How Long Does Primer Take to Dry?

How Long Does Primer Take to Dry

Painting over primer that is not dry enough can be catastrophic for your projects as you often have to redo the job from scratch. Hence, it is vital to give the primer enough time to dry. The actual time primer takes to dry is often what some users do not seem to understand.

While this largely varies from one type and brand to the other, our table below provides the average dry time for the most common primer types out there.

Primer Type

Drying Time


Under 60 minutes


30 minutes to 4 hours


30 to 60 minutes


30 minutes to 2 hours

Factors That Affect Dry Time

1. Surface

The surface you are priming has a massive effect on the drying time, given like most other products, it will react differently to different surfaces. For example, you can expect to get a longer dry time when priming metal surfaces.

When working on new drywall and other things like stained wood, you can expect to wait longer for the primer to dry. With these surfaces, you typically need to apply at least two primer coats, which means an even longer cumulative dry time.

2. Coating Thickness

Different primer types will require you to apply a specific thickness for the best results, and the manufacturers typically make this clear in their directions. The coating thickness you use has a massive impact on the drying, and here the thicker the coat, the longer you have to wait for the primer to dry.

For primer types, you will hardly ever have to apply a thick coating, and so in most instances, it has little effect on the dry time. However, you might need to make the coating thicker in some sections for projects where you want to even out the surface, which prolongs dry time.

3. Temperature

The room temperature has a huge effect on how fast your primer dries. The higher the temperature, the better as the primer hardens faster. 77 degrees Fahrenheit is the ideal temperature for drying primer.

However, you do not necessarily need to heat the space or workpiece to raise the temperature because it should still dry fast enough at room temperature. The most crucial issue is to make sure the temperature is not too low or too hot, as both scenarios can affect drying time.

4. Humidity

The room’s humidity levels also affect the primer’s drying speed. If it is too high, the primer takes more time to dry, and this is regardless of whether the surface you are priming is indoors or outdoors.

Keeping the humidity levels under 50% is the best way to ensure your primer dries fast, so you can finish the job much quicker. Controlling humidity for indoor jobs is easier than you just need to close the windows and switch on your dehumidifier. For outdoor jobs, you need to keep a close eye on the weather and prevailing conditions.

5. Ventilation

Proper ventilation is vital when applying primer as it ensures the toxic fumes emitted dissipate faster and helps reduce the drying time. Hence, as you apply primer and after finishing the job, you need to leave the windows and doors open to ensure maximum airflow in the room.

How to Make Primer Dry Faster

How to Make Primer Dry Faster

  • Choose a Fast-Drying Primer: Sometimes, the best way to make sure your primer dries faster is to choose a type or brand formulated to offer a shorter drying time. Some latex and shellac primer types can dry in as little as 30 minutes and are ideal for those in a rush.
  • Keep the Coat Light: Unless your project calls for a thick coat of primer or the manufacturer recommends one, you should always keep the coat as light as possible. Light primer coats dry much faster than thick ones. When you have to apply several coats of the primer, keeping the coats thin is an excellent idea as it reduces the time you spend on the job.
  • Hasten the Process with Hairdryer: A hairdryer can help speed up the primer drying time by blowing air on the surface. However, for this method, make sure you do not ramp up the heat as you can ruin the primer. Also, to ensure you do not overdo things, keeps the hairdryer about a foot away from the surface you are priming.
  • Apply Primer with Sprayer: Although brushing primers onto a surface is the most common mode of application, using a sprayer is a great idea for those looking for an effective method of reducing dry time. Spraying leaves a much thinner layer of primer that should take less time to cure. If you cannot spray the primer, rolling it on is also a good idea as the coat you get is relatively thinner than using a brush.


Primers are an essential part of painting most things, and so even if they might take longer to dry, the effect they have on the job makes them worth the wait. Depending on the specific type you are using, the drying time is typically anywhere from 30 minutes to 4 hours or even more.

However, you can still speed up the process by keeping the coat light and blowing air over it using a hairdryer. No matter how long the primer takes to dry, it is crucial to make sure you never apply paint before it dries completely.