How Long Does it Take for Primer to Dry on Wood Surface?

how long to wait for wood primer to dry before painting

In most conditions, a standard primer should take between 1 to 2 hours to dry to touch, irrespective of the surface you are applying it to.

But when talking specifically about the wood surfaces, it will depend on the type and condition of the wood. And also, on the type of primer you are using.

I have experienced that most latex primes dry to the touch in about 30 to 45 minutes (not more than 1 hour).

However, if you are applying oil-based primers or pigmented shellac primers on your wood, they may take at least three to five hours for drying.

That said, you should wait for at least twelve to twenty-four hours for oil-based as well as water-based primers before you paint, stain, or apply a top coat over them.

Factors Affecting Drying Time for Wood Primers

Obviously, we all want to use a wood primer that dries fast to speed up and end the paintwork quickly.

But how much time the primer will actually take will depend on various factors.

And to be frank, there is nothing much you can do about it.

1- Type of wood

First of all, the time it takes for the primer to dry on wood will depend on the type and condition of the wood.

For instance, raw and porous wood (such as oak and ash) can absorb the primer fast and can make it dry very fast.

For better coverage and finishing it’s therefore important that you apply 2-3 coats of primer before painting.

On the other hand, softwoods (such as pine and cedar) along with pressure-treated lumber are not so porous. These will not absorb the very first coat of primer very fast.

2- Weather conditions

The drying time for primers will also depend on the temperature and humidity of your workplace.

Ideally, a temperature around 77 degrees Fahrenheit and relative humidity of about 50 percent is good for drying a wood primer fast.

This means high moisture content in the air and cooler temperature (than mentioned above) will automatically prolong the drying time of the wood primer you are using.

Applying the primer paint on rainy and snowy days will also increase their drying time significantly.

So if it’s possible, you should always choose a sunny day for your paint application job.

3- Brand and Type of wood primer

The time for which you will need to wait for drying the primer before painting will also vary with the manufacturer and brand of wood primer you are picking.

It’s therefore good to choose products only from reliable brands like KILZ, BEHR, and Rust-Oleum that come with proper ingredients and pigments to dry appropriately.

Keep in mind that any product that takes more time to dry than the standard certainly means that it’s not the best product to choose.

In that case, you should select an alternative that fits your requirements closely.

Not only the make but the type of primer will also impact the time it takes to dry.

Alkyd, oil-based, and shellac primers will generally take more time to dry than water-based latex wood primers.

Also, it depends on whether you are using primer paints that are specifically made for timber or is it a kind of PVA primer that is meant for wall surfaces.

You may be using them on wood simply because you have some leftovers in your store and do not want to invest in the new one.

Primer TypeDrying Time
Latex:Less than 60 minutes
Oil-based:1 hour to 4 hours
Shellac:Between 30 and 60 minutes
Self-priming paint:Around one hour

What will happen if you paint over primer too soon?

If you apply paint too soon (without letting the primer dry completely), you will risk ruining your paint project.

The primer that has not dried will not adhere to the paint well and can cause it to peel early.

The project may end up flaky-looking at first but will soon detach the paint from primer due to its reduced adhesion power.

How to Make Primer Dry Faster

How Can You Make Your Wood Primer Dry Faster?

Many times, you do not have time to wait too long for your paint project to be complete.

If that’s the case for you and you are trying hard to have your job done quickly within a very short timeline, you can follow certain steps to make the primer paint dry sooner.

Here are a few easy tips and steps that can help you get this done…

a) Apply a thin layer:

Applying a thin layer of the primer (than you normally should) is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to dry the fresh primer coat fast.

However, in achieving this, you may need to compromise with the finish, especially when you are using a paint roller or a paintbrush for application.

To fix this problem and get the desired finishing, you can consider using a paint sprayer machine which will help in applying a thin layer of primer evenly on the surface.

b) Use a dehumidifier:

Using a compact dehumidifier will lower the relative humidity level of the room you are working in.

This will help the paint and primers to dry and cure faster than normal.

When using the dehumidifier, make sure you choose the right pint/size based on the square feet area of your room, or else you will have a hard time getting it to work.

c) Open the windows and doors:

Ventilating your painting work area will allow the circulation of fresh air, which will thereby increase the rate at which the primer and paint dry.

This will also help in nullifying the effect of hazardous primer/paint fumes, especially if you are using solvents and applying oil-based primers with high VOCs.

In addition to the above, appliances like a hair dryer, heat gun, and cloth iron may also work for a few projects – tough you should use them with proper caution.

how long to let oil based primer dry before painting

How Many Coats of Primer Should You Generally Apply? 

How thick a coat of primer paint you put on wood will also generally affect the drying conditions.

Or in other words, if you apply thick coats of primer on your wood surface, it can prolong the drying process to a few hours.

So, it’s essential to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and not use much primer as needed or instructed.

A new bare wood surface will generally take one to two coats of primer (latex or oil-based).

However, if you are priming already painted or stained wood, it’s important that you apply at least two coats of primer before repainting.

If it’s dark paint (like red, brown, or blue) you need to cover; you will need to apply three to four coats of stain-blocking primer for an effective seal.

When applying water-based primer, keep in mind that the wood can swell slightly as the primer dries.

So, it’s recommended to lightly sand the wood surface after the first coat is dried and before you apply the second coat of primer.

Final Thoughts

Knowing how long will your wood primer take to dry is critical when planning your DIY paint project.

While a fast-drying latex primer is the fastest drying option, self-priming paints are the best options out there if you are in a rush.

Hopefully, the above tips and ideas will help you make a better decision in choosing the right primer and the day on which you should start with your project.  

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