Waiting for the paint to dry is by far the worst aspect of any home improvement project when using paint. Most of the guidelines out there will tell you to wait until the paint has fully dried before adding another layer of paint, or before applying a transparent coat or varnish, and they are right.
Once the paint has dried, it’s called ‘cured’. Once paint has cured, it’s as dry as possible, and waiting longer will have no benefits.
So just how long does it take for paint to dry? Well, that of course depends on the paint so read on to find out.
The Different Types of Base Compounds
How long paint takes to dry mainly depends on two factors:
The base compound of the paint (water or oil) and how thick the coating is. We’ll assume you’ve applied a standard coating thickness so everything beyond this point is generalized.
If you’re unfamiliar with the different base compounds, here are a few examples.
- Water-based paint will typically be a latex paint, something applied to interior or exterior walls.
- Most oil-based paints are stains, varnishes, and gloss, among others.
So How Long Do Oil Based Paints Take To Dry?
Oil-based paints such as oil-based primers, tend to have a larger number of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in them which can slow down the drying process quite a bit, meaning oil-based paint is the slower of the two base types.
It usually takes between 6 and 8 hours for oil-based paints to dry enough that a second coat can be applied.
However, it’s worth knowing that it can take up to 7 days for oil based paints to fully cure and harden. During this time, they can be a bit smelly, but this should fade once fully cured.
How Long Do Water Based Paints Take To Dry?
Water-based paints such as latex paint will typically dry enough for a second coat within 30 minutes to 3 hours. It mainly depends on the air circulation in the room, the humidity, and the temperature.
Of course, it does depend on the paint itself and again, how thick you have applied it but assuming you’ve used a standard roller or paint sprayer and it’s not a damp room, you can probably start to apply another coat within an hour.
The time it takes for water-based paints to fully cure can also take up to 7 days, but generally, it is much less.
How Dry Does Paint Need To Be?
Typically if you can lightly touch the painted surface and have no residue left on your hands then the paint should be ready for another coat.
With that said, if in doubt or the surface still feels a bit sticky, then it’s best to wait a little longer as your roller could end up removing the previous coat, putting you back to square one.
What Are The Main Factors That Affect Paint Drying Times?
There are 3 main factors at play in how long it takes paint to typically dry, they are:
Humidity plays a HUGE factor in how long paint takes to dry. The more moisture is in the air, the longer any paint will take to dry regardless of its base compound.
In very humid weather, especially if it’s been raining heavily it can take up to 24 hours for paint to become even touch dry, let alone cure, but this is a worst-case scenario.
Temperature is another big factor. Ideally, you want to be painting at above 60 degrees for optimal paint drying time.
Ventilation is the final factor to take into consideration. A good circulation of airflow could half your drying times, so if possible, keep as many doors and windows open as possible.
If you take all of the above into consideration, you should keep drying times to a minimum and get the project completed quickly and efficiently.
Frequently Asked Questions
In case you still have some more questions, here are some answers to some questions I regularly asked online
How to make paint dry faster?
If you’re in a hurry to get the paint to dry as fast as possible, there are 2 things you can do. Open more doors and windows, and get a few fans in the room.
You have little control over the humidity and temperature so your best option is to increase air circulation to help your paint dry faster.
Does paint dry faster in hotter or colder weather?
Paint will nearly always dry faster in hotter weather, assuming the humidity isn’t off the charts. In extremely humid weather or climates, it can actually take longer for paint to dry than in a cold environment.
How long does latex paint take to dry?
30 minutes. Most latex paints take around 30 minutes to become touch dry, and up to 7 working days to become fully cured.
This does however depend on temperature, humidity, and air circulation.
How long do oil-based paints take to dry?
6-8 hours. Oil-based paints contain more VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) than water-based paints such as latex, which can increase the drying time of oil-based paints considerably.