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How Long Should Primer Dry Before Painting the Car

How Long Should Primer Dry Before Painting

Car primer is a common but extremely important coating before you paint your car. Because it acts as an adhesive element and helps the car’s paint coating become more beautiful and evenly colored. But How long should primer dry before painting the car? Join us to find out.

The role of primer

As we all know, a car primer is like a base layer to make the surface of a car beautiful and smoother after painting. Besides, it is also necessary for rutted or rough surfaces on the vehicle. Because primer has many important roles such as:

  • The primer limits the surface rust or rust.
  • Primer is an effective protective layer to help prevent external elements from penetrating the vehicle’s.
  • surface. As a result, your car will be even and smoother.
  • Scratches or uneven surfaces on the car will be optimally covered with the primer.
  • Primer has excellent adhesion, which will create a durable bond between car surface and paint.
  • Current primers have a quick drying time (only about 30 – 60 minutes), so they won’t waste time waiting.
  • Furthermore, this coating is easy to sand while improving smoothness and flatness without affecting the inner surface.

How long should primer dry before painting the car?

Primer is an important and essential coating in the car painting process. Car paint without primer will not protect the car completely, increasing the risk of rust or color unevenness.

According to experts, you should wait about 24 hours after priming to proceed to the next steps. This is because micro shrinkage can occur, leading to later color irregularities. In short, don’t rush to paint your car when you are not sure the primer is completely dry.

Today, there are many primers on the market that save time with only about 1 hour of drying time. Some of them can even dry completely in 30 minutes. You can only notice primer flaws when you have finished the last coat.

You should apply some primer and gentle sanding to get the best paint possible. Experts also advise that the car should be wet and choose sandpaper 1000 or 1200 grit. If you are satisfied with your primer, then you can start painting your car. On the contrary, primer defects can be overcome with sandpaper.

But sanding is not required for all primers. You need to choose the right primer and read the instructions carefully before painting. Besides, compliance with the primer process is also an important factor determining the result of the coating.

How do I know if the primer is completely dry?

Depending on the type of primer you choose and the surrounding factors, the drying time of the primer will vary. This information will be available on the paint guide, or you can also check directly experimentally. Self-testing, however, can be a bit difficult for first-time painters.

In most cases, the primer is considered to be completely dry when you can touch it without getting wet. But to be on the safe side, you should still wait about 30 minutes before starting to apply a second primer or topcoat.
We also know car paint is perfect when sanding after each priming. Besides, this action also helps increase the paint’s adhesion on the vehicle’s surface. Sanding works best when done after the primer has completely dried.

Factors influencing the drying time of primer

Many factors affect the drying time of the primer. This could be due to the surface of the vehicle, the type of primer, the amount of paint applied, or the surrounding environmental conditions. Here is the most general overview of these issues.

Primer type

The first factor that determines the drying time of the primer is the composition of the paint formulation. Primers can be divided into two main categories: water-based primers and oil-based primers.

Most oil-based primers take up to 24 hours to dry completely. Simultaneously, water-based primers are easy to use and have a shorter drying time (within 3 hours). Moreover, the water-based primer also guarantees safety when it comes to limiting fire and explosion, so many people prefer to use it.

Environmental conditions

Temperature and humidity are two factors that prolong or shorten the drying time of primer. You should carry out priming under conditions of about 70 degrees F, and 50% humidity is recommended.

Low humidity may cause the paint to dry quickly, but it is easier to clump. In contrast, too high humidity is why long drying time because more water molecules are suspended in the air.

Remember that primers will dry faster on cold days and longer on hot, humid days. The same is true for your topcoats as well.

Car surface

Some people think that changing the surface can shorten the drying time of the primer. The reason is that different surfaces will have different corresponding drying times. For example, the time it takes to dry topcoat on concrete and metal will vary slightly. Yes, there are differences, but they are not too much!

However, its effects were greatly exaggerated and turned into a false view. In a nutshell, for any surface, the drying time of the primer is almost the same.


Adherence to the correct steps and the waiting time between coats is essential to finishing a car painting process. You do not rush to shorten the construction time but to cause unexpected problems. We hope the above article will be useful and help you create a good paint for your car.

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