June 20, 2021

How Long Does it Take a Stain to Dry? | A Detailed Guide

Wood stain can not only be tedious to apply, but it can also be challenging to dry. You can always wipe off excess stain with a damp cloth after application. However, this is not the best solution if you want to use the color as soon as possible. Sometimes the only solution is to sand off the stain and then reapply it. But not all wood stains are the same, and some brands take longer to dry than others.

Light color stain

Light color stain takes 8 hours to dry. It takes as long as 24 hours to dry. That is when it becomes safe to apply varnish and wax. It is hard to get a lighter color than a dark color. Since a light color stain makes dirt visible, ensure the surface is clean before you stain. 

You are allowed to extend the drying time to 72 hours. Make sure it dries so that the finish will be perfect. The drying time varies with conditions such as humidity. Shorten the time by sealing the wood with a dewaxed seal coat 

Dark color stain

After a light stain, you get a dark color if you let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes. Dark stains take time to fade. They are compatible with dark paint. Sand the wood to achieve a coarse grit. 

The scratches must show so that the color has a place to lodge. Increase the pigment ratio so that you have a darker color. Leave the stain on the wood for long before you wipe it off. 

The thinner stain evaporates and leaves thicker pigment. Apply a second coat of dark color stain when the first coat dries. Wipe off excess pigment. Glazes and gel stains increase the pigment ratio. Leave dampness of dark color stain on the wood, so it dries to a darker color. 

Wet the wood using water and sand smoothly after the first coat. Spray a toner between coats. Apply a glaze as a finisher. 

Gloss paint

Gloss paint takes 4 to 6 hours to dry. When you touch the gloss paint, it feels dry. You must wait for a second coat for 16 to 24 hours. Apply it in a well-ventilated area, so the air speeds up the process. More ventilation is needed for the gloss paint to dry. Production of fumes increases in poorly ventilated places. 

Satin paint

Satin paint takes two to four hours to dry. That is the same drying time required between coats. Apply light coats as you get as much satin paint as you like on the wall. Thinner coats dry faster. Focus more on one wall at a time. You are allowed to use a dryer or a heater. Make sure you keep the air moving. More saint paint will not darken your walls.  

Latex-based paint

Latex paint dries in an hour. It is safe to re-coat in 4 hours. It is quicker to dry than oil-based paint. Ensure the paint is dry to the touch so you may apply another coat. Latex paint dries quickly and is easier to work with. 

Buy the best quality paint so that you have long-lasting surface paint. It is for ceilings and walls, although it is not as durable as oil-based paint. Apply a coat of primer before you start painting. 

The latex primer is the best for latex paint. Latex paint dries slower, and it comes in large quantities. It is made of acrylic resin. Latex paint comes in numerous finishes, such as flat and high gloss. 

Latex paint is easy to clean. It has additives that make it harder and less porous when dry. As a result, it has less odor and high fumes. Use water and soap. Make sure you have proper breathing equipment when working on the latex paint.

Find out if you can paint latex over oil.

Oil-based paint

Oils paint takes longer than latex paint. Oil-based paint dries in 6 to 8 hours. That means it becomes ready for a re-coat in 24 hours. Products with manganese and zirconium are ideal for rushed projects. The chemicals used allow the paint to dry faster. Minwax oil-based and Osmo stains take a minimum of 12 hours and Varathane 8 hours. Nehr takes 72 hours and the Cabot 24 hours. 

Factors that affect stain drying time


It is considered best not to work in a cold or hot environment. Dry and warm days are the best. Make sure the day is not windy. The temperature should range from 10 to 35 degrees Celsius. 

Painting in an air-conditioned room gives you room to maintain your temperature. The sun should not be directly overhead on your deck. That makes the stain dry fast and will not absorb into the wood. 

Low temperatures slow down the evaporation process. That makes the paint dry slower. High temperatures speed up the process, but the wood paint is not even when it is dry. The paint finish is not pleasing and smart to the user. Check the label of your wood paint for the time required for the paint to dry. Brands vary, and the base stain used affects the drying time. 


High humidity levels are not for taking stains to dry. Too much water vapor in the air makes the process take longer. Closing windows and turning the air conditioner on will speed up the process. 

When too much moisture is in the air, the paint takes time. Fifty percent humidity or lower gives you a quick drying time. A dehumidifier helps in your room. Exterior projects on a dry day dry faster than interior ones. 

Proper ventilation speeds up the process. The fresh air from a well-ventilated area increases evaporation and allows the paint to cure. 

Number of coats used

Allow the paint to dry between coats so you will not have an uneven texture and visible smudges. These mess up your project if you lack patience. Wait for your paint coats to dry before recoating. 

Since you have an idea about the drying times of different paints and the conditions that speed up or slow down the process, you have an idea you have to wait between coats. 

Two layers of paint are your starting point when looking forward to a durable surface. However, more coats are not bad. The first layer applied over the primer is the base coat. Wait for 4 hours before you use a second coat. 

Failure to wait for the recommended drying time between coats weakens the bond between the paint and the surface. That causes blisters, cracks, and peeling on the painted surface. The wait time for latex paint is 4 hours, and for oil-based paint, it is 24 hours. 

How long does it take for the stain to dry on hardwood floors

It takes about four to six hours for the paint to dry on hardwood floors. However, waiting at least 24 hours before walking on the floor with shoes is best. You can always apply a polyurethane topcoat for better protection after the stain has dried.

How long should it take for the gel stain to dry

Allow the gel stain to dry for at least eight hours, preferably overnight. This gives the gel stain time to cure, and you can see how the color looks in the morning light.

Can you speed up stain drying time?

You can try to speed up the drying time of the stain by using a hair dryer on a low setting. However, it would help if you were careful not to overheat the wood, as this can cause the stain to blister. Another way to speed up drying time is to apply a thin coat of stain and then wipe off the excess with a clean cloth. This allows the stain to penetrate the wood more quickly.

How long does it take a stain to dry between coats?

It is best to wait at least four hours between coats of stain. When you are satisfied with the color, you can apply a second coat of paint. This will give the first layer of stain time to dry, and you can see how the color develops.

How long to let the stain dry before wiping

The stain needs time to dry to penetrate the wood and produce an even color. It is best to wait at least four hours before wiping off the stain. This gives the stain time to penetrate the wood and you can see how the color develops. When satisfied with the color, you can wipe off the excess with a clean cloth.

How long does it take a stain to dry in cold weather

The stain may take up to 24 hours to dry in cold weather. This is because the cold temperature slows the drying process. Before applying the stain, it is best to wait until the temperature rises above 50 degrees Celsius.


You can stain hardwood floors and furniture, but if you want to apply a stain to wood that is not readily available, you can use a similar wood primer and finish the process. There are several ways to stain wood; your chosen method depends on the wood you use.

David D. Hughes

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