Chalk Paint Dry & Cure Time (& Speed Up Tips)

Chalk paint has a distressed finish and dries fast. So, how long does chalk paint take to dry?

It takes chalk paint 10-60 minutes to dry. On average, chalk paint dries to touch within 15 minutes. For a re-coat, you must let chalk paint dry for 30 minutes.

Before you seal or use the chalk paint, you must let it dry for 24 hours. However, the chalk paint drying time depends on the temperature, humidity, and the type of surface you applied it to.

Chalk Paint Dry Time Between Coats

How Long Should Chalk Paint Dry Between Coats?

Chalk paint must dry 30 minutes between coats. Before you can re-coat chalk paint, the existing coat must be hardened and dry.

Chalk paint can be misleading when it comes to its drying time. The chalk paint dries to touch fast, but that doesn’t mean the paint is ready for a re-coat. You can re-coat chalk paint after the solvent (water) has evaporated. 

If you re-coat chalk paint too soon, the finish will turn sticky. That’s because once you apply a new coat, the evaporation process of the old chalk paint will be stopped. Also, since the chalk paint isn’t hard enough, the new coat won’t adhere properly. This will lead to a tacky or sticky finish. 

You must let chalk paint dry for 24 hours before sealing. That’s because top coats (such as wax or polyurethane) stop the solvent evaporation rate. The solvent gets trapped between the chalk paint and topcoat, and the finish turns sticky if the solvent doesn’t evaporate first.

Chalk Paint Curing Time

How Long Does It Take For Chalk Paint To Cure?

It takes chalk paint between 1 day to 1 week to cure. The curing time refers to how long to wait before the chalk paint can handle the weight, be used, and cleaned.

The curing time and drying time of chalk paint are two different things. The drying time refers to how long it takes the paint solvent (water) to evaporate and for paint particles to harden.

The curing time is the process of repeated oxidization of paint particles. Oxidization is when the chalk paint particles react with the oxygen in the atmosphere. This reaction causes the paint binder (plaster) and paint particles to harden. Once the paint has hardened, it means the chalk paint has cured, and you can clean and use it without the chalk paint coming off.

If you use and clean chalk paint before it cures, the paint will peel off, get sticky, or gunk up. In simple terms, the paint will get damaged if you use it too soon, 

However, the curing time of chalk paint depends on the temperature variation, dust, and humidity. In moist conditions and cold weather, chalk paint takes 2 weeks to cure. 

The chalk paint cure time also depends on the plaster of the paint. Chalk paint uses gypsum as its paint plaster. This is what gives the chalk paint its dry matte finish. In addition, the plaster binds the paint particles and the paint coating to the material or wood.

How To Make Chalk Paint Dry Faster?

There are a few methods to make chalk paint dry faster. Here are the top 3 methods:

Method 1: Use Paint Thinner

Use Paint Thinner

Chalk paint is thick, and thick paints take longer to dry. So, if you thin chalk paint, the paint will dry faster. 

Here is how to thin chalk paint:

  1. Pour The Chalk Paint Into A Paint Bucket – Pour the chalk paint into a larger clean paint bucket.
  2. Add Water To The Chalk – To thin chalk paint, use water. The more water you add, the thinner the chalk paint flow gets. Add 1/4 cup of water to 1 cup of chalk paint to dilute chalk paint.
  3. Stir The Mixture – Next, stir the mixture. To stir, use a paint mixer or a turning stick. Stir until the paint has an even consistency, flow, and color. Once chalk paint has a uniform appearance, you can apply it.

Method 2: Use a Hairdryer or Heater

Use a Hairdryer or Heater

If you increase the evaporation rate of the paint solvent, the chalk paint dries faster. The faster the moisture leaves (evaporates) the paint, the faster the paint dries. Increasing the heat around the paint coating is the best way to increase the evaporation rate. To do this, use a heater or hairdryer.

Here’s how to make chalk paint dry faster using a hairdryer:

  1. Plug in and turn on the heater or hairdryer.
  2. Use the medium temperature of the hair dryer. Hotter temperatures can cause the chalk paint to blister off. 
  3. Move the heater around the paint coating to increase the evaporation.
  4. Turn off the heater. 

You shouldn’t dry chalk paint completely using a hairdryer. If the chalk paint dries too fast, the paint particles won’t harden naturally, and the paint will fade, crack, or fall off. 

Method 3: Increase Air Circulation

Increase Air Circulation

Since chalk paint dries through evaporation, increasing air circulation around the paint coating will speed up the drying time. To increase air circulation:

  • Open all windows and doors
  • Open the air vents in the room
  • Turn on the fans in the room.

Here are a few other tips to help chalk paint dry faster:

  1. Apply thin coats. Thin coats dry faster than thick coats.
  2. Apply the chalk paint in open spaces or outdoors.
  3. Do not overlap the paint more than twice.
  4. Apply the chalk paint early in the day.
  5. Let existing coats dry before re-coat. If you re-coat too soon, the paint will remain sticky for several hours.

Chalk paint’s drying time is different from its curing time. When the paint is dry, you can re-coat. But, to use the painted item, the chalk paint must cure.

Why Does Chalk Paint Dry so Fast?

Chalk paint dries fast because of its water-based nature. Also, chalk paint has a low level of paint chemicals, synthetic resins, and additives that can prolong its drying time. 

Chalk paint uses a large volume of plasters, such as plaster of Paris (POP) or gypsum, as the paint binder. When mixed with paint solvent (water), these plasters dry fast, making the chalk paint dry fast too.

For chalk paint to dry, its solvent must evaporate from the paint coating. Since chalk paint uses water as its solvent, evaporation happens faster. Water evaporates faster than oil, and that’s because chalk paint dries faster than enamel or oil-based paints.

Chalk Paint Dry Time on Wood

It takes chalk paint 15 minutes to dry on a wooden surface. However, it takes chalk paint longer to cure on wood because the chalk paint penetrates the wood fibers. Since the chalk paint is soaked into the wood, the curing time is longer because of the poor air circulation.

However, the chalk paint on the top layer of wood (not soaked) will dry faster. That’s because the solvent will evaporate faster since there’s good air circulation. So, while the chalk paint on the wood surface will dry fast, the chalk inside the wood will take longer to dry and cure.

You will ruin the finish if you re-coat or seal the wood before the soaked paint dries. That’s why you must wait at least 2 hours before re-coating chalk paint on wood. This gives the chalk paint that has penetrated the word enough time to harden.

Tip: Chalk paint will take longer to dry on porous materials like fresh wood.

Wait 2 Hours Before Distressing Chalk Paint

You must leave chalk paint to dry for 1 hour before you sand or distress it. If the chalk paint is used on porous materials (such as wood), you must wait 2 hours. 

If you distress or sand chalk paint too soon, you will remove the entire finish or ruin it. However, you must distress chalk paint before it cures. If chalk paint cures, you won’t get a perfect distressed finish because the paint will be too hard. So, the perfect time to distress chalk paint is between 1 and 2 hours after applying.

Related Read: How To Sand Chalk Paint?

Final Words

Chalk paint is one the fastest drying paint. The paint will dry within 1 hour. Chalk paint dries fast because of the water-based nature and the low levels of additives. 

Remember, chalk paint takes 30 minutes to dry enough for a re-coat and 24 hours to dry enough to seal it. You must wait 24 hours before using a chalk-painted item and 3 days before you wash or clean the surface. Sealed chalk will take longer to dry, cure, and be used.

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