Whether you're a model railway enthusiast, a wargaming fan or a miniature painter, you'll no doubt be looking to achieve consistent quality results when painting miniatures as part of your hobby.

Priming is an essential step in miniature model painting. A primer smooths out any blemishes on the surface of your model and provides a sound base for the coloured model paint to be applied on top of it.

When it's applied correctly, primer is vital for a strong long-lasting paint job and a satisfactory finish.

In this guide we'll ask whether it's really necessary to use primer, determine how long does primer take to dry on miniatures, and consider what would happen if you painted over miniature primer too soon.

Is primer necessary for miniatures?

Before we take a look at the drying time for primer, you may be wondering if priming miniatures is really necessary.

The short answer is that, yes it is.

Applying primer to a miniature will help ready the surface of the model for painting and provide a solid foundation for coloured paints to be applied on top. It'll also help prevent the paint cracking, bubbling, peeling or chipping off.

Priming will make the quality of the finish immeasurably better and save you a lot of issues in the long run.

Therefore, it's important to let the primer dry sufficiently before adding more coats or moving on to painting your model.

How long for primer to dry

General purpose primer that's used in a wide variety of painting contexts does tend to vary in the length of time it takes to dry.

Primer takes between two to four hours to dry depending on the temperature and humidity of the environment, the type of primer being used, and the quality of the surface that it's being applied to.

Different brands will also have their own guidelines giving the recommended drying time for their primers.

However, for miniature painting we'll need to consider the more specialist paints and primers that are relevant to our use case. How long do those take to dry?

Let's now take a closer look at primer that is specifically meant for miniatures.

A collection of miniatures on part of a model railway layout

How long does primer take to dry on a miniature?

When applying primer to miniatures the same general principles apply that we've touched on above. However, miniature primer usually takes less time to dry than the more generic primers.

It takes approximately two hours for primer to completely dry after being applied to a miniature.

That's the average length of time it takes for primer from Army Painter, Tamiya and Citadel to dry.

However, there's a few things that you'll need to take into account that could affect the actual drying time that you experience.

The humidity and temperature of the environment in which you are painting is going to have a noticeable impact on the drying time of the primer, as well as the quality of the finish that you achieve.

A humidity level between 40% and 50% is widely considered to be the most desirable for priming. Too far above or below this range is going to prevent the moisture in the paint from evaporating. This means that you'll experience inconsistent drying times and the quality of the finish will be poor as a result.

The quality of the paint being used is another factor that'll influence the length of time it takes primer to dry on a miniature.

Poor quality primers or primer from unknown brands will likely not dry consistently and provide you with a substandard finish.

Always use a high quality primer from a recognized manufacturer in order to prevent issues.

Lastly, the surface that you're applying the primer to will also have an affect on the drying time. Different types of plastic will influence how long it takes to dry. As will the level of imperfections present on the application surface. Regardless of the type of surface being applied to, you should always ensure that it's prepared correctly so that any blemishes are removed. That'll give you the best results.

What happens if you paint over primer too soon?

We've covered how long it takes for the average primer to dry, but what exactly happens if you paint over primer too soon?

Well, it's highly likely that the finish of your miniatures will be affected.

Cracking, bubbling, peeling, flaking or chipping may occur if you paint over primer too soon. This will leave a substandard finish on the surface of the miniature.

This might not become apparent straight away, but is more than likely to occur further down the line.

It's really not worth cutting any corners at this crucial stage. You'll thank yourself in the future when you have models with highly durable finishes.

Always take your time when putting primer on miniatures. Be patient and allow the primer to fully dry before adding more coats or moving onto painting. That'll give you more consistent results and a more reliable finish.

Failure to allow sufficient time for primer to dry on a miniature could cause you to have to redo the work in the near future.

Save yourself the hassle and always let the primer dry sufficiently.


The length of time that primer takes to dry on miniatures is around 2 hours.

This is dependent on a few factors. Namely, the temperature and humidity of the room, the quality of the paint being used, and the type of surface that you're applying to.

To keep a consistent drying time it's best to work in an environment with a humidity of around 40%-50%, use high quality primer from a well-known brand, and to always prepare the application surface thoroughly before priming.

It's important not to skip priming as it's an essential step when painting miniatures and will go a long way to ensuring you get quality results.

For more model scenery tips and techniques be sure to check out our scenery series for the latest guides and tutorials.

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