How Long Can Primer Sit Before Painting [Ultimate Guide]

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Wondering how long can primer sit before painting any surface? You’re at the right page where we have we will discuss everything you need to know.

Before you can begin painting, you must first apply a primer. Before applying the first layer of paint, the professional painter must wait for the priming process to be complete.

The amount of time it takes for the primer to dry varies, so we’ll take a look at the time you must wait before painting the first layer.

If you don’t use primer, your chosen paint will have difficulty adhering to the surface; thus, it is very crucial. Primer is easy to apply, but it may be hard to tell how long it will take to dry.

So, how long can primer sit before painting? While most primers need to sit for at least a day before painting, some can be ready in as little as 3 hours.

After 30 days, you should never paint over a latex-based primer. When it comes to painting over some primers, it can take as little as one to four hours, but this relies on the primer’s density, base, and moisture levels in the air.


Read the label if you don’t know how long your primer will take to dry. If the primer is water-based or oil-based, the drying time will be different. We’ll take a detailed look at how long can primer sit before painting.

What Is Primer?

A primer is basically the first coat applied before a topcoat to help treat the surface. As a result, primer is designed to provide the best possible adhesion. Your paint job will stay longer if it has better adherence.

Primer also serves as a barrier to prevent paint from soaking into porous surfaces. As a final option, you may apply primer as a wall stain-blocker. For surfaces that generally flake through a single coat, this is essential.

There are numerous advantages to priming the surface before painting, and choosing the best primer and applying it at the appropriate time are critical.

The use of a primer can decrease the number of layers required to get a good color coverage in some circumstances. It also improves the surface-to-topcoat connection, resulting in longer-lasting paint. In other cases, a primer isn’t even necessary.

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Best Time To Use Primer

When should you apply a primer before painting? Many times, priming is absolutely essential. If you ignore this step, you could be setting yourself up for many problems in the future.

Before diving deeper into the many types of priming scenarios, let us briefly walk you through some of the most typical ones.

Walls With Stains

If there are stains, drywall repairs, substantial patching, or damage to the interior walls, they need to be spot-primed. Stained interior walls are usually caused by water, smoke, and mildew damage.

Kilz or Zinsser oil-based stain block primers can be used to remove stains from interior walls. Solvent-contained primer can be used to seal badly discolored walls.

Stain-blockers should only be applied in areas that have smoke or water damage on the drywall. In some cases, such as when your basement has been flooded, priming can only accomplish so much.

The damaged drywall should be replaced in the event of moderate or extensive flooding damage.

Gloss Paint And Oil Paint

For walls with a glossy finish or oil-based paint, you’ll need to first sand and then prime them. You’ll need a primer that forms a surface that paint can cling to or “bite” into.

Fortunately, oil-based paints are becoming less common on walls. Ideally, you won’t need to use a primer because you’ll be applying the finish over latex paint.

Painting with a gloss finish demands more skill and care than your ordinary home repair endeavor. As a result, rather than attempting to complete this task on your own, hire a professional painter.

Even semi-gloss paint is a hassle for the majority of homeowners. Using oil-based paint or primer is also a pain in the neck when it comes to cleaning up.

Change In Color

Additionally, priming the walls is a good idea if you’re shifting from a dark to a light color. When it comes to concealing bright colors like red or yellow, a latex acrylic primer is the best way to go. You may need to apply a second or third coat because some colors are difficult to hide.

Mildew Or Mold

To remove mold and mildew, you’ll need to use a mix of bleach and water to clean the wall. Gently rinse the wall section with water and give it some time to dry before moving on.

A mold-neutralizing oil-based primer should next be lightly sanded and applied. Before applying a final layer, this step is unavoidable.

Any leftover mold spores are killed by using an oil or solvent-based primer and preventing future mold from growing.

Your paint should also be mold-resistant; satin or semi-gloss are ideal options. Since deciding on the right color for your bathroom’s walls might be a hassle, you can use a paint guide.

More sheen or gloss means better resistance to future damage from water, as a rule of thumb. That’s why rooms that are prone to damp, such as restrooms or mudrooms, should have a higher gloss of the paint.

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New Drywall

Finally, prime all freshly installed drywall and skim-coated walls. Use a drywall primer with a latex base to seal the permeable surface.

It’s becoming more and more common for drywall primers to be water-based. As a bonus, most of the water-based primers are either low or zero VOC.

Preparing a surface using low-VOC primers results in fewer paint fumes and a cleaner environment.

Stucco Patch

It’s reasonable to wonder if priming your stucco house is necessary. You don’t need a primer if your stucco has previously been painted.

The same goes for the gloss and oil-based paints that we discussed earlier. Unless you’re painting over an existing section of stucco, you should prime before you begin painting. Make use of a masonry primer wherever possible.

When You Shouldn’t Use Primer

Surfaces that have already been painted but are still in good condition don’t require primer. All surfaces which are not peeling or chipping, both inside and outside, fall under this category.

The majority of high-quality interior and exterior paints on the market today are also self-priming. If you have already painted a surface, you don’t need a primer coat to use these products.

There is no need for a primer for eggshell or flat finishes on ceilings and walls, provided they are clean and smooth. Preparation before painting over some high gloss finishes or making necessary drywall repairs calls for light sanding and priming beforehand.

How Many Layers Of Primer To Use

There is no universally applicable number of priming coatings. Primer application also depends on the surface type and the primer and paint you choose.

Spray painting is an excellent example of how light coats can yield the most excellent results. A single coat may be sufficient for some tasks and primers.

In other cases, extra layers are required. If your surface has stains, rust, or an uneven texture, you might have to apply more than one primer coat.

If you’re going from darker to lighter colors, you may also need to apply more primer. Chipping and cracking might occur if an excessive amount of primer is applied. Apply two layers of primer if you’re unsure.

How Long Can Primer Sit Before Painting

Before painting over a primer, allow it to sit for at least 24 hours. Only water or latex-contained primers require a primer to sit for 30 minutes before painting.

Depending on the humidity and the thickness of the primer application, drying time ranges from 30 minutes to 4 hours. It’s important to paint over primer as soon as possible; else, the adhesive quality will be lost.

That will hinder the paint’s adhesion to the surface, making it look bad. Oil-based primers, latex-based primers, and water-based primers are the most common.

Primers differ in terms of drying time and how long you may paint them before they go bad. The base determines how much time a primer needs to dry and how long it takes to paint over it.


Painting over oil-based primers might take up to 14 days, as they are the most time-consuming to dry out. This brief time window must be respected, and an oil-based primer must be painted over before it is too late.

Temperature, humidity, and the thickness of the coat all affect the drying time of an oil-based primer. It is much easier to paint on porous surfaces after using an oil-based primer.

In fact, you may even use an oil-based primer on top of a water-based one. Once an oil-based primer has been applied to a surface, it should be left for at least 8 hours to one day before painting over it.

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Primers made of latex are inexpensive, simple to use, and dry quickly. The usual latex primer dries in half an hour, but it may need up to an hour to dry entirely.

Drying times might vary widely between brands and environments when it comes to drying times. In addition to their versatility, latex primers are appropriate for a wide range of surfaces, from softwood to concrete.

A latex-based primer has a 21-day window in which it can be painted over prior to it losing its effectiveness. To be on the safe side, a latex-based primer should be painted over at least 7-14 days before the intended application date.

Self-Priming Paint

It is a mixture of primer and a paint product. As the product is two-in-one, it saves you a lot of time and effort. Primer dries to the touch in about two hours on average, but some formulas can be ready for the second layer of paint in as little as an hour.


Between half an hour and one hour is the typical drying time for a water-based primer. A water-based primer will not be completely dry for another 2-3 hours after application.

Professionals generally recommend painting over water-contained primer within three days of putting the base coat.

Some water-based primers can be painted over within a week, but it’s best to act immediately. Water-based primers’ quick-drying and curing properties make them comparable to latex-based primers.

To ensure that the initial layer of paint adheres well to the surface, use a water-based primer and paint over it within 1-3 days.

Shellac Primer

Turn to shellac primers first whenever you have a stain that just won’t come out. These primers will work well if the surface you intend to paint has been damaged in any way.

In addition to masking blemishes, they can help keep odors at bay. These primers, on the other hand, dry quite quickly. The first layer of paint takes about an hour to dry.

Influential Factors That Decide Primer’s Time To Sit

While there is a defined amount of time for each primer to sit before painting, certain factors change that amount of time.

Depending on the situation, the primer can take more or less time to dry. Consider these considerations while painting your home.

Weather Conditions

Additionally, the correct temperature and high moisture in the area can speed up the drying process and ensure that the primer dries in less time.

As a result, so many manufacturers stress the importance of keeping the temperature lower than necessary. Your room should be between 40 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit for some primers.

In addition, the humidity should not exceed 85 percent at any one time. The primer will dry slower when the room’s temperature is high.

However, if the temperature in your room is too low, you are at risk of your primer getting thicker. For example, oil-based primers are a case in point.

Latex paint and other standard primers can even freeze. Prime and paint should only be done in rooms that have been adequately preheated.

There’s a wide range of uses for this, not only indoors. Even if you apply primer and then paint on the surface outside, you run the danger of destroying your work if the temperature and humidity aren’t just right.

Because you can’t control the weather, this is a drawback. As a result, you’ll need to monitor the weather prediction often.

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Dust And Debris

As the primer dries, it might become infected with dust and other particles. This is a compelling argument in favor of painting over a primed surface as soon as possible.

To prevent dust and debris from building up on the surface, you should wait until the primer has completely cured. As a result of dust and other material adhering to priming, painted surfaces have an unusual texture.

Start by wiping off your work area with a moist towel to remove any loose paint and dust. Make sure there is no sand or other debris left behind.

The Surface

The surface influences the primer’s drying time it is applied to. It will take longer to clean some surfaces than others.

You’ll need at least two thin coats of primer to adequately prime stained wood, new drywall, or a darker surface, so plan on extra drying time.

The drying time for priming metal might be as long as four hours, making it considerably more time-consuming.


The drying time might also be affected by how you put on the primer and paint. It is quicker to use a spray gun to apply a thinned primer. Spray painting also applies the primer in small layers, hastening the drying process.


You should have adequate airflow to help the primer dry even faster. Leave your windows and doors open to facilitate this process.

When considering shellac or oil-contained primers, this is mostly true. The event duration will be shortened if appropriate ventilation is offered.

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What If You Didn’t Wait For The Required Time

Prior to painting, a protective coat of primer is applied. Because of the unevenness of newly primed surfaces or because of damage on the surface, it is common to apply another coat of primer.

However, the primer also helps to guarantee that the paint sticks to the painted surface for a much more extended period, reducing the risk of chipping.

You risk spoiling the painting project if you apply paint before the primer has had a chance to dry. The paint will adhere better if you let the priming dry before applying thin layers.

Allowing the primer to cure will keep it from pulling away from the raw wood, causing the color to peel or a flaky surface.

You lose adhesion power if you don’t let the primer cure completely. It’s possible that you’ll create a mixture of the primer and the paint if the paint doesn’t adhere adequately to the surface.

Allowing adequate time for the primer to cure before painting is recommended. It’s critical to test the area first before applying any paint.

To be safe, you should wait longer than 30 minutes for the primer you are applying to dry, even if it claims to do so.

What If You Waited More Than Required

If you start applying the paint over the primer after a long time, your paint may wrinkle or fail to cling to the surface. The longer you wait to paint over a primer, the less sticky it becomes.

The drying time and window for each primer are different. To ensure that the first coat of paint is applied in the correct amount of time, refer to the instructions on the primer container.

Paint can become loose on a wall if it collects dust, dirt, or debris. If you longer time than needed, there will be bare spots, blotches, and creases on the surface.

Ways To Make Primer Dry Fast

There are a few things you can do to hasten the drying time of your primer, believe it or not. In order to avoid having to wait for an age to have the primer cured completely, these tips may be helpful if you’re short on time.


Is the air in the room too moist? To prime, either you can choose a less humid day, or you can speed things up by a little bit. A dehumidifier can help you achieve this goal. As a result, the primer will dry more quickly because the humidity in the house will be reduced.


You may also use a hairdryer to speed up the drying time of the primer. After priming the surface, gently blow some air on it. If you’re using a hairdryer, make sure the cold-air setting is on and not the heat setting. Be sure to maintain a minimum distance of one foot from the gadget when not in use.

Avoid Thick Coats

If you want to shorten the time it takes for your primer to dry, don’t apply too many layers. Thick coats are difficult to dry. To speed up the drying process, you can instead put a light primer layer.

Special Primer

Another option is to buy a primer that is designed to dry more quickly. It is possible to use self-priming paint to speed up the drying time of a painting. A latex primer is an excellent alternative to a two-in-one primer if you prefer to use a separate one.

Ventilated Place

Open the windows and doors to allow fresh air into your home. It will shorten the drying time of the primer.

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Final Verdict

We hope this guide was helpful on how long can primer sit before painting. Anyone can paint a wall. Preparing the walls for paint is essential, although many people don’t realize it.

Priming the walls is a critical step in the preparation process since it helps to smooth out the texture and bring out the actual paint’s color.

Paint adheres better and lasts longer when primed. Before painting over the priming, be sure to allow it to cure completely.

However, do not exceed the suggested sitting time. This basic rule can help you get a brighter and cleaner finish and more vivid walls if you follow it.

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