How Long to Let Wood Dry Before Painting?

How to paint wood if it is wet and what materials you will need for that

Planning painting projects means that you will have to spend some time and effort on completing them. Also, we sometimes might need to buy extra tools for that as well. So naturally, we want to be absolutely sure that when it is time to go and paint, nothing will ruin our plans.

However, one can not always plan everything and often weather or other factors may cause disturbance and threaten our painting project. Do you want to know what to do if you planned to paint wood and it happened to be wet? If yes, then keep on reading since today you will learn plenty of other useful information on this subject!

How Long Do You Have to Let Wet Wood Dry Before Painting It?

The major point of concern for us when we end up with wood that is damp and that is needed to be painted right now is how much time it might need for drying enough. Of course, in the ideal world we would have to wait until the wood dries completely, however, in most cases, we simply have no time for that at all!

So for instance, if you were planning to complete the painting project during the weekend but weather ruined your plans and the wood got wet, you will have to wait for at least one day until the timber is dry enough for applying paint onto it.

Naturally, it all will depend on the weather. Let’s say, if the weather is sunny and warm, and dry in your area, be sure that the wood will dry enough for you to paint it. However, if you live in a damp or cold climate with a pretty high level of humidity, you’d better not expect that timber to get dry enough that fast. The same is true for the wooden objects that are located in shaded areas.

So if you recognize one of those as your case, don’t get upset too early. Instead, learn how you can make your wooden object dry faster.

How Long to Let Wood Dry Before Painting waiting period
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How to Dry Wet Wood Before Applying Paint to It?

There are several different options you can stick to if you need to make wood dry faster for painting it. Depending on how large is your wooden object, you can choose one of the following suggestions:

  • make use of a hairdryer for speeding up the drying process
  • try to dry your wood in smaller sections one by one
  • dry the wood with paper towels or an old towel
  • opt for an electric fan

Now let us explain when and why each of these methods can be used. So let’s start with a common hairdryer first. As you could have guessed, using a blow dryer is reasonable if you need to make a relatively small piece of wood dry faster.

How to Dry Wet Wood Before Applying Paint to It
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The scheme is the same as you would use for drying your own hair. Simply turn the appliance on, setting it at the high heat regime, and blow warm air over the damp piece of wood until it gets dry. The hot air will make moisture evaporate from the surface of the wooden object thus leading to its dryness.

However, if you are dealing with quite a big piece of wood, using a hairdryer will most likely make no sense due to the size of the wood piece. In this case, you can opt for another alternative solution. Try to dry and paint such a surface in smaller sections. Like this, you will be slowly working through the entire project. On the other hand, this method has the huge disadvantage of being very time-consuming. Besides, using a hairdryer for this method will most likely result in extremely huge electricity bills!

There is one more way you can make a wood dryer, but this one is more for absorbing the excess water from the wooden surface rather than for actually drying it. We mean that you can simply make use of an old towel or grab a packet of paper towels and dry your wooden object with them. Of course, this option is only suitable for relatively small objects that will later be properly prepared and dried before being painted.

How long does wood take to dry (faster than I thought it would)How long does wood take to dry (faster than I thought it would)

In case you are about to paint a small wooden project, think of drying it with an electric fan! The scheme of use is the same as for the blow dryer. Simply set the fan up and blow the hot air over the wood to make it dry faster.

These are the very basic methods everyone can use for making wood dry before painting it. But don’t just stop on one of these! Always try to think wider and be creative! For example, if it is possible, try to move your wooden object indoors and make use of a dehumidifier for pulling moisture out of it and for making the timber dry faster.

Also, in case you are working with loose building materials and you need to make them dry faster, think of stacking the boards with the use of scrap lumber or furring strips. Those create gaps between the boards thus allowing the airflow to dry the lumber easier.

But anyway, do keep in mind that, even though all of these methods are effective and quite easy to use, none of them can replace the most efficient one which is time. So if you have such an opportunity, simply let your wooden project dry itself open air.

How Long to Let Wood Dry Before Painting tips
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How to Tell the Wood Is Dry Enough For Being Painted?

Apart from being concerned with the wood drying methods, you might also be worried about another issue. How is it possible to define that the wood is dry enough for being finally painted?!

Indeed, when it comes to timber, figuring out whether it is paintable or not might be tricky and rather complicated. Wood may often seem quite dry on the outside but if you could see its insides, you would realise that it is far from being ready to accept paint.

This is why it is important to take into consideration a few handy tips that will help you to figure out if the wood is dry enough to paint.

  1. Define how exposed it is to the weather. An uncovered deck will most likely be more saturated with rain than, let’s say, siding that is protected by eaves (which is why it will be a bit damp).
  2. Take the sun into consideration, too. For instance, a West-facing wall will dry faster than a North-facing one simply because it receives more of the afternoon sun.
  3. Consider what made your wood wet. For example, a wooden object that was dampened with rain would be less saturated in comparison to the same object that was power washed under the high pressure. Since power washing allows water to get into the tiniest cracks and crevices that are normally out of reach for the falling rain water, if you pretreat your wooden piece with it, be ready that it will take more time to dry.
  4. Make a bead test to see how much your wood is saturated. Simply sprinkle some water on the wooden surface of the object that needs to be painted. If you see that the liquid beads up on the surface, it means that the timber is already too saturated inside making it impossible for water to get in anymore. Naturally, such wood will not accept paint easily.
  5. Finally, for the most precise results, we would recommend you use a special moisture meter. This tool is fairly cheap and it is able to show you exactly how wet your wood is in numbers. You will see the percentage of the moisture level on the tool’s screen after using it.

When using one of these methods, you will be able to exactly define how wet your wooden piece is and whether or not it can be painted.

How Long to Let Wood Dry Before Painting guide
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Can You Paint Wood That Is Wet?

So can wet wood be painted at all, you may wonder? Well, basically, the answer is yes. However, you might not want to do this, and we can explain to you, why.

First of all, when any wood gets wet, its fibers absorb water. It means that there will be less wooden fibers ready to accept paint. As a result, the paint will not attach to the wooden surface properly. What you can get in such a case is a sloppy paint application if the wood is too saturated. When such a paint layer dries, it will soon get off the wood.

Another problem that you may face if applying paint onto too wet timber is that the liquid in wooden fibers can make the paint thinner. As a result, you will end up with poor coverage and lots of runs and drips instead of an even and neat paint layer. Also, once such a paint coverage dries up, you will most likely have more of a wash than a paint job.

And even if the wooden object is not too dry, it will not be able to accept the paint to the fullest in comparison to a fully dry counterpart. And since the paint will not manage to be deeply absorbed by the wood fibers, the finish will be way less durable and stable.

Finally, painting wood that is wet puts the timber under the risk of rotting. Why is that? Well, if we apply paint onto a dry wood, it creates a protective layer that works as a seal against moisture. And in this case, it is obviously a benefit!

However, if we paint wood that is damp or soaked, that paint layer will trap moisture inside the wooden fibers thus preventing it from drying. This is why the trapped moisture will make your wood rot from inside out!

This is why it is always suggested that you wait until your wooden object is fully dry and ready to accept paint. But even if you have no time to wait until it dries up naturally, don’t hesitate to use one of the drying methods we described above. But never ever attempt to apply paint onto a wet or badly saturated wood to avoid redoing the whole painting project!

How Long to Let Wood Dry Before Painting recommendations
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What Type Of Paint Is Best to Use On Damp Wood?

If you do need to paint wood that is damp, it is important to know what type of paint will attach to it better and thus will last longer. So basically, latex paints are way more suitable for being applied onto the wet wood than any other types of paint.

This is because latex paints are water-based which means they will better bond with the moisture that is already inside of the wood. It will also significantly reduce the chances that the paint layer will later peel off.

As for the oil-based paints, these are better to be completely avoided since oil is resistant to moisture which means that such paint will not attach to the wet timber completely.

The type of brush also matters quite a lot. See, if you are painting your wood object with a foam brush, it will not hold much paint. As a result, you will have a thinner yet more even layer of coating. But a bristle brush will be able to hold and apply a thicker layer of paint instead.

And it matters a lot as long as you will be painting damp wood. If you apply too much paint at a time, it will result in a mess. This is why we would recommend you use a foam brush since it will help you to regulate and control the amount of paint applied.

So now you know how much time wet wood needs for getting dry enough so that you could paint it properly. And also, since you already learned a few methods of how to speed up the drying process, you now can make sure the wooden object you are about to paint is dehumidified enough for the paint to attach to it properly.

How Long to Let Wood Dry Before Painting type of wood
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Frequently Asked Questions

⭐ Can you paint treated wood?

Yes, treated wood can be painted.

⭐ How long to let old wood dry before painting?

If it’s not too soaked, two days will be enough. Otherwise, wait for up to 1 week.

⭐ What’s the best primer for pressure treated wood?

Latex primer is the optimal choice.

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