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How Long Does Primer Take to Dry Before Painting a Wall?

how long does primer take to dry

Have you ever painted an item in your home? If the answer is yes, then you know how important it is to prime before painting. Besides, if you are in the middle of a painting job and a novice in painting, you must be wondering how long does primer take to dry? If you don’t start with priming a wall or furniture, the seal will not be there, and paint will soak right into it, making you paint more coat to achieve your desired results.

Primer is very important in hiding seams and joints and is best to prevent bleed through the natural wood. Priming is vital in your painting project to prepare and preserve the surfaces to achieve outstanding and long-lasting results. Ultimately, you only need to know how long your primer has to dry before painting completely. This article will examine the steps to apply a primer, factors to consider before applying a primer, how long it takes, and much more. So stick around, and let’s get started!

What is a Primer?

A primer is a preliminary coating put on material like wood or wall before you start painting. With a primer, you are guaranteed great adhesion of the paint. It also increases the durability of the paint and offers more protection for the material. Now that we know what a primer is, let’s understand how long does primer take to dry before painting a wall. But before that;

What Kind of Supplies Do You Need for Paint Over Primer?

It’s relatively simple when applying a primer, but you still need protective gear and the usual tools when handling paint. These includes:

  •  Wall paint 
  •  Drop cloths
  •  Mask tape
  •  Paint tray
  •  Protective outerwear
  •  Brush or roller 
  •  Sandpaper
  •  Nitrile gloves
  •  Brush or roller

What Are the Steps of Applying a Primer, and How Long a Primer Takes to Dry?

Step 1 – Apply the primer

Before you go ahead and start preparing the surface to be primed, put on your outerwear, eyewear, and nitrile gloves to ensure they are not forgotten. Remember to place your tarp along the walls to prevent drops of paint and primer from falling on the floor. Then, generously apply masking tape to anything that you won’t paint, like power outlets and baseboards. Now you can bring out your primer but before opening it up, shake it vigorously for some minutes to ensure it’s properly stirred.

Similarly, you can wait until you open up the can of the primer to stir it up using a stick. Then pour out the primer into a paint tray. Using your brush and roller, you can start applying it on the surface you are priming. As you keep applying the primer, ensure that you missed a section no drips fall on the floor. It would be best to lay down a solid primer coat to ensure that your first coat of paint can adhere to the surface.

Step 2 – Wait and check frequently

Wait and see how your primer coat dries up. Many primers these days dry within 30 minutes, and you can safely add a coat of paint within 60 minutes. Conversely, to truly tell if your primer is already dry is to keep coming back and checking whether it is dry from time to time. When you touch the primer and feel it’s not tacky or has not come off on your finger, the surface is ready to be painted. However, if you want to be safe, allow the primer to dry for another 30 minutes after this point before you add a coat of paint or a second coat of primer.

Step 3 – Sand when necessary, or ensure that the primer is dry and start painting

When the primer is dry, and it’s ready to apply a coat of paint, the go-ahead to sanding, but if your primer calls for it. A lot of people think that this step is unnecessary. Nevertheless, if you are working with a porous surface or surface that struggles to accept paint, sanding and applying a second primer ensures that the paint will stick. If you want to sand over your first coat of primer and add a second coat, do that now. Then after you are done with that, repeat step 2 and paint when it’s all dried up. However, if you don’t need to sand down your primer, move on and add coats of paint on the primed surface.

Factors Influencing the Primers Drying Time

The following are factors that greatly impact the drying time of the primer, including the type of primer, coating thickness, temperature and humidity, the surface you are priming, and ventilation.

1. Type of primer

oil-based, latex, shellac, and self-priming are the four main types of primers in the market. Firstly, latex primers are water-based hence excellent for unfinished drywall, and also they dry faster. Moreover, all the other ones except latex dry for more than one hour. Secondly, oil-based primers are versatile as they are great for plain wood, and they seal porous surfaces to offer the paint a better foundation. However, these primers dry much slower than other primers, often taking up to four hours of drying.

Furthermore, if you want to paint a wall with water or smoke damage, this is the ideal option as they are great at covering stains and preventing foul odors. These primers are best for working on surfaces like plastic, wood, metal, and plaster. Just like latex, shellac primers dry faster within a time frame of 60 minutes.

Another primer on the list is self-priming paint which is both a paint and a primer. It’s properly designed specially to save you money and time so that you don’t need to wait to apply each product accordingly. Self-priming paint dries within two hours’ others are ready for coating in less than another one hour.

2. Coating thickness

Apply thick coats of primer to prolong the drying process and follow the brand’s instructions. It would be best if you used enough primer but not too much.

3. Temperature and humidity

Many manufacturers recommend an ideal room temperature; for example, Zinsser cover stain primer recommends between 40-80°F (4-27°C) primer application environments with a maximum of 85% humidity.

When the air is too humid or even too hot, the primer takes a much longer time to dry. The same goes for when the air is too cold; the primer becomes too thick, especially the oil-based primers making it hard to apply. In cold weather conditions, latex paints may freeze. That’s why it’s advisable to apply the primer when the temperature is steady.

Both the temperature and humidity recommendations apply to indoor and outdoor use. Indoor primer use is easy to manage temperature and control humidity. You should set your thermometer and during humid conditions, try using a dehumidifier.

If you choose outdoor primer use, you will have less control over temperature and humidity, so you will have to watch the weather forecast. Therefore, you will have to wait for the optimal conditions to complete this job. 

4. Surface you’re priming

Surfaces that you are priming also affect the drying time. For example, when you are priming metals, you will find that it takes a longer drying time. Also, the overall process when priming wood, drywall, or a darker surface takes longer as two coats are usually required.

5. Ventilation

It would be best to open doors and windows to properly ventilate the room, especially when you use certain primers like oil-based or shellac primers, for they consist of strong chemicals. In addition, better airflow helps to decrease the drying time frame.

How Can You Make a Primer Dry Faster?

It’s recommended to adhere to the manufacturer’s drying time before you start painting. Conversely, there are ways that you can promote drying within the recommended time frame. The following are ways that you can take to speed up the process,

  • Use a primer that dries fast:  if you are in a rush to finish up your job, then use a fast-drying primer. Use self-priming paint because it’s an ideal option for it combines the primer and paints all in one. Nevertheless, when a separate primer is required, then use a latex primer because it dries fast.
  • Maintain a low humidity: If you want your primer to dry faster, use a dehumidifier to reduce humidity levels or wait for a humid day to paint.
  •  Increase air circulation: Ensure that you open the doors and windows when the day is not cold or humid to increase air circulation and promote faster drying. 
  • Apply lighter coat: You will find that thinner coats dry faster than thick coats. Ensure that between applications, you apply thin coats to speed up the drying process
  • Use of hairdryer: You can use a hair dryer to blow air on the surface smoothly you will prime. Also, use medium heat and keep the hairdryer a foot away from the surface. 

What Kind of Surfaces Can be Primed?

Have you heard that some surfaces can drastically speed up the primers’ drying time? If yes, know that is a misconception that should not be there in the first place. Wood and concrete have different thermal traits which affect the primer, but the effect is heavily exaggerated. Typically, a primer dries in the same amount of time, no matter which surface is applied to.