How Long Does It Take Primer to Dry? (4 Different Types Primers)

Applying a coat or two of primer to surfaces like interior walls before applying the finishing coat is often the best way to be guaranteed a long-lasting and smooth finish on the surface.

However, you must wait for the primer to dry before you can apply the topcoat. Knowing how much time it takes for the primer to get dry will help you to plan your time well and will help to achieve a smooth and fine finish. So how long does it take primer to dry? Well, let’s find out.

It takes between 30 minutes and 3 hours for primers to dry to touch but that’s not when you can apply the topcoat. To apply the topcoat or finish on a surface, you need to wait for the primer to fully cure (or dry) and that can take between 3 hours and 24 hours depending on several factors. But that’s just the simple answer. Let’s dive into detail.

How Long Does It Take Primer to Dry?

Generally, it takes between 3 hours and 24 hours for the primer to fully cure provided all the required conditions like the needed room temperature are met.

However, that’s the general time frame. Let’s check out some common primer types and how long it takes for them to dry.

Water-based Primer

Water-based primer is also called latex primer. This is the most popular type of primer used for different surfaces. Latex or water-based primer is used primarily for latex or water-based paint.

For oil-based paint, an oil-based primer is usually the best option. Most of the primers you will find in the market today are water-based. This means the primer uses water as its solvent or vehicle. As soon as the water evaporates, the primer dries.

Water-based primers are the quickest to dry. Top-quality water-based primers will fully cure in less than 90 minutes which is fast. Others can take up to 3 hours to fully cure which for the record is still pretty quick.

If you want to apply primer to a surface and you need it to dry quickly, then a water-based primer is the best option. There are different brands of water-based primer in the market today. If this is your pick. You should choose the brand with the fastest drying time.

Oil-Based Primer

Oil-based primer is popular for surfaces like doors, windows, and metal. The primer is used before using oil-based paint or enamel paint. Most beginners shy away from oil-based primer because it is more difficult to work with than water-based primer.

In terms of its drying time, the oil-based primer dries slower than the water-based primer. Oil-based primer can take more than 24 hours to fully cure before a topcoat can be applied to it.

The reason for the prolonged drying time is because of the solvent used in the formula of the oil-based primer. Most oil-based primers use natural or artificial oils like linseed oil as the primer’s vehicle and it takes a while for these oils to dry.

This is because the oils have to evaporate from the coating and the time it takes for oils to completely leave the coating is longer than the time required for water to leave the coating. This is why oil-based primers take longer to dry than water-based primers.

Though oil-based primer takes longer to dry, it should still be stated that some oil-based primer brands fully dry within 2 hours. These are often the best choices in the market but they come at an extra cost.

Bonding Primers

Bonding primers are also called bonders. The primer is popular on surfaces with poor adhesive qualities and it is used for paints that don’t stick well to surfaces such as polyurethane.

Bonders or bonding primers improve the adhesive qualities of the surface and make the paint stick better to the surface.

Bonding primers are commonly used on surfaces like concrete that paints have a hard time sticking to. Bonding primers when applied dry to form a strong sticky coating that allows the topcoat or the finish to stick properly.

In terms of drying time, bonding primers are similar to oil-based primers. Bonding primers take about 2 or 3 hours to dry to touch and can take over 24 hours to fully cure before you can apply a topcoat. Of course, the drying time depends largely on the conditions of the room as well as the brand of primer used.

Drywall Primer

A drywall primer is used to prepare drywall before painting. The primer helps to prevent paint wastage. Drywall surfaces are known for one distinct feature.

The surface absorbs a lot of paint. This is due to different factors one of which is because drywall is faced with paper that absorbs paint. Without priming the surface first, you will need to apply multiple coats of paint to finish the surface to the required taste.

In terms of the drying time, drywall primers dry faster than oil-based primers but not as fast as water-based primers. It takes between 30 minutes and 2 hours for drywall primer to dry to touch and it can take up to 24 hours for the primer to be dry enough for a topcoat.

On average, it takes about 12 hours for drywall primers to fully cure. Again, the drying time depends on the brand of drywall primer you use and if the required conditions such as the needed room temperature are met.

What Are the Factors That Determine a Primer’s Drying Time?

Though different primers have varying drying times, some factors influence the drying time of every primer. Let’s check some of these factors.

While different primers have different drying, some factors can determine that. So, what are the factors that determine a primer's drying time? Well, the first one is the weather, if it's rainy then it will take longer, humidity, the room temperature, and the type of primer are the other reasons that can determine the drying time.

The Type of Primer Used

The biggest determinant of a primer’s drying time is the type of primer used. As you already know, different primers have different drying times. Some take less than 2 hours to fully cure while some others can take well over 24 hours. Water-based primers for instance will dry quicker than oil-based or bonding primers.

So if you apply a can of water-based primer on a wall and you apply a can of oil-based primer to the same wall at the same time and under the same room temperature, the water-based primer will dry quicker than the oil-based primer.

If you are in a hurry with your painting task, it’s best to go for a water-based primer but you should be sure the primer can be used with the paint or topcoat you have in mind. Let’s check out another factor that determines a primer’s drying time.

The Room Temperature

Another big determinant is the temperature of the room. Primers work best at room temperature between 70 degrees Fahrenheit and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything more or less than that can shorten or prolong the drying time of the primer.


The level of humidity affects a primer’s drying time. Humidity refers to the amount of water vapor in the air. The required humidity when applying primer is between 40% and 60%.

The best level of humidity is 50%. If you discover that the level of humidity is above 75%, you shouldn’t apply the primer. If you must, it’s best to use a dehumidifier in the room to reduce the water vapor in the air.

If you apply the primer in a room where the level of humidity is high, then it will take a longer time for the primer to dry.

This is why it takes longer for paints to dry in rooms like the bathroom, the kitchen, and the laundry room. The level of humidity in these rooms is usually high due to the constant use of water and sometimes heat in these rooms.

The Application

Most people don’t know this but the way the primer is applied affects the drying time. If the primer is applied too thick or multiple coats of primer are applied on the surface, it will take longer for the primer to get dry.

More coats or layers of primer means more drying time especially if you are working with an oil-based primer or bonding primer. These primers take long to dry normally so if you apply multiple coats on the surface, expect to wait at least 24 hours before you can move on with your task.

The Weather

Another factor close to the temperature of the room is the weather. If you apply the primer during the dry season, the primer will get dry quickly. The primer will get dry enough to be touched within a few hours and curing might even take less than a day for thick primers like the bonding primer.

If you apply the primer during the rainy season or the winter season, the primer wouldn’t dry quickly. It would take longer for the primer to dry when the weather is cold because the walls are usually cold and moist. This doesn’t allow the primer to stick well to the surface. Applying a can of primer on the walls especially outer walls when the weather is cold means you will have to wait longer before you can apply a topcoat on the primer.

If you must prime your walls or any surface during the cold season or when the weather feels chilly, it is best to do so in an enclosed environment. You can buy a paint tent or a paint shelter to prevent the weather from interfering with the drying time of the primer.

How To Make Primer Dry Faster?

There are several ways to shorten the drying time of a primer. Painters that don’t have a lot of time to paint have discovered a few tricks to help them speed up the drying time of the primer or basecoat they applied on a surface.

You found out that it takes up to 24 hours for the primer to dry, but you want to speed up the process, that's why we will teach you how to make primer dry faster. The first thing you need to do is to sand before priming, make sure to meet the temperature room and make sure the room has proper ventilation.

Painters have used dryers, radiators, and other heating tools to make primers dry fast. Another alternative most people use is switching on the air conditioner in the room after applying the primer so it can dry quickly. However, there is a twist.

While we all want the primer to dry quickly so we can apply the topcoat and enjoy the new look of the surface, patience should be exercised. The reason is that primers need a particular amount of time to work their magic. Primers help to increase adhesion, cover wood grain, hide joints, prevent the previous color from bleeding through, and a whole lot more.

If you influence the primer’s drying time through any method, chances are the primer wouldn’t give you all these benefits. Yes, the primer will dry quickly but there might not be visible changes to the surface before you apply the topcoat. So while it’s possible to fasten a primer’s drying time, I wouldn’t advise you to do so. I will however advise you to do the following.

Meet the Temperature Requirements

Primers like most paints and topcoats need a room temperature between 50 degrees Fahrenheit and 90 degrees Fahrenheit to dry properly.

For the best possible result, a room temperature of about 70 degrees Fahrenheit is needed. If you can ensure to meet the temperature requirement of the brand of primer you are using, then you don’t need to worry about the primer’s drying time. The primer will dry just fine and in due time too.

Sand Before Priming

Sanding a surface before priming helps to remove the top layer. This allows the primer to stick well to the surface.

If you don’t sand the surface before applying the primer, the primer wouldn’t stick well to the surface and you will need to apply multiple coats of primer to achieve an even layer.

This will not help the drying time of the primer because multiple coats of primer mean more drying time. So sand before you prime.

Don’t Apply Primer in Wet Conditions or During the Cold Seasons

It is not advised to tackle any paint job when the weather is cold. This affects the paint’s drying time. The same goes for the primer you will be using.

It is best to prime the surface when the weather is dry. This helps the primer to dry in time. If you prime a surface in cold weather, or during the winter or rainy season, it will not only take longer for the primer to dry, it will also affect the primer’s result on the surface.

If you must paint in cold weather, it’s best to use a paint tent or spray shelter. These help to keep the cold and moisture out so you have a dry space to work with.

Allow Proper Room Ventilation

Just like paint, primer needs sufficient airflow to dry. If you allow air to circulate freely in the room, the primer will dry quicker. So before you apply the primer, ensure that all the windows and doors in the room are wide open. This not only allows air to flow freely but also prevents the buildup of fumes in the room.

Primers especially oil-based primers have chemicals and oils in their formula. These chemicals produce fumes which can be sometimes toxic when the primer is applied. So, if you open the doors, there will be ventilation.

Apply the Primer During the Day

Don’t apply a primer or any paint for that matter in the night. This is because the weather is usually cool at the night and this can prolong the drying time of the primer. It is best to apply primer during the day when the weather is warm.

So there you have it. If you have any questions or comments about the topic, please leave them below and I’ll attend to them as soon as possible. Have a nice day.

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