How to Dry Pressure Treated Wood – 2 Effective Ways

When constructing or building outdoors, pressure-treated wood is often seen as the ideal choice due to its sturdiness and resistance to decay and insects. To attain optimal results, it is imperative to properly season the wood. In this guide, we’ll integrate an in-depth examination of the most effectual ways on how to dry pressure treated wood:

To dry pressure-treated wood, one must utilize either kiln-drying or air-drying. The former allows for rapid and consistent moisture removal as a controlled environment is used, such as in a kiln, and the latter comprises of storing the wood outdoors so that natural drying can take place over the course of several weeks.

To build a dependable and lasting project, you will have to dry the wet pressure treated wood with either kiln- or air-drying. In this guide, we will examine the benefits and drawbacks of both procedures, plus give some useful tips on when the timber is prepared for use. Prepare yourself to discover all that you need to know about drying preserved wood for your forthcoming endeavor!

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What Is Pressure Treated Wood

How to Dry Pressure Treated Wood - 2 Effective Ways - The difference between pressure treated wood vs untreated wood
The difference between pressure treated wood vs untreated wood

Pressure treating timber (preserved wood) is when the wood is specially reinforced with certain chemicals in order to counter decay, decomposition and damage caused by insects like termites. The preservatives are driven into the wood fibres with immense pressure to ensure they are effectively absorbed by the wood, making this type of timber suitable for exterior applications and settings vulnerable to moisture or infestations.

To go deeper into detail and discover more information, I suggest you should read my main article about this topic here

Should You Let preserved wood Dry Before Installing or Building?

Installing preserved wood before it has a chance to dry out can be a risky proposition, which explains why there are conflicting views both in favor of, and opposed to, this practice.

For woodworking professionals who don’t intend to kiln-dry their wood, the primary argument for putting in preserved wood before it is dry becomes more significant. Those passionate about their craft find that the best solution is to install the wood while it’s still damp and let it dry naturally once in place – bypassing the lengthy process of air-drying pressure treated wood.

The case against setting up preserved wood before it is totally dry is that warpage and shrinkage due to uneven drying may occur. If the wet wood shrinks and/or warps unequally as it dries, your endeavor could be destroyed when the lumber fully dries.

I believe it’s best if you dry your preserved wood out for a while before proceeding with the installation, as any shrinkage or warping afterwards could be devastating after investing so much time in the project.

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How to dry pressure treated wood

You can dry pressure-treated wood with either kiln-drying or air-drying. both ways employing distinct approaches to achieve the same result. I will show you the differences between kiln drying vs air drying below

Kiln Dried Pressure Treated wood

Kiln-drying is a method of lumber drying that involves a monitored environment. This setting generally exists as an enclosed space which allows for the control of temperature and humidity with the objective of achieving an expected moisture level in the wood. The key benefit of kiln-drying is that it offers faster and more reliable results when compared to air-drying due to the managed climate, allowing wood to dry more productively and uniformly.

When it comes to the question of whether kiln-drying or air-drying is more suitable for one’s wood, it is essential to weigh up the pros and cons of each technique. Kiln-drying enables a more speedy and efficient result with greater uniformity, yet this come at an increased financial cost compared to air-drying. Thus, there exists a trade-off between budget and speed in this decision.

How to Dry Pressure Treated Wood
Drying wood in a kilnPicture by kiln-direct.com

Kiln-drying offers numerous possibilities to meet individual requirements and financial constraints. An advantageous choice might be to buy Kiln-Dried After Treatment (KDAT) preserved wood, which incurs a higher cost than regular lumber that is treated but also eliminates the necessity of manually drying the timber.

If you have already purchased regular preserved wood that must be dried quickly, you can opt for a kiln-drying service. This paid service is common and easily found online; it will expertly dry your wood in no time.

If you often need to dry preserved wood, investing in a kiln could be a worthwhile cost-effective solution over time. However, it’s crucial to bear in mind that you should only purchase one if you’ll get enough use out of it to make the investment worthwhile.

By dedicating time and effort, you have the ability to construct your own kiln. Kiln is nothing but an enclosed environment that permits management of temperature and humidity. This choice gives you the advantage of adapting the size and energy utilized for your kiln, making it generally more cost-effective than purchasing one.

When selecting a kiln-drying service, purchasing a kiln, or constructing one yourself, it is essential to assess the various types of kilns available. The primary four kinds include conventional kilns, dehumidification kilns, solar kilns, and vacuum kilns. Each kind has its own distinct benefits and drawbacks; thus, it is essential to comprehend these contrasts before settling on any choice.

Conventional kilns, much like ovens, require intense heat to evaporate water from the lumber, resulting in a large amount of energy being consumed. In contrast, dehumidification kilns work by circulating heated air in their chambers, which not only decreases energy consumption but also makes them simpler to use; it is little wonder they are favored among professional and amateur wood-dryers alike.

Solar kilns rely on solar energy to dry wood, but they must also be equipped with electrically powered fans to move air around. Unfortunately, they are highly inconsistent and take a prolonged period of time to complete the process.

Vacuum kilns, in contrast, make use of the link between atmospheric pressure and boiling point of water for functioning, resulting in much faster drying times. Nevertheless, these models boast small chambers and tend to be pricier than other kinds of kilns both in terms of construction and usage.

Let pressure treated wood Dry to the air

Air-drying is the process of drying wood purely by using airflow, with no additional heat sources in play.

To properly air-dry preserved wood, stack them in a criss-cross pattern with additional padding between rows. This ensures that all parts of the wood will be exposed to equally distributed airflow, preventing warping.

How to Dry Pressure Treated Wood
Drying wood in a well ventilated place

Air-drying is a more economical option than drying the wood with a kiln, yet it lacks consistency and is time-consuming. The speed of air-drying hinges on the moisture content of the preserved wood and the atmospheric temperature, taking between a mere seven days to multiple months.

The success of the air-drying technique depends on ensuring uniform dispersal of air around the wood, a task that can prove challenging even when all precautions are taken.

Though air-drying treated wood is entirely feasible without any warping, many woodworking fans may experience distorting issues after the air-drying procedure due to uncontrollable elements. Given the potential for warping issues and the length of time it could take, opting for air-drying your preserved wood should be used as a last resort.

How Long Does It Take for Pressure Treated Lumber to Dry?

It is impossible to accurately estimate the drying time for pressure-treated lumber due to the various factors affecting it, like humidity levels of the wood, the drying method used, and the type of material. Therefore, any statement generated without knowing these elements would be inconclusive.

Despite that, usually the minimum amount of time necessary to dry PT (pressure treated) wood by either kiln or air-drying is at least a month if the timber has not already been drying for some time.

How Do you know When Pressure-Treated Wood is Dry?

Discovering if this type of lumber is dry so you can start using it can be accomplished in three ways: by feeling it, through the clean water test, or utilizing a digital moisture meter.

Touch test

A first check up is by examine the wood visually and manually to check if it’s dry. Afterwards, it should be obvious if the wood is still moist.

Water test

Next, you can do the water test. The water test is by simply spraying water onto the wood. If the water is absorbed into the wood or board, it has been dried adequately for painting or staining this type of timber. However, if the water beads on the surface, it is still too wet.

How to Dry Pressure Treated Wood - 2 Effective Ways - If the water is absorbed into the wood, it has been dried adequately
If the water is absorbed into the wood, it has been dried adequately

Digital moisture Meter Test

Using a moisture meter, it is easy to accurately gauge the humidity in timber. To use the meter, begin by setting the apparatus to measure wood and check the calibration of the device.

Then, insert the two prongs into different areas of the timber. Push them at least an inch into the wood, ensuring that they are completely submerged. Once all components are functioning correctly, run the test twice in separate areas of the wood to get a mean value for humidity level of the material.

This will give you a more accurate reading than if you only ran it once. After obtaining your readings, record them and compare them against suggested values for that type of wood and its intended purpose.

If any discrepancies are seen between your results and what is indicated as normal humidity levels then further investigation may be needed to identify potential causes of any unbalance.

Moisture meters are available in two different types: pin type moisture meters and pinless moisture meters, who doesn’t damage the wood surface.

Below you can find the best one on the market for each type. If you want to see more meters of the pin type, go to my article Top 5 Best Moisture Meters On The Market: The Ultimate Buying Guide. There you will find more information about this type and the 5 best ones to choose from.

If you prefer a pinless moisture meter, I recommend you to go to my article The 5 Best Pinless Moisture Meters For Your DIY Projects (Expert Tips)

How to dry pressure treated wood fast

To dry pressure-treated wood, you could see the steps above. However, for drying wood to air, you can speed up the process.

To dry preserved wood quickly, follow these steps:

  1. Stack the wood in a well-ventilated area with good air circulation.
  2. Space the boards apart to allow air to circulate freely and to prevent warping.
  3. Cover the stack with a waterproof tarp or plastic sheeting to protect it from rain.
  4. To dry preserved wood faster, Use fans to increase air flow and speed up the drying process.
  5. Wait for at least two weeks or until the moisture content of the wood has dropped to an acceptable level (below 20%).

It’s important to note that the drying time of preserved wood can vary depending on the species, thickness, and initial moisture content of the wood, as well as the conditions in which it is stored.

What Happens if You Stain or Paint Pressure Treated Wood Too Soon?

Applying wood stain or paint to preserved wood before it has had adequate time to age can result in a poor application, with the coating not adhering properly and rapidly wearing out. The overall look of the wood will be unsatisfactory.

To determine whether your wood is prepared for staining or painting, you can follow the water sprinkle test outlined above.

To determine if wood is ready for staining or painting, simply apply several drops of water and wait to see if they’re promptly absorbed. If absorption doesn’t take place in a reasonable amount of time, then the wood isn’t yet prepared.

How to dry pressure treated wood – Final thoughts

Concluding, drying preserved wood is an essential part of guaranteeing the durability and stability of your wooden creations. Whether through air-drying, kiln-drying, or a mixture of both approaches, it is critical to grasp the drying time and various ways to determine if the wood is sufficiently dry – thus avoiding any staining or painting problems that can arise from premature application.

I hope this article sheds light on how to dry pressure treated wood and different techniques available. By adhering to these steps and guidelines, you’ll be able to effectively dry your preserved wood for a stunning and solid end product.

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