How Long Does It Take For Primer To Dry On Wood?

If you are doing a lot of painting, then you’re going to need to use primer at some point.

It’s absolutely essential for you to apply the primer in between coats of paint to make sure everything is looking sleek and tidy.

How Long Does It Take For Primer To Dry On Wood?

But different primers actually take different amounts of time to dry, so you need to take that into account when you’re waiting for it to dry.

In this article, we will be going over everything you need to know about Primer and we’ll also give you 10 examples of some of the most popular primers to help you on your way.

Let’s dive in!

What Is A Primer?

If you are quite new to painting, you might not know what primer is yet. Primer is also known as a base coat and you apply it in between layers of paint.

By doing this you eliminate the need for too many coats of paint and this saves you a lot of time.

It also helps to make your paint job look more professional and it covers any imperfections that are still on your previous layer of paint.

Primer also blocks stains from transferring to the new coat and protects your new layer from things like mildew.

Primer is overall a great asset and tool you should be using when it comes to painting.

It will save you a lot of extra time and save you from spending more on paint because applying it means you don’t have to paint more layers than necessary.

How Long Does It Take For Primer To Dry On Wood?

So, now you have a better idea of what primer is, how long does it actually take for it to dry on wood?

Most standard primers are made with latex and they take about 30 minutes to 1 hour to dry completely.

However, it is recommended you actually leave the primer alone for at least 3 hours on each coat, to make sure it dries to perfection and you can touch it without damaging the layer.

If you’re using oil primer, you’ll have to wait even longer. It can take a full 8 hours for the oil primer to dry completely.

If you’re on a bit of a time limit and you need the primer to dry faster, it does help for the room you’re painting in to be warm in temperature and the humidity to be low.

It really depends on which type of primer you’re using though. Each primer is a bit different.

Most Popular Types Of Primer

Before we give you some examples of primer, it’s probably best that you know a little bit about the different types of primer.

The most popular types of primer include Latex, Oil Based, Shellac, Self Priming, and Self Priming Paint.

More often than not, when you’re going to buy primer, it will be made of one of these materials.

Each of these types of primers has its benefits and drawbacks, so let’s have a brief look into them.

Latex Primer

All latex primers are water-based and are recommended for unfinished painting or drywall.

They are fast drying and less brittle than oil-based primers, which means they are less likely to start peeling and cracking.

Latex primer is also recommended for priming softwood, galvanized metals, bricks, and concrete.

Latex primers can cover minor stains such as smoke, crayons, and lipstick, but they are not as effective in stain coverage as the oil and shellac-based primers.

Oil Based Primer

Oil-based primers work on a wide variety of surfaces, such as steel, metals, surfaces with existing paint, and both painted and unpainted wood.

If you’re looking for a primer that covers stains, oil-based primer is a perfect option for you.

The main drawback of oil-based primers is that they are usually slow in terms of drying and they release a high volume of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can be very harmful to people exposed to them for long periods of time.

Shellac Primer

Shellac primers are often regarded as the best primers to use when you want to block stains.

If you’re painting over walls that have been exposed to heavy smoke, they can even block the smell of the smoke from coming through onto the new layer.

Shellac primers are great on most types of surfaces, including plastic, wood, metal, and plaster. You can also use shellac primers with oil-based and latex primers.

The biggest downside when it comes to using shellac primers is that they aren’t as versatile as oil or latex-based primers and you need to use denatured alcohol to thin them out and clean any applicators.

Self Priming And Self Priming Paint

Self-priming and self-priming paint are other choices that some people use, they just aren’t as common as oil, latex, or shellac-based primers.

These types are coatings that don’t require you to have a previous application of primer and it seals the surface without the use of a primer coat.

It’s basically a paint that already has primer in it, so it cuts your application time in half.

The biggest downside to self priming and self priming paint is that it’s not as reliable as the other types and not as stain resistant.

Dry Time For The Most Popular Woods

To give you an even better idea of the different types of primer, we’ve put together a list of 10 of the most popular primers and how long they each take to dry.

In this list are a few different types of primer and their rough dry times.


You’ll find Rust-Oleum on this list a couple of times and that’s because it’s a popular and reliable brand.

This particular version is a latex-based primer and takes about 1 hour to dry. You can use it on most surfaces and it blocks a decent amount of stains.

Valspar Anti Primer

The Valspar Anti Primer is an oil-based primer that takes approximately 2 to 4 hours to dry completely before you’re able to dry touch it.

This primer will have no problems working with your wood-based surface.

BEHR Premium Plus

The BEHR Premium Plus primer is the only Self-Priming Paint featured on this list. It will take this primer about 1 to 2 hours to dry completely.

This primer is only recommended for interior use.

Kilz Adhesion Primer

The Kilz Adhesion Primer is a latex-based primer that only takes approximately 30 minutes to dry completely.

If you need a primer that is fast working and fast drying, this is a good choice for you.

Zinsser Mold Killing Primer

The Zinsser Mold Killing Primer is a latex-based primer that takes 30 minutes to dry. This primer is great if you’re working with mold and trying to find ways to get rid of it.

Rust-Oleum Shellac

The Rust-Oleum Shellac is another Rust-Oleum primer but in the shellac variety.

This particular primer takes about 30 minutes to dry, so if you’re in need of a primer that is fast acting, this is a good choice for you.

Valspar 1533 Latex

The Valspar 1533 Latex is a latex-based primer that takes about 1 hour to dry completely.

It’s great for a wide variety of surfaces and can be used on both interior and exterior surfaces.

Prestige Paints

The Prestige Paints primer is a self-primer that takes approximately 1 to 2 hours to dry overall.

It comes in a wide variety of colors and has a low VOC, making it less toxic.

Zinsser Multi Purpose Primer

The Zinsser Multi Purpose Primer is a latex-based primer that takes approximately 30 minutes to dry.

You can use this primer on a lot of different surfaces, ranging from wood to drywall and it’s ideal for anyone who needs a fast-drying primer.

Rust-Oleum Primer

And finally, we have the Rust-Oleum Primer. This is an oil-based primer and it takes around 2 to 4 hours for it to dry completely.

You can use the Rust-Oleum Primer for both interior and exterior surfaces and it is durable and corrosion resistant.

What Happens If You Paint Over Primer Sooner Than Recommended?

What Happens If You Paint Over Primer Sooner Than Recommended?

If you paint over primer sooner than you’re supposed to, it can ruin the whole painting project.

It’s very important that you stick to the recommended dry time before you apply the next coat.

It’s actually better if you leave it slightly longer than the recommended time to ensure that it is dry to the touch when you go to start the next coat.

If you don’t wait for the coat to dry fully, you will ruin its adhesion power.

The paint will not stick to the surface and you run the risk of mixing the primer and paint together, which will ruin the overall project.

If you’re unsure if the primer is dry yet, test a small area and see if it’s dry. When you are fully confident that it is dry, then proceed to the next coat of paint.

Things That Influence The Drying Time

There are a few things that influence the drying time of the primer. A lot of influences on the dry time come down to the room or environment you’re priming in.

Let’s have a look at some of the influences on drying time.

Humidity And Temperature

A big influence on the dry time of your primer is the humidity and temperature of the environment or room.

When you have the right humidity and room temperature at your disposal, the drying time of your primer will be a lot faster.

If your room or environment is too hot, then your primer will take longer to dry, whereas if the room is too cold, you run the risk of the primer turning too thick.

Depending on the temperature and type of primer, it can even freeze.

It purely depends on the type of primer and its own personal requirements as to what temperature you should have in the room.

If the humidity in the room is anything above 85% then it’s in your best interest to not use the primer until the humidity has lowered.

The Surface You’re Priming

Another big influence is the actual surface you’re painting and the material it’s made out of.

Each surface type has a different duration of time required for drying, so it purely depends on the surface at the time.

Metal surfaces and materials take longer to dry than wood or drywall, so take this into consideration when you’re about to start priming.

It’s recommended that you stick to the time for each type of primer and then add a bit of extra time depending on what surface it is for the best results.

Primer Type

We went over the different types of primer, but it is important to keep in mind that the primer type is a big influence on the drying time.

All four of the primer types take different durations of time to dry, so when you do buy your primer, make sure that you know exactly what type it is and how long it takes to dry.

You can’t really speed up the process either, what you get is what you get. But it’s always better to wait a bit longer for it to dry than to paint over it prematurely.


Ventilation is another big influencer on the duration of time it will take for your primer to dry.

If you want your primer to dry faster, then you need to make sure your room or environment is extremely well ventilated.

To make the ventilation better, open all the doors and windows in the room. Good airflow shortens the dry time dramatically.

Coat Thickness

And finally, it is important to know that the thickness of the primer coat will also influence how long it takes for it to dry.

Thinner coats of primer will not cover all the imperfections or stains, but it will dry faster.

Thicker coats may take longer to dry, but if you want to cover the imperfections and stains better, the extra wait time for the primer to dry is essential.

Every primer brand will usually give you instructions on how many coats of primer you need to apply.

You will usually need to apply two coats, but the manufacturer may advise differently.


As you can see, there are lots of factors to consider when you are trying to work out how long your primer will take to dry on wood or any surface for that matter.

As long as you do the right research, wear the right protective gear and follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer, you will have no problems when it comes to applying your primer.

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