How Long Does it Take For Stain to Dry?

Whether you’re staining a deck, fence, or piece of furniture, knowing how long does it take for a stain to dry is important.

For oil-based stains to dry it can take up to 24 hours to dry, whereas water-based stains typically dry within one to two hours. The drying time is also very dependent on the temperature and humidity.

In this post, you’ll learn different methods of applying various types of stains and give our recommendations for the best products that you can get.

Read Also: drying times for acrylic paints

Find Out How Long Does it Take For a Stain to Dry

Minwax stain dry time

Stains can be applied to different surfaces, including concrete, metal, and wood.

For larger surfaces, such as decks and patios, it usually takes longer than for smaller surfaces, like tabletops.

Some stains are oil-based, in which case they will need to sit for up to six hours before they are dry.

Stains that are water-based also come in a variety of drying times, so be sure to consult your product’s instructions for more information about how quickly it needs to be set before you move on to the next step.

Now, let’s take a look at how long it takes for stain to dry using different products.

How Long Does Minwax Stain Take To Dry

Minwax stain dry time is 2 – 3 hours. If you add the optional finish on top, that will dry between two and four hours.

The great thing about this brand is that it dries really fast -compared to other similar products out there.

Minwax is a line of wood stains that can be used for any interior wood project, from floors and furniture to tables and chairs.

It works by penetrating the wood, giving you a deep, rich color that shows off the natural grain of the wood.

Minwax Stain Dry Time Before Poly

The general rule is that the stain must dry for up to 48 hours before applying it. If you’re using a water-based product, it’s best to wait 72 hours before applying the finish.

This gives the stain time to completely dry and soaks into the wood fibers.

If you don’t apply the finish right away, you may need to sand your surface before you apply it.

Waiting too long between applications can lead to a rough surface with raised grain that needs to be smoothed out.

How Long Does Varathane Stain Take To Dry

Varathane Stain drying

Varathane stain dry time is around 2 hours. However, it depends on the type of varathane stain you use and what wood you’re staining.

When using a wood conditioner and then staining, you can expect the dry time to be about three hours.

First and foremost, the sort of wood. If you’ve chosen softwood (like pine), it’s going to take longer to dry than hardwood (like oak).

That’s because the fibers in softwood are larger, so they’ll absorb more stain, which means they’ll take a longer drying time.

The next factor is the type of varathane stain you’re using. Oil-based stains require more time to set than water-based stains.

Darker stains also take more time to cure than lighter ones. The darker the color, the more pigment is in the stain and therefore more pigment needs to be absorbed by the wood before it dries completely.

If you need a faster drying time, you can use a hairdryer to accelerate the procedure.

Cabot Stain Dry Time

Cabot stain is oil-based and dries between 12 to 24 hours. It requires several coats, which should be applied at intervals of 12 hours.

On a deck floor or railings, for example, the time can be ranging between 6 to 48 hours.

You should allow at least 24 hours (if not longer) before walking on it, and you shouldn’t put any furniture back on a fresh stain until it’s completely dry.

Cabot stain can take a few hrs to dry, relying on the temperature and moisture in the air. So, it’s best to let Cabot stain for 24 hours before applying a second coat.

Behr Stain Dry Time

Your deck looks beautiful, and now that you’ve finished staining it, you want to start enjoying it right away. However, before you may do so, you need to know how long it will take your deck to dry.

The amount of time it takes for Behr Stain to dry can take up to 24 hours, but two coats can take up to 72 hours.

Oil-based stains will take longer to cure, but if you’re looking for that deep, rich color, the wait is worth it. Water-based is quick and easy, but they won’t give you as much depth of color.

Olympic Stain Drying Time

The time for Olympic stains varies depending on the product and the surface you’re using it on, but most will require up to 48 hours of drying time before you use your stained surface.

Here are some tips on Olympic Stain Drying Time:

  1. Prepare the wood by cleaning it with a deck cleaner and brightener if you have an old deck. If you don’t, skip this step.
  2. Remove any dirt and debris from the surface of the deck before staining.
  3. For new decks, or decks that have been previously stained, use a solid color stain. For older decks, use a semi-transparent stain.

The best way to determine if it’s time for a second coat is by touching the wood surface. If it feels dry, you can apply another coat.

Osmo Oil Stains Drying Time

Osmo oil stains are designed to penetrate the wood surface, therefore drying time will differ based on the absorbency of the timber.

The general guideline for a single coat of Osmo Decking Oil is 8-12 hours.

In high temperatures or where the timber is very dry, it may be necessary to wait longer before applying a second coat.

Oiling in cold temperatures (below 5 degrees) can extend drying time; during this time, ensure that the oil is not exposed to any direct sunlight, as this will also slow drying times.

Factors That Impact Stain Dry Time

While it’s helpful to know how long a stain takes to dry, there are a number of factors that affect the time for cure.

Type Of Products

Different brands and types of products can have very different drying times. A thick layer of stain will need longer to dry than a thin layer of stain.

Wood Type

The characteristics of the surface onto which you’re applying the stain are probably the biggest factor:

What kind of wood is it, and how absorbent is your particular piece?


Temperature can play a huge role in how quickly your stain will dry.

If the temperature is too low, it can take longer for the stain to dry; if it’s too high, the moisture in the surroundings will slow down the drying process.


It takes longer to dry in higher humidity than in lower humidity. If it’s humid outside, you can expect your stain to take longer to dry than if it were a dry day.

This is because water molecules in the air are attracted to and absorbed by the stain, which slows the evaporation of the liquid portion of the stain.

How Long Does It Take For Wood Stain To Dry

wood stain dry time

When it comes to staining wood, there are a lot of options available, and choosing the right stain can be confusing.

The answer to the question, how long does it take for the wood stain to dry is within 2 to 4 hours.

But the exact wood stain dry time depends on the wood type, the stain, and the weather.

For example, staining pine wood in hot weather will take less time than staining oak wood in cold weather.

If you’re using an oil-based stain, you’ll need more time than if you’re using a water-based one since oils are thicker than water and take longer to absorb into the wood fibers.

Here’s what you should know about getting a beautiful result with wood stain:

  1. Do your sanding before staining. If you sand between layers of stain, you run the risk of scratching off too much stain.
  2. Don’t use a brush to apply stain—use a rag instead. This will help prevent brush strokes that can ruin the look of your project.
  3. Be aware that darker colors of stain take longer to dry than lighter colors of stain. If you’re in a hurry, stick with light colors like natural and golden oak or birch.
  4. Let each coat of stain cure completely before applying another coat.

If not, you might end up with an uneven finish and blotchy coloring throughout your project (especially if it’s made from several different types of wood). There are also two ways if you want to shorten the drying time of wood stain:

  • Use a hair dryer or fan to help the stain air cure faster.
  • Use heat to quicken the chemical reaction that occurs when you apply wood stain.

After Staining Wood Do You Have To Seal It?

It can be tempting to skip the sealing stage after staining your project because you may not see any visible problems with your work.

However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some hidden issues with your project if you don’t seal it properly.

The purpose of sealing your project is to protect it from damage caused by moisture and other elements in the environment.

If you don’t seal your project, then the stain can begin to fade or even peel off over time. This can result in an uneven look for your piece or cause parts of it to become discolored by water or sun exposure.

Stain, on its own, is not going to protect your wood from moisture. It may be able to improve the appearance of your wood project, but it’s not enough on its own.

To be sure that your project looks good and lasts a long time, it’s important to apply a quality finish.

How Long Does It Take For Stain To Dry On Hardwood Floors

Stain is a really important part of the flooring process. It makes your floors look fantastic, but it also protects them from moisture and other damage.

You’ll want the stain to be completely dry before you move on to the next stage of the project, whether that’s coating or sealing your floors.

So, how long does floor stain take to dry?

Floor stains may take up to 24 hours. You’ll know the stain is settled when it no longer remains tacky.

The time it takes for a stain to settle on hardwood floors also depends on the type of stain you’re using and whether it’s water-based or oil-based.

Water-based typically dry in one to two hours and require about 24 hours for a second layer to be applied.

Oil-based stains typically take six to eight hours and need between 24 and 48 hours before a second coat can be put on.

If you rush the process and your floor isn’t quite dry, you could end up with uneven coloring or an overall muddy-looking finish.

How Long Does Deck Stain Take To Dry

Deck stains are a popular option for protecting and enhancing your deck. They are available in a variety of colors and opacity, from clear to solid.

However, before you enjoy those benefits, it’s important to know what’s the deck stain dry time.

You’ll need to wait for at least 24 hours before stepping on your deck after you’ve finished staining it, largely depending on the weather.

If it’s very humid or windy, you may need to wait longer for the deck stain to evaporate fully.

When deciding when it will be safe for your family to fully use the deck again, take into account the type of stain you’ve used, as well as whether or not you applied a sealant.

These factors can affect how long it will take for your deck stain to cure completely and become safe for heavy use.

Of course, deck stain drying time differentiates from product to product and from brand to brand.

So, it’s always best to read the instructions on the container of your particular deck stain before beginning your project.

How Long Does It Take For Concrete Stain To Dry

Concrete stain is a great way to refine the look of a driveway, sidewalk, patio, or other concrete surfaces.

If you’re planning to stain your concrete in the near future, there are a few things you should know.

If you’re planning on staining your concrete soon, it pays to learn about how long it takes for concrete stains to dry and cure.

Concrete stain is a quick-drying solution that can be applied to concrete surfaces in less than an hour.

The concrete stain will dry within 15 minutes, but it is recommended to wait at least three hours before standing on it.

The amount of time it takes for the concrete stain to fully cure can take up to one day.

How Long Does Oil-Based Stain Take To Dry

Oil-based stain dry time may take anywhere from 48 to more than 72 hours to dry, depending on different factors.

First, the temperature of the room matters: the warmer the room, the faster the stain will dry. Second, how thickly you applied the stain matters as well.

Because it needs a longer time compared to others, be sure to spread the stain evenly and thinly. If you use too much stain, it will take much time to dry.

For this reason, it’s also important to keep the stain off of any areas you don’t want to be stained, such as trim or adjoining walls.

It’s tough to remove an oil-based stain once it has dried. One way that you can tell if your oil-based stain is still wet is by checking for stickiness.

If your hand feels sticky after touching the surface of the wood, chances are that there is still moisture in the wood and so the stain won’t be completely dry yet.

If you don’t have time for your oil-based stain to settle completely, you can use a blow dryer to accelerate the process. Make sure to blow over the surface of the wood; otherwise, you may blow dust into your freshly applied stain!

How Long Does Water-Based Stain Take To Dry

Water-based stains are very popular with woodworkers because they are easy to use, easy to clean up, and have no odor.

They are among the most popular strains available and for good reason. Not only do they come in a range of colors, but they also dry more quickly than oil-based stains.

A water-based stain may dry to the touch within 1 hour, but that does not mean it is finished curing.

In fact, it can vary anywhere from 48 hours to more than 72 hours for a water-based stain to fully cure!
It is important that you leave your project undisturbed for at least 24 hours.

This way the stain will have enough time to absorb into the wood properly and cure before applying any topcoats or varnish over the top of it.

Remember: It all comes down to whether or not you’ve stained before and how many applications of stain were applied.

How Long Does Gel Stain Take To Dry

Gel stain is a popular product for adding color to wood. Unlike traditional stains, it has a thicker consistency and typically has a much darker color.

Gel stain may range from a few hours to one day to dry completely. But, as always, there are various elements to consider:

Humidity level and weather conditions outside or even what type of product you’re using to apply it with (a brush vs roller).

If you have painted your furniture with oil-based paint and want to protect your work with a coat of gel stain, you should wait for 24 hours after painting before applying the gel stain.

How It Works

  • Applying gel stain is identical to applying regular wood stain. Dip a smooth towel into the gel stain, then work it into the wood in a circular motion in the movement of the grain.
  • Remove any excess gel stain after you have covered the entire piece of furniture or cabinet door with an additional clean rag.
  • Allow several hours for your first coat of gel stain to settle completely before applying a second layer if necessary.

General Finishes Gel Stain Dry Time

General Finishes Gel Stain is a high-quality, oil-based wood stain. It can be used to stain wood, fiberglass, and metal. It is available in several different colors and comes with a foam applicator brush.

How long does General Finishes gel stain dry? It will dry in approximately two hours at room temperature. The stain should be fully cured within 24 hours.

How Long To Let Stain Dry Before Polyurethane

One of the most common questions regarding this topic is how long to let the stain dry before poly.

The length of time you must wait to let a stain dry before using it depends on several factors.

That includes the type of stain and type of polyurethane, as well as the temperature and humidity in your environment.

That said, you always want to ensure that your stain is completely dry before applying anything.

If you’re using water-soluble dye or pigmented stain, you should allow the stain to evaporate for 24 hours.

If you’re using an oil-based dye or pigmented stain, you should allow 72 hours. It’s always better to let the stain dry a bit longer than it says on the can.

This is because the solvents need time to evaporate from the wood before sealing.

If you apply it before the stain dries, it’ll trap the solvents under the polyurethane finish and cause bubbles in your final product.

How To Apply Polyurethane To Stained Wood

With a few simple steps and the right products, you can have your new piece of furniture or flooring looking gorgeous in no time.

Before you begin, ensure that your work area is well-ventilated. This can be achieved by opening windows and doors in the room or by using a fan to direct the fumes away from your workspace.

  1. Clean your work area so there is no debris or dust nearby that could get into your poly and ruin the finish.
  2. Open the can and stir with a paint stick until the contents are smooth (do not shake).
  3. Pour some of it into a paint tray.
  4. Dip your brush into the tray, making sure to coat all sides evenly.
  5. Start in one corner of your project and brush on a layer in long, smooth strokes. Make sure you don’t leave any drips or streaks as you go along.
  6. Let dry for 3-4 hours, then sand lightly with extra-fine grain sandpaper and remove any dust before applying another layer in long, smooth strokes.

Repeat steps 5-6 until you have reached the desired level of glossiness.

How Long To Let Stain Dry Before Second Coat

You can apply a second layer as soon as the first coat is not wet to the touch, which is typically within two hours. But, sometimes, it can take up to 24 hours for the first coat of a stain to dry completely. So be patient!

A good rule of thumb is to let the first coat dry overnight before applying a second coat. If you apply another coat soon after applying the first coat will likely result in a darker color.

So if you have applied your first coat and it’s not dark enough for you, wait until it dries completely and then apply another coat.

There are a few things that can affect how quickly the stain dries, and thus how long you have to wait before applying a second coat:

  • The type of stain and wood, and the temperature.
  • The type of stain is perhaps the most important factor in determining how long you’ll need to let it dry before the second coat.
  • Some will dry more quickly than others, so if you’re using a fast-drying stain, you’ll only need about six hours between coats.
  • If you’re using a slow-drying stain, you may want to wait 24 hours or more.
  • Another factor that can affect how quickly your stain dries is the wood type on which it’s applied. If you’re staining softwoods (like pine or spruce), then the stain will dry very quickly—in just 6 to 8 hours.

How to Make Stain Dry Faster

Applying a stain to your deck or the furniture in your home can be a time-consuming process. Once you’ve finished applying the stain, you’re ready for it to dry so that you can see the results of your hard work.

If you’re in a hurry or don’t want to wait around for the deck or furniture to dry naturally, here’s how you can quicken drying time.

  1. Apply the stain with a paintbrush and let it sit for 20 minutes.
  2. Use a rag to remove any excess stain that hasn’t soaked into the wood.
  3.  Place two fans to blow over the stained area and turn them on at high speed. The air blowing across the stain will help it dry quicker than it would if left alone.

Anyways, you can also use a hairdryer on low heat over the stain. This method will speed up drying time without sacrificing quality or letting the dust settle into your stain!

How Can I Slow Down Stain Drying Time?

There are plenty of situations where you want to slow down stain drying time. Perhaps you want to give the stain more time to absorb into the wood, or you have to let it fully dry before applying a top coat.

You might even just be in an area with high humidity and need the stain to settle more slowly because of that.

The most important thing is to work carefully and deliberately. Rushing can lead to splotches or other blemishes in your finished project that is difficult or impossible to remove.

To slow down stain drying time, try one of the following methods:

  • Using a gel stain instead of a liquid formula
  • Ragging on the stain instead of brushing it on
  • Reducing the amount of stain you use

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take for a stain to dry to touch?

Different stain brands, application methods, and drying conditions will affect the time it takes for the stain to dry.

How to stain wood furniture without sanding

The best type of stain for furniture that doesn’t need sanding is gel stain. It doesn’t have a lot of chemicals in it, so it won’t damage the original finish on your furniture at all.

Will the stain darken as it dries?

The short answer is yes, it will darken as it dries, but not significantly. The only way to be sure is to test the stain on a piece of wood before you do the whole floor.

Is it better to stain with a brush or rag?

You should use a brush for oil-based stains and a rag or stain pad for stains that are water-based.


Many people report the stain has not dried up, so I wanted to go into detail as to why this happens.

Because it is typically designed to bond to the surface it’s applied to, there are a few things you can do to ensure your stain dries well.

Knowing how long does it take for the stain to dry will help you plan ahead. Also, you want to get all materials prepared before working on your project.

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