Wood stain drying time refers to the duration it takes for the coating to completely dry and cure on the surface.
Water-based wood stain takes less than 30 minutes between coats and around 24 hours to cure. Oil-based wood stain takes around 1 hour to dry between coats and 48-72 hours to dry.
To make wood stain dry faster increase the solvent evaporation rate.
Factors That Determine Drying Time
The factors that determine the drying time are listed below.
- The Number of Coats.
- Wood Stain Type.
- Air Circulation.
Humidity refers to the level of water vapor (or moisture) in the atmosphere. The humidity levels are higher during (and after) rain — which is why painting or staining isn’t recommended after rain.
Wood stains will take longer to dry if the humidity levels are above 50% because the evaporation rate will be slower.
The Number of Coats
The more coats you apply, the longer they take to dry. You have to wait at least 1 hour between coats of stain — if you add 3 or 4 coats it means you have to wait over 4 hours(1 hour per each) until you are done with the project.
If you re-coat too soon, it will take even longer for both coats to dry. So, the number of coats will determine the drying time.
Wood Stain Type
Different wood stain types have different drying times. For instance, oil-based stain takes longer to dry than water-based stains.
Wood stains dry based on their evaporation rate; the higher the air circulation the faster the solvent will evaporate.
It’s recommended to open windows to improve the air circulation around a coating.
How Long Does Wood Stain Take To Dry Between Coats?
Wood stain takes around 1 hour to dry between coats. This gives the coating enough time to harden and become compact enough to support additional coatings.
The dry time between coats depends on the humidity levels, number of coats, type of stain, air circulation, and room temperature.
For instance, water-based wood stain takes less than one (1) hour to dry between coats because its solvent (water) evaporates faster. While oil-based wood stain takes 1 hour to dry between coats because its solvent (oil) evaporates slower.
The finish will turn sticky, tacky, or peel off if you re-coat too soon. That’s because the solvent will be trapped between two coatings and prevent them from drying.
A coating is dry enough for a re-coat if:
- It Doesn’t Feel Sticky When Touched – Fresh stains will be sticky if you touch them because their coating is still wet. When dry, the coating won’t feel sticky. Instead, it will be hard.
- The Coating is Hard – When the stain has dried, the particles will have bonded tightly. This will make the coating super hard when touched.
- The Color Won’t Come Off – When you touch a fresh or wet coating, the color will come off on your fingers but when the coating gets dry, the color will not come off.
Related Read: Should You Sand Between Coats of Stain?
How Long Does Wood Stain Take to Cure?
Water-based stain cures within 24 hours, while oil-based stain takes 48-72 hours to dry. The cure time refers to the time to wait before the finish can be subjected to regular use and cleaning.
For wood stain to cure, the solvent must evaporate from the coating and the particles (and colorants) must bond with each other. The process of particles and colorants bonding is called polymerization.
The evaporation and polymerization of the coating can take between a few hours and over 5 days depending on the base of the stain.
Water-based wood stains cure (fully dry) faster because they use water as their solvent and contain fewer chemicals and particles, so the evaporation and polymerization process is completed faster.
Oil-based wood stains take up to 3 days to cure (fully dry) because they use oil (natural or synthetic) as their solvent and contain more chemicals, so the evaporation and polymerization process takes longer to complete.
How To Make Wood Stain Dry Faster?
To make wood stain dry faster, increase the evaporation rate by increasing the heat around the coating.
To increase the evaporation rate of the coating, do the following.
- Plug in and turn on the hairdryer.
- Set the heat to medium (about 150 degrees F).
- Move the hairdryer around the coating for about 10 minutes.
- Turn off the hairdryer and let the coating dry naturally.
Tip: Don’t use the hairdryer to dry the coating completely as it makes the particles dry too fast. The coating won’t be durable if the particles dry too fast since they don’t have enough time to bond naturally.
Other methods to make wood stain dry faster are listed below.
- Increase air circulation by opening all doors, and windows, and turning on the fans.
- Use a dehumidifier in the room.
- Don’t apply stain in moist conditions.
- Ensure the surface to be stained is clean and properly sanded.
- Use a stain-blocking primer.
Interior vs. Exterior Stain: Dry Time
Interior wood stains dry faster than exterior types. That’s because the exterior stains have a higher volume of additives and chemicals in their formula meant to protect the finish from the elements and harsh outdoor conditions. These additives take longer to evaporate, so the coating takes longer to dry.
Interior stain doesn’t have these chemicals or additives because it isn’t used outdoors. As a result, it has a much simpler formula which makes it dry faster. However, there are variations based on the weather temperature.
For instance, exterior stains take longer to dry when the weather is warm. When the weather is warm or hot, the exterior stain is exposed to a higher level of heat (outdoors) which increases the rate of evaporation. Also, the coating is exposed to dry air which accelerates the oxidization rate as well.
However, when the weather gets cold or moist as it does during the cold winter months, the interior stain will dry faster. This is because the weather outside will be cold and moist. This will make the exterior stain remain sticky or wet for several hours. Since the interior stain is shielded from moisture and cold weather, it will dry faster.
On average, interior stains dry fully in less than 24 hours while exterior stains can take up to 72 hours to dry. This is because
How Long Do Different Types of Wood Stain Take To Dry?
Different types of wood stains and their drying time are listed below.
Deck stain takes around 3 hours to dry enough for a re-coat, 24 hours to become water-resistant, and 72 hours to dry enough so you can walk over it.
Deck stain dries fast because it’s usually applied outdoors and exposed to weather elements (wind and dry air). The outdoor weather elements will accelerate the evaporation rate and make the coating dry water.
The outdoor temperature plays a big role in the drying time. For instance, during the cold winter months, the stain takes longer to dry because the weather is cold and moist. Cold and moist weather slow down the evaporation rate.
Gel stain takes around 12 hours to dry between coats and 24 hours to cure (fully dry). Gel stain has a slow dry time because its flow is thick and takes longer to solidify, and it uses oil as its solvent which takes longer to evaporate.
Minwax Stain takes around 4-12 hours to dry between coats. According to its manufacturers, Minwax stain must dry for at least 4-6 hours after it is applied.
The slow dry time is because it uses oil as its solvent which takes longer to evaporate.
Floor stain dries within 10-24 hours after applying, but you must wait 48 hours before you can walk over it. It must cure (fully dry) for 4 days before putting furniture over it.
Floor stains contain lots of additives and come in two (2) parts that each must react for the coating to dry. It takes longer for the additives to bind properly and dry.
Concrete stain takes around 30 minutes to dry enough to touch and 24 hours to cure (fully dry). Its formula contains additives that take longer to evaporate. But, these additives make its finish resistant to weather elements.