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Thread: Why do you have to let stain dry 24hrs...

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Atascadero, CA

    Why do you have to let stain dry 24hrs...

    I am kind of in a rush to get this job done. I was curious why you have to let the stain dry 24hrs. I have done a sample piece where i applied poly just after 1 hr of the stain drying. It looked fine. Just don't want to find out that down the road it reacts and does something wierd. Thanks josh

  2. #2

    Oil-based stain does not necessarily require 24hrs. before applying poly, however you should at least wait 6-8hrs. The difference in letting it dry is so that the solvent in the poly won't react with the stain. What I'm saying is that if you wipe or brush on poly over stain that is not dryed long enough you will end up pulling up some of the finish while applying poly resulting in some possible blotching or light areas. There is no substitute for taking your time when finishing. When I finish work I allow a week or more just for finishing. I.E. I do one coat stain let dry 5-8 hrs. or overnight in most cases. Apply a second coat of stain and follow same procedure. Apply one coat thinned poly (thinned since I wipe on my finish vs. brush), let dry overnight then buff with 000 steel wool followed by a second coat and then do this procedure until I've completed at least 3-4 coats of poly or more until I'm satisfied. You can speed time by using water-based products but they come with their own issues to deal with. Occasionally I heat dry my poly coats to speed time between coats. Another tip... if your poly has cured for less than 24hrs. but at least 6-8 you can recoat without sanding or using steel wool in between and still achieve a good chemical bond. Now if your using finishes formulated for spraying the recoat and finish times are generally greatly reduced.

    Good luck....
    Last edited by Matt Tawes; 12-16-2005 at 4:07 PM.
    Matt Tawes
    Chesapeake Woodcraft

  3. #3

    Drying time

    Most oil based stains and polyurethane use the same solvent. Mineral spirits. If the stain isn't dry as Matt said you will get siftening of the stain and possibly lift off which will result in light spots on your wood and will also contaminate your poly. Since some of the solvent absorbs into the wood, it takes time for this to totally evaporate and dry.

    Take your time finishing. Short cuts in finishing generally lead to poor quality finishes. In hot dry weather you can probably get away with a shorter wait. Around here in the winter 24 hours may not always be enough.

    For example I use Deft CLear wood finish a lot. In the summer months it dries to touch in 30 minutes and can often be recoated in an hour. I can also use this finish in an unheated building (read ambient temps of 30 F. and lower) in the winter, but it takes at least 12 and usually longer for the same finish to dry to touch.
    Lee Schierer - McKean, PA
    USNA- '71
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  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Conway, Arkansas

    Looks like they have you on the right track. If you are spraying your clear-coat on top of the stain? Then 6 to 8 hours is great. I used to use oil based stain all the time....up until I had to pick the pace up a bit on my finishing schedules. That's when I found out about lifting the stain right off the wood and smearing it around with the clear-coat.

    I've since switched to Alcohol Based Dye....Shoot it on, wait 3 minutes and apply my clear-coat!!!!
    Thanks & Happy Wood Chips,
    Dennis -
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