Skip to Content

How to Dry Wood Stain Faster

Staining wood is one of the ideal ways to change its appearance hence making it desirable for various projects from wood carvings to furniture and flooring options. The stain’s color determines how the wood will look like, as it can form lines in the wood and highlight your piece’s beauty. But note, there are different colors you can choose from to help complete the project at hand.

How to Dry Wood Stain Faster:

Technically, the four types of wood stains commonly used, which are; oil, water, varnish, and gel-based stains. The stain used is based on the wood, as each type has a purpose depending on the project. However, the trick is how long you leave the stain on the wood before wiping and leaving the wood to dry. Aim to get to a point where you can gently handle the stain without marring the surface or brushing it off without affecting the stain.

So, learning the best ways to speed up the stain drying process helps finish the project faster and better. Below are steps on applying the stain and the right methods you should use if interested in drying the wood stain quickly.

Steps to Follow When Applying Wood Stain

● Step 1: Apply and wipe excess stain

After applying the stain in the wood, use an absorbent cloth to wipe away the excess stain. You should use a clean rag to rub on the wood until the stain turns into the desired color.

● Step 2: Check for drips and runs

Place your wood in the area you want it to dry from and ensure nothing is touching it. That helps in keeping the stain intact. It should be left for about 15 minutes and ensure there are no drips or runs that could have appeared on the cuts, inside knots, or the wood edges. In case there are some, wipe them and rub to match the color. You can reapply some stain and leave it to dry if necessary.

● Step 3: Air-dry

Let the stained wood air dry for eight hours if you used oil-based wood stains, before applying a sealant. In case you have used water-based stains, leave them for 24 hours for the wood to have ample drying time.

Methods of Drying Wood Stains

● Air Drying

Reducing the humidity levels in the wood helps. In case your shop is indoors, and you are using an indoor air conditioning unit, your humidity levels are low. A central air conditioning unit strips moisture from the air, reducing the humidity levels. If you lack an air conditioning unit, then carrying a portable dehumidifier works well, providing an excellent work option.


  • Ensures that the stain dries well, making it easy to work with compared to any other method.
  • Adds value to the wood because it is drying on its pace without adding heating equipment like hairdryers.
  • It is cheap since there is no special equipment needed.


  • Offers a little opportunity for you to control the drying process.
  • The drying rate is quite slow.

● Heat Drying

You can also blow heated air onto the wood’s surface to dry the stain. Heat best works on oil-based stains; which could take some time depending on the type of wood or the stain’s brand. The best heat to dry the stain with is through direct exposure to the sun for three hours. However, if it is snowing or raining, other conventional methods such as an oven, hairdryer, or a heated gun work depending on what seems suitable for you.

– Oven

If the wood is needed urgently, the oven could be a potential drying gadget. Place the wood in the oven at the lowest temperature of around 150 degrees and dry it for 20 minutes.

  • It is fast, and your stain will dry quickly, letting you carry out other tasks.
  • Depending on the stain used, it can be a potential danger of releasing toxic fumes in it, resulting in health issues.
  • There is a risk of gas explosion or fire when drying your wood in the oven, so you should be extra cautious and monitor the drying process.

– Hairdryer

Hairdryers make wood stains dry fast instead of waiting for days or weeks.

  • It speeds the drying procedure allowing you to finish your project on time.
  • Produces excess heat so, hold it away from the wood’s surface.

– Heat Gun

These devices emit hot air and look similar to a hairdryer but run at higher temperatures than the hairdryer. These guns can be used to remove moisture from the wood and also dry the stains.

  • Have an in-built rest that allows you to activate it then place the gun on a bench.
  • Have gun nozzles, which helps you concentrate heat in one area or thaw the pipe without heating anything around you.
  • You only have a little or no control over the temperature emitted, with some models running at 760 degrees.
  • Alternatively, you can use a speed heater infrared, which works the same as a heat gun but emits infrared rays and blows the heat at safe temperatures.

● Adding A Compatible Agent

It is recommended that you try an agent that is compatible with the finishing product. For instance, you can spray a quality lacquer thinner to oil-based stains and speed up the drying process. In case you are using a water-based product, denatured, or grain alcohol speed up the drying process.


  • Offers fast drying time and keeps the wood protected.
  • Improves the quality of wood since there is a reduction of dust on your surface.
  • Increase the lifespan of your wood no matter what the project you are undertaking.


  • Denatured alcohol produces toxic fumes, which makes it less preferable by a lot of people.
  • Adding solvents into stains might increase the toxicity levels and could potentially attack other layers.
  • These products are fully effective after the initial drying procedure compared to during the drying process.

Things That Affect the Drying Time

It does not matter which drying method is used, but a couple of factors determine the time needed to dry the wood. Although the stain label will give you a clue of how long the stain will take to dry, these factors play a huge role:

● Temperature

Suppose you use the air-drying method, the room’s temperature where you store the wood matters. You should expect the wood to take a long time if the room is cold but faster if it is quite warm. For optimal drying in any room, ensure it is around 75 degrees, and if it is colder than that, find a way to make it warm for faster drying. When using heat, your hair dryer should emit more heat for the wood to dry quickly.

● Air Circulation

Ensure there is enough circulation of air in the room for the stain to dry quickly. There are ways to increase air circulation and one of the ways is by adding fans into the room. It reduces the drying time without making the wood damp. Also, opening the windows improves the air circulation and removes the toxic fumes from the room.

● The Type of Stain Used

The stain brand does have a significant impact on the drying time since some give 12 hours, while others recommend 24 hours. Look for a company with the least drying time when you want to use the wood for an urgent project.

● Humidity

Keep your wood in a less humid room since the stain dries quickly if the moisture evaporates fast. 

Frequently Asked Questions                               

● How Long Should the Stain Sit Before Wiping?

It is dependent on the tone you want. For a lighter tone, wipe the stain immediately after applying, and if you want it dark, leave it for about ten minutes before wiping. Do not worry about neatness, instead focus on getting an even, nice coat on the wood.

● What Happens If the Stain Is Not Wiped?

Wiping the excess stain is essential for a smooth and perfect finish. If you don’t wipe it off, the finish applied in that area will not dry as expected.

● Why Is My Stain Not Drying?

Your wood stain might not be drying quickly if the layer is too thick or if your wood was not sanded down correctly. However, if you followed the correct procedure, but the wood didn’t dry even after a while, then the drying method is ineffective, so you need to dry a different process.

Bottom Line

Waiting for your wood stain to dry might take a long time, depending on weather conditions, the method you are using to dry it, and the room you store it. There is a chance to get optimum results by looking for the right ways to dry the stains faster through some of the methods discussed above. It makes it easy to dry your wood stain and get the right results depending on the purpose for which you need the wood. Working on projects that involve staining your wood is fun, mainly if you are working with different stains to see how each will look once the project is done. Try out different drying methods to see which one is fast and suitable for your work.