How Long Does Wood Need To Dry Before Staining?

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Dry wood is ideal for most of its applications. And the most common one that demands perfect drying before the staining process is firewood or timber. In fact, beginners do wonder why it is so important to dry the wood before woodworking applications such as staining.

One important cause is wet wood might repel the glue and paint you use over it. Therefore, it is important to dry it before staining.

How Long Does Wood Need To Dry Before Staining?

The purpose of wood staining is to give colors to the natural wooden surface. In fact, the staining process preserves the wood grain while making it more appealing in texture. Furthermore, you need to take ideal care of prepping the wood before carrying out the staining process.

Amidst all the preparations, the utmost priority is to let the wood dry. So, this is the guide that intends to explain how long wood needs to dry before staining and how you can do it!

Method 1: Processing Of The Logs Or Lumbers

Drying is the second step! But you need to process the logs or lumber in an ideal manner to ensure that they don’t rot before entering the drying phase.

Wood logs

Step 1: Process The Logs At First

  1. Process the logs into lumbers.
  2. Remove the barks over those lumbers, as they may be the reason for absorbing moisture. Hence it might lead to the rotting of wood.
  3. Leave the wood to dry for a day or two, and check whether the process has been executed correctly.
  4. In case you notice any rotting, then the approach was wrong.

Step 2: Cutting Of The Lumbers

  1. Use the bandsaw milling method to cut the wood lumbers.
  2. Ensure that you cut fresh lumber slightly big than what you desire.
  3. It is because the size of wood will shrink after it is completely dry.
  4. Use a sander to join two blocks of wood over a plain texture.

Method 2: Air Drying Of The Wood

  1. Expose the wood in the open air or under the sun.
  2. Look for a clean, shady, and dry place for placing the wood.
  3. Prepare a raising foundation while you are stacking the wood to ensure that it is off the ground.
  4. Get an arrangement for constant airflow.
  5. Applying mineral oil to suppress the moisture-absorbing potential of the wood will be helpful. (Optional).
  6. In case you are putting it under the sun, you need to ensure that the weather is sunny so that the woods won’t get wet.

With air drying, the woods will demand quite many months or few years to dry for use in other applications completely.

Method 3: Kiln Drying Of The Wood

Pieces of wood stacked on top of each other
  1. As the name suggests, you will be using a kiln for drying the wood pieces.
  2. It is also referred to as oven drying. Here, the woods will face exposure to heat to get rid of moisture.
  3. Under the kiln drying process, the wood is fitted onto the chamber under temperature and humidity regulation.
  4. The air circulation for the wood must also be taken into consideration while using this method.
  5. It is advisable to start this method inside an internal space. Also, this will allow the wood to dry quickly.

Though it is a quicker alternative for drying the wood, it is quite expensive, and all woodworkers won’t afford it. Moreover, in case the kiln drying process is not carried out correctly, it might give rise to defect within the wood logs. Also, kiln drying dries the woods by a maximum duration of 28 to 30 days, depending upon the wood type being used.

Compare the effectiveness of air drying and kiln drying over this YouTube video to get a better insight into what to pick!

Method 4: Drying Process For Firewood

Firewood demands a separate form of drying. Under this, the steps you need to follow are:

  1. After cutting the lumbers, you need to stack them properly with weights on the top. The weights will ensure that the wood won’t change its shape after drying.
  2. Add heat through artificial measures to bring down the moisture content.
  3. For shorter pieces of wood, you can consider bringing the moisture content down to 12% or less for ideal application.
  4. It would be best if you let the firewood dry completely to avoid too much smoke production.
  5. For larger firewood pieces, a moisture content rating of around 20% or less is apt.
  6. Check the cuts over firewood for dryness. If the firewood seems dry and cracking out, you can use it for burning purposes. Also, you can use a moisture meter to check the dryness.
Wood pieces being dried under the sun

If you are stacking the wood outside during the spring season, then it might take just 6 to 9 months. However, it takes around 12 months for the firewood pieces to dry if you do not split them up and store them properly.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Should I Store The Wood To Ensure That The Moisture Content Is Suppressed?

It doesn’t matter whether you have adapted air-drying method or kiln drying method for your wood pieces, but it can still soak moisture. Therefore, you need to store the wood in an appropriate place to avoid defects. Also, choose a place that is free from moisture and fungi conditions, with enough air circulation.

To know more about it, you can refer to this article!

Do I Have To Seal The Edges Of Wood Pieces To Avoid Decaying?

Yes, you can surely adopt this process of sealing the ends of your wooden log to prevent the decaying of the wood piece from the ends. In fact, the edges of some wood types are prone to absorb moisture. Therefore, check the type of wood you are using, and consider sealing both ends after the cut.


Irrespective of the type of wood you choose for your applications, it is important for you to dry it. Besides, it depends upon you to decide the method you want to follow for the drying process. In fact, if you wish a wooden object to last longer, it is better to ensure that the wood is properly dried before you do the staining or painting.

So, get ready and stack up the woods to let them 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.