How Long to Let Paint Dry

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You have finished applying a fresh coat of paint. Now you have to wait for it to dry before moving on to the next step. However, you may not be sure how much time you should give it until it’s ready. It is not recommended to keep on touching the painted surface every few minutes because it will do more harm than good – you will have to correct all the spots made with your finger now and then. It will save you more time and effort if you simply wait for the time estimated for a particular kind of paint to dry. To make you more familiar with this topic, we have come up with a few very useful guidelines!

Paint Dry Times During Painting

If you are planning to do a big painting project like a full room or more, then it is important to know how long the paint needs to dry. The same applies to the situation when you’re painting technical projects like kitchen cabinets. You should always read your paint’s label to see what the manufacturer suggests.

Finding out how long the paint takes to dry will help you plan how many hours or days you need to set aside for painting. It also helps to know how long that room will be out of commission until the paint is dry.

How Long to Wait Between the Coats of Paint

You should wait for 1.5-4 hours for your paint to dry between coats. Here are a few tips for knowing when you can start adding another coat:

  • Waiting longer in between coats is better. You aren’t just waiting for the paint to dry – it must cure as well.
  • Just because the paint feels dry​ does not mean it is fully dry. Plan before you paint and know you will need to wait for a minimum of ​1.5 hours between coats of paint. Make sure there is air flowing into the area that you just painted. This will help the paint dry faster.
  • The more moist the day is, the longer it will take for the coat of paint to dry.

Don’t rush into adding the second coat of paint too soon. When you rush through, your paint does not have time to adhere and harden properly. This will lead to cracked and chipped paint.

Learning how long to let the paint dry before applying the second coat is crucial to having a professional-looking paint job without having to pay for one.

Dry Times vs. Type of Paint

How long it takes for wall paint to dry differs dramatically between types of paint.

  • Latex paints dry fast, usually within one hour for the first coat. While it may feel dry to the touch, you should opt to wait four hours to apply the second coat, regardless of whether or not you use air sprayers, airless sprayers, or even an HVLP paint sprayer for latex paint specifically.
  • For heavier oil-based paints, it can take up to 8 hours to be dry to the touch. However, you should not put on the second coat until it has had 24 hours to dry completely. This type of paint is more commonly used on materials like steel metal and ceramic tile.
  • Oil-based paints can be more taxing due to heavy paint and long wait times. They are highly recommended for high traffic areas since they offer a stain-blocking technology. You will also need to use an oil-based primer if you plan on using oil-based paint on top.

While different types of paint require varying drying times, the color you pick for your paint doesn’t have any effect. Whether you opt for some of the trendier Dulux paint colors or more of simple, off-white color, dry times are the same.

paint brushes on top of a can newspaper for painting

Paint Dry Times After Painting

You have finished painting all of your coats, but now there are more wait times to deal with. Make sure you do not damage your hard work.

​How Long to Let Paint Dry Before Removing a Tape

There are two different types of painters. Those who remove painter’s tape as soon as they finish painting and those who leave painter’s tape on until the paint is completely dry.

The best method is to ​remove the painter’s tape​ while the paint is still wet. While this can get a little messy on your hands (wear thin latex gloves), it is better than the alternative.

If you wait until the paint is dry to remove the painter’s tape, you run the risk of pulling up already dried paint off your wall.

This is because the paint dried onto the tape in a connected line from the wall. When that dried paint on top of the tape is pulled up, it can bring part of the paint off the wall as well.

It is also important to know how long the paint should dry before taping over it. You should let the paint dry a full 24 hours before you apply painter’s tape over it. This way, you do not run the risk of pulling up paint that has not fully hardened yet.

man dirty with paint how long to let paint dry for

How Long to Let Paint Dry Before Hanging Pictures

You should let the paint completely dry before you hang your pictures or mirror frames. ​These items will reduce airflow, and if the paint is still wet or even damp, it can stick to your picture or frame and dry it to the wall.

Paint only takes 24 hours to dry, but it takes about a week to cure.

If you can wait a few days to rehang ​them, this would be the best option for your walls. The manufacturer should tell you how long it takes for your paint to cure. If you are curious about it, you can also ask the paint salesman at your local home improvement store.

Unique Painting Situations

Not every paint falls under the latex or oil-based paint category. Spray paint and chalk paint are vastly becoming more popular options because of how easy they are to use and how fast they dry.

How Long Does Spray Paint Take to Dry?

Some spray paint can feel dry to the touch within five minutes, while others can take almost a full hour. When it comes to knowing how long it takes for spray paint to dry on unfinished wood or other surfaces, you need to know what type you are using.

  • Enamel spray paint takes about 30 minutes to feel dry but isn’t ready for another coat for at least 8 hours.
  • ​Lacquer spray paint can feel dry in 5 minutes. It will be ready for a second coat in about 2-3 hours.
  • ​Polyester and Epoxy spray paint uses a chemical reaction to dry in five minutes or less. You can add another coat in 30 minutes.

Spray paint will dry quicker than most other paints. Make sure you are using spray paint the correct way​ and holding it back from projects about 8 inches.

Also, make sure you are moving the can back and forth, not pausing in spots. Pausing or going too slow will result in thicker paint and clumps.

If you are spray painting wood, make sure you are using a primer and that you know how long to let the wood dry before painting a second coat.

How Long to Let Chalk Paint Dry?

Chalk paint is a great no-prep needed way to paint and distress your home. Since chalk paint is water-based and goes on in thin coats, it will dry quicker than normal paint. Most chalk paint enthusiasts opt to add water to the chalk paint, making it thinner.

This helps the chalk paint dry faster and also hides brush strokes. For chalk paint, it will feel dry to the touch in 30 minutes to an hour. Read the instructions on the can to know how long to let chalk paint dry before applying a second coat.

If you are wondering how long to let chalk paint dry before waxing, you should wait a full 24 hours after your last coat of paint. If you rub the wax on and agitate the paint that hasn’t fully dried, this is a recipe for disaster.

paint brushes ready to use for diy project

The wax doesn’t need time to dry between coats. However, the wax can take a few days to cure. You do not want to introduce it to the elements or eat on it right away.

As always, your environment plays a huge part in how quickly paint will dry. Opt to be in well-ventilated areas with airflow and low humidity as this will speed up the drying. High humidity and poor airflow will slow down the overall drying process.

Conclusion

Knowing how long to let your paint dry and adhering to the rules will save you the large headache of messy paint jobs and having to redo chipped surfaces. Remember to always take into consideration the type of paint you are using. The best way to learn how much time you should give your paint to dry completely is to either ask the salesperson or check the label on the particular product. If you take care of every single detail during your decorating project, including the drying time, it will be more likely for you to get the best results possible.  It is understandable that you would like to finish your work as soon as possible, but some things just can’t be rushed!

An expert at home repair, remodel, and DIY projects for nearly 40 years. His first experience came in completely restoring an antique home. Completely redone from the inside out, and restored to its original form, the home is a featured design by renowned Southern California Architect Cliff May, considered to be the father of the California Ranch Home. Now Dennis spends his time on fine woodworking projects and tool comparisons.