Different Types of Wood Primer and How to use it

Priming is a crucial component of painting as it prepares the surface for the subsequent coat. But what is wood primer?

Primer is paint without pigments; it has resins as the main components. 

The primer’s role is to create a bond between the substratum surface and the paint by providing a uniform surface suitable for painting.

Different Types of Wood Primer

I have to stress that if you are looking to achieve the best finish on your painting project, you should always use a suitable primer. 

Primer refers to a specific type of paint that goes on first, preparing your wooden surface in this case for optimal adhesion, durability, plus coverage. 

You will agree that the market is flooded with many primer options to the extent that it is quite a task to get yourself the primers suitable for your woodworking projects.

 It is crucial for me to give you a breakdown of the different types of primers that you will likely interact with in your woodworking projects:

  • Oil Based Primers
  • Dry Wall Primers
  • Bonding Primers

Oil Based Primers

How Long Does It take Primer to Dry?The oil-based primer has been a choice of many for a very long time, and you can attribute its popularity to its flexibility and top performance levels. 

With the existing paint, you can use this type of primer on various surfaces, such as wood, metal, and all non-masonry walls.

Also known as wood primers, oil-based primers work best on wood surfaces. 

It takes a bit longer for the paint to dry on wood, which makes this primer useful on wood. 

So how long does it take this primer to dry?

Oil-based primers guarantee the user good coverage and effectively prevent stains from seeping through the surface of your newly coated structure. 

Thanks to their versatility and other advantages, this primer has its downsides as much as we all love oil-based primers. 

First of all, the oil based primers dry slowly; they contain Volatile Organic Compounds and are not easy to clean.

It requires between 1-24 hours to dry, depending on the formula of the paint, the manufacturer, and the usage. 

Some of the factors that affect the drying time include the temperature, levels of humidity, and the coating’s thickness.

There is fast-drying oil-based interior primers, for example, Kilz Original, which needs only an hour to dry. 

Other brands take quite a lot of time to dry; Benjamin Moore is one of such.

Most external oil-based primers take up to 24 hours to dry when temperatures are more than 45 degrees Fahrenheit. 

For lower temperature ranges of 35-45, the primer takes 48 hours to dry.

Bonding Primers

This primer is the perfect one for “difficult” surfaces. 

So, if you have a surface whose paint keeps coming off quickly, you need to use the bonding primer. 

Applying this formula tightly grips the surface and helps promote adhesion to the new topcoat of paint that you shall apply.

Knowing that the bonding primers stick to slick surfaces would be essential.

Hence, they can save you time and money by skipping the sanding step in your preparation phase.

One thing that you may not like about this formula is that they are costly. 

So, you must find out if they will be best for your projects without hurting your pockets.

They are perfect for surfaces where the paint comes off easily—for example, concrete. 

Once applied, this primer dries to form a sticky and robust coating that prevents the paint from washing off.

When applied to concrete, bonding primers seal the surface of the concrete and develop a line of bonds for a topping to adhere to the substrate correctly. 

Concrete is not a suitable substrate that can hold the paint because it’s highly alkaline and porous- that’s why bonding primers are essential here.

How long does it take this primer to dry?

Like most of the other primers, it takes bonding primers a standard time of 1-24 hours to dry thoroughly. 

This time is, however, affected by prevailing environmental conditions such as temperature and humidity.

Dry Wall Primers

Drywall primer refers to the common name for Polyvinyl Acetate (PVA). 

A PVA primer has excellent contents that go directly into the new porous sheetrock and seal the pores, resulting in an even coat covering the top of the sheetrock.

How long does it take this primer to dry?

Most drywall primers take 30 minutes to dry to the touch.

 Good numbers take about two hours before they are ready for sanding and applying a topcoat. 

Some of these primers also require at least 24 hours before they are ready for painting. 

Environmental conditions such as temperature are essential to how fast this primer dries.

Primers that dry so fast make your paintwork easy as they save time. 

If you want to prepare the surface of your wood for priming, try settling for products that dry very fast.

So, How Long Does It Take this Primer to Dry?

A standard primer should between 1 hour to dry to the touch. 

Any priming product that takes more than that time is not the best in the market. 

It would be best if you allowed this coat to dry properly before applying the topcoat so that you don’t have complications by the time you are through with your work.

Drying time for primers varies with the manufacturer; some can extend up to 24 hours to dry appropriately, depending on other factors such as temperature. 

The ideal temperature for drying a primer is around 77 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Relative humidity of about 50 percent will enhance the drying time — primers made of latex take 30-60 minutes to dry. 

High humidity and cold temperatures make it longer for the primer to dry.

Latex Primer

This primer type (Water-based latex primers) offers so much to those preparing unfinished drywall for painting.

They effectively even out the surface making them perfect for the role stated before (preparing unfinished drywalls for painting).

They dry much faster and offer much more flexibility than their oil-based counterparts. 

If you are looking for the best primer to help protect your peeling and cracking surfaces, you need to use this water based primer. 

Another fascinating fact about water based primers is that they contain low VOCs making them less toxic to the environment. 

Despite the many advantages you get while using this type of primer, it does not do well in covering stains.

Shellac Primer

Shellac has a reputation as a trusted and time-tested primer that will give your surfaces undisputed stain protection and is perfect for those looking to seal surfaces. 

Like oil-based primers counterparts, you can use shellac on many materials such as plaster, metal, and plastic. 

You can also use it with both oil and latex paint. 

You will not find shellac primer unpleasant because it can emit more fumes than other options I have discussed before. 

This primer type also calls for denatured alcohol for thinning and subsequent processes such as cleaning brushes and applicators.

How Many Coats of Primer Do I Need? 

You should go for two coats when priming a stained wood, a surface with a dark painting, new drywall, or metal. 

How Can You Make Primer Dry Faster?

Sometimes, you might be working on a short timeline and trying hard to have your projects done quickly by making primers dry as soon as possible. 

  • Use a dehumidifier in the room where you have done the painting. Low levels of humidity help the paint to cure faster. Here are tips that can help you achieve this:
  • Open the windows to allow free and sufficient airflow in the room or the painting area.
  • Apply a thin layer of paint instead of a thick one. So that you achieve this thin coat, consider using a paint sprayer. 

Should You Primer Cabinets Before Staining?

Yes, it would help if you primed your cabinets before applying a stain.

You need one coat of primer for cabinets unless you have some dark cabinets. 

If that is the case, it would be best to apply the second coat of primer once the first coat has dried. 

There are two major types of primers, the oil based and water based primers, that you can use on your cabinets.

If you compare the two types, the two perform differently on different surfaces and have other drying times with the water based on the fast-drying primer. 

How Many Coats of Primer on Cabinets Do You Need?

As I mentioned, it is standard to have a single coat of primer doing just fine for your cabinet work. 

If you work with dark cabinets, you might consider an extra coat.

So, at this point, I want to believe that you have acquired so much from this content. 

It will help you get the best out of your painting projects starting with the priming. 

How Long Should Primer Dry on Cabinets?

As soon as you apply one coat of primer to your cabinets, it would be best if you allow it to dry undisturbed.

Essentially, I’ve always encouraged my readers to give their primed cabinets up to 24 hours to dry thoroughly.

I’ve seen many homeowners or different wooden cabinet structure owners make mistakes by rushing into painting after priming.

If you are reading this, you should know that the extra time you give your primer to dry will always give you better results.

How to Apply Primer on Cabinets

Primers are great because they prepare your kitchen cabinets and other surfaces for subsequent finishes, such as painting. 

App primer before painting your kitchen cabinets will ensure that the new paint finish cures into a smooth and clean surface. 

In short, primers help keep the paint intact so it will not chip or peel during your everyday house use. 

Today, many paints come with self-priming features; even so, you must not skip the priming step unless you are 100% sure that your paint has a primer as a component. 

So how do you apply primer to a cabinet?

  • The first step you must get right when looking to prime your cabinet is choosing the suitable primer for your project

Using oil-based primers when painting over old paint or stain would be best. 

They are thick, dry slowly, and require a natural-bristle brush and mineral spirits for cleanup once you are through. 

Water based or Latex-based primers are not the best, especially if you want to cover old stains or flows. 

Even so, they are quick to dry and produce less toxic substances. They are easy to clean; you only need water and soap.

  • Clear your cabinet. By clearing, I mean you should remove your cabinet doors and all hardware inside. 

Put the hardware on a safe surface and have it covered using drop cloths just if there are spills and drips in the cause of your work.

  • Use at least 1 tablespoon of degreaser mixed with 1 quart of water to clean the cabinet doors thoroughly

You can choose dishwashing soap because it does an excellent job. Use clean clothes to dry your cabinet.

  • Sand the cabinets lightly using medium-grit sandpaper. 

Sanding helps with the removal of imperfections present on the cabinet as well as chipped paints. 

Clear the dust particles in the cabinet using a vacuum cleaner and wipe it clean.

  • Apply your primer of choice using a paintbrush. Go for long, long, even strokes. 

Ensure that you feather the edges at the points of strokes that overlap so that you end up with a flat, level finish.

  • Allow the primer enough time to dry to completion as per the instruction on the label before applying the first coat of paint.

Here’s a Video On How to Apply Wood Primer:

Drying Time of Different Types of Primer On Wood

Here’s a detailed discussion on the drying time of different types of primers:

 Oil Based Primer?

On average, it takes an oil based primer a range of 1-24 hours to dry, depending on the manufacturer, prevailing weather conditions, and using the primer and paint formula. 

It would be best if you waited at least 1 day before adding the second layer.

Among many elements that affect the drying time of the oil-based primer include indoor and outdoor temperatures, the level of humidity, and the thickness of the coating.

For instance, a good number of fast-drying, oil-based interior primers, for example, the Kilz Original, need only one hour to dry. 

Benjamin Moore will also need about one hour to dry.

Other popular brands might require that you allow them up to 8 hours to dry. 

Otherwise, most exterior oil-based primers need at least 24 hours to dry at 45 degrees Fahrenheit and above. 

When the temperatures are less than 45 degrees Fahrenheit, these primers can take up to 48 hours to dry well.

Water Based Primer

They are fast drying formulas that take less time to dry, usually between 1 to 2 hours. 

Most homeowners and woodworkers generally prefer the water-based primer to its oil-based counterpart. 

That’s mainly because it does not have a lot of volatile organic compounds.

As much as they are water based, these primers are not far off the oil based ones as far as we are talking about performance.

The oil based primers are great for protection against humidity and other elements; they also withstand heavy traffic when used on wooden floors.

The water based primers are not far off and would do a great job in many areas.

Different Situations that Require Priming

Presence of Water Stains: If your wood structure surface has water damage, you should consider using a primer as a remedy. 

The Alkyd Primer is suitable for covering water stains. It would help if you applied the primer using a spray can. 

Apply two to three light coats, which will facilitate faster drying.

During Patch Work: Sometimes, you have lots of patchwork on your surfaces, and the best primer for these tasks is always the PVA Primer, especially if you are working on the entire wall. 

If the work is on a few spots, you should consider using Alkyd Primer in a spray can; you will need a few light sprays to get the job done.

Remember, light sprays facilitate faster drying of surfaces.

Newly Installed Drywall: Always ensure that you apply the PVA primer to your New Drywall before using any other thing. 

Priming new drywall first provides a seal in the drywall that will prevent the penetration of solvents from the topcoat; this helps avoid possible cracking of the drywall. 

Acrylic primers are suitable in events where the drywall job was poorly done. 

You should apply just about a single or two coats of acrylic. 

High build primers are good alternatives when looking to fill in minor defects in the drywall. 

Even so, they are not great sealants compared to PVA.

Smoke Damage On Surfaces: If there are smoke damages you are looking to cover, you need to use a BIN Primer. 

It offers fast drying qualities making it the best for the role above.

PVA and acrylic primers can also serve as alternatives but must apply at least two coats to prevent the smoke damage from showing.

Looking to Paint Chalky Areas: If you want to refinish chalky areas, you should consider priming. 

However, before you prime the area, you should first wash it using a pressure washer and a TSP. 

Once you have washed, you can now go ahead and prime the resistant chalky stain. 

Use an excellent acrylic primer on these surfaces because they bond like glue.

Cases of Extreme Color Change: Sometimes, you want to completely change the color from black to white. 

In such a case, you must consider using an acrylic primer. You will also find a PVA primer effective in extreme color changes.

Wooden Structures: Many primer manufacturing companies have done a great in developing the best primers for woods than most other uses. 

One thing about wood primers is that they need to be high build to fill in the crack in the wood.

Most paint manufacturing companies make a good primer for wood. It should be a high build, so it fills in cracks. 

Acrylic primers work well with wooden structures. For the best results when priming wood, I’d always advise that you go for the oil based ones.


Until now, I hope you have learned a great deal about wood primers and their many aspects, such as drying time.

Knowing how long your primer will take to dry is crucial in planning for your painting projects. 

It would be best if you considered all the factors I’ve highlighted when picking the best day to do your painting work.

Prevailing environmental conditions such as temperature levels and humidity are some factors that directly affect the time taken for your primer to dry.

So, you must pay keen attention to them to achieve the best results possible.

To summarize the topic…

What Is Wood Primer?

Primer refers to a preparatory coating applied to surfaces of the wood before painting.

The main aim of priming is to allow the paint to adhere to the surface better than if you used the paint independently.

A primer creates the foundation needed to achieve a perfect paint job. 

If you compare it to paint, primer is not intended to be the top finish. 

However, manufacturers have designed primers to have better binding and filling materials with the material beneath. 

So, what exactly does primer do?

  1. Primer helps to cover surface imperfections and offers a uniform, even surface for the paint to stick.
  2. Hides and blocks stains preventing bleeding through to the final coat of paint
  3. The formula neutralizes the surface’s color to give the paint’s most authentic, purest color. 

Until this point, I hope you found the information provided in this article helpful with you priming project.

In case you have some concerns inform of questions, opinion or general suggestion about the subject, you can always reach out to me through the comment section below>

Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy and get the very best out of you wood painting projects.

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Tyron Otieno

Tyron is an avid woodworker and writer. He founded this website to help other woodworkers, whether hobbyists or professionals by sharing his knowledge and experiencie after a decade of woodworking.

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