How Long Does It Take Primer To Dry?

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Using a primer before painting is the best practice in almost every circumstance. Though primer is great for the paint, it can be quite painful to wait for it to dry properly. If you’re new to primer & wondering – how long does it take primer to dry, then this article is for you. 

You may know there are different types of primer available in the current market. Some require less drying time & others require more. It all depends on the primer & the material it’s getting applied to. To know more about different primers and their drying period, follow this article.  

What Is A Primer?

Primer acts as the support for paints or topcoats. The major differences between traditional paint & primer are – primer is made of resins, whereas paint is made of pigments. That’s why you don’t notice any color in primer. The main objective of using a primer is to allow the paint to adhere evenly to normal & slippery surfaces. 

How Long Does It Take A Regular Primer To Dry?

Typically, a regular primer takes 1 to 24 hours to dry, depending on the primer and material type. There are several kinds of primers available in the market & all of them come with different drying periods. Stay tuned as I’ll be discussing some of the major primers & their drying period in the next segment. 

Types Of Different Primers

Not every work requires the same type of primer. That’s why we’ve different types of primers to encounter in our day-to-day life painting work. You’ll find three major primers in the market, such as – Oil-Based Primer, Water-Based Primer & Shellac Primer. 

1. Oil-Based Primer

Oil-based primers are great in terms of sealing stains from heavy traffic areas such as – walls, doors & cabinets. If you prefer using oil-based paint on your beloved furniture, you must use an oil-based primer for the best possible result. However, the oil-based primer contains a heavy amount of COV compounds, which can be an issue with health impact. 

How Much Does It Take To Dry Oil-Based Primer?

Oil-based primer takes up to 24 hours to dry, depending on the surface material. You might feel discouraged using this primer for this massive drying period. I can say, this extended amount of drying time definitely pays off in long term usage. 

2. Water-Based Primer

Water-based primers will be the best choice for people who are concerned about VOC compounds. You can use this primer on softwood, bricks & concrete with its full potential. Water-based primer is the safer & quicker alternative to oil-based primer as it takes very little time to dry (Compared to oil-based primer).

How Much Does It Take To Dry Water-Based Primer?

Water-based primers take around 3 to 4 hours to dry, depending on the surface material. As you can see, a water-based primer takes less time than an oil-based primer & you should consider using it if you’re using water-based paint. 

3. Shellac Primer

Shellac primer works great with interior work as it seals surfaces wonderfully. With little to no disadvantages, this primer comes with lots of benefits. This primer has been praised for decades for the excellent quality it offers. 

How Much Does It Take To Dry Shellac Primer?

Shellac primer takes around 1 hour to dry, depending on the surface material. This primer will be the best choice for people who don’t want to wait several hours for their primer to dry.

When Should You Use A Primer?

Use primer if you want your painting to last longer without peeling off after several days or months. Paint adheres the best if you use primer coating before painting. Though it’s not a mandate to use primer, you’ll certainly notice the difference if you don’t use a primer before painting. 

How Many Coatings Is Perfect?

For most of the painting work, one coating of prime should be enough. You can even use two coatings of primer if you want the best result & that’s why two coatings are the perfect amount in my view. However, use as many coatings you want as there are no real restrictions. 

How Can You Make Primer Dry Faster?

The painting itself is a time-consuming task. On top of that, the primer takes an additional 1 to 24 hours to dry. If you want to make your primer dry faster, then follow these tips mentioned below: 

  • Consider using a dehumidifier in the workplace & it will help to lower the humidity level. 
  • Open windows to have sufficient airflow in the working area.
  • Apply a thin layer of primer first. Later on, use a paint sprayer. 

Precautions To Maintain While Priming:

Whether you’re a beginner or professional, you should be cautious while priming & painting. Consider these tips mentioned below for the safest & greatest result out of your primer: 

  • Make sure your workplace has proper airflow.
  • Don’t use paint too quickly after priming a surface.
  • As some primers are highly flammable, keep them away from gas & fire. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How Soon Do I Have To Paint Over Primer?

As soon as the primer dries completely, you can paint over it. For example – you can paint after 1 hour if you’re using shellac primer. On the other hand, an oil-based primer requires a solid 24 hours before you can paint over it. 

What Happens If You Paint Too Soon?

Applying paint too soon can result in peeling paint, streaks & uneven color. This can ruin the entire project & that’s why it’s the wisest decision to give primer proper time to dry. If you’re in a hurry & want to do the painting job as soon as possible, consider using a primer like a shellac that offers a lesser drying period. 

How Long To Wait Between A Primer And Paint For The Best Results?

You’ll be getting a minimum drying period mentioned with each primer, which doesn’t result in the best results. Whether it’s oil-based, water-based or shellac primer, wait 24 hours between the primer & paint for the best possible results.


I hope this article was helpful enough to satisfy your queries regarding primer & it’s drying period. Don’t be lazy by not applying primer just because it takes a long time to dry.

Consider getting primers like water-based & shellac to save time if you really need to. You can also apply a thin layer of primer to save time. On the whole, don’t skip the priming part.

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