How Long Does Oil Paint Take to Dry on Wood

logo by Editorial Staff | Posted on December 19th, 2022

Painting wood with oil paint is a great way to create beautiful, durable art pieces. But how long does it take for the paint to dry on wood? This blog post will provide all the information about drying times for oil-based paints on wood surfaces. Read on to find out more!

How Long Does Oil Paint Take to Dry on Wood

Oil-based paint takes longer to dry when applied to wood surfaces than latex paint. Generally, it takes six to eight hours for oil-based paint to dry to the touch of wood. However, oil-based paint can take anywhere from one day to a few weeks, months, or even years to fully cure, depending on the conditions.

Old tube with blue oil paint on textured wooden table

In normal conditions, the same area covered will take between six and eight hours to dry to the touch. To be safe, it is recommended that you allow 24 hours for the oil-based paint to fully cure before applying a second coat. If you need to accelerate the drying process, you can use a fan or dehumidifier.

Understand the Oil Painting Process

Oil painting differs from other painting mediums, such as acrylics and watercolors, in that it takes much longer to dry. Oil-based paint takes around 6-8 hours to dry under optimal conditions. However, several factors can affect this drying time.

Consider the Temperature and Humidity

When painting with oil, it is important to consider the temperature and humidity in the room. Temperatures that are too high or too low can slow the drying process of oil paints, while high humidity can cause the paint to take even longer to dry. To ensure the best results, keep the temperature between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit and humidity levels below 55%. This will ensure that your paint dries promptly without compromising the quality of your work.

Prepare the Wood Surface

Oil painting is a rewarding art form that can help you create stunning masterpieces. Before you begin painting, it is important to prepare the wood surface to ensure a successful painting. If you want your oil painting to dry quickly, sand the wood surface until it is smooth and free of dust or debris.

You should also remove any old paint or varnish on the wood so the oil paint can adhere properly. Once the wood is properly prepared, let it completely dry before painting. This will ensure that the oil paint dries quickly and evenly.

Select Quality Oil Paints

When it comes to oil painting, selecting quality oil paints is essential for optimal drying times. Oil paints come in various grades and formulations, so select the best suits your needs. For example, if you are looking for an oil paint that dries quickly, you may opt for a fast-drying alkyd-based paint.

On the other hand, if you are looking for a traditional approach, you may opt for slower-drying oil paint, such as one that contains linseed oil. Additionally, some pigments dry faster than others, so it is important to read the labels and research the drying times of each pigment before use. Quality oil paints will provide better quality and longer lasting finish, so it is important to invest in good quality paint.

Layer Thin Coats of Paint

Oil paints dry slowly and require patience. One of the most important aspects of oil painting is layering thin coats of paint. Applying too much paint in one area will result in a longer drying time. Layering thin coats of paint will also help to improve the overall quality of your painting. Be sure to wait for each layer to dry before adding another one. A hairdryer can be used to speed up the drying process. However, you should use it sparingly as it can damage the paint.

Apply a Finishing Coat of Varnish

When it comes to oil painting, the finishing touch is a coat of varnish. Applying varnish to your oil painting will protect it from dust, dirt, and UV rays and enhance the overall look of your work. Varnish can be applied in 2-3 thin layers and typically takes 18-24 hours to dry.

Depending on the temperature and humidity, it may take up to a month for the varnish to cure or harden after the last coat is applied. Make sure to allow each layer of varnish to dry completely before applying the next, and always apply and remove varnish in a dust-free environment.

Use an Accelerant to Speed up Drying Times

Oil-based paints typically take 8 to 16 hours to dry, but this can be extended depending on the temperature and humidity of the environment. To speed up the drying process, you can use an accelerant such as alkyd or Liquin. Alkyd is a good drying accelerant and can reduce the drying time of your oil paints to within 24 hours.

Some pigments such as cobalt blue and iron oxide as siccatives can help speed up the drying of oil paints. Finally, using a heat gun or setting the thermostat to create a warmer environment inside can help to speed up the drying time of your oil painting. No matter which method you choose, it is important to be careful and always read the instructions on any products you use.

Be Patient and Allow Adequate Time for Drying

Oil-based paint takes the longest to dry, with dry-to-the-touch times ranging from 6-8 hours and ready-to-recoat up to 24 hours. Latex paint is a better option if you are in a rush, as it only takes 1 hour to dry to the touch.

Most primers take 30-60 minutes to dry to the touch and 3 hours for complete drying. Oil paints, however, are very slow; they can take months to dry fully, so patience is key when using them. Also, pressure-treated wood must dry before it can be primed and painted, usually in 3-4 months. Acrylic paint dries the fastest, with a drying time of 30 minutes for the first coat and two hours for the second coat.

Keep Paintings Out of Direct Sunlight

Oil-based paints take much longer to dry than regular latex paints, and the best way to ensure that your oil painting dries properly is to keep it out of direct sunlight. Sunlight can cause the paint to dry too quickly, resulting in cracking, discoloration, and chipping. If you’re painting outdoors, use an umbrella or other shade to protect your painting from the sun.

Painting indoors is preferable, as it provides more consistent temperatures for a more even drying process. Additionally, try to keep the room at a comfortable temperature – not too cold and not too hot. This will help your painting dry more quickly and evenly.

Don’t Touch or Move the Painting Until Fully Dry

Oil paintings require time and patience to dry completely. Depending on the type of oil paint and the number of layers applied, it can take anywhere from one day to weeks or months for the painting to dry completely. To ensure the painting is not damaged, it is important not to touch or move it until it is fully dry. This can help to prevent cracks and paint from smudging or smearing.

Use a Hairdryer to Speed Up Drying Times

Oil paint is a slow-drying medium that takes much longer to dry on wood than other mediums. However, if you’re looking for a quick and easy way to speed up the drying time of your oil paintings, you can use a hairdryer.

When using a hairdryer to dry your oil painting, keep the dryer at least six inches away from the painting surface. This will ensure that the heat isn’t too intense and will help the layers of paint to dry evenly.

You should keep the hairdryer moving along the surface to prevent any hotspots that could cause damage to your artwork. It’s also important to note that using a hairdryer will only speed up the drying process, so it’s important to be patient and allow adequate time for your painting to dry fully.

Avoid Overworking Your Paintings

Oil painting requires patience and time to master. It is best to avoid overworking your paintings by allowing each layer to dry completely between applications. This is especially important when using oil paints on wood surfaces, as they take longer to dry than other paints.

To ensure that each coat of paint is completely dry before adding the next layer, it is important to check the wood surface for any signs of dampness. If there are still signs of moisture, leave the piece for a few more hours until all moisture has evaporated. This will prevent cracking, wrinkling, or bubbling if the paint is applied too thickly or too soon after the previous layer.

Utilize Different Mediums in Your Artwork

Oil painting mediums can be added to oil paint to alter the paint’s viscosity, surface finish, or drying time. Different mediums can create different effects, from a glossy finish to a velvety texture. Mediums are also useful for thinning out thick paints and controlling the drying time, allowing the painter to work with the paint for longer.

Some mediums will also enhance the color and add a greater depth of color to any painting. When using oil paints, it is important to experiment with different mediums to find out which works best for your project. This will ensure that your artwork looks professional and that the paint dries correctly.

Check for Colorfastness Before Applying Varnish

When it comes to oil painting on wood, the drying process is crucial in ensuring the painting lasts. To ensure that your painting is fully dry before applying varnish, it is important to check for colorfastness. You can do this by testing a small amount of the paint on an inconspicuous wood surface area. If the color is bleeding or fading, it is not ready to be varnished.

Be sure to wait until the paint is completely dry before applying the varnish. Otherwise, you could end up with a sticky mess that ruins your painting. It is also important to select a varnish that is compatible with the type of paint you are using. For example, if you use an oil-based paint, you should select an oil-based varnish. This will ensure that the colors remain vibrant and that the varnish does not cause discoloration or damage to your painting.


Oil paint is a popular wood painting medium due to its durability and vibrant colors. However, it should be noted that oil paint takes much longer to dry than other paints. Depending on the oil paint’s temperature, humidity, and quality, it can take several hours or even days for the surface to dry completely.

To ensure an even drying time, it’s best to layer thin coats of paint and allow adequate time for drying before finishing with a coat of varnish. Lastly, use a hairdryer or other drying accelerants to speed up the process but avoid overworking your pieces so that you can ensure the best result.


Editorial Staff

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