Water-based stains usually take less time to dry than oil-based stains, with most drying in just three to four hours. However, it can take up to 24 to 72 hours for the stain to fully cure and be ready for a polyurethane layer. Minwax and General Finishes wood dyes are some of the fastest drying water-based stains, taking only 3 to 4 hours. On the other hand, oil-based stains can take up to 1 to 2 hours per coat before drying.
After applying the second coat, you should wait at least 8 hours before applying a finish. In general, it takes 24 to 48 hours for a layer of stain to completely dry and heal. If you're planning on adding multiple coats of dye, make sure to let each coat dry completely and fully saturate the wood before applying another coat. For water-based wood dyes, consider General Finishes water-based wood stain and Old Masters Early American water-based wood stain.