How Does Humidity Affect Wood Staining?

As fun as staining could be, it is a process guided by many factors. It involves a systematic procedure, and the outcome of the staining procedure, be it bad or good, depends on a lot of factors.

Hence, you need to strictly pay attention to these factors, one of which is humidity. The level of moisture in a staining area can grossly affect wood staining.

How Humidity Affect Wood Staining?

Here is what I found after investigating:

Does Humidity Affect Wood Staining?

Yes. Humidity is one of the important factors that influence the result of wood staining. Too high humidity can decrease the drying time of a wood stain when the level of water vapor in the air is high. Since the wood stain’s solvent cannot evaporate because of too much moisture in the atmosphere, and become sticky or tacky.

Therefore, this article has provided all the needed information about how the humidity factor affects wood staining. This includes the effect of staining in high humidity, will stain dry in low humidity, etc.

Let’s go on!

What Humidity Is Good for Staining Wood

Humidity is the level of atmospheric moisture. Much moisture in the air is called warm air while a small amount of moisture in the air is called dry air.

The best humidity level for staining is the normal humidity range of 30 – 60%.

The relative or normal level of humidity is between 30 – 60%. Too low humidity is less than 20 while too high humidity is above 70. 

Low humidity, that is, dry air might also be okay for staining. The dry air will hasten the drying time of the wood stain. However, a high humidity level is bad for staining.

Can You Stain Wood in Damp Weather?

Too humid, slightly wet, or rainy weather is the worst weather you can stain in. However, it is better not to stain wood in damp weather. Imagine staining your deck and the weather gets rainy all of a sudden?

Rain will definitely wash off the stains and create messed-up staining. Similarly, when you are staining when the humidity is too high, the normal moisture evaporating from the applied stains is bounced back by the too warm moisture air.

Hence, the stain won’t get dry. And if such happens, the stains could end up getting sticky or tacky.

Related Post >> Why Is Wood Stain Sticky & How To Fix?

Will Wood Stain Dry in Humidity & How Long?

When you apply wood stain in relatively normal humidity, it should get dried at the stipulated time on the product label depending on other atmospheric conditions like temperature is not too high.

Likewise, if the moisture in the air is low, the solvent in the applied stain gets evaporated fast because the low moisture in the air can accommodate more moisture. Hence, your stain will dry within the manufacturer’s recommended time.

However, when the humidity is high, the reverse is the case. The moisture in the stain cannot readily escape, hence, the stains get sticky and take longer to dry, sometimes days.

What Happens if You Stain Wood and Then It Rains?

If the wooden furniture you stained is not exposed directly to the rain, nothing should happen to the stained surface. However, if the humidity of your work area is high because you locked all windows due to the rain, then the stain could become sticky.

However, if the wooden furniture you stained is exterior furniture like a deck, the rain will affect the staining. If it rained on the wood immediately after staining, the rain will wash the stain off whether it is water-based, oil-based, or gel.

 But, if the stained wood is half-dried before rain affects it, the damage could be a little bit reduced.

How Long Does Wood Need to Dry after Rain before Staining?

Has rain been deterring you from staining your exterior furniture like a deck? Sometimes, a rainy day can be unpredictable and when it rains, seeing that wood surfaces contain absorbing wood pores, rainwater is absorbed by the wood depending on the intensity of the rain.

If you apply a stain to such wet wood, the stain will not penetrate the wet wood unless the absorbed water evaporates. Therefore, you need to dry the wet wood for a minimum of 24 hours.

 To check if the wood is dry, pour a little amount of water on the wood surface, if the water beads, the wood isn’t dry. If it is absorbed rapidly, the wood is dry.

Can You Leave Stained Wood Outside to Dry?

Perhaps you decide to carry your stained piece outside so that more open-air will fasten the drying process. It is a good idea, but sometimes it is not the best idea. There are so many exterior factors that could ruin the stains on your stained furniture.

One of which is direct sunlight. Direct sunlight provides a high temperature which affects the stains. The stain solvent gets evaporated so fast and unevenly, leading to splotches.

 Another factor to consider is the rate of wind outside. If the blowing air is much, it could blow dirt, and leaves, on the drying stained surface and that could dent your staining.

By the way, staining indoors is not recommended because indoor ventilation is far from good as outdoor. As indoor stain concentrations rise and air quality decreases, they have the potential to cause breathing problems, nausea, dizziness and headaches, and irritation of the eyes and throat.

What Temperature Can You Apply Stain to Wood?

According to professional woodworkers, the recommended temperature for staining is 50°F ~ 90°F. The normal temperature gives room for a stained surface to dry procedurally without sharp disruptions in the drying process.

 When you apply stain to the wood under too high temperature, the high heat effect each brush of stain you apply, this might lead to lap marks and non-uniform absorption of stains.

Similarly, when the temperature is low, especially below 30°F, the required dry heat needed to dry the stains as it is being applied is very low. Hence, the stains take a long time to dry using little available heat.

Is It OK to Sand Wood in High Humidity?

High humidity simply denotes that the moisture in the atmosphere is very warm. Ordinarily, this should not affect sanding. High humidity does not mean the water vapor in the air will turn into liquid water droplets.

Hence, you can comfortably sand wood in high humidity and when the humidity decreases, you start staining. The only thing to consider when sanding in high humidity is the level of sanding dust in the air.

To prevent particle pollution, you must sand the wood in a well-ventilated room and always remember to put on protective gear like a breathable face mask.

Can You Stain Deck in High Humidity?

High humidity is not ideal to stain any form of wood be it an exterior deck or an interior wooden table. If it were to be a small surfaced wood furniture, a dehumidifier could be used to reduce the humidity.

A deck has a large surface area. Hence, the best thing to do is to stain under an ideal humidity and temperature. When you stain a deck under high humidity, it simply will not get dry. The reason is that the warm air is saturated with moisture.

 Therefore, the moisture that needs to evaporate from the applied liquid stain finds it difficult to evaporate readily. Hence, more stain moisture sits on top of the stained surface causing sticky or tacky stains.

What Happens If You Seal Wet Wood?

Sealing wet wood will stress you a lot, so do not try to. When you apply a varnish to wet wood, it might seem you are making progress doing that. But, within a few minutes of applying the varnish, there will be blotches because of the moisture evaporating from wet wood.

Even when the wood sealer is a water-based product. The sealer might stick to the wood a little. But blotching caused by non-uniform penetration will still occur due to the water in the wet wood.

 The best thing is to allow your wet wood to completely dry for two days or more, depending on the weather before you seal the wood.

How Do You Seal Wood for High Humidity?

When sealing the wood in such a way that it can withstand high humidity, the type of sealant used should be an oil-based sealant or varnish and not water-based. This is because the solvent used for a water-based sealant might not make it suitable to withstand very high humidity.

Another factor is that the sealant should be waterproof. High humidity contains warm water vapor. Hence, a sealant that will work well should be a water-resistant sealant. Also, remember to select a suitable sealant for the location of your wood furniture be it interior or exterior.

Woodworking Projects to Avoid when The High is Humidity

During high humidity, one important woodwork you shouldn’t embark on is deck repair and deck staining. Any form of deck repair that involves removing the deck slab and replacing it should be avoided. The reason is that, when the atmospheric moisture is high, woods tend to absorb moisture and expand a little.

Hence, this false increase might bring about cracking and other sorts of effects later. Similarly, it is advisable for a flooring project to be put on hold during high humidity because of wood swells. Likewise, deck staining when the humidity is above 70% will result in a longer drying time, thereby tacky stains.

Another woodworking project to avoid during high humidity is attic woodwork. Apart from wood swells, working at a raised height where there is a high concentration of water vapor in the air could be dangerous health-wise. Also, sealing joints with caulk during increased humidity will lengthen the caulk’s drying time.

Final Words: What is the best weather to stain a deck?

Three weather conditions to put into consideration before staining your deck are humidity, temperature, and rainfall. Work with the information from the weather forecast. And most times, the weather forecast for three days can be given at once.

Hence, ensure there will be no rainfall when you want to stain your deck. Also, if the humidity is above 70 and the temperature is above 90, it is a bad deck staining time.

Wait until there is no rainfall, the humidity is between 30-60 percent and the temperature is between 50 – 90°F. Beautiful staining outcomes can be ensured when you use all these given guidelines.

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