How Long Can Primer Sit Before Painting

How Long Can Primer Sit Before Painting?

Painting your walls is one of the best remodeling activities to do! It actually makes for a great leisure activity or a good family bonding session. 

There’s a different sort of satisfaction you get from painting your own walls. That’s why many homeowners choose to DIY it instead of hiring a contractor. 

But painting your walls is not as easy as buying your desired color and slapping the paint directly on the bare wall. There are preparatory measures to take to ensure that the best results are achieved. 

One of the most critical things that need to be done is priming the walls. A primer helps the paint stick on and grip the wall more evenly. It also ensures longer quality and a better finish. 

Primers need time to sit, which means you cannot paint on the wall immediately after applying. You will need to wait a certain period — but not too long or else the primer will lose its effect! 

The waiting period depends on the type of primer used. Standard ones can sit for as long as 30 days while oil-based primers only last for 14 days. 

How Long Can Primer Sit? 

Despite being a critical step before actually painting your walls, primers are tricky things to work with. 

You cannot paint on them immediately. But at the same time, you also can’t wait too long, or else the primer loses its effects — or worse, build up dust and debris that can ruin your wall’s texture. 

The amount of time you can allow your primer to sit before you start painting depends on the type that you use. 

Standard Latex Paint Primers

Standard latex paint primers are made of water, making them less likely to peel and crack after drying. 

Because of that, these types can last for as long as 30 days. That means you can paint on it anytime after it dries — as long as it’s not later than one month. 

If 30 days have elapsed, however, you will need to coat it with another layer of primer before painting to achieve the best results. 

Oil-Based Primers

Oil-based primers, as the name implies, are essentially made up of oil. Hence, they have a broader range of applications and work well with different surfaces. 

Because of their oil composition, oil-based primers can only achieve the best results when painted on before 14 days have elapsed. 

Extended-Stay Primers

There are variations of primers that pride themselves on the “extended stay” feature. These types are specifically formulated to stay on and achieve the best results for longer.

With extended-spray primers, you can get more time before you need to paint over them. Check the can for a specific duration.

The Best Time to Paint Over Primer

The most ideal time to start painting over a primed wall is after the primer completely dries. The time it takes to dry will depend on the type of primer you’re working with. 

Standard latex wall primers can dry within 3 to 4 hours after application. Hence, they make for good options if you want to finish the work within a day. 

Oil-based primers, on the other hand, can take much longer. If you’re using an oil-based primer, it’s more ideal to paint the following day, specifically after 24 hours. 

Here lies the importance of reading the directions on the primer’s can. There should be additional instructions there about how long that specific primer takes to dry and how long it can sit before painting. 

What Happens if You Don’t Paint Before the Maximum Period Elapses?

The result of your paint job relies on the quality of your primer. You shouldn’t wait too long before painting over it, or else you won’t get the best results. 

Primers have a tendency to decay. When this happens, their quality significantly decreases and they will become unable to grip the paint and make an even finish. 

Not only that but the longer you wait, the more dust and grime can build up on the surface. 

And when you paint over this, the texture of your walls won’t be as smooth as it could’ve been if it was painted at the right time. 

If you wait too long, you’ll have to reprime the wall by adding another coat of primer. It’s like doing the job all over again and waiting for another few hours before you can paint on it.

Factors That Can Affect a Primer’s Sitting Time 

While there are standard periods that a primer can sit before being painted, there are also factors that can prolong or shorten the duration. These include: 

Heat and Humidity

The hotter and more humid the temperature is, the longer it will take for primer to dry. This, in effect, prolongs the time you have to paint over it.

Dust and Debris

If the room you are painting is dirty and dusty, it’s highly recommended that you paint on it immediately after the primer completely dries. 

The longer you wait, the more dust and debris can stick to the primer and mess up the texture of the surface. 

A way to go around this is to clean the room before even starting to prime your walls. Make sure that you also wipe the walls clean to get rid of loose dirt and debris. 

How to Fix Common Primer Problems

A lot of things can happen to your primed walls while waiting for it to dry. There’s really no such thing as a paint job without issues encountered along the way. 

When you’re about to paint, you may notice that your primer runs, accumulates dust, or gets scratched, among other things. 

Should these happen, here are some quick fixes you can try.

Runs or drips

If you put too much primer on the walls and it doesn’t dry properly, there’s a good chance that some parts will run down and drip. 

You can even out those areas by sanding them using sandpaper or sand block. Afterward, make sure to dust off the sand debris before painting over it. 

Dust accumulation

If your primer accumulates dust, simply wiping it gently with a microfiber cloth will do. In most cases, you don’t need to apply water. 

Most primers are not waterproof, so using a wet microfiber cloth can damage your primed surface. 

But if you can’t get the dust off without water, you may need to use a wet microfiber cloth and reprime the walls after. 


If you notice scratches on the walls that are stripped of primer, you can single out the problem areas and recoat them using a small brush. Paint rollers work too, but use them only for big fixes. 


Anyone can paint a wall. But not everyone knows that there are critical preparatory steps to take before slapping the walls with paint. 

One of the most important things to do beforehand is to prime the walls to help make the texture smoother and bring out the true and vibrant color of the paint. 

Primer also helps the paint grip better and stay on longer. 

Make sure you’re taking the time to let your primer completely dry before painting over it. But don’t let the recommended sitting time elapse. 

If you take that simple rule into consideration, you’ll be able to enjoy a much better and neater finish and more vibrant walls.