How Long Does Primer Take to Dry

How Long Does Primer Take to Dry

Painting your interior walls offers an inexpensive way to dramatically change the look of your home. Before you paint though, apply a primer to the wall to ensure a long-lasting finish. This coat must dry thoroughly before adding your topcoat to prevent problems after you finish painting. Drying time for primer varies depending on the manufacturer, and the temperature and humidity levels of the room.

Ideal temperatures for drying time may vary depending on the primer manufacturer, but most recommend applying primer in temperatures that are about 77 degrees Fahrenheit, with a relative humidity of 50 percent. Most latex primers dry to the touch within 30 minutes to 1 hour. But do not paint the wall until the primer dries thoroughly, which can take up to 3 hours. High humidity and cool temperatures prolongs drying times.

What Do You Need To Know About How Long Primer Should Dry?

One of the most common questions is, “How long should primer dry before painting?”

Putting a coat of paint on drywall may seem like a relatively straightforward task, but there are a few key steps to ensure from first coat to final color your paint job goes smoothly.

One of the most crucial of these steps is the application of primer on the surface before you start painting.

There are plenty of factors that determine the dry time of your primer, including your environment, the primer that you’re using, and how much of it you applied.

Throughout this guide, we’ll explore the factors that influence how long a basecoat primer takes to dry.

What type of primer is it?

The first thing you will have to think about to answer this question is what type of primer are you using. Specific formulations take longer to dry than others, so you will need to be aware of this information.

For instance, you can have water-based primers, which are much simpler to work with and dry within around 3 hours.

However, you can also have oil-based primers which are a little more difficult to use, and can take up to a whole day or 24 hours to dry completely.

With such a vast difference between drying times, you can see how vital it is to know which type of primer you are using, before you decide on a drying time.

What are the conditions?

In addition to the type of primer you are using, you will need to think about the environmental conditions in which you are priming, to decide upon how long it will take to dry.

For instance, the drying time of your primer will be affected by the temperature and humidity in the room and in your home.

The best-recommended temperature and humidity for drying primer is around 70 degrees Fahrenheit, and about 50% humidity.

Therefore, if there is humidity in the air that is higher than 50%, this can extend the drying time of the primer, and subsequently the paint afterward.

Temperature is not as important as humidity, as a cold, dry and non-humid day will allow the primer to dry much quicker than a hot, humid day. This is largely due to the excess of water molecules suspended in the air, which increases the humidity.

What surface is being primed?

Many people believe that surfaces dry quicker than others, such as wood and concrete, but this is not always the case. Most primers will dry in the same amount of time, no matter what the surface is, as long as it is not too humid.

Once you have considered all of the above, and you are ready to prepare your surfaces and start priming, you will need to know exactly what you are going to require to finish the job.

Supplies You’ll Need For Paint Over Primer

Applying primer is relatively simple, but you’ll still need the usual tools and protective gear that you’d use when handling paint.

Brush or roller

Paint tray

Masking tape

Nitrile gloves

Protective eyewear

Protective outerwear

Drop cloths


Wall paint

One thing to note here is that not every primer requires sanding before layering on coats of paint, so be sure to read the directions for the primer you chose as well as the paint you’re using.

Ultimately, following the proper procedures for applying your primer and coat of paint is going to determine the outcome of your topcoat.

How Long Does Primer Take To Dry?

Most primers can dry within 30 minutes to 1 hour. But, you should wait at least 3 hours before painting to ensure it reaches its best state then onto the next layer. Your primer can dry much even faster if the weather is on your side and provide good results.

Also, the drying time of the oil-based primer and water-based primer is different. The more oil the primer has, the longer it may take to dry. So, you should examine the label to induce the drying time.

Therefore, the suitable temperatures for primer to dry may vary from place to place, brand to brand. But we think the usual temperature is around 77 degrees Fahrenheit, with a relative humidity of 50%. You should check the label behind your primer container to find out the exact temperature.

In addition, the temperature may also affect drying time. If it’s cold within the room or region you’re painting, you ought to use a dryer.

Can You Make Primer Dry Faster? 5 Tips

Make Primer Dry Faster

It’s a best practice to adhere to the manufacturer’s recommended drying time before painting.

However, there are several ways you can promote drying within the recommended time frame. Here are some steps you can take to speed up the process.

  • Use a fast-drying primer: If you know you’re going to be in a rush, then use a fast-drying primer. Self-priming paint is the best option because it combines the primer and paint in one. However, if a separate primer is necessary, then a latex primer is the fastest drying option.
  • Keep humidity low: Either wait for a less humid day or use a dehumidifier to reduce the house’s humidity levels.
  • Increase air circulation: Opening doors and windows on a day that isn’t too cold or humid is the best way to increase air circulation and promote drying.
  • Apply a light coat: Thinner coats will dry faster than thick coats. Apply even thin coats to speed up drying time between applications.
  • Use a hairdryer: Use a hairdryer to gently blow air on the surface you’re priming. Don’t use high heat, and keep the hair dryer at least a foot from the surface.


How Long Does Primer Take to Dry on Wood?

Primer drying time before painting on wood is the same as on drywall, furniture, metal or just your typical wall in your house. Water based will be 1-2 hours and oil based around 12-24 hours.

Low temperatures and high humidity will increase this time so always check by pressing on a not so obvious area before applying another coat.

How Many Coats of Primer Should You Do?

We recommend when priming a darkly painted surface, stained wood, metal or new drywall, you will want to do at least 2 coats. This will seal your surface and prevent any bleed through of tannins, mold, mildew and wood tannins.

What if I am sanding the wall before painting?

Thus far we have explored how long we should wait before painting over the primer. However, sometimes we want to sand the surface after priming and before painting. For any sanding, the drying times that need to be waited out is slightly different.

Whether it is a water-based primer or oil-based primer, the waiting time recommended for sanding is at least twenty-four hours. If you can wait even longer than this, great but you should absolutely ensure that it is at least twenty-four hours.

Before you go ahead and sand the whole wall, even after your twenty-fours wait, you should test one small patch. To do this involves sanding one area and seeing how that looks and feels before you do the whole wall.


Hopefully, you now have a far better understanding of the different drying times for paint primers. Understanding what base primer you have before you start to apply it is key, seeing as water-based primers dry far more quickly than those with an oil-base.

We are sure that you are now completely clued up on why we should use a primer, as well as knowing all the factors that can affect the drying time of your primer.

Remember that no matter the surface, the same rules should be followed, and by following these rules you will ensure that your finished paint looks smooth and streak-free!

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