How Long Does It Take For Wood Stain to Dry?

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Jacky C

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Would you like to get your hands on furniture that is designed superbly with perfection but has utterly bad finishing? Definitely not! Well, and that is where stain comes in that drastically turns around the situation for every woodworking project and offers an enhanced look to it. But the question is, how long does it take to dry?

Wood stains can consume anywhere between 2-48 hours to completely dry, depending on their type. Not only that, but the weather conditions along with the atmospheric changes also have a great impact on the process.

But do you know which type of stain consumes the most time and which one consumes the least? Well, let’s take a very detailed look at the details and see which stain would be perfect for your woodworking project according to the availability of time.

Different Types Of Wood Stains And Their Time Consumption To Dry

So these are the most common types of wood stains you would be able to find in the market. Make sure to go through all of them to understand their actual purposes and time consuming to dry out.

1. Gel-based Wood Stains

Gel-based wood stains fall in the category where they neither consume a lot of time nor take minimal to dry. You will at least have to wait for 10-12 hours before you can proceed further with the project. The thing is, gel-based wood stains are really thick, and they are applied through multiple layers, unlike the different types.

Also, make sure not to apply an excessive amount of gel-based wood stain on your project, or else it will stick right there for ages without drying. Other than that, it does not matter if you are using the gel-based stains for the exterior or interior; the drying time frame will remain the same for both of the cases.

2. Water-based Stains (For Interior)

This is probably where you are going to love the time frame because of the short drying duration offered by the water-based stains. But do remember that we are talking about the interior here and not the exterior before you take the time consumption into consideration.

As for the time period, your water-based stain will probably dry out completely within an hour, but in very few cases, you might have to wait for two or three hours depending on the project type of atmospheric conditions.

3. Water-based Stains (For Exterior)

Again, here we are talking about the water-based stains, but in this scenario, the time frame is quite the opposite. Instead of waiting for one or two hours, as we saw in the case of interior-based water stains, you will have to wait up to 22-24 hours to get your stain dried out.

It is always a fascinating idea to let it be for an entire day to exterminate any types of risks involved, as it will only make your woodworking project better in the end.

4. Oil-based Stains (For Interior)

Stains for interior use generally consume a lot less time as compared to the ones used for the exterior. And the same scenario goes for the oil-based stains for interior use. You will again only have to wait for two hours, or a maximum of three, in order to get your stain dried out.

But do note that oil-based stains can be very tricky sometimes because of the atmosphere you are going to keep the project in. So it is better to give it a little more time than stated for enhanced quality.

5. Oil-based stains (For exterior)

The final in our list is the oil-based stains that are going to be used for the exterior projects. For the oil-based stains to be used for exterior projects, you will probably have to wait for about two days for them to completely dry. As I have stated earlier, the atmosphere matters a lot when it comes to oil-based stains, and that is also the reason why they consume so much time when used for the outside.

It is unquestionably not a good choice for anyone who is short on time because 48 hours will be consumed only in the drying process.

Can The Time Durations Mentioned Above “Vary”, Or Are They Fixed?

The time durations mentioned above are not fixed, and they can definitely vary depending on different factors. But there are two crucial and main factors that play the most important role in specifying the time duration of drying for any strain. And here are those two factors:

  • The brand of which your stain is.
  • The atmospheric conditions provided to the project.

Different brands specify the time duration for drying right on the box of the stain, so it is better to consider it too before moving on to the next step. But what about the atmospheric conditions? Let’s check out how they can affect the stain and its drying time!

Affect Of Atmospheric Conditions On The Stain And Its Drying Time!

There are various aspects involved in the atmospheric conditions that can affect your stain. That is why it is better to understand them separately so that you can know which thing can affect you the most.

1. Air Passage

It is quite evident that air plays the most crucial part in drying out anything. So for the stains, air does the same job. So if your project is getting enough air all the time, it would probably take less time than stated, and you will be able to carry on with your project in minimal time.

2. Overall Temperature

As for the overall temperature, stains like to stay somewhere in the middle. This means that nor a very high temperature is good for the drying process of the stain; neither very low temperature is good for it. You should opt for a place that could offer a maximum of 35 degrees Celsius temperature to your stained project.

3. Rainy/Humid Atmosphere

If you don’t want to ruin your whole project along with the stain you have applied, never ever think of applying the stain where the humidity is higher than normal. Not only that, the same goes for the rainy seasons, too, as even the slightest drops can affect the whole project.

Is There Any Way To Make The Drying Process Faster? The FAQs!

There definitely are some ways to make the drying process faster! Let’s check out some FAQs and get your questions answered!

Can I use a fan to increase air circulation for the stain to dry?

You can surely use a fan to increase the air circulation at a certain place. But make sure that the fan is not moisturizing the area, or else it will create even massive hassles for you.

Is it a good idea to increase the temperature to make the drying process faster?

It is a good idea until or unless you are not thinking of taking the temperature above 40 degrees Celsius. It would be actually quite good if you could keep it below 35 as it is the ideal temperature for any stain to dry.

Can sunlight help me dry the stain quickly?

No! In fact, sunlight can make the process even longer.

Is it better to use a shaded place for the strain to dry?

Yes, try to opt for a place that has shade along with good air circulation to get the best possible results.

How do you know when the stain is dry?

The only way to know is to smell the stain and see if any smell is coming. If not, then you are actually good to go. Other than that, you can simply touch it and see if it is still sticky or not.

Do you have to sand wood before staining?

Sanding the wood can make the surface a lot smoother. That is why it is a good idea to sand the wood before staining so that there won’t be any prominent scratches left.

How do you remove too much stain from wood?

The best way to remove excessive stain from wood is to use a piece of cloth dipped in any mineral spirit. You will just have to rub it against the surface to remove extra strain as per your likings.

What happens if you apply polyurethane before the stain is dry?

The finishing of your end product will be ruined as polyurethane will be mixed with stain. Besides, the drying process will also become longer because of the polyurethane properties.

How to keep wood stain from rubbing off?

If you don’t want your stain to rub off the surface, you can try using a good wood sealer as it will make the surface smoother, stronger, and resistant.

After staining wood do you have to seal it?

Sealing the wood after staining has always been a good idea as it stops the wood from bleeding.

Can I apply polyurethane if the stain is tacky?

Definitely not! If you do so, the results will be far beyond your expectations.

The Verdict

So these are the different time durations for different types of stains for drying out. Now you will have to decide yourself, according to your preferences, which type will suit you the best as per the climate conditions out there and your project type.

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