As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

How Long Can Primer Sit Before Painting Car?


Primer is your best pal when it comes to most painting projects. In addition to serving as a foundation, it may also be used to smooth out any flaws on the surface.

However, this is a lengthy procedure. “How long can primer sit before painting car?” is a common question. Here is a quick overview:

You may leave them on the surface for up to 30 days before painting for most primers. Surface type, primer drying time, paint and primer type, and other environmental factors like heat and humidity might impact painting time.

In this context, we’ll go over how long can you wait to paint over primer and other things to keep in mind if you want consistently great paint results.

Let’s get started!

Is Primer Necessary Before Painting?

The appropriate preparation is necessary for every painting operation. It’s possible to paint without priming, but the end effect may be less than stellar. 

However, adding a priming layer before painting a surface might improve the adhesion of the paint. The outcome? Colors are brighter and less likely to peel.

The primer aids in:

  • Uneven ground.
  • Transitions in color.
  • Preparing the surface with a glossy finish.
primer before paint car

Furthermore, depending on the paint and surface you’re painting, the procedures you take to prime will differ. 

You may be able to skip the priming if you’re painting a small patch of the wall or changing the color.

If your surface isn’t porous or shiny, you may not need to use a primer. Without a primer, any porous surface, such as wood or a wall, will not retain paint properly. Another example is the use of high-gloss surfaces.

Self-priming paints are another exception. According to Consumer Reports, Self-priming paints don’t require a primer or surface sealant.

To learn how long to paint after primer, you need to read the whole context.

How Long Can Primer Sit Before Painting?

Preparing a surface for painting requires different amounts of time depending on the type of primer.

On the other hand, Oil primers may only be used for 14 days before needing to be discarded.

See the label to find out exactly how long your primer may remain unfinished on a surface.  

Moreover, the maximum time the primer may sit before you need to re-prime should be indicated on the can. 

Furthermore, the temperature and humidity can affect the standing durations.

You’ll have to re-prime the surface if you leave the primer on for an extended period. 

After a given amount of time, the surface might become covered in dust and dirt, which is not ideal for your paint or the texture of the surface. 

The primer may degrade over time and lose its ability to adhere to the paint, resulting in an uneven finish.

How Long Does Primer Take to Dry?

Before painting, let the primer dry completely on the unpainted surface, but do not allow it to dry for an excessive amount of time.

The drying time for most primers ranges from 30 minutes to an hour. Some of the choices need a full day’s work.


Anyway, the time needed can be affected by various variables, including the primer type, humidity, and temperature.

Look at the product label or instruction manual to determine how long your primer takes to dry. To guarantee long-term durability, allow your primer to cure for at least 24 hours before painting.

Different Types of Primers In 2022

Latex Primer (Acrylic)

Water-based latex primers reduce the likelihood of cracking or peeling after drying. This extends their shelf life to up to thirty days. After they’ve dried, you can paint on them at any moment. Once the primer has cured for 30 days, you’ll need to re-coat it before painting.

Latex primers are ideal for use with water-based paints like acrylic. They’re easy to work with and dry in no time. 

The majority of latex primers dry in three to four hours. Primers like these are ideal for interior and outdoor applications, including drywall, plaster, woodwork, and painted metal since they allow you to paint in one day.

Oil-Based Primer

Alkyd primers, another name for oil-based primers, are also in use. Unlike latex primers, they are oil-based and may be used in a wider range of situations than the latter.

Oil-based primers may be used with various paints and surfaces, including oil and latex. Whether you’re painting wood or metal on the inside or outside, this primer may be used.

People choose oil-based primers because of their ability to withstand temperature shifts without melting. As the paint dries, the paint coating expands or contracts, allowing it to be more flexible. Paint thinners are less likely to be used with this function.

This primer type includes a stain-blocking component to prevent stains from showing through the paint. It is possible to remove stains caused by ink, water, and nicotine with these products.

Oil-based primers are slow to dry, which is a disadvantage. Most primers need at least 24 hours to dry before they may be used. VOCs, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), are released in high quantities and long-term exposure during this sort of exposure.

These primers are best used during the first 14 days of application due to their oil basis.

Shellac Primer

Fast-drying and very sticky, shellac primer is an excellent choice for priming. Interiors and small outdoor areas benefit greatly from this tool’s versatility since it may be used with latex or oil-based paints.

Stain resistance is a major selling point for this primer. An hour is all it takes for Shellac primer to dry on the following materials:

  1. Wood.
  2. Plastic.
  3. Metal.
  4. Plaster.

A Shellac primer should dry within one hour. In addition to thinning and washing the paint, you’ll need denatured alcohol.

Urethane Primer

Urethane primer is excellent for painting, sanding, and creating vibrant hues. Ideal for previously painted metals and other non-porous materials such as steel or iron, aluminum or fiberglass. Primers for automobile undercoats like this one for these reasons.

Urethane primer is used as a filler primer in the painting of automobiles. Urethane fills surface pits more quickly than other primers as a primer surfacer.

They do not include any additives to prevent corrosion, in contrast to epoxy. Before applying the urethane, you may need to use epoxy or an etching primer to prevent rust.

For example, urethane primer may also be applied to wood or concrete. This material meets the hardness and stickiness required for these tasks.

Between 30 minutes and 18 hours after applying the primer, you can apply a second coat. Before painting, you should sand the surface.

Epoxy Primer

Non-porous primer is known as an epoxy primer. Sealing bare metal and avoiding moisture are two uses for this product.

For steel, fiberglass, or plastic, epoxy primers are a good base coat because of their strong adhesion and chemical resistance to moisture or high humidity. Because of its construction, an epoxy primer is commonly used in automobile repair to hide dents and fractures.

Epoxy primers typically dry in 30 to 60 minutes. Before painting, you’ll need to sand the surface using 500-grit sandpaper if you’ve let the epoxy dry for more than a week as a primer or sealer.

Acrylic Lacquer Primer

An acrylic lacquer primer is a premium surfacer with automobile painting in mind. It’s long-lasting and sticks nicely on metal. When it dries, you get a shiny, high-gloss finish.

Since it’s so simple to use, acrylic lacquer primer is an excellent choice for those with little or no prior experience painting automobiles. 

Lacquer primer is usually the most expensive option, but this acrylic variety is far less expensive. However, this is because it is short-lived.

It’s not uncommon for acrylic lacquer primers to cure quickly. Even though they are dry to the touch within 20 minutes, it usually takes 24 hours to be completely dry. 

After 24 hours, you should sand or buff the primer and then apply the paint’s finish layer.

Let’s see the following table:

Primer Type  Drying TimeBest For
Oil-Based24 hours Approx.Wood & metal
Latex Primer3 to 4 hours Max.Drywall, plaster, masonry & Wood
Shellac Primer1 Hour Max.Metal, wood, plastic, plaster
Urethane Primer30 minutes to 18 hoursSteel, iron, aluminum, fiberglass
Epoxy Primer30 to 60 minutesSteel, fiberglass, or plastic

How Long to Let Primer Dry Before Spray Painting?

The primer must cure before you can spray paint, so you’ll need to plan for additional time. If the initial primer layer is still wet, you cannot paint or apply another layer of primer.

Temperatures below 70 degrees Fahrenheit are ideal for spray painting. When painting outside, you want the temperature between 65 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit with little to no humidity for the best adhesion and drying time.

The paint can wrinkle if you apply too many priming layers of paint at once. Spray all of your priming applications on the object within an hour for the greatest effects. If time is an issue, wait 2-3 days before re-painting.

Spray paint and primer labels should always be checked for accuracy. Depending on the brand, the drying time for primer will be different. A thin layer of primer, on the other hand, dries in approximately an hour and a half.

How Long Should Primer Dry Before Painting a Car?

In contrast to other types of painting, automotive painting is unique. Primers are essential undercoats to provide a flawless finish because they level off uneven surfaces. They also protect against rust and corrosion by hiding it. So, when primer dry before painting car?

Before applying the base layer of paint, most primers need to be left on the vehicle for 24 hours. Experts recommend waiting 24 hours before painting over primer that dries in as short as 30 minutes.

Primer Sit Time Affecting Factors

If you want to cut down on time it takes to paint, keep these things in mind.

Weather conditions:

Your job may take longer if you’re painting in a humid or hot setting. It takes longer for the primer to dry in hot and humid areas.

On the other side, at 74 degrees F, primers might dry faster, saving you time and money.

Debris and sand:

The more time it takes for the primer to dry, the more probable it that dust and other particles may collect on the paint’s surface. A prepared surface should be painted over promptly because of this.

The primer must be free of dust and particles for the paint to adhere properly. Before painting, you should thoroughly clean your workspace and use a moist cloth to remove the priming from the surface. Clean up any stray debris.


The amount of time it takes for paint and primer to dry depends on how you apply them. Primers can be applied more quickly using a spray gun if thinned beforehand.

Spray paint often applies primer in a thin coat to speed the drying time.


How can you Speed Up the Drying time of primer?

A primer’s drying time may be sped up using a few simple approaches.

First and foremost, take into account the surrounding circumstances. Similarly, if you’re working in a chilly environment, putting up the heat might speed up the drying time of the primer.

Low humidity speeds up the drying time of primer. Using a dehumidifier to offset the effects of a water-based primer in a humid region is a good idea.

The water evaporation from the air (and your primer) is facilitated by lowering the humidity level.

Applying thin layers of primer helps speed up the drying process by reducing the number of coats you need to apply. Using too many coatings or thick layers takes longer.

Evaporation is sped up by circulating the air, which lowers humidity levels and reduces the amount of moisture present.

Can You Paint Over Tacky Primer?

A sticky primer indicates that it has not completely cured. Don’t let your primer sit for too long or too little time for the greatest effects. It’s possible to detect paint sloshing if you don’t.

It’s possible to get tacky paint by using the improper primer (too cold) or applying too many coats. You may be able to paint over sticky priming in some tasks.

Before painting, remove any flaky primer from surfaces. You may speed up the drying process by increasing the temperature and allowing the air to circulate on the surface.

Applying talcum powder to remove excess moisture from the sticky primer is another option for fixing the problem. To test its efficacy, initially apply a tiny amount to a small area.

Which Primer Coats Should You Apply?

The number of primer applications you’ll need is also influenced by the surface type and the primer and paint you choose.

Spray painting, for example, benefits from two or three light layers for the finest coverage. With other primers and projects, one application may be enough.

In other cases, though, more layers are required. If you’re trying to cover up rust, stains, or uneven surfaces, you may need to apply several layers of primer.

Chipping and cracking may occur if the primer is too thick. Applying two coats of priming should be plenty if you’re unsure what to do.


With this information, you’ll be able to make beautifully painted crafts with ease.

When you know how your primer changes according to the type and method of application, you will make fewer mistakes.

For the greatest results, never paint over a primer that has been on the surface for more than 30 days.



Is painting over priming a problem if you do it too soon?

This will sabotage the entire effort, but it may also need the purchase of extra paint. It would help if you waited for the first layer of paint to dry before proceeding.

What happens if you don’t paint primer?

Especially in humid climates, skipping priming puts your paint in danger of peeling. Cleaning may become more difficult with time because of the absence of stickiness. Trying to remove dirt or fingerprints may cause the paint to flake off.

Are primers and white paints the same thing?

Primers are resins, as opposed to painting, composed mostly of pigments and resins.

Your topcoat’s (paint) primary job is to protect the primer by sealing the porous surface and forming a stable connection. The resins in primers accomplish this goal of surface protection.

How long can a car sit in epoxy primer?

A few days after the epoxy has cured, you should sand the surface to remove any excess epoxy and then apply a coat of reduced epoxy sealant.

There is a 7-day recoat window for most epoxy products, but the longer you wait, the less adherence you get. I prefer to have a response within 24 to 48 hours.

3 thoughts on “How Long Can Primer Sit Before Painting Car?”

  1. Pingback: Can You Drive a Freshly Painted Car in the Rain? - HammerAndCoop

  2. Pingback: What Happens if You Paint a Car Without Primer? - HammerAndCoop

  3. Pingback: Best DA Sanders for Auto Body Work In 2022 - HammerAndCoop

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top