This is How to Speed Up Wood Stain Dry Time. There are many instances we can be beneficial to speed up the drying time of your wood stain and also your wood finishes. Here are a few easy techniques you can use to make that happen. Enjoy.
Wood Stain Drying Time
Waiting for stain to dry can kind of be like…waiting for stain to dry. While you should always give your finish coats enough time to properly dry before going onto the next step, there are some things that you can do to encourage the process without cutting corners.
After all, if you can perform the same process under optimal conditions, and get better results, and those results happen to come faster, then there’s nothing wrong with what you did. It’s not about cutting corners, or shaving time for no reason.
As you’ll find out, these methods are all very easy, and it’s also stuff that the big furniture manufacturers are already doing. As well as the manufacturers, the people that make wood finishing products like stain and topcoat are also doing the same thing.
This is one of the little secrets that they don’t tell you when you buy a can of wood finish. The numbers can be pretty deceptive, and less you know the same tricks that they do, but thankfully you’re about to learn all of them.
See Also: 10 Step Guide to Wood Finishing
Tricks the Manufacturers Use to Speed the Time
The manufactures of wood stain, and wood finish have discovered that people actually buy one product over another if it dries faster. It doesn’t matter what the rest of the properties are for the most part, if one of them dries faster than the other one, that’s the one people buy.
In response to that, the manufactures decided to do some interesting things in order to make their product dry faster. Actually, it’s not really to make a dry faster, it’s to give it the best opportunity to dry naturally.
A couple of these things are heat and humidity. When the manufacturer does drying tests, they use a warm room with no humidity. These are optimal conditions for a finish to dry, and of course it speeds up the process.
The great thing for the manufacture is now they get to print a lower number on the side of the can for the drying time. This means more sales, and even though it’s a pinch on the misleading side, it’s still nothing that you couldn’t do yourself.
How Heat Influences Drying Time
Temperature has a strong influence on the drying time of the finish. In general, warmer environment will promote the product drying faster than in cold environments. This is something you can use your advantage.
In hotter environments, liquids and chemicals will evaporator into the air faster than in colder environments. This affects drying times because that’s exactly how they would dry in the real world.
The solvents that are in the mixture evaporate, and they leave behind pigment. The pigment is what you see on the surface as color, and the stain is completely dry once all of the solvents have evaporated way.
If you increase the heat, within reason of course, you decrease the amount of time it takes for those solvents and organic chemicals to evaporate. This speeds up the process of drying, and makes the coat dry faster.
How Humidity Influences Drying Time
Humidity has a profound effect on how a stain or finish dries. With humidity, it’s a measure of how much moisture is already in the air. This is relative to the amount of moisture on the piece, and that’s what affects the drying time.
It’s much easier for a liquid to evaporate in a dry environment that it is to evaporate in a moist environment. This means in places of high humidity, the transition from liquid to vapor happens a lot slower due to the existing liquid already suspended in the air.
The opposite is where you benefit, because if you dry your stain and finish in an area of low humidity, you are giving the solvents a disproportionate balance and encouraging them to evaporate into the air faster.
In general, nature likes to be in balance. This is why humidity is a factor. When you have two areas at very different humidity levels, or moisture levels, they tend to try and balance each other much more quickly than if they were closer in relative moisture.
See Also: The Secret to Wood Finishing
Turning Up the Heat
When it comes time to finish a project in your shop, you can do quite a bit to help the drying time simply by turning up the heat. This can be accomplished in a number of ways, and if you have an indoor shop, it can be very easy.
All you need to do is warm up the air. This can be done with central air unit, a portable heater, and a number of other ways that you would generally heat a space. These also include small space heaters, and portable heating devices.
Obviously you want to make sure that there’s no open flames around finishing fumes, but that being said there are still many options that you can use to heat a shop. Pick something that you can use to warm up the room, and your wood stain will dry faster.
See Also: Easy Wood Finishes for Beginners
Drying the Air to Dry the Stain
Another thing helps is to decrease the humidity levels. If you are using an indoor air conditioning unit, and your shop is also indoors, then you probably already have a pretty low relative humidity.
Central air conditioning units and heaters strip moisture from the air as part of the process of creating hot and cold air. Due to this process, the air that’s returned to the home has a much lower humidity level than the outside air in most cases.
If you don’t have access to that type of air conditioning unit, then a small portable dehumidifier can also do the same thing. Obviously if you were in an outdoor shop you’re kind of stuck with what nature has to offer, so these options are more for indoor shops.
If you are famous for the very damp environment, try to see if you can bring your project to an interior part of the house to get some benefit from central air conditioning. This will be a lot lower humidity level in general, and it will help your finish try better.
See Also: 7 Ways to Get Better at Finishing
Create a Breeze in the Room
Another thing that you can do to help the process is to ensure that there is a gentle breeze in the area that you’re staying is trying. This can be accomplished with a small fan, and it only needs to be enough to keep the air from becoming stagnant.
The purpose of the fan is just to circulate the air. The last thing you want us to have a kick up dust I can get stuck to your finish. All you need is a small fan that is pointed away from your project, just to keep the air moving around.
Air circulation moves the recently evaporated solvents away from the body of your project, and introduce air that is drier and warmer. This increases the effectiveness of the evaporation process, and helps your piece dry faster.
See Also: Understanding Wood Finishing
Ventilation is Important for Stain Drying
Ventilation is also important, because the last thing you want to do is have the room fill up with fumes and become a safety issue. The fan that you’re running for air circulation will help, but you do need to have a method of getting fresh air to the space.
This can be as simple as opening a window. If you open a window, and on the other side of the finishing area create another opening, it will allow air to pass through. Teamed up with the circulation, this is typically enough to help the fumes escape.
Well it’s very unlikely that the concentration of fumes in the air will get to a point that will ever inhibit drying times, it still makes sense to control it from a safety standpoint. Either way, every little bit helps, and ventilation will on a tiny level help your piece dry faster.
See Also: How to Store Wood Finish
How to Make it Practical
In all of these lessons, it’s important to make it practical. After all, if you go over the top and any of these, they can have a detrimental effect. They can also introduce new effects that you were planning for, and make the process actually turn out worse.
For example, well it’s good to warm up the room a few degrees, it’s not a good idea to make it like a sauna. Overly heated areas will cause their own problems, and it’s just not worth trying to get your garage up to 100 degrees before applying to finish.
If you’re trying to warm the room up, and extra 10 degrees can make a big difference. If you are in a place where it’s naturally hot, letting in some of the outside air on a warm dry summer day can do the same thing for you.
Being practical is about incremental increases, not going over the top. The same thing goes with humidity levels, and it won’t do anything but run up your electric bill if you try to operate five dehumidifiers at the same time.
Do a few little things to help your wood stain try, and don’t worry too much. The little things that you do make a big difference, and simply creating a good environment for the stain to dry is a huge step over what most people do when they apply finish.
Speeding up Clear finish Drying Time
You’re going to be excited to find out that the exact same things that make a stain try more efficiently can also make your finish dry more officially. That’s good to know, because you won’t have to alter the conditions in the room when you switch from staining to clear.
Create the environment once, and then use it for both products. A clear coat can really benefit from a warm and dry environment, because there are solvents in the mixture just like with wood stain that also need to evaporate.
As the piece dries, the added thought into the area in which the piece is drying will make a difference in how fast you can go from coat coat. With clear finishes, you typically apply several coats, and a little faster trying time means faster coating.
See Also: 50 Awesome Reasons to be a Woodworker
Your Action Assignment
Now that you know what it takes to get your wood stain to dry faster, the next time you go out in the shop to finish something think about those factors. It’s important to think about the positive it’s also important to watch for the negative.
If you go out into the shop and it’s cold and humid, don’t expect your finishes to dry very quickly. In fact, you should expect them to take several times longer, almost to the point of being a pinch frustrating that it’s taking so long.
Make sure in a situation like that that you give your finish plenty of time to dry. Different wood stains and wood finishes all have their own recommended times, but in a cold damp environment it’s going to take longer.
Your assignment is to recognize these things, and take action in order to not make any mistakes in that situation. Sometimes the difference between getting it right and getting it wrong is a little bit of recognition, and a little bit a knowledge.
Now you have both, and you’re well-prepared to give your stains and finishes the best possible opportunity to dry. If you have any questions, please Post a Question in the Q&A Forum and I’ll be glad to help. Happy building.
- More than 20 Years Woodworking Experience
- 7 Woodworking Books Available on Amazon
- Over 1 Million Words Published About Woodworking
- Bachelor of Arts Degree from Arizona State University
I receive Commissions for Purchases Made Through the Links in This Post. Join My Woodworking Facebook Group