Randy Charles
Professional Painter

Randy Charles is the owner of PaintCentric.com, a website dedicated to providing information, tips, tricks, and news about all things paint. With over 10 years...Read more

Randy Charles
Professional Painter

Randy Charles is the owner of PaintCentric.com, a website dedicated to providing information, tips, tricks, and news about all things paint. With over 10 years...Read more

How Long Can A Primer Sit Before Painting?

Randy Charles
Professional Painter

Randy Charles is the owner of PaintCentric.com, a website dedicated to providing information, tips, tricks, and news about all things paint. With over 10 years...Read more

Primer: a must before painting! It creates a strong connection between the surface and the paint. But how long can you wait before painting? It depends. Let’s take a look at what factors decide, and any risks of waiting too long.

Factors that Affect the Drying Time

Several factors can affect the time primer sits before painting. These include temperature, humidity, and the type of primer used. Humidity matters; condensation can be mistaken for quick-drying primer. This may cause bubbles or uneven finishing on the paint job.

When To Use A Primer 1

To have a great outcome, follow some rules:

  • Dilute latex primer with water at least 3:2 or 1:1 for proper adhesion.
  • Use quality brushes or roller covers designed for latex paints.
  • Allow recommended drying time for any given space, 1 to 4 hours between coats.
  • Temperatures should stay above freezing for proper evaporation rates.
  • Above all, patience is key. Ensure primer is fully dried before beginning any painting project.

Temperature

Paints, primers and coatings all react differently to temperature. Before you decide how long to wait before painting, it’s wise to know the characteristics of your paint product. Generally, primer should be applied within 24 hours of being mixed in the container. However, this can be shorter or longer depending on its ingredients.

Temperature also affects drying time; higher temperatures make it faster, while lower temperatures slow down the process. Ideally, a room should be between 65°F–75°F when applying any coating or primer. Some products might have specific directions regarding the temperature range or other environmental factors that could affect their performance.

When doing an exterior painting project, check with the manufacturer for the suitable working environment so you can apply the product with best results.

Humidity

Humidity is a huge factor in paint application. If it’s too high (over 85%), the primer won’t cure properly and the paint won’t last. So, always wait at least 24 hours if the weather is dry. However, if it’s windy or humid, wait 48 hours or more to ensure the primer is totally dry.

Type of Primer

The length it takes for primer to dry before painting depends on its type. Water-based primers can dry to the touch in 1 hour. But, they need 2 hours before recoating. And, a full cure takes 24 hours. Oil-based primers may take up to 8 hours, longer if it is humid or cold.

It is best to wait for the primer to dry and cure before painting. Else, the paint color might be lighter than expected or not adhere well. It could also cause uneven coverage, brush marks, or blisters in the paint due to trapped moisture. But, at times you may not have time to wait. In that case, use an oil-based primer without sanding it between coats.

When To Use A Primer

Different types of primers:

  • Latex (Water-Based): Fast drying. 2 hrs between coats; full cure in 24 hrs.
  • Oil-Based: Takes up to 8 hrs; 1 coat max.
  • Chlorinated Rubber: Not affected by humidity; full cure in 6 days.
  • Epoxy: Not affected by humidity; full cure in 7 days.
  • Alkyd/Shellac: Excellent adhesion & stain blocking; 4–6 hrs between coats.

Thickness of the Primer

Primer thickness can determine how long it can sit before painting. A minimum film thickness of 2 mils is necessary for good performance. Ideal thickness is 3-4 mils. Smooth surfaces need two coats, and rough surfaces may need three. If the surface was previously treated or painted, at least two thin coats are recommended.

If time is short, one thick coat over all areas is ok. It takes longer to dry with a thick coat, so a light misting with water or air supply can help. Read manufacturer/supplier instructions for guidance if unsure.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if I don’t wait long enough to paint after applying the primer?

If you don’t wait long enough, the paint may not adhere properly and may end up looking uneven or blotchy.

How can I tell when the primer is completely dry?

You can tell when the primer is completely dry by lightly touching the surface with your finger. If it feels dry to the touch, it is ready to be painted.

Randy CharlesProfessional Painter

Randy Charles is the owner of PaintCentric.com, a website dedicated to providing information, tips, tricks, and news about all things paint. With over 10 years of experience in the painting industry, Randy has become an expert in the field and is passionate about helping others learn more about painting. He has written numerous articles on the subject and is committed to providing accurate and up-to-date information to his readers.

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