How Long To Wait For Primer to Dry?

Find Out All the Nuances About Paint Primer!

Paint primer (undercoat) is a paint that goes under the first coat of color. Its purpose is preparing a wall for painting.

Widely used for interior and exterior surfaces, it makes the surface of the wall smoother, improving the overall quality of painting, extending the term period of the color, and providing additional protection to the facet.

Determining the time for drying depends on several crucial factors such as primer brand, compounds of the primer, and the environmental conditions. We will discuss them in this article more closely.

Some hosts do not see a sense of it and intend to avoid additional expenses. This reasonable desire may come true if:

  • the surface is exceptionally smooth as glass;
  • you intend to refresh the already existing color;
  • your walls possess self-priming features.

Except for expenses, using an undercoat requires additional time. Yet in most situations, you should dedicate some extra time and put in additional effort. How long to wait for primer to dry depends on several crucial factors that we are going to discuss in this article.

Cases when a primer is a must

First of all, you should consider the outcomes regardless of how long to wait after priming to paint. Here are the cases when you should choose a primer without hesitations:

  1. Rough surface. It is the first and foremost sign that you can not escape a primer. Painting woods, bricks, or gypsum boards require an undercoat. The paint does not look well when it gets into the scratches or pores, and you will spend even more time and money to correct the result.
  2. Changing the existing color to a lighter one. Getting the desired bright color is easier with the white primers that you can find on the market.
  3. Walls with glossy base. Using paint for this surface without a primer is risky because the fresh paint may not stick to it.

If you are going to paint wood, consider using a primer as well. Since paint does not adhere well to woods, applying a priming layer is a perfect idea. Also, it will help to diminish the amount of coating color needed for your project.

As you can see, an undercoat is much more than a time and money waster. There is no doubt that you want to finish the work as soon as possible. Let’s find out more about the primers’ features and calculate the overall time you may spend for your project using this material.

Cases when a primer is a must
Credits: Surakub888, via

Primers: types and their characteristics

How long do you let the primer dry carefully? To reply to this question, reflect on its types and features. Have a glance at the most popular primer types represented on the market:

Primer Type Duration period Appliance Features
Acrylic/Latex (water-based) Up to 30 days The base for water-based paints

Oil-based (alkyd) Up to 14 days A broad range of appliances (e.g., wood and metal), fits for oil and latex paints Prevents stains, includes harmful volatile compounds
Shellac Up to 3 days Interior and exterior surfaces made of wood, metal, plastic, and plaster, fit for acrylic and oil paints Adhesive, fast-drying, blocks stains

Up to 18 hours Fits for metallic, wooden, and plastic previously painted surfaces, sanding, and designing bright colors Provides adhesion and hard layer surface and requires sanding

Depending on the surface and purpose, you can choose the most suitable primer that responds to your needs.

Related: How to Make Oil Paint Dry Faster?

The overall time between primer and paint

When you start working with any building material, including primer, take your time to observe its qualities in detail.

Counting how long can primer sit before painting may come uneasy since this process depends on several factors:

Type of primer Time
Water-based Up to 3 hours
Oil-based Up to 24 hours
Environmental conditions Time

Humidity recommended 50%

recommended 77 degrees Fahrenheit

Any environmental deviation impacts the length of periods between primer and paint, either lengthening or shortening it.

Humidity is a more influential factor than temperature since it shows the level of water molecules in the air. Hence, in coldish dry weather, a prime will dry faster than on a hot wet day.

The spread legend about diminishing the drying period depending on a surface is unfounded. Although wood possesses some thermal features, this characteristic does not make a real impact. To count the drying period, you should disregard the surface type entirely.

The overall time between primer and paint
Credits: Sergey_Khramov, via

Related: How to Make Spray Paint Not Sticky?

How to know that the primer layer is ready for painting?

How long should you wait to paint after primer? That is vital to know for accurate planning of your repair. Leave a primer at least for 12-24 hours regardless of its type if you have some spare time.

Remember that primers can not sit on a surface for long. The maximal period for latex primers (water-based) is 30 days. Oil-based ones sit up to 2 weeks only.

To know these details, check the label of the undercoat you purchased. Also, consider environmental conditions, such as heat and humidity. Dust and other grime that gets to the surface spoil surface texture.

Therefore, allow primer drying but do not exceed the period stated on the label.

Checking the undercoat is easy: touch it and ensure that the layer does not stick to your finger. If it is still tacky, give it more time to dry.

Otherwise, you will not avoid paint slippage. However, some paints do require adhesive primer. Read the paint label and meet the requirements for the best results.

Touch lightly first. It should not come off on your finger. Even when all is fine, leave it for extra 30 minutes as a backup. Remember, too soon painting will ruin the job.

A Guide To Dry Sanding Primer For Paint - Car Restoration TipsA Guide To Dry Sanding Primer For Paint – Car Restoration Tips

How long to wait for the primer to dry?

So, How to shorten a primer’s drying period? There are cases when you need even more than one primer layer (depending on your project).

The quality of surface and type of undercoat may require additional layers. Reasonably, it would be an excellent idea to shorten the period between these sessions.

How long after can you put a second coat of paint on after a primer? Which are the ways of shortening it?

The drying period remains the same. But there are a few handy tricks that you may use to speed up an undercoat’s drying time. Since it depends on temperature and humidity, you can try switching on an air conditioner, heating system, or using a dehumidifier.

Air circulation is a perfect idea to speed up the drying process.

Except for the technologies, pay attention to the depth of your layers. Naturally, thick ones will require more time to dry, while thin ones less.

Also, you can use talcum powder which helps eliminate extra moisture.

Try it on a small surface area to see if it works properly. You may also want to dry, adding some additional compounds into the primer (e.g., Japan Dryer) to make it drain faster. That is especially appropriate for water-based primers.

How long to wait for primer to dry
Credits: darksoul72, via

Fixing problems with primer

How long does it take primer paint to dry if some problems occur? Add some spare time for possible issues which may happen with an undercoat. Here is the problem/solution table:

Problem Reason Solution
Undercoat runs or drips Too think layers of primer Use sandpaper or sand block, then eliminate sand waste
Accumulates dust An extended period of drying Wipe the surface gently, using a microfibre cloth. Do not drench the tissue. Most primers are not waterproof. If the wall is too dirty and you need to wash it, be ready for one more layer of primer then
Scratches Sudden drying surface damage Recoat the surface using a compact brush for small areas or paint rollers for significant fixes

Avoiding these problems requires practice, so do not be upset if one of these problems happens. Things will go better next time with the new layer of primer.

Fixing problems with primer
Credits: poznyakov, via


Sanding is a necessary stage for porous surfaces that accept paint badly. Also, it needs those for additional layers of undercoat. Eventually, implementing it is a guarantee that your paint will stick reliably.

So if you feel like sanding will be helpful, do not waste your time for corrections later and do it in time.

The prime purpose of sanding is to make the surface as flat as possible, eliminating all imperfections. Also, it helps to get rid of the tiny fibers that painting may cause. However, you can proceed after the primer is dry entirely.

Credits: GalinkaLB, via

Spray painting

When you use spray paint, wait until prime is ready for it as it comes with the usual one. Since spray works best in low temperatures, work outside when the temperature is 65-85 °F with minimal or preferably completely absent humidity.

It will provide perfect paint adhesion and quick drying.

Make sure that the undercoat is ready for painting. Otherwise, you will get wrinkles on the walls.

Primers for a car painting

Primers are also widely used in automotive painting, creating a smooth surface and preventing corrosion.

Primers sit on a vehicle about 24 hours before applying the first layer of paint.

Some undercoats have exclusive features and get dried within 30 minutes. Nevertheless, practicians suggest waiting for 24 hours.

Primers for a car painting
Credits: unusual111, via

Alternative of primer

An extensive range of building materials and accessories offers self-priming paint. It is a Wild Card for those who want to ease the priming process as much as possible.

It is a paint that does not require preliminary coating and works on most surfaces. However, it has some nuances: It can produce spotty results on porous and glossy surfaces.

Besides, using it does not exclude the presence of a flat facet.

For this reason, professionals do not rely on it, using the classic stage of priming, which provides more predictable and beautiful results.

Alternative of primer
Credits: amedeoemaja, via

The Takeaway

Now you have all the information and can start applying primer. Knowledge will help finish your project easily, escaping possible problems or results issues, saving time and money.

Whichever type of undercoat you select, remember that painting is not allowed after 30 days. The period can be even shorter depending on the primer brand.

Thin and carefully applied layers of primer will get dried quickly and bring maximally comfortable conditions for painting.

The Takeaway
Credits: mikrokon, via

Consider the weather conditions if you are busy with the exterior project or create the necessary air temperature and humidity if you work inside.

Apply the tips mentioned in the article and enjoy your painting!

Frequently Asked Questions

⭐ How long after primer can you paint

You can paint within 3 hours up to 30 days, depending on the type of primer.

⭐ How long after applying primer can you send paint?

You can start sanding as soon as your primer has dried for up to 3-30 days.

⭐ How long after using alkyd primer can you paint?

Up to 30 days

⭐ How long can you paint after applying shellac-based primer on a joint compound?

During 3 days

⭐ How long can the primer sit before painting a car?

24 hours

Written by
Melinda worked as an art consultant and Home Designer for eight years in total. As an art consultant, she was first employed in a local art gallery in San Francisco where she was responsible for picking the most suitable artwork for her clients depending on their goals and budget. At this job, Melinda showed herself as a confident specialist and a true art lover with exceptional taste and artistic sense. Melinda is a passionate author of Housekeeping Bay and we are really happy that she is our Expert.
Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here.
Why Prime Before Painting? How to PaintWhy Prime Before Painting? How to Paint