Wood Stain To Dry

How Long It Takes For Wood Stain to Dry – Step-by-Step Guide


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Woodworking projects take effort and precision. One of the most important things to keep in mind with woodwork is how to take care of the project you work on.

Apart from the skill required to craft a wooden piece, you also need the right kind of knowledge of the projects is crucial as well. The same comes to stains.

Using wood stains is common for woodwork. But when it comes to knowing how long does it take for wood stain to dry, it becomes tricky for novices, and even veteran woodworkers.

Considering wood stains, the real deal is not even about the time, it is about the kind of wood stain you make use of. Since there are varieties of stain options you can try out, knowing the type will play an important role.

That said before we discuss the different durations for how long does it take for wood stain to dry, let’s talk about how to use wood stain on wood projects.

Steps to use wood stain

This is not an extensive step-by-step guide. We’ll discuss staining the wood briefly. Before we get into the steps, here is what you will need:

  • Wood stain.
  • Sandpaper.
  • A paintbrush.
  • A block of wood.
  • Clean rags.
  • A popsicle stick.

Step 1: Preparing the surface

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The first step is always to ensure that the surface is clean and ready to use. All you need to do is wipe the surface once with a clean cloth.

Next, lightly make use of the sanding paper. This will help you stain the wood better.

Step 2: Using wood stain

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The next step is to prepare the wood stain. You can even use a pre-stain wood conditioner for better results. Pre-stain wood conditioners help you get an even finish with wood stain.

Next, use the popsicle stick to stir the wood stain. Dip your paintbrush in the stain to use it.

Step 3: Test the stain

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Before you use it on the actual surface, remember to test it on a block of wood first. Let the wood stain dry to gauge the color intensity.

If you’re satisfied with the color, you can use it on the surface of the project. But if you’re not satisfied with the color, you can always dilute it.

Step 4: Application of wood stain

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The next step is to apply the wood stain on the surface. You should make it a point to apply in even strokes.

Then wait for it to dry. This is where knowledge of how long does it take for wood stain to dry will come in handy.

Step 5: Using a sealant

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The last step is to seal the wood. You need to apply coats of sealants to ensure to finish of the project.

You can even sand the finished coats before applying another layer of sealant on top.

The truth about how long does it take for wood stain to dry?

Durations for wood stains to dry depending on the kind of wood stain it is. Basically, the compound and chemicals used in the stains are responsible for the varying durations for drying.

Apart from that, some factors affect the answer to how long does it take for wood stain to dry:

The Type of Wood:

If you have porous or softwoods, then the stain will take a while to dry. These kinds of woods include spruce, pine, alder, aspen, fir, and maple. The fact that these kinds of woods absorb stain unevenly, makes the drying process take longer.


Air circulation is crucial for stain and its drying. More air in the room or space where you work on wood will help you lock the stains better in place. The airflow will allow the moisture from the stain to evaporate.


Temperature is another crucial element in the stain drying process. To know the right temperature level for the stain you use, you should read the label of the stain.


Avoid rainy days and humid days. Since staining requires the water to evaporate, humid days will get in the way of the same.

What else to know about various kinds of stains?

If you want to know how long does it take for wood stain to dry, then the following list is important for you:

  • Oil-based wood stains are fast-drying stains. These usually take 12 to 24 hours to dry. But some brands may take 72 hours to dry.
  • Water-based stains are even better. Unlike oil-based wood stains, these dry faster. But humidity is a concern for water-based stains. Since humid conditions can make it difficult for the water-based solution to dry, these may be difficult to use. Usually, water-based stains will typically try within three to four hours. Other water-based stains may take between 24 to 72 hours to dry completely.
  • Varathane stains are premium-grade stains. These are best for softwoods because of the nature of the woods. Varathane stains come in the form of gels, liquid, or aerosol. Most of these kinds of wood stains dry within 8 hours.


When it comes to how long does it take for wood stain to dry, the atmosphere plays an important role. Humid conditions will make it exceptionally difficult for the wood stain to dry.

If you want to look for a quick way to dry wood stain, you should consider a space with controlled humidity. The condition should be anywhere between 50 to 70%. You can even make use of a dehumidifier to improve the speed.

Also, most people feel that gel variants are an easier option. And you’d be right to believe that. Gel wood stains are new in the market and are popular because they are easy to apply. But the only downside to using gel-based wood stains is that these take the longest to dry.

When it comes to finding the best option for the fastest drying wood stain, it will be water-based wood stains. If you can get the temperature and humidity in the room right, you’d be able to see faster, and better results.