How Long Does It Take Stain To Dry? | Woodwork Hubby | Woodworking | Woodwork projects | Woodcarving (2022)

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So you have finally finished your woodworking project and it is time to apply the stain but you may be wondering how long will it take for that stain to dry before I can move on to applying a polyurethane topcoat. So how long does it take stain to dry?

Most wood stains take between 1 hour to 48 hours to completely dry for a single coat of stain in optimal conditions. The drying time will vary depending on which stain is being used.

There are many other factors that will influence this drying time like the characteristics of the wood and environmental conditions at the time of application.

If you are wishing for a perfectly stained wooden surface, keep reading the article. I’ll try to answer all your questions and will also give you some tips.

What are the different stains and their drying times?

How Long Does It Take Stain To Dry? | Woodwork Hubby | Woodworking | Woodwork projects | Woodcarving (1)

Some stain products take 12 to 24 hours to dry while others take around 6 to 12 hours. The time taken by the stain to dry will heavily depend on the type and the brand of stain used.

Therefore, it’d be wrong to assume that all stain products will dry up at the same time. There is a range of different wood stain products available in the market, having different drying times.

When you use thick penetrative stains, it penetrates right into the wood and seals it. Thus, the top appears to be dry within a few hours. You can apply a thick stain. Wait for 1 or 2 days and test the surface.

If penetrative stain is applied very thickly, then it might take longer to dry up or in worst cases, remain sticky to touch even after much time has passed.

(Video) Biggest wood staining mistakes and misconceptions | Wood staining BASICS

If you apply thinner non-penetrative stains, it will take a few weeks to dry up completely. You should consider leaving it as it is for 1 week or more than that before applying the next coat.

Latex stains need a considerably longer time to dry up entirely. It might take around 2-3 weeks. These stains are rarely used on most woodworking projects.

The following table contains the average drying time of different stains when only a single coat is applied:

Stain TypeDrying Time
Interior Water Based1-2 hours
Interior Oil Based2 hours
Exterior Water Based24 hours
Exterior Oil Based48 hours
Gel Based10 hours

Popular Stains Drying Time

Now that you know a general overview of stain drying times, let’s take a look at some of the more popular stains I and others use to see what their particular drying times are.

Stain TypeImageDrying TimeNotes
Behr Oil
Based Stain
How Long Does It Take Stain To Dry? | Woodwork Hubby | Woodworking | Woodwork projects | Woodcarving (2)1-2 hours72 hours needed
to fully dry
before top coatCabot’s Oil
Based Stain
Cabot’s Oil
Based Stain
How Long Does It Take Stain To Dry? | Woodwork Hubby | Woodworking | Woodwork projects | Woodcarving (3)24-48 hoursEasy to use stain
Minwax Standard and Performance StainHow Long Does It Take Stain To Dry? | Woodwork Hubby | Woodworking | Woodwork projects | Woodcarving (4)2-12 hoursRecommend 8 hours before
Re applying
Minwax Gel StainHow Long Does It Take Stain To Dry? | Woodwork Hubby | Woodworking | Woodwork projects | Woodcarving (5)24 hoursRe-coat in 8-10 hours
Minwax Water
Based Stain
How Long Does It Take Stain To Dry? | Woodwork Hubby | Woodworking | Woodwork projects | Woodcarving (6)3 hoursRe-coat after 5 hours
Varathine Standard
Stain
How Long Does It Take Stain To Dry? | Woodwork Hubby | Woodworking | Woodwork projects | Woodcarving (7)2 hoursTouch dry after 1 hour
Varathine Gel StainHow Long Does It Take Stain To Dry? | Woodwork Hubby | Woodworking | Woodwork projects | Woodcarving (8)2 hoursWait 8 hours before re-coating
Osmo StainHow Long Does It Take Stain To Dry? | Woodwork Hubby | Woodworking | Woodwork projects | Woodcarving (9)12 hoursCan take longer depending on temperature
Olympic Elite StainHow Long Does It Take Stain To Dry? | Woodwork Hubby | Woodworking | Woodwork projects | Woodcarving (10)24-48 hoursRemarkable quality stain
Wood Stain By
General Finishes
How Long Does It Take Stain To Dry? | Woodwork Hubby | Woodworking | Woodwork projects | Woodcarving (11)3-4 hoursDepending on temperature

Factors That Affect Drying Time

Brand: The drying time of the stain depends on the brand that you choose. Some take 6-12 hours to dry up while some require 12-24 hours. I advise checking the label on the can to see what its exact drying time is and how long you have to wait before you can recoat.

Temperature: Be mindful of the heat in the room where you plan to stain. The ideal temperature to stain as per industry experts is 50-85o F (10-29°C). Anything lower than this can affect the drying time of your stain.

Humidity: Stain drys by the pigments soaking into the wood while the moisture in the stain evaporates. If you try staining on a humid day or time of the year, this can significantly impact the drying time of your stain.

(Video) Wood Stain Dry Time | Quick Tip Tuesday

Avoid staining in humid regions. If your workplace is humid, change the spot. Do not stain in too much sun or too much wind. Try to stain in shade for better results. Don’t stain on rainy days either for the best results.

Air circulation: The more air circulating in your workshop, the better. With sufficient air, the stain remains in place and the moisture goes out. Open windows and use fans for quick drying up of the stain.

How Long Does It Take Stain To Dry? | Woodwork Hubby | Woodworking | Woodwork projects | Woodcarving (12)

How Can I Shorten The Drying Process?

Though I’ll always advise following the manufacturer’s guidelines, you can quicken the drying process in the following ways:

Increase temperature: You can increase the temperature to 80-90o F (26-32°C) to bring the drying time down. Remember, if the temperature goes beyond 90o F, then the stain will not be able to penetrate the surface and you will not get the desired result.

Use a fan: You can use a fan or open windows to help the stain dry up faster. This will also have no adverse effect. Try using oscillating fans. It will dry up the stain evenly.

Apply thinner coats: Apply thinner coats and you will see the stain drying up faster. Wipe off the excess stain using a clean cloth or brush but make sure you don’t end up wiping off the stain.

For more information on staining drying times, check out the following video:

https://youtu.be/DHGzH_vpkHs

(Video) How to Stain Your Woodworking Project

Helpful Hints For Drying Times

  • While buying and before using the stain, remember to read the outer label on the product can. It will give you all the details about the product directly from the manufacturer.
  • Look out for the information regarding the drying time of the stain so that you can plan when to apply polyurethane.
  • Stick to the guidelines or specific instructions of the manufacturer as mentioned on the product can.
  • Follow exactly the instructions printed on the label. Coming from the manufacturer, this is the most reliable and authentic information about the product.

Conclusion – How Long Does It Take Stain To Dry?

As you can see from above there are a lot of factors that affect stain drying times. As a general rule of thumb for most stains, I suggest allowing 24-48 hours of dry time before recoating or applying a finishing top coat of Polyurethane.

If you need to apply a second coat of stain, the drying time will likely take a little longer so please factor this in before applying any topcoats.

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I hope this information has been helpful to you and please feel free to reach out to me and say hi.

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FAQs

How Long Does It Take Stain To Dry? | Woodwork Hubby | Woodworking | Woodwork projects | Woodcarving? ›

Depending on the type of stain you are using, most stains are dry and cured within 24 hours to 48 hours. After that time, it's safe for additional coats or to apply polyurethane or the sealer of your choice.

How long does it take for wood stain to dry completely? ›

You should also consider the type of wood you are staining, amount of stain you're applying, and weather conditions, like humidity, temperature, and air circulation. On average, wood stain takes about 24 to 72 hours to fully dry and cure, though you can typically add a second coat after about four hours.

How long does stain take to dry crafts? ›

On average, stains take around 24 to 48 hours to dry. Some brands or stain types may take longer or up to 72 hours. Many factors go into the drying time.

How long should stain dry before wiping? ›

Wipe the stain off immediately if you'd like a lighter tone. But for a deeper tone, leave the stain on the wood for 5 to 10 minutes before wiping it off. Be sure to wipe off all the excess stain going in the direction of the grain of the wood.

How do you dry stain quickly? ›

Satin sheets should be hung to air-dry or tumbled on low heat and removed from the dryer while still slightly damp. Satin clothes should be dried flat away from direct heat and sunlight to prevent damaging and weakening of the long fibers.

Will sticky stain eventually dry? ›

In contrast, when stain is left to sit on the wood, the solvents that make the stain a liquid will eventually evaporate. However, the pigments remain behind, creating a sticky mess on the top of the wood. What is this? That sticky pigment mess will never dry, no matter how long you wait.

Does stain dry faster in heat or cold? ›

David and Ash agree that hot weather is worse than cold weather for staining wood. Extreme heat causes the stain to dry too quickly, leading to uneven color and brush strokes.

Does stain get darker as it dries? ›

Apply a second coat of stain after the first has dried fully. This will usually produce a darker coloring, but it adds a step to the process and slows production. Substitute a glaze or gel stain for the liquid stain. Glazes and gel stains usually contain a higher ratio of pigment.

How many coats of stain should you do? ›

We always recommend two coats of stain for any wood project, but you should only apply as much stain as the wood can absorb. Extremely dense hardwoods may only be able to absorb one coat of wood stain. The general rule of thumb is to apply only as much as the wood can absorb.

What happens if it rains on fresh stain? ›

If it rains within 48 hours of applying a treatment, the water will soak into the wood, and try and displace the stain. This can cause a blotchy, flaky look, rather than a smooth, even, coat. If it rains immediately after you've stained the wood, the stain will peel and flake off.

Should I use a rag or brush to stain wood? ›

The best way to apply stain is with a lint free rag and wiping it into the grain of the wood. Using a lint free rag is the best way to apply wood stain because it is great for controlling the amount of stain that is applied and for removing any excess stain.

Can you leave stain on wood overnight? ›

No, the sticky pigment that remains if you apply excess stain never dries no matter how long you wait. So, it is crucial to wipe off any excess product within a maximum of 5 to 10 minutes. Otherwise, the solvents will evaporate and leave a sticky mess.

What happens if you don't wipe off wood stain? ›

Wood stain is designed to penetrate into the grain of the wood, not to remain on the surface. If you happen to spread it too thickly, or you forget to wipe off excess, the material that remains on the surface will become sticky.

Can you speed up stain drying time? ›

Increased air circulation within a room will directly speed up the drying process of wood stains. Place a fan in the room where you have your woodworking project and switch it on to boost air circulation around the place. The fan will act like wind, blowing away moisture from your recently stained piece of wood.

How long does oil based stain take to dry? ›

Oil based products dry more slowly than water based products. In good conditions, allow 6-8 hours. In cold or damp conditions, allow 24 hours.

What does sponging a stain mean? ›

Sponging is another technique in which clean absorbent pads are used. The stained item should be laid on a pad, stainside down, if possible. You may have to sponge stains on carpets without any absorbent pad beneath, in which case you must be especially careful to wet the carpet as little as possible.

Does stain get darker as it dries? ›

Apply a second coat of stain after the first has dried fully. This will usually produce a darker coloring, but it adds a step to the process and slows production. Substitute a glaze or gel stain for the liquid stain. Glazes and gel stains usually contain a higher ratio of pigment.

How many coats of stain should you do? ›

We always recommend two coats of stain for any wood project, but you should only apply as much stain as the wood can absorb. Extremely dense hardwoods may only be able to absorb one coat of wood stain. The general rule of thumb is to apply only as much as the wood can absorb.

Why is my wood stain sticky? ›

Stain becomes sticky on a wooden surface because it doesn't have a binder, such as you find in paint or varnish. When the solvent evaporates, all that remains is the pigment and the oil that is carrying it. An easy way to remove this is simply to apply another heavy coat of stain.

How long after staining wood can you apply polyurethane? ›

How long should you wait between applying a stain and a polyurethane coating? Considering that most commonly used stains take between 12 to 24 hours to dry and cure completely, it's good practice to wait a full 24 hours before applying polyurethane sealer to your workpiece after your stain has been applied.

Videos

1. Watch This Before Buying Pre-Stain Conditioner for Woodworking Projects
(731 Woodworks)
2. It Matters How You Dry Your Wood
(The Lone Woodman)
3. 5 Weird Wood Staining Techniques. Natural Wood Coloring Hacks That Really Work.
(Steve Ramsey - Woodworking for Mere Mortals)
4. How To Stain And Finish Your Project - WOOD magazine
(WOOD magazine)
5. How to Un-Blotch Your Stain with Mike Montgomery: How to Undo (Episode 9)
(The Home Depot)
6. Using Mineral Spirits to Show Wood Grain
(WoodWorkers Guild Of America)

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