How Long Does Minwax Stain Take to Dry

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A Minwax stain’s drying time is critical if you are looking for a top-quality end result. If you miss it in this first step, then you might end messing the whole project when you apply polyurethane. So, how long does Minwax stain take to dry? 

How Long Does Minwax Stain Take to Dry? 

Oil-based Minwax takes 12 hours to dry, while water-based Minwax takes only 3 hours to dry. The dry time will vary based on such factors as environmental conditions, ventilation, type of wood, and the number of coats. 

Water-based Minwax dry takes a shorter period to dry. However, you should allow at least 24 to 48 hours in both cases before applying polyurethane. If you want to be sure that your Minwax stain is completely dry, you can always extend this period to 72 hours. 

A can of Minwax water-based wood stain

Three Different Forms of Minwax Stains and Their Drying Time

While Minwax stains come in various varieties, they are only available in three different forms: 

  • Gel stains 
  • Oil stains 
  • Water stains 

There are also standard, and performance Minwax stains. After coating, the next dry time will vary, according to the brand and other factors, between 2 to 12 hours. 

Gel-Based Minwax Wood Stain 

Gel-based stains are the newest entrants in the market. Their consistency is like that of ganache or pudding. You must stir it properly before you apply it on your wood surface

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Its jelly-like consistency makes it an easy stain to use.  It is a bit sticky and does not easily drip, making it ideal for furniture like tables. It is great for hiding flaws in your workpieces. Moreover, it does not require sanding and is perfect for staining pine wood. 

Minwax gel stains are the slowest to dry and may not be useful if you are in a hurry. The paint requires an extended period for drying, up to 24 hours. You can only use another coat after eight to 10 hours for this type of Minwax stain. 

Water-Based Minwax Wood Stain 

Water-Based Minwax Wood Stain uses water as the solvent or vehicle. The stain is more eco-friendly since it has zero harmful emissions. It is the ideal type of wood stain if you need shorter drying periods. 

This stain requires a window between 2 to 3 hours before you can touch them after applying the next coats. Its strength in shorter drying time is also its weakness. It will help if you apply it quickly to have that even coating and to avoid splotches. 

Hands using Minwax stain for wood piece

Oil-Based Minwax Wood Stain

This is the most popular and most sold wood stain. It uses linseed oil or varnish as its binder, a factor that makes it penetrate deeply into the wood. Moreover, it also adds another protective layer to your wood surface

With this stain, you have to wait at least eight hours before applying the finish of your choice

Factors That Affect Minwax Drying Time 

The drying time of the Minwax stain is highly dependent on the factors discussed below. While some are natural and unpreventable, you can always reduce their effect. These factors include: 

  • Ventilation 
  • Humidity
  • Temperature 


The amount of circulation in the room or workshop plays a vital part in determining the drying time of a stain. The more air you allow to circulate through the area, the faster it will take your workpiece to dry. 

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Minwax stain on wooden chair

It is the main reason you will witness some professionals having fans in their workshops. Fans help speed up the drying process. It shaves off the drying time without jeopardizing the integrity of your stain. 

Besides having fans, you can also open any window in your work site. Proper ventilation also helps minimize wood stain effects from your work environment. 


The whole process of stain drying is a result of the moisture content of the stain evaporating. The faster the evaporation, the quicker it dries. The process can be slow in high humid conditions since the rate of evaporation is slow. 

Humidity is one of the most frustrating factors when it comes to drying stains. We recommend that you always postpone the project if you can not find a less humid place to work on your painting. Otherwise, you have to account for extended drying periods. 

Working in high humid conditions also interfere with the quality of the end product. It can bring about a cloudy appearance on your topcoat. This cloudiness happens when the moisture cannot evaporate before the stain dries. 


The temperature of your workstation also affects how long the Minwax stain takes to dry. While the standard temperature is between 50 and 90 degrees, the ideal range is 70 to 75 degrees. Anything lower or higher than that spectrum is most likely to prolong your drying time.

Young man wearing rubber gloves mixing wood stain

Related Questions 

Below are some commonly asked questions about Minwax drying time. 

Do Interior or Exterior Minwax Stains Dry Faster?

Interior stains dry faster than exterior stains. Interior Minwax stain takes only around 24 hours, while the exterior Minwax stain takes between 24 to 72 hours. Outdoor weather conditions fluctuate between 20 degrees or more in some cases.  The humidity outdoors is also high, especially early in the day and late in the evening. 

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How Many Coats of Minwax Stain Should I Use? 

Generally speaking, you should apply as many coats of Minwax stain as needed to get the darkness required. More stain equals a darker coloring, so apply stain until the preferred color and richness is reached. In most cases, we prefer two unless you use an overly dense wood that cannot absorb more than one coat. 

How Long Should You Allow Minwax Stain to Penetrate? 

Leave your Minwax stain to penetrate for around 5 to 15 minutes. The longer you leave it to penetrate the wood, the deeper it will go. When dealing with a light tint, wipe off any excess stain. 

What Kind of Brush Should You Use for Minwax Stain? 

You can use anything from a rag, brush, spray gun, paint pad, or roller to apply your Minwax stain. You can even pour the stain onto your wood surface and spread it around. 

Bottom Line 

The time it takes for Minwax to dry will vary depending on a number of factors as discussed above. Keep in mind that Minwax comes in different forms which greatly affect their drying time. Other factors such as type of wood, environmental conditions, and ventilations will also determine how long it takes the Minwax to dry. 

An expert at home repair, remodel, and DIY projects for nearly 40 years. His first experience came in completely restoring an antique home. Completely redone from the inside out, and restored to its original form, the home is a featured design by renowned Southern California Architect Cliff May, considered to be the father of the California Ranch Home. Now Dennis spends his time on fine woodworking projects and tool comparisons.