Can You Paint Wet Wood? [7 Steps To Remember]

If you purchased wood from a hardware store or a home depot, it’s likely that you’ll need to let it dry a little before painting it. 

If you buy your wood from a local wood supplier, you will almost never have to dry it first because they know how to store their wood properly. 

But, if you’re in a rush, can you just paint the wood when it’s still wet?

Can You Paint Wet Wood?

If you want a smooth and even finish, don’t paint wet wood. Any remaining water in the wood will prevent paint from adhering properly to the surface. If the wood is dry enough, you can see if it absorbs or refuses water sprayed on its surface.

To establish a close bond with the board, paint must be absorbed at least a little bit into the wood. However, if there is still too much water inside the wood, the paint will not be able to absorb properly. 

Since oil and water do not combine, oil paints will repel water-based paints, and water-based paints will not absorb if the wood already contains too much water. 

Well, if the paint isn’t properly absorbed, it won’t be able to form a tight bond with the wood’s surface. Paint will gradually peel as a result of this, and even the tiniest scratch or strike will immediately strip portions of the paint. It’s also possible that the paint would break.

When exposed wood dries out, it absorbs water, raising the grain and forming a rough surface. Before repainting the bare wood, you can repair this form of surface damage by sanding it thoroughly. 

Exposed wood can become moist for long periods of time in more extreme cases, eventually leading to rot. It’s best to replace rotted wood pieces if possible, but if that isn’t possible, you can restore localised rot by removing all decayed material and patching the wood.

Water damage and termite damage, on the other hand, can appear to be quite similar at first glance. There are, however, telltale signs that distinguish them from one another. 

Water-damaged wood, for example, breaks down into cube-sized chunks, while termite-damaged wood creates tunnels as termites eat the softer grain first.

How to dry wood quickly and properly?

  • It is important to keep nearby humidity levels as low as possible in order to dry wood quickly. A dehumidifier will help with this. It may also help to add some ventilation to the room where the wood is drying to speed up the drying process.
  • There are many methods to reduce humidity levels, but the simplest is to slightly warm up the room with a heater. If you’re using a heater, make sure the space is heated uniformly to prevent the wood from warping.
  • As the wood disperses water in the air, it’s critical to add movement to the air so that humid air can be transported to the dehumidifier or heater, and dry air can be transported near to the wood so that it can continue to dry properly.

How long should you wait for wood to dry before painting it?

  • If you have the ideal conditions for decking your wood, like plenty of sunshine, the average time it takes for the wood to dry is 48 hours. 
  • If you are staining in a shady area of your house where almost no sunlight enters, you must wait at least 72 hours before proceeding.
  • It also depends on the storage conditions, such as the moisture content of the wood and how it is decked. After five or six hours, the woods’ surface moisture will be completely dry. However, drying the interior of the wood is more difficult, and you will have to wait a while for it to dry.
  • If it rains, make sure to cover the woods with a tarp to prevent water from seeping in and damaging your work.

How do you know if your wood is dry enough to paint?

Place water drops on the surface to see if the wood is dry enough to stain or paint. It’s ready if it soaks in. When the wood is fully dry, it can be painted or stained in the same way as any other wood surface.

To determine whether wood is dry or not, Eco Star Painting employs a device known as a “Moisture Meter.” A pin-type system from General Tools provides reliable Moisture Content Readings in seconds. 

Stick the two metal probes into the wood and wait for the optical LED reading to appear to perform a moisture test. It’s safer to paint wood surfaces with a moisture content of 15 percent WME (Wood Moisture Equivalent) or less.

What kind of paint and paint equipment are better for wet wood?

When painting wet wood, you should avoid using oil-based paint. Water cannot dissolve oil. Oil-based paint would not adhere to the moisture in the wood because of this. 

Paint will gradually peel away from the wood as a result of this process. Since latex paint is water-based, it will bind better with the moisture in the wood. This decreases the likelihood of the paint peeling.

You should also think about the brush you’re going to use to apply the paint. 

You can apply a thinner and more even coat with a foam brush because it retains less paint than a bristle brush. Since you’ll be painting wet wood, which won’t absorb as much paint as dry wood, this is crucial. 

Applying too much paint to wet wood at once can lead to a disaster. With a foam brush, you can better control how much paint you add with each stroke.

What is the procedure for painting wet wood?

Here are some steps to follow once you’ve gathered the required paint and painting supplies.

Step 1: As much as possible, dry the wet wood

If the wood is moist to the touch, dry it as thoroughly as possible with paper towels or use the methods mentioned above to dry it.

Step 2: Switch the fan on

For as long as possible, run an electric fan over the wood. Although you still have time, this will help speed up the drying process. 

Bear in mind that you’ll need two coats of paint when deciding how long to let the wood dry in this manner.

Step 3: Check for moisture

Using a moisture metre, you can easily check the moisture content of the wood. The method for handling and taking the reading is described in the preceding section.

Step 4: Switch off the fan and get to work on the painting

Switch the fan off. The water-based paint should be opened and stirred.

Step 5: On the wood, apply the first coat of paint

Using a high-quality foam paintbrush, apply an even coat of paint to the entire wood surface. Allow for full drying of the paint.

Step 6: Repaint the area with a second coat of color

After the first coat of paint has dried, apply a second coat of paint.

Step 7: Clean up and hope for the best possible painting result

When the second coat is drying, wash your paintbrush and tidy up your workspace.

What are the best paints for painting wet wood?

The following are the best paints for painting wet wood that are currently available on the market.

TotalBoat Paint Primer

TotalBoat Marine Topside Boat Paint Primer

Nobody enjoys waiting for paint to dry, particularly if they’re just in the priming phase. 

TotalBoat Topside Primer is a high-solids, one-coat marine undercoat that sands easily to a smooth, fair surface ready for one-part topside paints and dries extremely quickly.  

Apply to clean, properly treated wood and previously painted surfaces. Use above the waterline in every situation. It’s available in two colors: white and green. 

Topside Primer is not a high-build primer, but rather a high-solids primer. 

A high-solids coating provides excellent coverage and sealing properties with only one coat, while a high-build primer allows for increased application thickness to mask surface imperfections.

You can read our blog on pressure treated wood painting

Product Specification
Color: Gray, white
Coverage: Per gallon, 350-400 square feet
Brush, roller, or spray application is easy. A single coat of this high-solids solution provides complete coverage.
Above the real waterline is where you can use it. The film will not rise, crack, or peel until it has been cured.
It dries extremely quickly. Once cured, it’s simple to sand for a clean, beautiful finish.
Apply to wood, fibreglass, gelcoat, and previously painted surfaces that have been properly prepared.
Available in two colors: white and grey, and in two sizes: quart and gallon.
  • Only one coat is needed to cover the entire surface.
  • Brushing, rolling, and spraying are all simple ways to apply the product.
  • It cures to a smooth, hard finish in a short amount of time.
  • Available in two colors: white and grey, and in two sizes: quart and gallon.
  • Little Expensive

Ready Seal Paint For Wood

Ready Seal 505 Exterior Stain

Ready Seal stain brings out the natural beauty of the wood while preserving the texture and grain. This oil-based, semi-transparent stain and sealer is ideal for all exterior wood projects. 

It’s a one-of-a-kind recipe that penetrates deep into the wood to protect it from mould, mildew, and UV rays.

Product Specification
Brand: Ready Seal
Size: 5 Gallon
Color: Light oak, Burnt Hickory, Dark Walnut, Golden Pine, Mahogany,  etc
There is no need for a primer. When you first apply Ready Seal, it’s the darkest. It takes about 14 days for it to achieve its true color. Do not use Ready Seal on freshly painted or stained surfaces. Surfaces that are sealed prevent penetration.
Sprayer, roller, or brush may be used to apply it to the wood’s surface.
It doesn’t need back brushing and won’t leave any runs, laps, or streaks.
There is no need for a wet-line application since the substance blends itself and can be used in any temperature range. Reapplication does not necessitate any sanding or stripping.
Spray applications do not need any diluting or thinning.
  • A fantastic product with excellent coverage.
  • Many color options are available.
  • Easy to use
  • Durable
  • When sprayed, the color is very light and the weight is very light. It blows everywhere.


If you want to get the best results when painting wood, make sure it’s fully dry first. However, if it’s absolutely important, you can paint wet wood. 

If you can’t wait for your wood to dry, follow these measures, but remember that the best policy is to be careful and let it dry completely. If you take your time and have the right tools, painting wood is a breeze. 

It’s a smart way to spruce up your home while having a good time doing it.

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