How Long Can A Primer Sit Before Painting?

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

If you’ve tried to paint a room in your home, you know how important priming is prior to the actual painting. The primer is like a seal that prevents the paint from seeping into walls or furniture. If the surface is not primed, you have to paint more coats than is needed to obtain the intended look. As we go along, you’ll learn how much time to let the primer stay prior to applying the first coat of paint.

Primer is also used to avoid bleeding in natural woods. Therefore it is critical to prime before beginning any painting project to prepare and maintain the surface and achieve the finest and best results.

It becomes necessary to prime the surface before painting commence. Professional painters use priming, which necessitates a waiting period before the application of the first layer of paint. Before painting the surface, you can allow the primer to sit for up to 3 hours. However, it can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour for the primer to dry up in some circumstances. This depends on the humidity and how much primer you apply.

When to Use a Primer?

If your wall is neat and in good shape, like a newly built house, you do not need to apply a primer. Also, if you are refreshing the color of your walls, there might be no need for primer. However, if your wall is not in good condition, you must use a primer to ensure smooth painting.

When to Use a Primer

How do you decide which primer to get now that you’ve discovered how and when to apply it to get great results? That all depends on how long it will take for the primer to sit, how long it will take for the primer to dry before painting, and your choice of paint.

How Long Can a Primer Sit before Painting?

You cannot begin painting on your walls immediately after priming. Also, waiting for too long can cause the primer to lose its effects, or worse still, build up dust and debris that can ruin the texture of your wall. The number of hours you should let your primer sit prior to actually painting is usually determined by the type of primer you’re using.

How Long Can a Primer Sit before Painting

Regular Latex Paint Primers

Water is the main component of these latex paint primers. As a result, these primers can last for up to 30 days. That implies you may paint it whenever you want, provided it’s not more than 30 days after application. However, if one month has passed, apply another layer of primer, let it dry before painting over it.

Oil-Based Primer

Oil-based primers are made of oil. As a result, they have a greater range of uses and function well with a variety of surfaces. However, oil-based primers can only give the best results when painted on within 14 days.

Extended-Stay Primers

Different varieties of primers pride themselves on the “extended-stay” feature. These sorts are specifically designed to stay on and provide the greatest effects for a more extended period. With extended-spray primers, you get more time before the need to paint over them. Check the can for a specific duration.

The Best Time to Paint Over Primer

You may ask whether I can paint two days after primer. The answer is affirmative; the ideal time to paint over a primed wall is after the primer dries up. The time taken for this will vary based on the kind of primer you’re using.

The Best Time to Paint Over Primer

  • After application, the standard latex ones can dry in 3 to 4 hours. As a result, they are fantastic solutions if you need to complete the work in a single day.
  • However, oil-based primers can take significantly longer. So if you’re using an oil-based primer, it’s ideal to paint the following day, specifically after 24hours. Here lies the benefit of reading the directions on the primer’s can. In addition, there should be additional instructions about how long that specific primer takes to dry and how long it can sit before painting.

Factors That Can Affect a Primer’s Sitting Time

There are standard periods you can allow your primer to sit before being painted. Certain factors can also prolong or shorten the duration. These include:

Factors That Can Affect a Primer's Sitting Time

The Thickness of the Coat

A single coat of primer may not be sufficient to conceal the faults of the surface beneath. But you should be wary about applying more primer because too many thinner coats of primer can increase the amount of time it will take to dry.

Follow the producer’s instructions on how many coats of primer you are to apply. The second coat usually does it, but read the recommended guidelines first. You should use adequate primer and not go over and apply excessively. Remember to wear safety equipment.

Humidity and heat

A scorching environment will make the primer take significantly longer to dry. Also, if the temperature is too cold, your primer may become too thick. It’s mostly true for oil-based primers. On the other hand, primers such as latex paint can freeze. So, when prepping, make sure the room is at the right temperature.

This is not limited to indoor uses. Even if you are priming and painting the outside, you run the danger of destroying your work if the weather is not right. You’ll have to watch the weather forecast all the time.

Dust and Debris

If the room you are painting is dirty and dusty, it’s highly recommended that you paint on it immediately after the primer completely dries. The longer you wait, the more dust and debris can stick to the primer and mess up the texture of the surface. A way to go around this is to clean the room before even starting to prime your walls.

How Can You Make Primer Dry Faster?

To avoid waiting too long for your primer to dry fully, you can do the following.

How Can You Make Primer Dry Faster

Use a Dehumidifier

If the room is too humid, you can either wait for a less humid day to prime, or you can speed up the process a little bit by using a dehumidifier. This reduces the home’s humidity levels and makes it faster for the primer to dry.

Buy a Fast-Drying Primer

Another solution is to purchase a primer that dries faster. There are products made specifically for fast drying, and one of the options is self-priming paint. But if you’d rather use a separate primer instead of a two-in-one option, you should consider a latex primer.

Don’t Apply Thick Coats

Light primer coat dries faster, and since you’re looking to reduce the time you have to wait for your primer to dry, you should not apply too many coats of primer.

Open Your Windows and Doors

Proper ventilation increases the amount of air circulating in the room. To ensure the primer dries quickly, have enough ventilation. Help this process by keeping your doors and windows ajar. It’s essential for shellac or oil-based primers. Ensure some good airflow, and the drying time will get shorter.

Consider Using a Hairdryer

A hairdryer may also come in handy if you cannot wait for the primer to dry by itself. After priming the surface, gently blow air on it. Ensure you’re not using heat–the hairdryer should be in the cold-air setting. Keep the device one foot from the surface, and since you’re looking to reduce the time you have to wait for your primer to dry, you shouldn’t apply too many coats. So, you can use a light primer coat instead, which will dry much faster.


That’s all there is to it when it comes to how long a primer can stay after application before painting. Now, you are aware that it depends on the class of primer you used and that you should never paint on a primer that has been on for longer than 30-days. If you cannot do so during this time, reapply the primer.

Related ReadingHow Long Does Oil Painting Take to Dry?

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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