Can You Paint Wet Wood?

Randy Charles
Randy Charles
Professional Painter

Hi, I’m Randy Charles, the creator and chief editor of this site Paintcentric. I’m a businessman now by profession, but I used to work as...Read more

Wood lasts longer when you paint it. Paints protect the wood from ultraviolet rays and ensure that the surface retains its natural resins and even oils that bad weather would have damaged. So, normally people paint woods when the surface is dry and not actually when it is wet. But what if the surface is wet? Can you paint wet wood? The thing about painting wet wood is that it is not forbidden. People still paint wet woods, but for a good painting result and a professional-looking painting job, we don’t advise you to paint on wet woods.

This article contains the ways you can paint on wet woods and how long a wet wood should dry before you paint on it. Also, we have equipped this article with a few ways for you to know if the wood is dry and how to make wood dry faster if you can’t wait long. Read on to learn more.

Can You Paint Wet Wood?

The answer to can you paint wet woods is that it is possible to paint on wet woods. But it is not the best action to take. No matter the hurry, it is better to wait for the wood to get dried before you paint. There are a couple of reasons we don’t advise you to paint wet woods. Paints don’t do well on wet surfaces, and it can result in some unwanted situations.

can you paint wet wood

Let us go into why you shouldn’t paint on wet woods.

The Paint won’t stick

When wood is wet, both water-based paint and oil paint won’t stick to it. For water-based paint, the wood will repel the paint because the water will be too much for it. Although the paint might stay on the wood, when it dries, it will break and pill off. For oil paints, we know that oil paints don’t mix with water.

So, when you paint wet wood with oil paint, the wood doesn’t accept the paint. The paint only stays on the surface of the wood, and it hardly goes any further. For paint to stick to any surface, it has to have a strong grip on the surface and soak in even deeper. But, moisture doesn’t permit this bond, and when the paint dries on such surfaces, it will break and pill off.

You Will Waste Paint On An Incomplete Job

When a surface is wet, and you apply paint on it, it will roll off fast, and this might cause you to waste paint. For it to stay and not roll-off, you might add more paint, and it doesn’t still settle. At the end of the day, you will use more paint than you should just for a little surface, and it will still deliver a bad job.

Your job might be incomplete because the paint washes off even when it looks like it sticks. Most times, you get to find out about the faint paint when the paint has dried.

The Painting Will Be Less Durable.

Just like you have thought, painting wet wood will only reduce the durability of the painting. A painting that would last for 5 to 10 years before it needs a replacement will now last for just 2 years or even less. This does not encourage savings as you will have to repaint every 2 years instead of every 5 to 10 years.

If the wood is too wet and over soaked with moisture, the painting might not last for up to one month after it has dried. Painting on wet surfaces can be that detrimental to the lifespan of the surface too.

The Finish Work Will Be Uneven

Some parts of the surface will be rough, and some parts smooth when you paint on wet wood. Also, some parts will be thick and others light. This is not a good look that people can call professional work. With this, the purpose of the painting will be defeated because the wood won’t be beautiful or even look luxurious.

The Paint Will Produce Bubbles

The moisture in the wet wood will make the paint have bubbles when you apply the paint to it. This doesn’t give the painting a good look, and it also does not speak well of the painter. A painting is supposed to be smooth and satisfying to look at. It is not supposed to be rough and filled with bubbles, and that is what painting on a wet surface.

The Chances Of Wood Rot Will Increase

Paint has seals that reduce the flow of liquid through the painted area. Another benefit of painting, aside from beautifying a space, is to keep water from entering the wood. But, in painting wet wood, this sealant trait of paint is more of a disadvantage than it is an advantage.

It is because the paint won’t let the moisture leave the wood. Instead, it will seal the wood and trap the moisture. This will, over time, lead to the wood rotting inside, and then, after a while, the wood will get weak. Then, it will break off when a little pressure gets on it.

How To Paint Wet Wood?

Your wood is probably wet now, and you still want to paint it the way it is. We have a few steps you can take to make this happen and still give you a good finishing job.

How To Paint Wet Wood

Follow all the steps keenly so that you don’t do it wrongly.

  • Step1: Get the good paint you will need and make sure it is in the right quantity and quality. We recommend oil paints for wood painting because they last longer. Also, get a quality paintbrush that won’t pull off after a while and any other tool you think you need.
  • Step2: Allow the wood to dry properly. There is no way to paint that wood when it is still wet and get a good result. Even if it doesn’t get completely dry, it needs to get rid of the excess moisture before you can paint on it. Keep the wood outside for air and sun to touch it or dry it up with any means you think is best.
  • Step3: After the wood has dried, you can start painting on it. Make sure you are in a wide space while you are painting. Preferably, you can stay outside to paint to avoid the toxic smell of the paint disturbing you. Also, there needs to be enough air touching wood while you paint so that it can dry fast.

See AlsoHow to Paint Wooden Letters?

How Long Should Wet Wood Dry Before Painting?

So, with all these defects that painting a wet wood has, it is just right to let your wood dry before painting it. It will take about 3 days to 1 month or even longer for the woods to dry. However, certain factors determine how long it will take wood to dry, and such factors are:

How Long Should Wet Wood Dry Before Painting

The Thickness And Lightness Of The Wood:

If the wood is thick and soaked, it will take longer to dry. For a material to get dry, the moisture has to evaporate out of it gradually. So for light materials, the water will evaporate quickly, and the wood will get dried soonest.

But thick materials don’t go through the same easy process. The water will leave the surface layer quickly, but the deep part of the thick wood will take more time to release the moisture. For this, it might take up to a month or more.

How deep the water-soaked:

When wood gets soaked completely, it is harder to dry because more water is lost. But, when the wood just had a little water on it, a few hours under the sun can dry it up. So, the more soaked the wood is, the harder it is to dry and the longer it takes.

The drying process you use:

The process you are using to dry the wood also plays a role in how long it will take for the wood to dry. If you keep the wood in a place that doesn’t allow sun, fire, or air to touch it, it will take longer to dry. But, if you keep wood outside and expose it to the sun of the air, it will take less time to dry.

How To Tell If The Wood Is Dry Enough To Paint?

It is simple to tell if the wood is dry enough to paint. There are many ways, but the surest way is to apply a little paint to it and monitor how it reacts to it. If the paint rolls off or doesn’t stick as it is supposed to, it means the paint is not dry enough.

Also, you can pour a few drops of water on the wood to know if it has dried enough for painting. If the water stays at the surface for a while before it sinks in, it means the wood is still wet. But, if the wood absorbs the water quickly, it means it is dry enough. Also, dry wood will be harder than one that is not dry.

How To Dry Wood Faster

Probably you don’t have up to 3 days to 1 month to wait for the wood to dry up completely, and you need a faster route. The good news is that there are just a few ways you can make the wood dry faster.

The first method is to keep the wood where it cans get enough sun but not more rain. More rain will only soak the wood more and make it take longer to dry, so keep the wood off it. But make sure the sun reaches the wood efficiently.

The second way might just be the best. It is heating the wood close to a fire. This is the fastest means to get your wood dry. You can keep it close to your fireplace in your house or make a fire outside and keep the wood close to it.

Can You Paint Over Water-damaged Wood?

Painting over water-damaged wood means wasting your paint. When wood is damaged by water, it is not strong enough to withstand any pressure. Aside from the poor painting delivery, painting such wood is a waste because the wood will break soon and become useless.

Painting wet wood is bad enough; adding paint over water-damaged wood is worse. However, you can pain such wood if you want. But, it is not a wise step to take.


For people that ask can you paint wet wood? The answer is that you can paint wet wood if you want. But, we don’t advise you to do that because it will negatively affect the finished work. The paint won’t be even, it won’t be durable, and it even makes bubbles which are not good.

So, it is better to wait for the wood to dry before painting it. This might take up to 3 days to 1 month or even a longer time, depending on the thickness of the wood and a few other factors.

Randy Charles
Randy CharlesProfessional Painter

Hi, I’m Randy Charles, the creator and chief editor of this site Paintcentric. I’m a businessman now by profession, but I used to work as a painter earlier in my professional career. There is simply nothing about painting that I didn’t do as a painter. From painting a fridge to a multi-storied building, I left nothing. I retired from my painting job in the mid of 2018 due to back arthritis problems.

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