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How Long To Let Primer Dry [Inc. Before Paint, Before Sanding, Before Wallpaper, Or Between Coats]

Primer is a coating used to prepare a surface for painting. It's usually applied to a wooden surface to help the paint adhere properly. However, primer needs time to dry before you can start painting.

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We have scoured the internet for the length of time it takes for a primer to dry completely so you can get the best estimate on when to start your project.

The amount of time it takes for a primer to dry depends on several factors, including the type of primer, humidity, temperature, and the surface you're priming. Generally, you can expect the primer to dry between 1 and 4 hours.

Below is a list of primers and their estimated drying times before you can do what you want to do with the surface (paint, sand, or put up a wallpaper).

  1. Initial coating - 3 hours
  2. Sanding - 1 hour
  3. Putting up wallpaper - 24 hours 
  4. Between coats - 3 hours for water-based primer, 24 hours for an oil-based primer

For starters, the priming stage can be confusing. This article will help you understand the drying time and the differences between various primers, including the ones to choose in which situations to get the job done correctly and efficiently. Keep reading to learn more!

brush roller painting white primer for interior room cement wall renovation architecture banner background, How Long To Let Primer Dry [Inc. Before Paint, Before Sanding, Before Wallpaper, Or Between Coats]?

Why Should I Use A Primer?

A primer is a protective layer that makes your paint stick to the surface. It also helps prevent the paint from peeling, flaking, or chipping.

Primer also helps prepare the surface for the final application of paint, such as topcoats or varnishes (build-up coating).

The first step in priming is cleaning the surface to be painted. You want to ensure the surface is completely dry and free of contaminants.

Cleaning the surface before priming will also give the primer a better chance of adhering to the surface.

Primer comes in different types, and the style you choose depends on the type of surface you are painting and the finish you want to achieve.

Types Of Primers

The painter primes the wall with a primer.

1. Oil-Based Primers

Oil-based primers are the way to go if you're repainting an old house made mostly of wood.

This primer is oil-based and is made to be used with oil-based paint. Its ability to seal porous surfaces makes it a great choice if you want to add a fresh coat of paint, especially on your exterior trim and doors.

Oil-based primer also has excellent adhesion, allowing you to start painting right after it dries to the touch. Plus, because it's oil-based, it is water-resistant, which gives the wood surface additional years of use and life.

Oil-based primers are more forgiving than water-based primers. If your walls are stained or covered in tannins, oil-based primers will seal the surface so that you don't have to worry about unsightly wood stains.

Most oil-based primers come with an odor, but they are worth the price for the benefits.

The smell is not very strong and is quickly covered up by the actual paint. Let the primer dry completely before painting to eliminate the odor and ensure that the color stays where it belongs.

Oil-based primer provides an easy surface for the paint to adhere to. However, it also increases the brittleness of the painted surface, thus making it more prone to peeling and cracking than a water-based primer.

Check out this oil-based primer on Amazon.

2. Latex Primers

Latex primers are most often used for walls because they are water-based and dry faster than oil-based primers.

They are also less brittle and easier to handle than oil-based primers, making them suitable for wall surfaces and other areas prone to expanding and contracting.

Check out this latex primer on Amazon.

3. Shellac Primers

Shellac is a type of resin derived from lac bugs' secretions. The bugs are placed in a controlled environment that forces them to secrete a sticky resin.

The resin is then dried in an oven and ground into a powder you can use to make shellac.

If you're planning on using shellac for your next project, there are a few things you need to know. First, shellac works as an interior primer but is not recommended for exterior use.

Since you can use it in conjunction with other paints, one can apply it over several different finishes.

To apply shellac, you'll need to mix it with a thinner before using it.

You can use a spray gun to make life easier for this. You'll want to mix the shellac with thinners like turpentine or acetone. Avoid mixing mineral spirits with shellac as it is petroleum-based.

After mixing, you'll want to spray it on a clean, dry surface. It's important to keep the surface clean and dry before spraying. Otherwise, you'll risk causing cracks or other damage.

You may want to watch this video explaining the importance of priming before painting:

How To Apply Primer And How Long To Let It Dry Before Initial Paint?

Use a paintbrush to apply a thin layer of primer to the entire surface you're going to paint. Dampen the brush with little water so the bristles can effectively absorb the primer.

Apply the primer until it is evenly distributed on the surface. Next, you'll need to wait about 3 hours for the primer to completely cure before applying your first coat of paint.

Primers dry to touch in an hour but to achieve the best results; it's highly recommended that you let it cure. If your room is particularly humid, the drying time could take longer.

How Long Should I Let Primer Dry Before Between Coats?

Most oil-based primers need at least 24 hours to dry before you can apply a second coat. For water-based paints, you may need to wait at least 3 hours. You will need to wait longer if you have multiple coats of paint.

If you're unsure how much time has passed since your last coat of primer, you can always test the paint. Gently rub the paint on the surface.

If it appears wet and sticky, it's still tacky and needs more drying time. Otherwise, you're good.

Interior decoration of a house or room. Primer the walls with a primer or paint. Repair and priming the wall before painting or applying plaster.

How Long Do You Let Primer Dry Before Sanding?

As a general rule, always let your primer dry for at least 1 hour before you start sanding. Sanding may cause the primer to come off on the surface if it's still tacky, rendering your efforts useless.

After your primer has dried, you can use fine sandpaper to smoothen and polish the surface.

Make sure to work in small sections at a time and use fine-grit sandpaper between 320 to 400 to avoid scratches. If you feel the need, you can also apply a second coat of primer on top of your initial coat.

Sanding is an essential step in preparing your wood for painting.

You want to sand the surfaces to make them smooth, but you don't want to apply so much pressure in this case because sanding here is to polish the surface.

How To Apply Wallpaper Primer [And How Long To Let It Dry]

construction worker painter man with protective helmet

Wallpaper primer is a quick and easy way to prepare a wall for wallpaper. There are some guidelines to follow when applying the primer and hanging the wallpaper.

Here are the steps below:

1. Clean The Wall/Surface

First, you'll want to clean the wall thoroughly. You must remove any loose wallpaper, nail holes, and other debris.

2. Apply primer

Apply the wallpaper primer to the wall and allow it to dry for at least 30 minutes. You should use an oil-based wallpaper primer explicitly designed for wallpaper.

Allow the primer to cure for 24 hours before putting up the wallpaper. You'll know the primer has cured if you can easily peel the wallpaper back from the wall without the wallpaper tearing apart.

3. Check For Patchy Areas

Check for uneven surfaces if you see any peeling or bubbling. A wallpaper smoothing kit is handy for this problem.

If there's none, or if it's too minimal to affect the appearance of your wallpaper substantially, then you can move on. Otherwise, you may want to reapply the primer.

The wallpaper may stick slightly to the wall if the primer is too thin. You may want to apply additional coatings to ensure the wallpaper stays in place and will not lift off the wall.

See this wallpaper smoothing kit on Amazon.

Do You Need A Second Coat Of Primer?

Primed with a roller with a primer putty wall before painting or gluing wallpaper.

This question comes up frequently in the DIY world. Many wonder if they need to apply more than one coat of primer and whether the first coat does enough to prepare the surface for paint.

The short answer is that both a single coat and two coats of primer work just fine.

The first coat fills in any holes or rough spots in the surface, and the second coat creates a smoother surface that will hide imperfections.

Applying the second coat creates a surface that's even smoother than the first coat.

In Closing

Priming is a vital part of the painting process. It helps to seal the pores on the surface so the paint doesn't bleed through, and it also seals the wood so that it won't absorb moisture and swell from the color.

Now that you've learned how to prime your wood correctly, there's no reason you shouldn't be able to paint like a pro.

You might also like these helpful related posts:

Can You Use Water-Based Paint Over Oil-Based Primer?

Should You Prime Wood Filler or Wood Putty Before Painting?

How Many Coats Of Primer And Paint For Bathroom Cabinets?