How Long Does it Take Wood to Dry

Stack of split logs.

Wood is a very versatile substance that has a wide range of usages. Research conducted through Penn State University estimated that over five thousands products are made from wood—and that list continues to grow. Historically, people have always used some variation of wood in their homes, whether it be for building, furniture, or lighting a fire. Today, wood is still a popular choice, from the smallest projects to much larger ones.

If you plan on using wood for your next project, you might be wondering how long it days for wood to dry. Figuring out how long your piece of wood or wood surface will take to dry depends on a great deal of factors that we will explore.

What is Wood?

Wood is what is found beneath the bark on trees. Wood is found in a variety of colors and grain patterns and is used in more classic and obvious ways such as lumber, plywood, and furniture to produce and build. But wood is also used as a source of fuel for a large portion of the world. 

Wood is found throughout the world and is a renewable resource, unlike coal and fossil fuels. However, lumber forests and the depletion of forests—especially in the tropics—has created uncertainty about the future of this resource. Additionally, the wood industry has a huge impact on the economy and provides jobs throughout the world, from harvesting and transportation, to manufacturing, paper production, etc. 

How is Wood Used? 

Wood has been an integral part of human society for more than a millenia. Even in the 21st century we are still using wood in the same or similar ways as our ancestors did thousands of years ago.  

Wood is used to build homes and to make furniture. But, we also use wood for paper, cardboard, sports equipment, and instruments—wood is all around us. 

A large pile of dry, cut lumber.

How Long Does it Take for Wood to Dry? 

Knowing how long your wood will take to dry will depend on a lot of factors, such as the type of wood, how wet the wood is, whether or not it is freshly cut, where the wood is located, and weather conditions.  

Types of Wood and Drying Times

There are two different types of wood: hardwood and softwood. Hardwood and softwood have nothing to do with the strength of the wood. The term is used to distinguish between the type of trees and how they reproduce. 

Hardwoods, like oak, maple, or cherry—these woods are more dense making them heavier than softwoods. 

Softwoods, like Douglas fir, redwood, and southern pine are not as dense therefore their drying times will most likely be faster than hardwoods. 

Drying Times for Hardwood and Softwood

The drying times for both hardwood and softwood can both be up to 200 days. If you are beginning the process of drying fresh lumber, our time calculator could be helpful to give you an idea of just when your wood will be dry. 

Hardwood Drying Times

Type of WoodDrying Time (Days)
Red Oak70-200
Sugar Maple50-200

Softwood Drying Times

Type of WoodDrying Time (Days)
Douglas Fir20-200
Sugar Pine15-90

Wood Drying in Different Conditions 

Research conducted through Oklahoma State University found that drying times of wood can vary a great deal. The researchers allowed the wood to air dry and noted that due to allowing the wood to dry in the elements, there are some factors which are difficult to control, like temperature and humidity. Also, if you are drying out fresh lumber—which is what the university was doing, those drying times are substantially longer than wood and lumber that has already been cured and prepared. 

How Long Does it Take Wood to Dry After Rain? 

If the wood you are looking to dry out is being dried outdoors, there are factors that impact drying. Just like with acrylic paint, where the drying is occurring and the weather conditions can have an effect on drying times.   

If the wood is exposed to rain and the elements for a prolonged period of time, it will take longer for it to dry out. Most consider wood ‘dry’ when its moisture level reaches about 30 percent. One way to easily measure the moisture content of your wood is to purchase a wood moisture meter. You can find one at your local home improvement store for under 30 USD. 

A mallet on top of wood floors, with wood glue in the background.

Wood Usage in Crafts and Drying Times

Now that we know that drying out fresh lumber is a long process, but once the moisture content of the wood has reached 30 percent, you are able to paint, stain, and glue, and putty the wood. Because these dry times are much less and drying out lumber, consider using our hours calculator to see when your craft will be dry. 

How Long Does It Take for Wood Glue to Dry?

Wood glue is a popular tool to adhere one piece of wood to another or to affix something to wood. You may be wondering, how long does it take for wood glue to dry? Well, if glued in ideal circumstances, wood glue typically takes 10 to 30 minutes to dry. 

How Long Does It Take for Wood Stain to Dry?

Wood stain is used to add color to wood, and, most importantly, seal the wood and protect it from water and UV rays. Most wood stains are completely dry and cured between 24 and 48 hours.

How Long Does It Take for Wood Putty to Dry?

Wood putty, also called wood plastic, is used to fill in imperfections in wood, like nail or screw holes, small dents, and scratches before staining or painting. Wood putty is more likely to be used on outdoor wood. Wood putty takes about two to six hours to dry. The amount of wood putty that is used does impact drying times. If you are filling in a small nail hole, it might not take as long to dry as if you were puttying over a larger screw hole.  

How Long Does It Take for Wood Filler to Dry?

Wood filler is similar to wood putty. Both can be used in similar ways, however, it is less likely to use wood filler in exterior spaces. Wood filler takes less time to dry than wood putty, and is typically dry within 30 minutes to two hours. 

This entry was posted in DIY, Home & Garden, Time and tagged , , , . By Emily DiFabio