsuitable option.
In addition, the force is very insufficient to raise screws. So, they will help the wood dry straight.
Seal Up the Cut Ends
The pressure treatment process forces preservatives into the wood’s outer layers.
Further, you observe a darker chemical saturation band and expose a lighter portion after cutting the wood.
So, buy an end-cut solution and paint it to the newly-exposed part. This way, you will seal and preserve the cut area.
Precautions When Handling Pressure Treated Wood
Pressure treated lumber possesses harmful chemicals. Hence, always handle it properly to ensure safety.
Follow the safe practices below when working with the wood.
Also, remember that specific work instructions vary depending on the safety requirements of individual projects and the environment.
Use a Dust Mask
Sawdust can get into your lungs during wood sanding or cutting. Moreover, pressure treated lumber dust is more dangerous as it contains harmful chemicals.
Thus, keep the sawdust out of your lungs at all costs.
Disposable dust masks are perfect. Only ensure that they fit correctly over your mouth and nose.
Gloves protect your hands and help to avoid higher-than-normal exposure to the wood’s chemicals.
This protective gear is essential as the treated wood may still be wet after purchase. Thus, you’d get exposed to the excess liquid in the lumber.
Consider getting sturdy leather work gloves. They offer superior protection and are long-lasting.
Finally, always wash your hands after handling pressure treated wood.
Wear Long Sleeves and Pants
Sawdust and wood chips tend to get everywhere, even on your skin. Further, this scenario causes excess exposure to the chemicals in the lumber.
Wash garments used in the project separately from others when done working.
Cut and Sand Outside
It is prudent to cut or sand pressure treated wood outside.
This way, you prevent sawdust from settling on interior surfaces, leading to more prolonged exposure.
In addition, stay upwind of your work if possible. It ensures the sawdust blows away instead of getting all over you.
Dispose of Scraps Properly
Sweep up the wood chips and sawdust when done with the project. And throw wood scraps into the wood trash.
Alternatively, take treated wood scraps to the municipal landfill for safer disposal.
Also, please avoid using pressure treated sawdust as mulch and never burn treated lumber. Sweep carefully, bag the wood, and send it to the landfill.
How to Store Pressure Treated Wood
Pressure treated wood does not pose health risks when appropriately handled. In addition, most safety rules for using untreated lumber apply for safe use.
Unload pressure treated wood in a dry place, not muddy or wet areas. Then, elevate it on stringers to prevent ground moisture absorption.
Further, stack it in criss-cross patterns to allow air circulation.
Please avoid storing treated wood in direct contact with the ground. And cover it when in an open area.
This way, you protect it from ground moisture and the elements.
Also, check out the storage instructions below to keep the wood safe and ready for the next project.
- Ensure the wood boards are in a dry place, not a humid area.
- Position the lumber and stickers of a similar size and thickness on the same stack.
- Place the stickers vertically and align them on a flat wood surface.
- Allow enough space between the stacks to facilitate enough ventilation.
- Lay the wood pile on flat foundations.
- Cover the lumber to seal it from vapor.
- Put weights on the piles to prevent cupping.
Should I Let Pressure Treated Wood Dry Before Installing?
Woodworking enthusiasts have varying opinions concerning letting treated lumber dry before installation.
The primary argument for installing the wood before drying applies to those not planning on kiln drying it.
In addition, some wood enthusiasts do not want to wait for the long air-drying process.
Thus, they believe you’ll get better results after installing damp wood. Then, let it dry naturally while already in place.
On the other hand, the argument against installing wet treated wood is shrinkage and warping.
Wet wood shrinks and warps with uneven drying, resulting in a ruined project.
Nonetheless, wait for pressure treated wood to dry before installation.
This way, wood warping, and shrinking does not render your effort and time useless.
Further, paint or stain will not stick to the surface properly if you apply them too soon.
As a result, the finish will appear blotchy and wear out very quickly.
Lastly, use the sprinkle test to confirm the lumber is dry enough for staining, painting, or installation.
Splash water drops on the surface. Then, evaluate if the wood absorbs it before proceeding to the next step.
Can I Leave Pressure Treated Wood in the Rain?
It is not advisable to leave pressure treated wood under the rain.
Otherwise, you’ll need to re-dry it before painting or starting your framing or deck construction project.
However, it is okay for pressure treated picnic tables and deck boards to get rained on.
Besides, the structures often have a waterproof top coat to protect them from excess moisture.
Although the compounds in pressure treated wood resist insects and prevent rot, they do not prevent water from seeping into the lumber.
Water can seep into the deck boards and cause them to swell. Then, they will later shrink when drying in the sun, distorting the original measurements.
Rain adds moisture to the lumber and interferes with stain or paint absorption. So, begin the staining process about 24 hours after the rain stops.
Frequently Asked Questions
The questions include:
Does Pressure-Treated Wood Get Wet?
Treated lumber can get wet when exposed to the elements. But it will remain unharmed, thanks to the preservatives fighting moisture and insects.
However, the wood can only absorb so much moisture. Therefore, please avoid having it in excessively wet areas.
In addition, wood expands when wet and contracts during drying. These movements cause cracking, warping and splinting.
How Much Does Treated Lumber Shrink?
Pressure treated boards shrink about a quarter inch after installation. Moreover, 1×6 pickets shrink a little less than half an inch.
Thus, fasten the board as tight as possible.
Standard pressure treated wood does not shrink evenly along all dimensions.
A more significant shrinkage percentage occurs across the grain’s face.
Therefore, ensure that air circulates evenly during wood drying.
Can I Build a Deck With Wet Pressure Treated Wood?
You can build decks with wet-treated lumber, albeit there will be some drawbacks. For instance, wet wood is more slippery, making cutting difficult.
A slippery deck may also lead to accidents for those walking on it.
Further, moisture makes the deck susceptible to cracks, warps, and shrinkage, shortening its life span.
Rot is another issue associated with using wet, pressure treated wood. Also, fungi quickly grow on wet wood and compromise its integrity.
Can I Use Pressure Treated Lumber Indoors?
Treated wood is suitable for outdoor and indoor projects. It is also reliable and resists rot and insects, guaranteeing a long life span.
But we have a few dangers of using pressure treated wood indoors.
For example, it is highly flammable because of the chemicals therein. So, it is wise to avoid flame sources like candles and stoves.
Chemicals may also escape from splinters as you work. And leaches may occur for wood engulfed in soil.
Handling treated wood indoors increases the chances of breathing in sawdust.
Therefore, please avoid using the lumber indoors or in projects with people or animal contact.
However, there is no evidence that pressure treated wood compromises indoor air quality.
In addition, this lumber is perfect for house structures when used correctly.
Alternatively, you can buy borate-treated or micronized wood.
It is safe for indoor applications as the compounds are naturally occurring minerals.
The wood protects the structure against fungi, rot, and termites.
Finally, borate-treated wood is suitable for studs, interior trim, joists, trusses, rafters, and sill plates.
It also comes in handy during structural framing and furring strips.
Is Treated Lumber Water Resistant?
Pressure treated lumber is not water resistant. Moreover, it does not give a waterproof surface for your project.
After treatment, the wood only becomes durable and resistant to fungal decay and splitting.
Therefore, you’ll have to seal the surface using a semi-transparent stain or oil penetrating formula.
Alternatively, use a non-emulsifying waterproofing product for wood in high condensation and humidity climates or facing ongoing ground moisture exposure.
How Long Do I Wait Before Waterproofing Treated Lumber?
Wait about 30 days before sealing or waterproofing pressure treated wood.
Further, the chemicals used in the treatment process need time to infuse the lumber properly.
Rushing to seal the surface may lead to poor formula absorption, compromising the project’s quality.
So, use the sprinkler test to confirm the lumber is ready for waterproofing.
The wood is dry if it absorbs the water drops, whereas it needs more time if the surface forms bubbles.
Knowing how long pressure-treated wood needs to dry before usage is essential. This way, you can surpass confusion and adapt your decisions accordingly.
Let’s engage in the topic below for more clarification:
How Long Does Pressure Treated Wood Take to Dry?
Pressure treated wood needs 72 hours to dry. However, this duration varies depending on the temperature and humidity levels.
In addition, the chosen lumber drying strategy determines the duration needed.