How to Paint T1-11 Siding

T1-11 is variety of wooden panel siding made of plywood. Each piece of T1-11 siding is routed, so that once installed, it looks like vertical strips of wood. This siding is a very common exterior shed or outbuilding material, but in some parts of the US it is also used on the exterior of homes.

There are many positives about using T1-11, but like all wood products, it requires maintenance. T1-11 siding should be inspected annually (quarterly is even better) so that holes, water or moisture intrusion can be identified and corrected immediately. Hands down, the best way to guard this siding against the elements (and various bugs and critters) and protect and lengthen its lifespan is to paint it.

How to Paint T1-11 Siding

  • Clean. Use a pressure washer to remove dirt, mold, and old loose paint. Use a wire brush and paint scraper to remove loose old coating (if applicable.) Be sure to scrub in the grooves of the siding. Allow to dry for at least 24 hours.
  • Replace damaged panels. If you discover any loose panels, secure them. If you find a panel damaged beyond repair, replace it. Trust me; it’s worth the minimal investment.
  • Caulk. Inspect the caulking around windows and doors. Repair dry-rotted or otherwise damaged caulk by re-caulking.
  • Prime. Prime the siding with a heavy acrylic primer. I’ve used XIM Peel Bond with great success. Because of its finish, painting T1-11 siding is rather tricky. Use a roller for large areas, and a brush to get into grooves, and tight spots. Let dry.
  • Paint. Apply two coats of exterior acrylic paint. Let the first coat dry completely before you roll the second coat. Apply in the same manner as the primer.
  • Re-touch. Once the second coat has dried completely, inspect the siding for any cracks or small holes you may have overlooked. Also, check to be sure you’ve covered all areas with paint.

Tools and materials for painting T1-11 siding.

  • Ladder (if applicable)
  • Wire brush
  • Brush or broom to clean up scrapings
  • Paint scraper
  • Paint trays or 5 gallon bucket with roller grid

I want to make you aware of a few alternatives before you start painting.

  • Spray Vs. Rolling. You can spray rather than roll the exterior primer and paint on the T1-11 siding. If you chose to spray the paint, follow up by back rolling the paint. As soon as you’ve sprayed the paint, use a paint roller or brush (back brushing) to work the paint into the siding. Spraying frequently fails to fill small cracks and grooves on its own- back rolling (and back brushing) help fill these spaces, and creates a smoother finish.
  • Elastomeric Vs. Exterior paint. You can use elastomeric paint rather than exterior acrylic paint on T1-11. You’ll find that elastomeric paint costs a bit more (and covers less area per gallon) but it will add a waterproof coating to the siding. Moreover, elastomeric paint is resistant to the elements (even intense direct sunlight and driven rain.) I still advise applying two coats, and using the back rolling method if spraying.


Painting T1-11 is a relatively easy job. Sure, it requires a bit of labor, and a small investment into materials, but overall, it demands nominal skill. Another positive: a small structure (such as a shed) can be completed in just one weekend. Not only will painting extend its life, it will also look much better. If you plan to paint a shed or out building, consider matching the paint color of the structure to that of your home. Painting T1-11 can really make a statement when painted correctly.

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  1. I got all the information that I needed so we can paint a new shed that was just bult w T1-11 teck board. Thanks for the help. 🙂

  2. Guy Bonin

    I installed t1 11 on my home. I primed the back and edges then installed it but it rained pored down before I could prime the face. How soon after the rain stops can I prime it? Its raining about every two to three or four days.
    Thank You

    • Typically it’s 24 to possibly 48 hours to allow the siding to dry out. This depends on how soaked it is, how humid it is, the temperatures and bright sunshine. All of these things affect the drying. If you have warm temps, say 70 degrees, bright days with 50% or lower humidity 24 hours will be a good bet. Good breezes also help the wood dry out.

      A good way to tell if the siding is dry is to pick up an inexpensive moisture meter, typically $25-30.

  3. John Hari

    I installed T1-11 on the south side of my house 3 years ago (suburb just south of Buffalo, NY). I primed the back side and edges and applied 2 coats of Behr exterior solid stain to the face. I have noticable hairline cracks throughout 90% of the panels, and one spot of delamination approx. 6″ long. Should I have primed the face side before applying the stain? What do you recommend for the hairline cracks (I’ve been told that a good exterior acrylic latex primer and topcoat of acrylic latex paint would seal the hairline cracks, – or do I need to spackle and sand all the cracks before re-finishing?) I was told to squeeze in some Gorilla glue into the delaminated crack and apply pressure to re-seat the top ply, then re-apply new finish. I also read that a good acrylic latex solid stain will work as good as paint and have less chance of “peeling”. Your thoughts and suggestions will be deeply appreciated. Thank you.

    • bob

      i have the same problem in upstate, i was told it was because of the weather (cold) and poor painting technique (i did it myself)

    • Don Jones

      John, I live on the west coast and have a favorite paint store here that sells an elastomeric terpolymer finish. Compared to regular exterior paint (250- 400 sq ft a gal) the elastomeric is (80-120 sf per gal). Take it from me, with each coat of this material it is like 2-3 coats of regular finish. I use it almost exclusively on T1-11 siding and it really does a number on the hairline cracks and most of all the other blemishes with the exception of buckling which is the last phase of delamination. Your paint stores should have a similar material. I swear by it.

  4. Hairline cracks are typical for this siding. A good way to deal with them is to prime with a good primer, acrylic primer is a good choice, and painting 2 coats with a good paint. An alternative is to top coat with an elastomeric coating, Sherlastic by Sherwin Williams is a good budget elastomeric. Rolling both the paint and primer will help.

    I would avoid spackling any cracks. Maybe some large cracks that won’t be filled by the paint. I like the glue idea for the delaminating area, a nail or 2 will be needed to keep it together while the glue dries.

    Normally priming before any stain isn’t needed nor required by most manufactures. It defeats the purpose of using a stain, maximize penetration into the surface.

  5. John Lester

    Anybody had a easy way to paint the groves in T1-11?

    • No easy way around it. Spraying the paint then back rolling with a thick roller works most to get the groves most of the time.

    • Dave McNair

      My cottage has t1-11 siding that I paint. Years ago, (30?), I bought a t1-11 brush that makes painting the grooves very simple. One guy on the grooves can go twice as fast a second guy rolling the panels. I’ve looked on line but can’t find anything like it. The brush is about 6″ wide, with soft bristles about 1-1/2″ long. The part that holds the bristles is about 6″x 3/4″x1″ and it is attached to an articulated hinge that is adjustable to bend in two directions like your wrist. You adjust it to your preference and then lock those in by tightening thumb screws. This hinge body is threaded to screw onto a roller extension handle. You dip the brush into the paint on a paint tray, and with the handle, you can quickly paint the grooves from ground level to way over you head in easy swipes. I don’t know why it isn’t readily available.


      • R.G. Kindschi

        You can buy Adjustable Paint Brush Holder Extensions on Amazon to hold any paint brush you choose..which can be used by themselves or screwed on to an extension pole… Many times they are also available at local Paint Stores…

  6. Flower

    Thank you so much for this article. I am looking to insure the long life of my new siding and learning about this wonderful primer is great.

  7. Steve Cairns

    How long can untreated T1-11 siding safely go without a coat of protection? My contractor talked me into using a quality semi-transparent oil-based stain rather than prime & acrylic paint– but I’m nervous about the rainy weather in the next 48 hours. Thanks!

  8. Kathy

    I live in Pittsburgh PA. How often should our condominium plan to repaint-stain the T1-11 on the exterior of our townhouse to keep it protected and looking nice? Thank you for your assistance.

    • Depends on the current condition of the t1-11 and what is currently on it, semi-transparent stain or solid colored stain. The more pigment the longer the stain will last. Semi-transparent stains will need maintenance (recoat) every 3 years while solid stains can go for 6-8.



    • Either will work but paint will last longer. Properly primed then painted painted, T1-11 siding will be similar to any other siding for longevity.

      Stains can look good but don’t last as long as paint. a typical semi-transparent stain lasts 1-2 years, a solid colored stain last longer but will need recoating in 4-5 years tops.

      If you decide to paint make sure to properly primer before painting.

  10. Diane

    Has anyone had a negative experience with T1-11 being particularly susceptible to 100’s of bugs (ladybugs, flies, & bees) entering their home through the gaps in the siding? If so, have you found any solutions?

  11. Barbara

    I am 70 going to paint the walls of my T1-11 siding one coat and hoping to find a friend to paint the top part. What is the best kind of paint do you recommend. Thank you!

    • Any good house paint will work well. Benjamin Moore Regal Select or Sherwin Williams Duration are both very good paints. Although the paint is very important even more important is the primer. Use a good high build acrylic or oil base primer, might take 2 or more coats.

  12. Brett

    Can you paint over water treated T1-11? If so what is the best paint process, primer and paint or will paint only work?

  13. John Carroll

    House has been painted serveral times over the years, I am getting ready to paint again. I am going to use the same or near same color, does it have to have two coats, especially if I use a quality paint?


  14. Joe Diamond

    RE your condominium…….You should have your painting contractor address the building siding per facede or wall according to orientation. As a generalization the south face walls will bleach out faster than the north face walls. Trees will change this. If you have a lot of trees you will not have a bleaching problem but may have to control moss, mildew or climbing vines.

    The take away is that your owners will be thinking of their owned unit while you are managing the exterior of the buildings.

    As a former condominium manager I found it cost effective to apply two coats of exterior coatings while the contractor was on site. AND they ended up bleaching some t 1 11 prior to sealing because of the difference in wood fade due to orientation.

    Ask a few different local contractors to bid…..joe

  15. Aaron M Taylor

    What sheen should I use to paint t111 sided mobile home exterior?

  16. The 37-year-old T1-11 siding on my house, heavily exposed to southern California sunlight, is alligatoring severely. Painters in the area have said that the original, and perhaps more recent paint jobs, were applied too thickly, resulting in the alligatoring.

    I’ve attempted to scrape off the paint, sand it off, and grind it off :-), all to no avail. Is there anything I can do other than remove the siding & replace it with new siding, to make it look decent again.

    • You don’t have many options other than apply more paint. One option, take this with a grain of salt as it will be expensive, is to use Peel Bond primer or similar to cover up the alligatoring. The primer will need even spraying to get it thick enough to help hide the alligatoring. After it dries paint as usual.

      Unfortunately covering it up with something thick is the only option I can think of.

  17. John P. Krieg

    My brother built a 12×24 cabin deep in the woods. Used T1-11siding. After 15 years of not painted it’s black but solid. What is the best paint or stain to use? Should I paint or stain a dark color because it’s black or can I use a lighter color? The other question is, will the paint or stain soak into the siding which may require additional coates?


    • You will need to go with a dark stain color to cover up the dark siding. For a light stain color a through washing is needed plus using a wood brightener.

      Stains will soak in without any problems. 2 coats with back rolling or back brushing might be needed depending on the stain used. If paint is used a wood primer in needed or risk peeling in the near future. An alternative is to use a solid colors stain.

  18. SoakingWetInWA

    Thank you for the article – and all the comments. Very helpful. Will be spraying and back rolling/brushing. Appreciate the tip!

    Getting ready to clean/scrape side of house. The bottom half is sun beaten and looks rough, but is still sturdy – just looks bad. Do you see any problems with using ReadyPatch to smooth rough-looking spots after scraping?

    Also, found yellow jackets climbing into grooves where upper story meets lower. Treated with Tempo dust but want a good seal to avoid future nesting attempts. Can anyone suggest a good permanent sealant? Thinking to just seal every opening at the grooves, but should we run a bead full across? Thank you.

  19. LeAnn

    What do you recommend for re-painting OSB version of T1-11? My siding was hailed on and sort of sanded of the top coating of paint and down to the wood in places. I believe the siding has been painted a couple or so times? I was thinking of re-priming, then painting.
    Is oil based primer a better choice for this situation? Or elastomeric? Or what would you recommend?

    • Use a good acrylic primer, like Zinsser 123, and a good quality paint. Elastomeric isn’t necessary, the osb version is very stable and doesn’t crack/split like the plywood version.

  20. TheMrs

    We’re replacing our T1-11 siding. Planning to use Sherwin Williams’ Emerald paint-and-primer. I am also pushing/demanding we do a good primer coat first. Should we still expect to have to use 2 coats of the paint? Or will one coat do? I don’t want to over-paint the house. We are replacing our current siding mostly because of ugly alligatoring. Thank you.

    • With a good primer, and lots of it, 1 heavy coat of paint is needed. 2 coats will last longer and take more of a beating but will cost more, Emerald is expensive. A couple times a year Sherwin Williams has a coupon sale, typically 25% off. Worth checking out, ask the sales rep about it.

  21. Cher

    I have T1- 11 on the front of my house that has been stained several years with a solid stain. Can I paint over the solid stain with a regular water base exterior paint?

  22. Daniel Wilson

    Hi there, just wondering if it’s necessary to scuff sand between the first and second coats of top coat when painting T1-11 siding? I have done this in the past when painting smooth siding, with good results. However when I lightly sanded the first top coat with 220 grit on the T1-11, it seemed to chip paint off the outside of the grooves, exposing the primer underneath. I assume this isn’t great… So is it really necessary to do this between coats to achieve adhesion or is the texture or the T1-11 rough enough already? I’m using a satin enamel paint. Thanks!

    • Sanding between coats isn’t needed with modern acrylics, they don’t sand well anyways, or with T1-11 (rough enough). Making sure the paint is pushed into the cracks is a good idea. The groves are the hardest areas to paint. You could try a thicker roller cover or even brush the grooves then roll the rest. The biggest problem is getting good thick paint coverage.

  23. Michael Hopkins

    I have a small shed that has deteriorated quite badly over the years. My plan is to re-skin it with CDX T1-11 after I repair and/or replace the minor rotted areas. My question is with protecting the new siding. I plan to use prime and use acrylic-latex on the exterior but I am little confused about how to treat the interior. One story I read said you should not treat the inside to allow any trapped moisture a path to escape… another said water-proof with a mixture of mineral spirits, tung oil, and paraffin wax. I’m sure that simple primer painting will be good enough, but will water-proofing be better, or will it seal in the moisture and cause future failure ? Thank you.

    • You can either paint the interior or not. Either way won’t cause or prevent rot as long at the exterior is properly painted. If you live in an area that has a lot of humidity, dampness, then sealing the interior (with paint) can help stop de-laminating of the plywood t1-11 but this would take a long time for any damage to happen. Ps- Don’t us solvent and wax. I don’t think it would do much good. If you want to seal the interior either use primer and paint or just straight tung oil (2 coats, pick up the runs and drips, no thinner needed).

  24. Sky

    I have a dark brown, oil based stained t1-11 ceiling that I would like to paint white. Do I need to prime first with a stain blocking primer before painting? Brand suggestions? Can I use a water based latex paint thereafter? Thanks!

    • Yes, priming is needed. The primer you use depends on what is available in your area. Oil base is best for your situation. Zinsser Cover Stain is good and reasonably priced. If no oil base is available then Zinsser 123 acrylic can be used, 2 coats might be needed to seal up all stains.

  25. Mark

    We had a 16×20 sunroom/three season room built. Interior walls are all-wood t1-11. What thickness nap roller is best? Also, the untreated surface of the t1-11 sheds small wood particles; will this make using a roller difficult?

    • 3/4 inch will work well. Might still need to hit the groves with a brush. You will need more than 1 roller cover. Pick out pieces of wood while priming and toss the cover when done. Use a new cover for the finish coat.

  26. Doron T

    I am working with brand new t1-11. I will use the peel bond fully before 2 coats of paint – I live in Canada and we get hot humid summer and snow like Santa in the winter. So I want it to hold up for a while.
    Question is since it is new t1-11 what is the best way to prep the surface before I apply the peel bond?

    thank you so much.

  27. Julia Lee

    If you have painted T1-11 do you have to prime again before repainting it? We have painted it but the white color does not look very white and often takes on a dingy or darker appearance than the trim painted in the same color. Appreciate any help.

  28. Nancy

    We just had our basement ceiling covered with the Plytanium T1-11 Rough Sawn natural panels with the wide plank look. Tried minwax semi transparent oil based jacobean stain and the yellow showed through and it looked black. Problem we have is the pine trim and the doors are in Jacobean stain. My mother used Olympic Semi-Solid jacobean exterior stain back in the 80’s when she did the basement and it’s not available anymore. I want to cover the panels that have the grainy movement but don’t want a matte brown finish. Any suggestions? The Oil Based minwax looked terrible! We are going for an Irish Pub Man cave so wanted to go with a dark brown that would match all the Pine wood in the bar and the horizontal planks/wainscotting. Thanks!

    • Using a scrap piece of T1-11 try a exterior transparent or semi-transparent stain. Not a regular wood stain. I would try the transparent first as it has the least pigment.

      • Transparent: Provides a lightly pigmented, “toned” appearance
      • Semi-Transparent: Provides a slightly pigmented appearance, allows wood grain texture to show through

      Sherwin Williams WoodScapes Exterior Polyurethane Semi-Transparent House Stain should work well but only available in gallons, no sample sizes. Benjamin Moore Arborcoat will also work and is waterbased. Samples of the Arborcoat used to be available at my local paint store, check your local Benjamin Moore dealer.

      These products will not go black or solid color like the regular wood stain. Plus they can be top coated with a varnish if a different sheen is wanted or needed.

  29. Nancy

    Thank you SO much for that great info! Any suggestions on which stain would match the dark jacobean stain we are using on the pine wood everywhere else? Not sure yet if we want to see the plywood swirls on the yellow pine plank sections coming through? the ribbed sections in between panels would be darker. Looked at Oxford Brown but I’m not looking for a Chocolate ceiling. trying to steer clear of any red browns. It’s impossible to find any pictures on internet.

  30. Nancy

    Hello again! Having a devil of a time figuring out what to do with our basement ceiling covered w Lowe’s Plytanium T1-11 panels. Finally figured out it’s all in the primer to stop the interior paint turning black when dried. Have researched reviews and bad things said about Kilz2 gray as well as Zinsser 1-2-3. I have heard I need an a acrylic primer/sealer to prevent leakage of paint as well as to prevent peeling. Going w interior dark brown paint. This is inside our house on the ceiling so I can’t use smelly exterior products. Please share any suggestions on best tinted gray (so I can see it) primer and sealer so the dark brown color stays the same as sample. Painter said the white not good for dark colors. It’s almost like cedar so need to brush it in around all the grooves and pockets. I have heard rolling it tears up the roller and mucks up the paint on the rough wood too. Wishing I got drywall now but it really looks so cool for a bar.

    • I never had a problem with the 1-2-3, which is acrylic. To seal the tannin’s in the wood better a smelly oil base or shellac primer will do best. I don’t think you will have a problem using an acrylic primer with a dark brown paint over the T1-11.

      For the primer gray color; Primers don’t take much tint so whatever tint can be added (lamp black) will make it a medium gray color. The use of a tinted primer helps to reduce the number of coats needed to get full coverage and the true color. Very useful for translucent colors, like reds and yellows.

      Rolling is very possible and will speed up the painting but, as mentioned, it will wear out the roller plus get fibers in the nap madding it down. Use cheaper 3/4 inch roller covers and just throw them away when this happens. You will still need to do some brushing, groves.

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