How Long Does it Take Primer to Dry?

How long does it take primer to dry is a question you need to answer so that you can properly plan all your painting projects.

You will end up with a disaster and having to redo your work if you paint over primer before it’s dry.

Let’s read on about the different factors to watch out for when using primer.

how long does it take primer to dry
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How Long Does Oil Based Primer Take to Dry? 

How long to wait between coats of primer depends on the type of primer (oil or water based), and your painting conditions.  It will take anywhere from 1-2 hours to a 24 full hours before your primer is dry.

You should always wait for your primer to be fully dry before applying a layer of paint or you risk a paint sprayer disaster like tackiness or you may even pull the paint off your surface if brushing/rolling. 

Oil based primer dry time depends on the following factors.  

Ideal Primer Drying Conditions
Applied with a Sprayer
Brand Name Primer
Low Humidity
Higher Temperature
Good Ventilation

6 Facts that will Save You Time


Spraying on primer results in thinner coats than if you brush/roll it on.  If you’re using a paint sprayer you can check your surface in about 1-2 hours in ideal painting conditions. 

My personal preference is to strain all primers and paints that go through my gun. Maybe it is a bit of extra work, but I really want to make sure that there is NOTHING and I mean NOTHING in my paint or primer before it goes in my paint sprayer.

Type/Brand Used 

Oil based primers take much longer to dry than water based primers.  Some brands dry slower than others because they have more oil in them. Read the back of the can to get the manufacturer’s instructions for recommended drying time.

High or Low Humidity Area 

Low humidity areas dry much faster than high humidity areas.  Even if it’s raining outside and you’re painting indoors, your paint will take longer to dry.  

Get a dehumidifier working for you to reduce humidity and increase ventilation. 


Low temperatures will slow down the drying time of your primer.  Around 75 Fahrenheit or about 24 Celsius is the ideal application and drying time for primer.

If it’s cold in the room or area you are painting, you should turn up the heat.  

Exterior or Indoor Project

Painting outdoors means your primer is exposed to the elements.  This will increase primer dry time on a humid or wet day and decrease dry time on a sunny hot day.  These factors effect how long should exterior primer dry before painting.  Choose your painting days wisely! 

Even the brand of exterior primer will affect how long it takes to dry.  Ideal painting conditions mean you can check your primer in 1-2 hours, otherwise you’ll be waiting close to 12.


Open your windows and blow fans to get the air circulating on your primed surface.  This will reduce dry time. Make sure there isn’t much dust or other things floating around in the air that could get into your primer and cause imperfections.

Dry Times for the Most Popular Primers 

Two of our favorite primers are Kilz and Rustoleum.  They provide excellent sealing against stains, grease and tannins while blocking the growth of mold, mildew and preventing damage from humidity. 

Dry Time for Kilz Primer 

Kilz makes both oil and latex based primers.  They are one of our favorites at blocking mold, mildew and protecting our bathroom against humidity.  

Kilz oil based primer dry time in ideal conditions (above 85 Fahrenheit give or take 10 degrees) is 1 hour. 

Add more drying time if you’re in a high humidity/low temp area, or have bad ventilation.

Rustoleum Primer Dry Time

Just like any other primer, Rustoleum (Zinsser) dry time before painting is also 1 hour, if temps are 70-80 F (21-27 C) and 50% humidity level.

How Long Should Primer Dry Before Spray Painting? 

If you’re spraying primer with a paint sprayer, the layer of primer will be thinner than if you brushed or rolled it on.   How long you let primer dry before spray painting on your next coat of paint depends on the type of primer you are using, if it’s humid out, and if it’s warm or cold in the area you’re painting.

Primer drying time before applying paint is different if you used oil based primer versus latex based primer.     Oil based primers (which are super popular) will take longer to dry than latex based.  If using oil, try to find a brand with less oil and more pigment; this will reduce your waiting time. 

We recommend testing your newly primed surface for tackiness before applying a coat of paint. 

How long does it take primer to dry?  Remember: the dry time between primer and paint (if using oil based primer) is about 12 hrs.   

Brushing or rolling on primer means waiting a full 12-24hrs before testing your painted area because the paint is thicker when applied. 

If you’re doing a couple of coats, primer dry time between coats is the same as above. 

Always make sure to test your area for tackiness before applying a second coat. 

Make sure you stir your primer vigorously and for a long time. Better yet, take it to the store and get them to shake the hell out of it.

How Long is Latex Primer Dry Time? 

Latex primers are water based. Water based primers take no time at all to dry.  Drying time for latex primers is approximately 1 to 2 hours.   

We like latex primers because they dry faster and don’t give off as many VOCs as oil based. 

However, they are manufactured to produce almost the same results as oil based primers.   

We noticed that oil-based are still better at protecting against humidity (and the elements) and withstanding heavy traffic. 

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How Long Should Primer Dry Before Sanding? 

Primer dry time before sanding can vary depending on how thick you applied the primer, if it’s a high humidity day, type of primer and if your painted area is properly ventilated.   

Your primer MUST be fully dry before sanding or you will ruin your paint job.  

Wait 24 hrs minimum before sanding anything that you’ve primed and always test it first in a small area. 

How Long Does Primer Take to Dry on Wood? 

Primer drying time before painting on wood is the same as on drywall, furniture, metal or just your typical wall in your house.  Water based will be 1-2 hours and oil based around 12-24 hours.  

Low temperatures and high humidity will increase this time so always check by pressing on a not so obvious area before applying another coat. 

How Many Coats of Primer Should You Do? 

We recommend when priming a darkly painted surface, stained wood, metal or new drywall, you will want to do at least 2 coats. 

This will seal your surface and prevent any bleed through of tannins, mold, mildew and wood tannins.   

Thinning Oil Based Primer for Spraying

Oil based primers are thick: you will need to thin it unless you’re using an airless paint sprayer. Thinning with mineral spirits or another oil based thinner is the only way to do it.

Check out our detailed post on how to thin oil based paint for a spray gun and get started with your next painting projects. 

How Thick Should the First Coat of Paint Be? 

You should always aim for thin coats of primer.  Many thin coats produce much better results than 1 or 2 thick coats. 

Applying thin coats means that the coats will be even and smooth, reducing the chances of runs and uneven edges.  It also results in faster drying times. 

How Can You Make Primer Dry Faster? 

We have a few hints to get your projects done quicker by helping your primer dry faster. 

  • Run a large dehumidifier in the room or area that you painted.  Lower humidity helps paint to cure faster. 
  • Ventilate the area by opening windows and/or running fans. 
  • Apply thin coats of paint instead of 1 thick coat.  This is one of the benefits of using a paint sprayer for your projects.  Paint sprayers atomize the paint and spray out a thin coating each time, reducing your drying and curing time. 

How Long Can Primer Sit Before Painting? 

If you get busy and can’t complete your work at the moment, how long can you leave primer unpainted? 

Most manufacturers recommend that if your primer has remained unpainted for 30 days or more, you should reprime your surface.  Otherwise, you may need to sand and repaint!


Once you figure out how long it takes for primer to dry, you can plan your weekend painting DIY and get all those projects completed on time!


How Long Does Primer Take to Dry?

Anywhere from 1-24 hours, depending on temp, humidity, application method and the type of primer you are using.

How Soon Do I have to Paint over Primer?

Rule of thumb is that you have 30 days or less to paint over your primer. Read manufacturers instructions to confirm as each primer is different.

How many coats of primer should you do?

Minimum 2. 3-4 coats may be required if you are covering a dark surface.

How can you make primer dry faster?

Fans, dehumidifiers, ventilation, apply thin coats.