Can I Paint Exterior Wood, or Will it Cause It to Hold Moisture - and Rot?
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Can I Paint Exterior Wood, or Will it Cause It to Hold Moisture – and Rot?

  • Applying protective varnish on a patio wooden floor
  • Transcript

    LESLIE: Beverly in Missouri, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?

    BEVERLY: Well, I have a house that was built just a year-and-a-half ago and has a covered patio. And my builder put cedar posts out there. The rest of my trim is all white. So I wanted to cover or paint the cedar but he’s telling me I can’t do it because I’ll rot them out. And I – that doesn’t sound right to me but I’m not sure.

    TOM: So, what would you – in a perfect world, Beverly, what would you like to see on those cedar posts? Would you like them to be white and match the rest of the house?

    BEVERLY: Yeah. All of my trim is white and so I would rather them be white. They’re a year-and-a-half old now, so they’re starting to turn this cedar look and get all dark.

    TOM: Right. Are they kind of decorative?

    BEVERLY: No.

    TOM: OK. See, here’s what I would do. The first thing I would – I’m going to recommend a staining process. So, the first thing you’re going to do is prime the cedar with an oil-based primer or a solvent-based primer. And then you’re going to stain the wood, and I would use a solid-color stain. And the solid-color stain is not going to look like paint, so it won’t tend to peel; it’ll fade over time. But it’ll soak in really nicely. And you can get a white stain – a solid, white stain – and it’ll look quite attractive.

    Painting wood does not cause it to rot; it prevents it from rotting.

    LESLIE: It just requires a lot of repainting.

    BEVERLY: Yeah. I mean he said if I covered it or painted them, that it causes the moisture to hold to the base and then they rot.

    TOM: I would disagree with that. I think if you stain them, you’ll find that they’re quite attractive and that the moisture will wick in and out just fine.

    BEVERLY: Good. Thank you so much. I really appreciate this.

    TOM: Good luck with that project. You’re very welcome.

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