So you’re staring at that leftover gallon of masonry paint from your recent stucco job and wondering – can I use this on my wooden fence? Or maybe you scored a great deal on acrylic masonry paint and want to repaint your backyard deck.
It’s a fair question. After all, paint is paint…right?
Well, not so fast. While it may seem harmless to slap some of that heavy-duty masonry paint onto your exterior wood surfaces, doing so without understanding the implications could end up being a sloppy mess – literally.
Masonry paints are formulated specifically for use on stone, concrete, stucco, and brick. Using them on wooden surfaces requires careful consideration to avoid issues down the road. Peeling, cracking, and blushing can occur when the wrong paint is used incorrectly.
This guide will walk you through everything you need to know before breaking out the masonry paint on your wood projects. We’ll explore the key differences between masonry and wood paints, weigh the pros and cons of using masonry paint on various wooden surfaces, and give tips for application and prep work.
Let’s dive in and find out if you can use masonry paint on wood!
What is Masonry Paint?
Masonry paints are coatings specifically engineered for exterior vertical masonry surfaces like stucco, concrete, brick, and stone walls. Their key purpose is to protect the masonry from weathering and water damage.
There are a few main types of masonry paint:
- Limewash – The traditional masonry paint made from lime putty. More breathable but less durable.
- Acrylic – Modern chemical-based paint. Forms a plastic-like coating over masonry.
- Silicate – Made from silicates to penetrate and chemically bond with masonry.
Advanced masonry paints like silicates provide weatherproofing while still allowing vapor transmission (breathability). This prevents moisture getting trapped in walls, which is crucial for older homes.
Masonry paints also help insulate exterior walls. In fact, research shows walls coated in masonry paint can be 6°C warmer compared to unpainted walls. The water-repellent surface helps block wind and rain from cooling your home’s exterior.
What is Wood Paint?
Wood paints are coatings formulated specifically for use on wooden materials, both interior and exterior. The key difference from masonry paint is that wood paints are designed to penetrate and adhere to wood while allowing the surface to properly breathe.
Popular types of wood paint include:
- Stains – Penetrating finishes that add color while allowing the wood grain to show through. Stains protect the wood while maintaining a natural appearance.
- Varnishes – Clear finishes that provide a protective coating over wood. Typically glossy but some come in matte sheens.
- Oils – Soak into the wood and provide water repellency with a smooth worn look. Need frequent reapplication.
No matter the specific type, proper wood paints will safeguard exterior woods against water, UV rays, and other damage while letting the surface breathe. This preserves the wood in the long run.
Can You Use Masonry Paint on Wood?
The short answer is yes, you can use masonry paint on exterior wood surfaces like fences, siding, and decks. But there are some important caveats to consider.
While masonry paints are very durable and weather-resistant, they are not specially formulated for use on wood. Using the wrong type of masonry paint can result in poor adhesion, an uneven finish, peeling, cracking, or moisture issues over time.
Here are the key factors to weigh when using masonry paint on wood:
- Breathability – The paint needs to allow vapor transmission or moisture buildup can occur. Acrylic masonry paints seal the surface.
- Adhesion – Rough sawn wood is especially problematic as paint doesn’t grip it well. Proper priming is a must.
- Wood type – Planed smooth woods generally accept masonry paint better than rough woods full of crevices.
- New vs. weathered – Weathered gray wood is often tougher for paints to stick to than newer wood.
- Interior vs. exterior – Exterior surfaces need paints that can expand and contract with temperature changes.
Using a non-breathable masonry paint on exterior wood surfaces can also lead to peeling, cracking, and moisture damage over time. The key is choosing the right product and prep work.
Where to Use Masonry Paint on Wood
Okay, so masonry paint can work on wooden surfaces in certain scenarios. But where exactly is it best suited for exterior wood use?
Outdoor Wood Fences
Fences take a beating from the elements. Masonry paints can provide weatherproof protection for wooden fences, though rough sawn types may need special treatment.
For best results, use masonry paints on planed, smooth wooden fences made of boards like shiplap, or vertically oriented tongue and groove planks which allow moisture escape.
Rough sawn fences may require diluted first coats, primer, and an extra layer or two of masonry paint for adequate coverage and protection.
Sheds, Garages, and Home Siding
On exterior walls clad in smooth, planed wooden siding like shiplap, masonry paint can provide excellent coverage and protection. The flat uniform wood siding allows the thick paint to adhere and resist weathering.
For rough sawn wood siding full of cracks and texture, extra prep and paint are needed to fill the crevices and avoid thin patchy coverage.
Masonry paint can work on decks, especially textured versions which add grip for slippery areas. Make sure to properly prime the wood first, and apply diluted coats to allow penetration into the wood grain for a lasting bond.
The benefit of using masonry paint on decks is it allows for far more color options compared to traditional deck stains. You can match your deck to the rest of your home’s color scheme.
Where Not to Use Masonry Paint on Wood
While masonry paint can work in certain exterior situations, there are many places you should avoid using it on wood:
- Interior woodwork – Window frames, baseboards, doors, cabinets, and trim should be painted with high quality interior-grade paints and primers that allow the wood to properly breathe and move. The thick acrylic in masonry paint is too inflexible for interior wood.
- Furniture – Masonry paint is not a good choice for staining wooden furniture. It will obscure the natural wood grain most furniture owners want to highlight and show off. Also, furniture requires more flexible paint that won’t crack when pieces shift or wood swells/contracts.
- Boats, RV’s, trailers – These items live outdoors but also deal with lots of structural movement and vibrations. Specialty marine paints and coatings stand up better to the twisting and shocks boats experience. They also maintain the pliability needed for a lasting finish in this environment.
Unless you have a specific need and account for the special preparation required, in most cases it’s best to avoid using masonry paint on these interior and high-movement wooden surfaces.
Alternatives to Using Masonry Paint on Wood
Instead of taking a chance on masonry paint adhering well to your exterior wood over the long haul, you may want to consider some other effective alternatives specially made for the task:
- Exterior wood paints and stains – There are lots of quality exterior wood paints and penetrating stains on the market designed specifically for use on wooden siding, fencing, and decking. These allow the wood grain to show through while protecting against moisture, fading, and wood rot.
- Clear waterproofing treatments – Specialty water repellent wood treatments like this allow exterior woods to properly breathe while preventing water absorption into the grain. It provides protection without altering the surface appearance.
- Primers and prep work – Taking the time to properly prepare wood before painting makes a big difference in how well any paint adheres. A quality primer designed for exterior wood helps the topcoat bind tightly.
Doing the extra prep work helps ensure you get a long-lasting finish with whichever product you choose to use on your exterior wood surfaces.
How to Apply Masonry Paint to Wood
If you do opt to use masonry paint on exterior wood, following some special application guidelines will provide longer-lasting results:
Proper Prep Work Is Crucial
Taking the time to properly prep and clean the wood before painting is well worth it. Here are a few key steps:
- Remove any existing paint, dirt, or grease
- Sand the surface to remove roughness and open the grain
- Allow fresh or pressure-treated wood to dry fully before painting
These simple preparatory steps help the paint adhere to the wood rather than peel off shortly after application.
Prime New or Unpainted Wood
Applying a quality oil-based exterior wood primer is highly recommended before using masonry paint on bare wood. The primer provides a uniform, sealed base layer that allows the thick masonry paint to bond tightly.
Dilute the First Coat Slightly with Water
Diluting the first layer about 10% with water helps the masonry paint penetrate deeper into the wood grain for a better bond. This prevents peeling or flaking later on.
Apply Second Coat at Full Strength
After the diluted first coat fully dries, apply a second uniform coat of masonry paint at its full intended thickness to provide complete coverage and protection. Certain woods may need 3 coats for full opacity.
Follow the Manufacturer’s Recommendations
Always check the paint can’s instructions for any special tips or precautions. Don’t cut corners if they specify certain steps to prep and apply the paint correctly onto wood.
Taking the time to properly prep exterior wood and apply masonry paint in coats delivers the best results. But remember, testing a small hidden area first can help identify any potential issues before you commit to painting your entire fence or deck. Adjust your process as needed until the paint adheres smoothly.
Masonry paint can technically be used to coat exterior wooden surfaces like fencing, siding, and decking but it requires extra planning and prep work to ensure proper adhesion and coverage.
Since masonry paints are engineered specifically for concrete and stone, exterior wood paints or clear waterproofing treatments are typically better options for protecting your wood projects while allowing the surface to properly breathe and move.
But with the right combination of wood prep, priming, number of coats, and application method, quality masonry paint can deliver long-lasting durability on exterior woods. Just be sure to test a small area first and make any necessary tweaks before diving into a major masonry paint wood project.
So grab that leftover gallon of masonry paint and put it to use providing a protective shield for your backyard fence. Just use caution, take the proper steps to prep and prime the wood, apply multiple coats, and your masonry paint has a good chance of sticking around on your exterior wood projects for years to come.