Before you can recoat, clean, and use your linseed oil finish, the wood oil needs to dry. So how long does it take for linseed oil to dry?
It takes boiled linseed oil 24 hours to dry between coats but 3 days for the entire finish to cure. Boiled linseed oil contains drying agents and petroleum-based solvents like mineral spirits that make it dry quickly.
Raw linseed oil takes 3 days to dry between coats but 2-6 weeks for the entire finish to cure. It’s advised to apply linseed oil only in temperatures above 60 degrees Fahrenheit and you should wipe off the excess wood oil after application.
You should also know that the ambient temperature and humidity affect the dry time of linseed oil. This post explains more about the dry time of linseed oil including methods to make the linseed oil dry faster. Let’s dive in.
How Long Should Linseed Oil Dry Between Coats?
You should let linseed oil dry for at least 24 hours between coats. Boiled linseed oil takes 24 hours to dry between coats while raw linseed oil takes 3 days or 72 hours. The presence of oil thinners and drying agents in boiled linseed oil makes it dry faster. In cold and moist conditions, you should leave double the usual dry time because linseed oil; boiled or not takes longer to dry in humid conditions.
The time to dry between coats means how long to wait before applying another coat of linseed oil. The manufacturers usually indicate how long to wait between coats on the linseed oil container and for boiled linseed oil, it’s usually 24 hours.
This is due to the drying agents in the oil. For raw linseed oil, it’s difficult to put a definite figure on the dry time but it’s usually within 3 days. This is because raw linseed oil doesn’t have drying agents in its formula.
You should know that linseed oil can take longer to dry and this is usually the case in moist conditions. Raw linseed oil especially is very sensitive to temperature and the weather so when it’s moist, raw linseed oil will take longer to dry between coats. But the weather isn’t the only factor that determines linseed oil dry time. Let’s check out other factors next.
Factors That Influence Linseed Oil Drying Time:
Here are five factors that determine the dry time of linseed oil:
1. The Number of Coats
A lot of people don’t know this but the number of linseed oil coats determines how long it will take to dry.
When you apply more coats of linseed oil, the finish will take longer to dry because there are more oils in the finish meaning that evaporation will take longer. But when you apply fewer coats, there are fewer oils in the finish so evaporation and drying will occur faster.
This doesn’t mean you should go ahead to apply a few coats of linseed oil because you want it to dry quicker. If you do this, the finish will dry quicker but it will not be durable.
2. The Type of Linseed Oil
There are different types of linseed oil and we’ll get into their different drying times later. But, the type and sometimes the brand of linseed oil that you are using determines how long it will take to dry.
For instance, if you apply raw linseed to your kitchen cabinet and boiled linseed oil on the tabletop, the boiled linseed oil will dry several hours faster than the raw linseed oil because it has drying agents.
3. The Ambient Temperature and Weather
The ambient temperature means the temperature around the linseed oil coating. Linseed oil is very sensitive to the ambient temperature so if the temperature in the room is cool, the linseed oil coating will take longer to dry.
If the weather is dry and warm, then the linseed oil will dry quickly. You should only apply linseed oil when the temperature is above 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Also similar to the ambient temperature is the weather.
Oftentimes, the weather determines the ambient temperature so both of these factors work hand-in-hand. In both of these conditions, the linseed oil is affected so only apply the wood oil when the weather and temperature are favorable.
The humidity levels also affect the linseed oil dry time. Humidity measures the level of moisture or water in the atmosphere.
Water gets introduced into the atmosphere in many ways and if the humidity is measured at over 60%, you shouldn’t apply linseed oil because it will take several hours or days to dry.
The ideal humidity levels for linseed oil are between 45% and 60%. You can reduce the humidity levels in a room by using a dehumidifier.
5. The Applicator Method
The method of applying the linseed oil also determines its dry time. You can wipe on linseed oil with a rag or brush it on with a bristled paintbrush.
Paintbrush applicators often make linseed oil dry faster since thinner coats are applied. Rags on the other hand absorb more linseed oil than brushes and lay it on thicker so it would take longer to dry.
Did You Wipe The Linseed Oil?
After applying linseed oil, you have to wipe off the excess within 20 minutes so it can dry faster. If you don’t wipe off the excess wood oil, each coat will take longer to dry.
Next, let’s check out how to make linseed oil dry faster.
How to Make Linseed Oil Dry Faster?
There are 2 ways to make linseed oil dry faster:
- The pre-application method
- The post-application method
This guide will show you how both methods work and how you can use them.
1. The Pre-Application Method
The pre-application method involves steps that you can take to modify the linseed oil before its application. This includes thinning the wood oil with solvents so it becomes lighter and dries faster.
You can thin linseed oil with mineral spirits, turpentine, and white spirits. All of these are petroleum-based solvents that are compatible with linseed oil.
For this method, you’ll need these tools and supplies:
- Mineral spirits or turpentine
- A paint mixer or stirring stick
- A clean paint bucket
- A pair of gloves
- A measuring cup (optional)
Here is a guide for this method:
- Pour the linseed oil from its container into a clean paint bucket.
- Measure the needed amount of thinner – for mineral spirits, measure 2 parts linseed oil to one-part mineral spirits. For turpentine, measure 1-part turpentine to 2 parts linseed oil.
- Pour the measured thinner into the paint bucket with the linseed oil.
- Stir the mixture for a few minutes until the flow and look is even – there shouldn’t be any clumps in the wood oil.
- Let the wood oil settle and test it before applying it over the rest of the surface.
Tip: When working with thinners and solvents, always put on a pair of gloves and breathing protection.
2. The Post-Application Method
The post-application method includes steps you can take after applying the linseed oil to make it dry faster. This include:
- Opening all windows and doors so there is better airflow for the linseed oil to dry.
- Use a heater or hair dryer to suspend heat over the linseed oil coating.
- Reduce room humidity with a dehumidifier.
- Turn on the fans in the room so there is better air circulation around the linseed oil.
- Use paint tents to prevent dust and mildew from growing on the wet linseed oil coating.
- Wipe off the excess linseed oil a few minutes after its application.
All of these steps can be used after applying linseed oil and they help make the finish dry faster.
Here are 10 other tips to follow when applying linseed oil so it dries faster:
- Apply the wood oil only when the temperature and humidity are favorable.
- Don’t apply too many coats of linseed oil.
- Always wipe off excess linseed oil after application.
- Never apply linseed oil on a wet surface.
- Choose boiled linseed oil over raw linseed oil.
- Thin the linseed oil with mineral spirits before application.
- Provide proper ventilation in the room before applying linseed oil.
- Don’t use or clean the linseed oil before it has cured – the solvent or cleaner can dissolve the linseed oil making it wet again.
- Scuff between coats of linseed oil with fine-grit sandpaper so the next coat can adhere and dry properly.
- Always wipe and clean the surface before applying linseed oil. If the surface is dusty, the dust nibs will not allow the oil to stick making the linseed oil dry slower than usual.
Different Types of Linseed Oil And Their Drying Time:
Refined Linseed Oil
Refined linseed oil takes between 12 and 24 hours to dry enough for recoat but the entire finish takes 3-5 days to cure. The reason the wood oil dries fast is that it is lighter and reinforced with additives that reduce its dry time.
Refined linseed oil is linseed oil that has gone through mechanical pressing, chemical additives, and has been mixed with solvents. This type of linseed oil is lighter than others which explains why it dries fast. Refined and boiled linseed oil have a similar dry time.
Double-Boiled Linseed Oil
Double-boiled linseed oil dries in 12 hours for a recoat and the entire finish takes just over 24 hours to dry.
Double-boiled linseed oil has been heated twice and mixed with a higher volume of drying agents and solvents than boiled linseed oil. Since there is a higher level of drying agents in the wood oil, it dries faster.
Polymerized Linseed Oil
It takes polymerized linseed oil 24 hours to dry for a recoat and up to 5 days to fully cure. Polymerized linseed oil is known to have a similar dry time as boiled linseed oil.
The wood oil is gotten by exposing raw linseed oil to a heat source. The heat causes the linseed oil to become thinner and dry quickly.
In summary, there are different types of linseed oils and they each have a distinct dry time. To know for sure how long the wood oil will take to dry, check the manufacturer’s instructions.
But on average, linseed oil coats take 24 hours to dry and 3 days to cure unless you are dealing with raw linseed oil that can take several weeks.
Finally, always allow each coat of linseed oil to dry enough before applying the next coat. This way, you won’t experience bleed-through and the finish can dry quicker.