How Long Does It Take Paint to Dry?

How Long Does It Take Paint to Dry?

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If you are planning to paint your home, whether your walls, floors, or exterior, something you probably need to know is how long it takes for paint to dry.

Today we are going to discuss exactly that. We will take a look at how long various types of paint take to dry. We will also look at the various factors that affect paint drying time, as well as some general tips to make the process faster too.

How Long Does It Take Paint to Dry and Cure?

Let’s start by looking at the drying time of the most common types of paint. Broadly speaking, there are two types: oil- and water-based. That said, there are multiple types of water-based paint, and so we will separate those out below.

We will also talk about the different times it takes for these paints to not only dry but also cure.

Oil-Based Paint

Most oil-based paint will take between six and eight hours to dry depending on the conditions and how much paint is applied to the surface. Worst case scenario, it can take up to twelve hours for oil-based paint to totally dry. That said, if you are looking to apply two coats of such paint, seeing as the first coat will take up to 24 hours to cure, you will need to wait for a full day to apply the second layer.

To sum it up, oil-based paint takes up to 12 hours to dry and 24 hours to cure.

Acrylic Paint

Just to be clear, acrylic paint is a type of water-based paint, not oil-based paint. Acrylic paint, depending on where you paint, how much you apply, and what the environmental conditions are, can take as little as 20 or 30 minutes to dry. However, if you apply a thick layer, and the conditions for painting are not ideal, it can take up to two hours to dry.

If we are talking about how long it takes for acrylic paint to cure, depending on how thick the layer is that you applied, and the temperature and humidity, it can take up to four or six hours to achieve a full cure. In other words, that is also the time you have to wait until applying a second coat.

Latex Paint

Latex is another type of water-based paint that you may use. When it comes to the three main types of paint that you might use on the interior or exterior of your home (oil-based, acrylic, and latex), latex is the quickest drying option at your disposal. Depending on the environmental conditions, and whether you are using it inside or outside, it should take no more than two hours for latex paint to dry.

In terms of curing time, latex paint (for reasons we won’t get into here), can take up to two days to fully cure.

Now, if you want to wipe or wash your walls, you will need to wait for about 14 days to do so after applying the latex paint.

Enamel Paint

To be clear, enamel paint is actually a type of oil-based paint, one known for its thickness and long-lasting durability. Depending on environmental conditions, enamel oil-based paint can take anywhere from 8 to 24 hours to totally dry.

However, due to its thick consistency, enamel oil-based paint can take as long as three or four weeks to fully cure. In other words, if you use enamel paint, you will have to wait three weeks at the least before you can wash it.

Primer

Although primer is technically not paint, it is something that is applied to a surface before painting, as it makes it much easier for the paint to adhere to the surface, usually wood.

If you are using a latex primer, the most common type, it can take 30 minutes to one hour for it to dry. However, you will want to wait for about three to four hours for the primer to dry thoroughly before you apply the real paint overtop.

7 Factors Affecting Paint Drying Time

There are seven specific factors that will affect how long it takes for paint to dry. Let’s take a look.

Oil- vs. Water-Based

One thing to keep in mind here, perhaps the biggest difference-maker, is the type of paint you use.

Generally speaking, oil-based paint, due to its consistency, is going to take far longer to dry than water-based paint, several times longer. As mentioned earlier, oil-based paint can take up to 12 hours to fully dry, whereas most water-based paints should be dry after about four to six hours after application (usually not even that long).

Temperature

Another factor affecting drying time is the air temperature in the area where you are painting.

Excessive cold, such as freezing temperatures can lead to paint not drying at all. Paint takes a very long time to dry in the cold.

The hotter it is, the faster paint will dry. However, keep in mind that too hot is not good either, because some paints may actually dry so fast that they develop bubbles, bumps, blisters, and cracks. A moderate temperature is best.

Humidity

Humidity will also have a big effect on how long it takes for paint to dry. The more humid it is, which means that there is a lot of moisture in the air, the longer it will take for paint to dry. Even the fastest drying paints can take many times longer to dry than they usually would if the humidity level is excessive.

The dryer the air, the shorter the drying time will be.

Sunlight

Sunlight is hot and therefore if paint is exposed directly to sunlight, it will dry faster than in the shade or in a dark room. Remember, UV light from the sun is heat. However, if you paint in direct sunlight, especially on a hot summer day, it can cause the paint to dry too fast, which can lead to inadequate adhesion, bubbles, brush marks, and more.

Wind

Wind will also affect the drying time of paint.

The more wind there is, the faster paint will dry. Once again, paint drying too fast is not a good thing, and it can cause a variety of problems. Painting on a very windy day is therefore not recommended.

Interior vs. Exterior

This really depends on the environment. If you have a warm and dry house, compared to a cool and humid outside, then paint will dry much faster indoors. However, if the interior of your home is cool, humid, and has no airflow, then it’s going to take much longer for the paint to dry than if it were in a sunny and warm location with good airflow.

Thickness of the Coat

The other factor that will decide how long it takes for paint to dry is how much of the paint you apply. Of course, a thin layer of paint is going to dry much faster than if you slap a ton of it onto a wall.

Can the Paint Drying Process Be Sped Up?

Yes, it is possible to speed up the paint drying process. That said, it is not recommended unless you are in an absolute rush. If so, you can use some of the methods below:

  • If you are painting inside and if the temperature outside is fairly warm, leave the windows open to create a cross draft. If this is not possible, turn on some air fans to create some airflow.
  • Turn up the heat in your home to just above room temperature. Paint dries faster in warm air than in cold air.
  • If possible, turn on a dehumidifier, as this will suck the moisture out of the room and out of the paint, therefore making it dry quicker.
  • If you are painting a relatively small object, use a hairdryer on the lowest setting to direct warm air towards a slow drying area.
  • If painting outdoors, try to do so on a moderately warm, sunny, and windy day (but not too much, as too much sun, heat, and wind may make paint dry too fast).

Drying vs. Curing: Is a Painted Surface Ready to Use Once Its Dry?

When paint is dry, it is not yet cured, and no, it is not yet ready to use. As we covered above when we talked about drying and curing times, you need to wait for paint to cure, not just to dry, before you can clean or wash it.

Depending on the type of paint, you may need to wait for the first layer to totally cure before applying a new layer, whereas some types of paint allow you to add a second coat once the paint is dry but not necessarily yet cured.

It is important to read the directions on the specific product you have in this regard.

Summary

How long paint takes to dry and to cure depends on the type of paint, as well as the environmental conditions.

The most important tip that we can give you here is to not rush this process. Attempting to make paint dry too fast can result in more problems and wasted time than waiting for paint to dry properly in the first place would take.