House Grail is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

How Long Does Primer Take to Dry?

primer paint

The reason to apply primer to a surface before painting is to provide better adhesion for the paint and increase the overall durability. In that respect, we should apply the primer correctly and allow it to dry before painting.

You don’t want to apply your paint too early, or else it will affect the quality of your paint job. It’s not a matter of if you will prime, but how to apply the primer appropriately. So how long does primer take to dry? This article will focus on the drying time of primer and factors that can affect how fast it will dry.

How Long to Let Primer Dry

Oil-based primers: These work with oil-based or latex paints. They are great at covering stains and preventing stains from ink and water. They are ideal for interior and exterior projects. They dry faster than oil-based paint but are the slowest drying primer, taking at least six to eight hours. Since it is heavy, you might have to sand the brush strokes before applying paint.

Latex primers: These are great to use on drywall since they even out the surface. They will cover and seal previous stains, but not as well as oil-based primers. They are fast-drying, taking three to four hours.

Shellac primers: Concerning dry time, these are very fast, clocking in at around 45 minutes. Shellac primers are great for interior paint jobs and are the best at blocking stains, as well as protecting future stains. They can be used with oil-based and latex paints.

Be aware that oil-based and shellac primers emit VOCs (volatile organic compounds), so if they are used inside, you need a high amount of ventilation. Keep in mind that you can find these types of primers with a low VOC.

How long does primer take to dry?
Photo Credit: PxHere

Factors That Affect Dry Time

  • Temperature: The ideal temperature to dry primer is 77 degrees Fahrenheit. With cooler temperatures, it will take longer for the primer to dry.
  • Humidity: A humidity of less than 50% is ideal, and if you have high humidity, you can close the windows and use a dehumidifier. If it happens to be a rainy day, expect it to take longer.
  • Ventilation: More airflow will allow your primer to dry faster. You can open windows or set up fans to speed up the drying process.

Most of the time, primers will dry to touch within a few hours, but to dry thoroughly, they will need more time than that. Most professionals will recommend at least 12 hours if you have the time. The primer you choose will come with instructions that will tell you its average dry time.

Tips and Tricks

  • For best results, apply primer with a sprayer, which results in a thinner layer compared to brushing or rolling it on. The second-best option is to use a roller, since it will provide a thinner layer than being brushed on.
  • If applying more than one coat of primer, allow the same amount of time to dry as you would before painting.
  • Thinner coats of primer will result in an even and smooth finish, reducing the chance of having to sand the wall before the painting begins.
  • To check for dryness, touch the primed area. It should not be tacky nor should it look wet with uneven tones.
  • When priming outside, pick a warm sunny day for best results; otherwise, it will take longer for the primer to dry if it is cloudy or if it rains.


The benefits outweigh the disadvantage of having to wait for your primer to dry. If you have to apply more coats of primer, think of the coverage you will achieve and how well it will protect your wall from future stains. Know the difference between oil-based and water-based primers and what they can provide.

Read the manufacturer’s instructions for guidance, but also pay attention to other factors that will affect dry time, such as temperature and humidity. A good quality primer, paired with ideal conditions, will create excellent results.

Featured image credit: Bru-nO, Pixabay


Related posts

OUR categories

Project ideas

Hand & power tools