If you are a woodworker, then you know that stain is an important part of the process. But how long does stain take to dry? Are you tired of waiting around for your stain to dry? In this blog post, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about shortening the drying time of stains. So whether you’re new to this or a pro, keep reading for some valuable tips.
The effects on how long does stain take to dry are varied, but we can categorize into 4 types: Types of woods, Environmental effects, Kinds of wood stain and Interior vs Exterior.
Types of Wood Can Affect How Long does Stain Take to Dry
To answer the question: How long does stain take to dry, we should check out the wood types. The kind of wood utilized for decks, fencing, furniture, and other wooden items can be classified as hardwood, softwood, or pressure-treated wood. Knowing the type of wood will assist you in deciding how long to let stain dry before adding a layer of polyurethane to create a water-resistant barrier.
Hardwood: For best results, use hardwood or pressure-treated wood when staining. It may take an extra coat to ensure the stain is even, but hardwoods dry more quickly than softwoods. The average of stain dry time for hardwoods is four to eight hours with a cure time of 24 to 48 hours.
Softwood: Because softwoods are more porous than hardwoods, they require a longer period to dry. Depending on different wood stains types, softwoods dry in about 10 to 12 hours typically although they can take up to 72 hours to fully cure. This material can also cause uneven finishes with blotches, so it’s recommended that you apply a pre-stain conditioner before staining any softwood surfaces.
Pressure-Treated Wood: Much like regular hardwood, pressure-treated wood can tolerate almost any type of stain. It is advisable to use thin coats and be prepared to quickly wipe away the excess that seeps through and pools on the surface. Note that it usually takes 4-8 hours for pressure-treated wood to dry, and 24-48 hours to cure completely; however, these timelines may fluctuate depending on temperature, humidity, and ventilation rates.
Other effects of drying time of wood stains
Ventilation is key when you’re trying to set a stain and affect on how long does stain take to dry. The more air that flows around as you work, the better the chance of the stain setting in place. Airflow also helps water evaporate from paint- based stains, which is especially helpful for water-based ones. But really, all stains will dry more quickly with some extra airflow.
The temperature is one of the most critical elements in deciding how long does it take for stain to dry. The perfect temperatures to stain wood lie between 50 and 90 degrees F, with 70 degrees being the optimal temp.
Although, you should always check what the label says since different brands have different ideal temperatures depending on their base ingredients.
The last crucial element to remember of how long does stain take to dry is the humidity. The stain will dry once the color pigments have had time to seep into the wood’s surface, and then the paint’s moisture will evaporate. If it is a humid day or you are in a region with high humidity, this could affect how long it takes for the stain to dry.
For the best results, finish your project during a dry period where humidity is between 50 and 70%. If it’s raining, put off staining until later. High or low humidity levels can change how long it takes for stains to dry.
How quickly wood stains dry principally depends on their type and brand. When in doubt, always remember to read the label/instructions before starting.
Different kinds affects stain dry time
This is one of the crucial factors that affect how long does stain take to dry. There are three main types: oil-based, water-based and gel stains.
Popular oil-based stains like Osmo and Cabot can take a significant amount of stain dry time, but many other brands are fast-drying. Some can even be ready in as little as 72 hours. If you’re looking for an easy-to-use product, oil-based stains are a great option in woodworking.
Minwax manufactures oil-based stains that come in gel, liquid, or console form. They also include standard and performance-grade types with similar dry times to other oil-based stains. All Minwax stains require an average of 12 hours to dry but you could recoat after 8 hours. However, the time it takes for the second coat to dry varies based on brand–some take two hours while others must sit for at least 12 hours. The Minwax oil-based gel stain requires the most time to dry; it needs at least 24 hours or more with recoating after around 8 to 10 hours.
Osmo recommends the same wood stains for all their products. The company says that, under ideal conditions (73.4-degree F temperature and 50% humidity), the stain will dry in 12 hours. If the temperature or humidity is not optimal, however, it could take much longer for the stain to dry completely.
Olympic Elite is a wood stain brand of superior quality, designed for decking. The majority of products require between 24 and 48 hours to cure; however, the dry time can be subject to change depending on the moisture level and wood quality.
Behr is a reliable and reputable brand. All of their wood stains have recommended dry times that are the same. Behr states that the stains will be cured fully in at least 72 hours, but you may start to feel them drying within 1-2 hours. If necessary, you can reapply another coat after just a couple of hours have passed.
Cabot produces multiple oil-based stains that generally have comparable drying times. The majority of Cabot’s stain selection will be dry within 24 hours, with a few exceptions taking between 24 and 48 hours; one example is the Australian Timber Oil.
Water-based stains have a quicker dry time than oil-based options. Most wood stains can be fully dried in 24 to 48 hours. However, some might take less time – like General finishes stains which only takes 3 to 4 hours. Once the stain is applied, you can then put on the polyurethane coating.
Although, it’s suggested that you wait 72 hours to ensure that it completely dry. Since water-based products are sensitive to humidity, staining conditions ideal for this type of product includes 70% humidity and temperatures around 70 degrees F should do the trick!
For your reference when it comes to how long for stain to dry, most Minwax water-based stains would usually dry within 3 hours under the best conditions. However, if you touch the stain lightly or apply a second coat after 2 hours, it should be fine. Do take note that in less than ideal conditions like high humidity or cool temperatures, it may actually take longer for the Minwax to dry completely.
Although gel stains are simple to use because they’re thick and easy to apply, concealing many imperfections in the wood without sanding, they have a longer drying time than any other type of stain. You may need to wait up to 24 hours for them to dry completely, with curing taking up to seven days. Check out this one carefully when you check out how long does stain take to dry.
General finishes has a large selection of stain colors. Their water-based stains need 3 to 4 hours to dry under optimal conditions. Use General Finish on a day when the temperature is 70 degrees F and the humidity level is 70%. If it’s colder or more humid, this will take longer; however, you can use a fan or heat source to quicken up the process.
Lacquer is also included in this series of how long does stain take to dry. Lacquer dries quickly, usually within 15 minutes. However, the fumes can be dangerous if you’re in an enclosed space without proper ventilation. It’s best to wear a respirator mask while working with lacquer.
Unlike stain, which only coats the surface of wood, varnish actually seeps deep into the grain to provide a stronger barrier against heat, chemicals and water. Because it takes longer to dry – about 15 minutes – there’s a higher risk for colors to run or pool. To avoid this issue, simply wipe away any excess varnish while it’s still wet.
Dye stains are most commonly applied as a spray and usually consist of wood colorants and acetone. These products dry quickly compared to gel stains and have a thinner consistency. Unfortunately, this also means that dye stains will not be able to effectively cover any flaws in the wood. They work best when trying to enhance the natural appearance of the wood.
Varathane is a high-quality stain. It comes in three forms: liquid, gel, and cream. Most Varathanes require at least 8 hours to dry before applying the topcoat; however, some brands only need two hours. For example, the gel varanthane needs two hours to drying followed by two additional after applying the second coat–a project could take up to 8 minimum hours before being ready for polyurethane use .
It’s best practice to work with Varathane in an environment where temperature and humidity can be regulated — keep temps around 70-80 degrees F with 50% humidity for ideal conditions.
Interior vs. Exterior: How Long does Stain take to Dry?
The answer for “How long does stain take to dry?” varies depending on whether the stain is indoors or outdoors. The drying time is shorter for interior stains because the temperature and humidity are more controlled than they are outdoors.
Exterior stain generally takes longer to dry than interior stain because outdoor environments fluctuate more in temperature and humidity. For example, the early morning and evening usually have higher humidity levels. In other areas, there may be temperature fluctuations of 20 degrees or more throughout the day, which would lengthen the drying time for the exterior stain.
Depending on the project, interior stains will take 6-24 hours to dry while exterior stains need 24-72 hour.
We hope that this article has given you some tips and hacks for how long does stain take to dry before starting your woodworking project. Stain dry times can vary depending on the type of stains and woods you are using, so be sure to test a small area first before committing to a longer drying time. Thank you for choosing Woodworking Skills as your go-to resource for all things related to woodwork and see you in our next article!