Paint or stain on PT Deck rails?
What is your experience on paint vs. stain on deck railing made from Pressure Treated materials? While mostly vertical surface, the lower rail is flat on top, so it is possible some water will stand on it. Top rail is mahogony, so it will not be painted or stained.
And do you suggest immediate covering, or waiting. Wood was mostly pretty dry when installed.
Thanks in advance.
Pressure treated lumber is processed a few different ways. The soaking wet, heavy as h*ll pt lumber that fits the more stringent budgets is kiln dried then treated and shipped right out to the lumber yard, still dripping wet. This lower quality ptl MUST dry out for several months before any sort of treatment can be applied to it, be it sealer, stain or paint. Its a bear to work with and will twist and crack durring the drying period. It might seem dry by the time it makes it to the job sight but it's still wet at the core. If you're not sure, let it dry a couple of months to be safe.
The better quality will be kiln dried, pressure treated, then kiln dried again before it is shipped out. This lumber is more stable and can be treated with a finish product right away.
The highest quality is the same as the better quality but is also sealed at the plant before shippping out. This one can also accept a finish right away.
I always recomend stain over paint because paint is a maintainence nightmare. Paint peels, stain doesn't. To repaint every few years means scraping and porches are no cake walk when it comes to scraping. Stain on the other hand can be refreshed every few years by simply applying a coat or two (recomended). If the old coat is flaking off a little just go over it with a course scrub pad, like the kind you use to clean the grill. Dont use steel wool. It might leave bits that will cause rust spots. For traffic surfaces use DECK stain (as opposed to regular exterior stain. It's more durable, has more varnish in it. I'd personally use it for the whole project.
If you decide to go with paint you should use it as the primer as well. Thin it down 50% thinner and 50% paint. let it dry and scuff sand between coats. Two coats (not thinned) on top of the primer, high quality paint, should last a long time.
What ever the case, I'm of the old school of thought that any thing exterior should be oil based. Don't use latex anything.