How Long Does It Take For Stain To Dry?
Drying time largely depends on the type of wood stain you are using (see Types of Wood Stain). But other factors can also affect their drying time, including the brand of stain you are using, room ventilation, room temperature, and humidity.
When you go to the store and read the label of different wood stains, you’ll notice that different brands state different drying times. You’ll need only a couple of hours before you can apply a second coat of stain or polyurethane varnish when you use some brands, while others can take anywhere between 8 hours and overnight to fully dry. Some can even go as long as 24 hours before it’s safe to apply varnish, wax, or oil to the surface.
Temperature can also affect the stain’s drying time. The ideal temperature for staining wood ranges from 50° to 90° Fahrenheit. But the best time of day to stain wood is when it hits 70° Fahrenheit. Always check the stain’s label as brands vary and the stain bases they use affect the drying time.
Humidity is another important factor to consider when staining wood. If you want the stain to dry faster, find a time during the day when the humidity ranges between 50 to 70 percent. Anything higher or lower than these and you’re going to have to wait longer for the stain to dry. Using a dehumidifier and setting it to 50 percent can speed up drying time.
Another factor you should consider is the amount of air circulating in your room. Work in a well-ventilated area to speed up the stain drying process, and turn on your garage or workshop’s exhaust fan if you have one. You can also open the door and windows if you don’t have an exhaust fan in your workshop.
Types of Wood Stain
Water-Based Wood Stain
Water-based stains use water as the dyes’ solvent or vehicle. They are more environment-friendly than other types of the wood stain as they do not release harmful volatile organic compounds.
If you want a shorter drying period, then a water-based wood stain is your best bet. But its strength can also be its weakness as woodworkers need to apply the stain quickly to produce an even coating and prevent splotches.
You can wipe away the excess stain, or add solvents that slowly evaporate (such as lacquer retarder or propylene glycol) to produce a good result with water-based stains. Keep in mind that water-based stains offer low penetration compared to oil-based stains.
If you are looking for water-based wood stains, then check out the General Finishes Water Based Wood Stain and the Old Masters Early American Water Based Wood Stain.
Oil-Based Wood Stain
Oil-based stains are some of the most popular and widely available wood stains in the market. These stains use linseed oil or varnish and linseed oil as its binder. The stain can penetrate deeply into the wood thanks to linseed oil. Apart from adding color and depth, oil-based stains also add another layer of protection to the wood’s surface.
It can take around 1 to 2 hours before a coat of an oil-based wood stain dries. You then have to wait for another couple of hours before applying the second coat. Finally, you need to wait at least 8 hours before you can apply your finish of choice.
The Zar Wood Stain and the Rust-Oleum Varathane Fast Dry Wood Stain are some of the oil-based stains you can purchase online.
Varnish Wood Stain
These wood stains use varnish as a binder. One of the most popular varnishes used as a binder in wood stains is polyurethane. Polyurethane is a type of synthetic liquid resin. Unlike water-based wood stains, polyurethane-based wood stains can protect your workpiece from heat and chemicals. You don’t need to apply a finishing coat if you’re using varnish wood stain.
Workpieces applied with varnish wood stain exudes a more natural look. But you have to be careful when applying varnish wood stain as it tends to become splotchy. It dries pretty quickly too, so you have to wipe off the excess stain immediately.
The Minwax Polyshades Stain & Polyurethane in 1 Step and Varathane One Step Water-Based Stain and Poly are some of the most popular varnish wood stains on the market.
Lacquer Wood Stain
Lacquer wood stains have a distinct strong odor due to the presence of xylene, toluene, and other solvents. Thanks to these solvents, lacquer wood stains are easy to apply and dries quickly compared to other types of stains.
Apply a thin coat of lacquer wood stain first to prevent bubbles from forming on the surface of your workpiece. You should also wear a face mask when using a lacquer wood stain.
Lacquer wood stains are the stain of choice for professionals as the coat dries 15 minutes after application.
Gel-Based Wood Stain
Gel-based wood stains are relatively new in the market. The stain’s consistency resembles that of a ganache or pudding, and you need to stir it first before applying it to a surface. Woodworkers find that this stain is easier to apply and control thanks to its jelly-like consistency. They don’t drip easily, making them very useful especially when working on table legs.
Gel stains are good at disguising flaws in the workpiece. It also doesn’t require a lot of sanding and is ideal for staining pine. If you’re planning to spray it on the surface, then forget about it as its viscosity will not allow you to.
This is one of the slowest drying wood stains available, so you might want to steer clear of it if you’re in a hurry to finish a project. Some of the popular gel-based wood stains available online include the Old Masters Gel Stain and Bartley’s Gel Stain.
Photo by Carlos Diaz from Pexels
Metalized Dye Stain
Metalized dye stains, also known as non-grain raising stains, are wood colorants mixed with acetone and other thinners. Because of their thin consistency, these stains can be sprayed on the surface. They dry pretty quickly, making them perfect for commercial applications.
Water-Soluble Aniline Dye Stain
Water-soluble aniline dye stain is one of the oldest wood staining techniques. Aniline dyes are synthetic dyes that date back to the middle of the 19th century. They were primarily used to dye fabrics but were also used to stain wood.
Aniline dyes are available in powder form and can be easily dissolved in hot water. The amount of dye you put in determines whether you’ll have a lighter or more intense coloring.
It dries pretty quickly, but the good news is you can lighten or darken the color easily. Just apply a second coat to make the color look more intense. Or use a damp and clean rag to lighten its color.
Although aniline dyes are rare, you can still buy them online. Check out this Keda Dye Aniline Dye Kit and J.E. Moser’s Wood Stain if you’re interested in using it for your next project.