When you’re in a rush to paint onto green wood, then waiting for that wood to dry feels like… well, it feels like watching paint dry.
It can take anywhere from a few days, (up to a few months), for wood to dry properly. It is something that we discuss further here: How Long Does It Take Wood To Dry.
But do you really need to wait? Can you paint green wood?
Yes, but only if you prime the surface of the green wood before you start painting it. Applying a stain-blocking primer undercoat makes it easier for the paint to adhere to the surface.
However, applying the right kind of primer to green wood is important. As green wood starts to age, all of those natural tree oils can wreck the paint job later on.
So, lets look a little bit more into why you need to use a primer first. And we will also explain what kind of primer you should use on green wood:
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How Do You Paint Fresh Cut Green Wood?
You will need to apply a coat of primer to fresh bare wood before you start to paint it.
Moreover, you will want to use a stain-blocking primer to prevent issues later on with discoloration.
You see, as green wood starts to dry, overtime the tree oils seeping up out of the wood will start to spoil and discolor the paint. And stain-blocking primer is designed to stop this from happening.
Applying a coat of stain-blocking primer, such as KILZ Premium High-Hide Stain Blocking Primer/Sealer, is the best way to prevent this from happening.
Once you’ve applied primer, you need to give it time to fully dry before you start painting. If you are using KILZ Premium, this will take around 1 hour per primer coat.
Can You Paint Wet Wood?
That depends on what you mean by the term ‘wet’.
Painting onto wet wood is an altogether different kind of animal than simply painting onto green wood.
Green wood is a term that refers to the natural moisture content contained inside lumber.
Freshly cut wood has 100% MC (moisture content). The process of drying wood (called ‘Seasoning’ wood) tries to get that moisture content down to below 20%.
To put it simply, green wood feels damp (not soaking wet) to the touch.
If you want to learn more about seasoned wood (and a few tips and tricks to speeding up the process of drying wood) click here to check out the post: How To Season Wood (7 Great Tips!)
Now, on the other hand, things are a bit different if the wood is all but swimming with water.
Lets, for the sake of argument, say that you’ve just been soaking the wood in water to try and soften it up a bit.
If this is the case, you should give that very wet wood a bit of time to dry out to at least ‘damp wood’ levels before you start painting it.
Why would you soak wood in water? To soften it up for carving, or to make it more pliable for wood bending. To learn more about how to soften wood, click here to read: How To Soften Wood For Carving
Can You Paint Green Treated Wood?
Well, once wood has been pressure-treated, it is no longer classed as ‘green’ wood.
Pressure-treated lumber, after having undergone its rot-resistant chemical treatment, will end up with an MC (moisture content) level that is lower than green wood.
Most treated wood will have an MC level ranging between 35% to 75% (compared to green woods 100% level).
And if the treated wood is tagged with a KDAT stamp (Kiln Dried After Treatment), then it will typically have an MC level of 19% or lower.
Now generally you will want to allow pressure treated wood to dry before you start painting it.
But, you can go ahead and apply an primer undercoat and start painting onto KDAT treated wood right away.
Would you prefer to wait for your treated wood board to dry first (but don’t want to wait too long?). If that is the case, then click here to read: How To Dry Pressure Treated Wood (Quickly And Without Warping).
Can You Stain Green Wood?
No, oil and water don’t mix.
Wood stains are oil-based, and trying to get stain to bind to a damp wood surface is a fools errand. The staining oil will just end up becoming all thinned out due to the woods high moisture level.
And if you plan on staining wood that will be exposed to outside elements, then it will wash off at the first sign of rain.
If you want to apply a stain finish to green wood, then you are much better off waiting for the wood to properly dry before starting work.
So, do you have to wait for fresh wood to fully dry before you start painting? No, you don’t! You can get to work sooner rather than later, provided that you prepare the right way;
- Prime the surface of the green wood before painting.
- Make sure you are using a stain-blocking primer product.
- And give the primer at least 1 hour to dry before you start painting.