How long does wood stain take to dry?

Every job with wood needs an individual approach. If your plans include renovation or any other woodwork, you may have wondered how quickly a wood surface dries and how long it will take. So how much time stain take to dry?

How long does wood stain take to dry?
How long does wood stain take to dry?

Most jobs require one to two days for the wood to dry properly and thoroughly. If you want your result to be more guaranteed, we recommend leaving the product for 3 days, for the best result.

The drying time depends entirely on the type of stain, its brand and the environment, and its condition.

The finest thing you can do for your project whenever you’re working with a finish is to adhere to the instructions that are listed on the label. Every finish and stain is unique, and drying times might fluctuate significantly between brands and products.

In this blog, you will learn what exactly affects the drying time of the tacky stain. Also, below we will provide a complete table with the different brands with their full drying times.

How much time is needed for wood stain to dry?

The drying time for a wood surface depends on what type of stain you use to paint. In addition, the drying time can vary for other reasons, such as the brand of stain, and environmental conditions such as humidity or average temperature.

We recommend that you read the label carefully before purchasing the stain that you have chosen because in most cases, the manufacturers will tell you how long it will take for the surface to completely dry.

How long does it take for the stain to dry completely?

Or how much time stain take to dry? Some types of stains require only a couple of hours to dry completely, while others take a day or more to dry. Some types of stains may also require a timely coating, meaning you need to stain in stages over one or two days.

How long does wood stain take to dry

What factors should you pay attention to?

Before drying your tree, note that there are a number of factors that must be taken into account.


Regarding environmental influences, temperature plays an important role in drying wood. In fact, the most appropriate temperature for both drying and painting is considered 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Don’t forget to pay attention to the label of the stain you purchase, because all of the most important information about drying times and conditions are listed on it.


Another crucial aspect to take into account when coloring wood is humidity. Find a time of day when the humidity is 60 percent if you need the stain to dry more quickly. You will have to wait much longer for the tacky stain to dry if it is higher or lower than these. Exposure time can be accelerated by using a dehumidifier with a 55% humidity setting.


The quantity of air movement in your space is a different aspect you should take into account. Work in a well-ventilated area and, if your garage or workshop has one, switch on the exhaust fan to hasten the stain drying process. If your workshop doesn’t have an exhaust fan, you can also unlock the door and windows to let fresh air in.

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More than most individuals might realize, this question is significant. Depending on their main constituents, wood stains typically have different drying durations. Variable types of stains have different drying times, including water-based stains, oil-based stains, traditional varnish, and many others.

As a result, if your work is time-sensitive, you need to become acquainted with each kind of stain and how long it takes for it to dry. For your convenience, we’ve listed a few different wood stains along with their drying times.

How do you know when wood stain is dry?

Wood that has gone through a complete drying process will be very dry to the touch, you will not notice any stickiness or stickiness. The easiest way to check the condition of the staining wood is to feel it for stickiness.

Another approach is to lightly sand the problematic area and check to see if power develops. If it does, the stain is dry at that point.

Ensure to give it more time if the stain is not completely dried. Most stains dry in a day or two, but if they don’t, there may be other causes, like inadequate ventilation or high relative humidity. Giving the drying process an extra day or two will aid in its completion.

In addition, pay attention to the base on which the products you are using were made. If you chose to use an oil-based product, the dried surface will not have any odor. If you choose to use a water-based product, the surface will be dry when the staining wood is not cold to the touch.

What if the stain is not drying?

Paint stains may be a problem because they dry quickly and very hard. Typically, the finish is polyurethane varnish. An oil stain and dye stain combination is frequently the culprit if a stain isn’t drying for you. It is not unusual to see an oil-based stain with the dye added to change the hue.

Types of wood stains and their brands

BrandType of stainTime to dry
Varathane Premium Fast Dry Wood Stainoil-based1 hour
General Finishes Dye Stainwater-base1 hour
Behr Advanced Formula Wood Stainoil-based12 hours
Osmo Decking Oils Natural Exterior Wood Finishesoil-based12 hours
Cabot Wood Toned Deck & Siding Stainoil-based24 hours
Minwax Gel Stainoil-based24 hours
Minwax Water-Based Wood Stainwater-based12 hours
Varathane One Step Wood Stain and Polyurethaneoil-based3 hours
Varathane Premium Gel Stainoil-based4 hours
Minwax PolyShades Semi-Transparentoil-based8 hours

How can I make wood stain dry faster?

Below you will find a series of steps that will help you to speed up the drying process.

Using heat

Warm room or outdoor temperatures will dry the stain much faster. However, make sure that the temperature is not too high or too hot, as this will negatively affect the process. In this case, the stain may be unevenly laid, creating more hassle.

The most suitable temperature for staining wood is 70 degrees Fahrenheit, because at this temperature the surface is heated to the right level, without increasing the humidity, which also negatively affects the process.

Air blowing

The stain can also be dried by blowing warm air onto the surface of stained wood. Oil-based stains respond best to heat. However, based on the kind of timber or the brand, this process may take much more time. The ideal heat for drying the stain is 3 hours of direct sun exposure, so expect wood stain to dry in this period of time.

Other methods

However, more traditional methods like an oven, hairdryer, or hot cannon work in the event of snow or rain, depending on what seems perfect for you.


Factors That Impact Stain Dry Time

One of the important factors that completely concerns the drying time of a stain is its brand or type. Don’t forget that the surface on which the wood stain dries is also important. Also, the temperature or humidity of the environment must also be taken into consideration, as mentioned above.

How to Make Stain Dry Faster?

You may shorten the drying time in four ways: by adjusting the ventilation, increasing the temperature, changing the humidity or all those.
Concentrating on humidity is a simple way to have your stain dry faster. The most appropriate humidity level is 70%, therefore use a dehumidifier set to 45% to hasten the process.

What are other possible ways to dry the stain faster?

Airflow is yet another fantastic approach to hasten the drying of the paint, especially if there is an excess stain on wood. To quicken the drying process, you might operate in a well-ventilated location or with a fan. With oil-based finishes, hot air from a gas heater is useful since they dry more slowly.

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If a fan is not accessible, consider opening the windows and doors if you are operating in a garage.

To hasten the drying time, you can also boost the temperature over 75 degrees Fahrenheit. However, stains won’t penetrate the wood’s surface and cause issues if the temperature is about 85 degrees F.

To help the stain dry more quickly, you might also use the thin coats. During the procces, try cleaning the excess stain with a paintbrush. What are the types of stain?

The main types of stain to dry are:

  • water-based stains
  • oil based wood stains
  • varnish
  • lacquer wood stain
  • gel stain
  • dye stain

The kind of stain directly impacts the drying time of a wood stain. For instance, water-based stains dry quicker because they do not contain any complex additives as gel ones. Despite this advantage of water-based stains, such stains are very much influenced by the environment.

What are the differences between those types of stains?

Because they offer better protection for the wood surface when it is further utilized, oil-based wood stains are the most popular variety among other forms of paint.

Wood stains also differ in their function. Stains come in interior and exterior colors, respectively, depending on what part of the product they will be used in.

Exterior stains are mostly used for decking, while interior stains are applied to furniture and fittings. Also, exterior stains take much longer to dry. The exterior stain takes longer to dry, and it is less resistant to any scratches or weathering.

What do those types have in common?

For both interior and exterior wood stains, the most important factor you need to consider is the brand of wood paint you are using. All brands are completely different, so consider this when choosing and buying any wood paint.

You can only know the exact and correct drying time for a wood stain by reading the label of the product you are buying.

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Type of Wood

The surface or type of wood may also have an impact on the drying time. Softwoods or porous surfaces may collect stains inequitably, which may cause them to take longer to dry.

Fir, pine,  spruce, poplar, and alder are some of these trees. To avoid stains with flaws, you can clean them with a wooden enhancer. Another fantastic choice for stain wood is gel stain.

How Long Do Different Stains Take to Dry?

The kind and brand are the main factors to take into account when calculating the drying time of wood stains. If you’re ever doubtful, look at the bottle’s label.

Oil Based Stains

Many oil-based wood stains are very easy to apply, which is why they are the most common type of paint. Despite this, some brands’ paints may require about 3 days to dry completely.

Don’t worry, because it’s very easy to find more available and less time-consuming paint options that take 24 hours to dry completely. Let’s consider a Minwax Oil-Based Stains as an example in order to look at its properties.

Minwax Oil-Based Stains

A sampling of oil-based products is available from Factory Minwax in gel, liquid, and aerosol forms. They are also open in basic and performance-grade variations, both of which need a comparable drying time to other oil-based wood stains.

The average drying time for oil-based stains from this company is 9-10 hours. Although, after 7-8 hours, you can already reapply the next layer superficially. Drying time depends entirely on the manufacturer, it also all works with the application of a second coat. Sometimes the second layer can dry longer than the first. In some cases, a coat can dry all day.

Paints from this company take a very long time to dry completely, as water-based stains must dry for 8 or more hours, not 4-6 hours.

Cabot Oil-Based Stains

Oil-based stains come in many different varieties at Cabot. The prevalence of them dry in around the same quantity of time as instructed.

The plurality of them dry in 24 hours, but others, like the Australian Timber Oil, take from 1 to 2 days. The Cabot stains normally demand a minimum of 1 day to dry and are listed below.

Behr Oil-Based Stains

All Behr wood stains have approximately the same recommended drying periods.

For all of them, the precise time before the stain is useable is three hours. At this point, you have the option to repaint if you so choose. At least 2 days are directed for the stain to fully dry.

Osmo Stains

Osmo suggests waiting until the stain has dried for half a day at 70 ° and 45% humidity.

The time will be longer than half of the day if the temperature is far less than 70 ° and the humid is higher.

Olympic Elite

The quality of this wood stain is flawless. It takes between one and two days for your deck to cure after drying, depending on the rate of wood you used and how much moisture there is in it.

General Finishes Wood Stain

The excellent curing time for this sort of stain is three to four hours at 65 degrees and 65 percent humidity.

The dry period is inclined to extending at higher humidity levels and cooler temperatures. Drying processes will move more quickly at higher temperatures and with more air movement.

Water-Based Stains

In general, water-based wood stains dry a lot quicker than oil-based ones. Most of the wood stains can parch completely in 2 days. Some can dry in as little as 5 hours, including General Finishes stains. The polyurethane layer can then be utilized.

To be on the safe side, you might like to wait three days to be confident it has fully dried. Humidity has a considerable impact on the time water-based wood stain dries because of the character of the stain. Conditions that are suitable for staining are about 80% relative humidity and 80d Fahrenheit.

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Minwax Water-Based Stains

For comparison, under perfect requirements, most of Minwax water-based wood stains normally take three hours to cure. You can connect up the current stains or involve a second layer as soon as two hours have expired. If Minwax is spread too thickly, in a set with increased humidity, or in a freezing environment, it could take more time.

The next layer should be applied only after 2 hours because the water-based wood stain cannot be managed till then. This stain dries in four hours in optimal circumstances.

This period is developed if there is a thick covering, high ranks of humidity, or low temperatures. You can cover the stain with polyurethane for a better result once it has dried completely.

Varathane Stains

Varathane is a high-end color choice for wood. The majority of wood stains need to dry for at least 7 hours before the finish can be involved. They are open in aqueous, spray, or gel forms.

Other trademarks could dry in under two hours. For the sample, the next coating of Varathane gel stain mandates an extra two hours to cure. The wood stain must totally dry for at least eight hours before using polyurethane.

Varathane gel stains function best in a controlled background with a humidity of 55% and a constant temperature of 70 ° F.

Lacquer Wood Stains

Because it can be placed and cured more rapidly than other stains and is less expensive than others, lacquer stains are a favorite among woodworkers.

Make sure your desk is both roomy and well-ventilated because breathing the chemicals from this mark offers a health risk.

Because of the gradual degradation of color over time as well as other major health issues, this stain should only be utilized by experts or if you don’t have much time left.

Lacquer wood stain typically dries quickly for recoats but may take up to a full day to completely dry.

Why is the stain not drying?

Brush marks may be a problem because they dry quickly and very hard. Typically, the finish is polyurethane varnish.

An oil stain or an oil stain and dye stain combination is frequently the culprit if a stain isn’t drying for you. It is not unusual to see an oil-based stain with the dye added to change the hue.

How Long Does It Take for a Stain to Dry Inside vs. Outside?

The complete drying time of wood stains depends on the type of stains: outdoor or indoor, and the reason for this is environmental factors, more specifically ecological factors. So what is the difference between interior and exterior stains?

Interior stains can be used in the house, or any other room, because the temperature and humidity are controlled manually. Despite this, the outdoor stain requires more time because people do not have control over the environment and its factors.

Environmental factors, such as humidity and temperature, are not controlled environments, and they can be changed indefinitely, which is what makes the process of drying wood stains more difficult. At low temperatures, the tacky stain eventually dries for a very long time.

As a result, the process of drying a wood stain can take anywhere from six hours to dry, but when it comes to outdoor methods, the time ranges from one to three days.

How Long Does It Take for Gel Stain to Dry?

The market for Gel-bard wood stains is quite new. Before using them, you must carefully stir them. However, due to its uniformity, many individuals believe that gel-based stain is simpler to manage and use. They conceal wood imperfections as well without extensive sanding.

The drawback of gel stain is that it often takes longer to dry. Gel-based stains are the most cumbersome choice. The drying time for most gel stains is at one full day.

Another brand-new product to hit the market for wood stains is gel-based stain. The majority of qualities that distinguish gel stains from the majority of other wood stains on the market are unique.

What is the reason?

Because they penetrate beneath the wood’s surface and form bonds with its fibers, the majority of wood stains are actually regarded as wood treatments.

With gel-based wood stains, this is not the case; instead, they adhere to the wood’s surface and act as a sort of insulation to stop the wood from deteriorating from the outside.

Despite the fact that gel-based wood stain is more of a surface layer and not a wood treatment, it is still frequently regarded as a high-quality wood stain because it still changes the color and appearance of the wood.

How Long to Let Stain Dry Before Polyurethane?

Most of the time, it is preferable to wait at least a day or two before coating the stain with polyurethane. I advise waiting an additional day if you have the luxury of time and are unsure if the wood stain is dried or not.

Does stain get darker as it dries?

Actually, when a final level is applied, stains revert to their moist hue after drying and becoming a lighter stain. Looking at the wood stain when it is still moist is the quickest way to determine the color you’ll obtain with the finish applied.

The wood stain will first be black and turn lighter as it dries. The black hue will reappear in the stain after the last treatment.

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What can I use to wipe stains off?

Using cleaning wipes or, in a pinch, an old t-shirt, remove the extra stain by wiping against the grain. The tacky stain eventually dry longer, so you will need to wait a lot.

If the stain has been over-dried, getting rid of it will be challenging. Applying more dye and rubbing ferociously will loosen it. Paint thinner will make it easier to remove if it hardens.

If your hands are stained with stain, you can see how to wipe the stains from your hands.

How much time should pass before wiping a stain?

Don’t stress about being neat; the most important thing is to cover the wood with a smooth, even layer. At this point, you can either immediately wipe the stain off to achieve a lighter tone or wait 4 to 10 minutes to achieve a deeper tone.

Is there a need to have a topcoat stain?

Painting furniture is very similar to painting a picture, all that is exterior or interior is the frame. Despite all the beauty of your masterpiece, the exterior must also remain accurate and amazing, no matter the type of wood stain you have.

Despite all of the benefits of staining wood, which is that it gives a more vibrant look to a piece, without an outer layer or protective coating, wood can be easily exposed to the elements. After the stain has dried fully, always finish your wood products with a protective varnish.

Can wood stain fumes kill you?

Wood stains, like the majority of the substances used in crafting, can damage the liver, kidneys, and nerves if they are inhaled or consumed.

The drying process of wood stain results in a high proportion of flammable petroleum-derived components evaporating.

Make sure you are wearing the appropriate safety equipment, such as a respirator, and that your workplace is in an area with good ventilation.

You can leave the wooden object with a wood stain outdoors during the day or, if accessible, utilize exhaust fans to get rid of the unpleasant odor.

Activated charcoal and baking soda are regarded as excellent solutions for getting rid of the odor that lingers after coloring the wood.


Most stains take a maximum of two days to dry. Despite this, the process and length of the drying process are completely dependent on the environment and its factors.

What we can conclude is that water-based paints dry much faster than oil-based ones.

Also, do not forget to take into account the fact that gel paints take the longest time, and this is because of their components.

Before you buy, always pay attention to the label that has a full description of the product’s composition and drying time. This fact will make you aware of the drying process and the right time to do so as well.

Do you find this article useful, if so let us know? In the comments, share your experiences with wood and wood paints.

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