How Long Does Chalk Paint Take to Dry? (& Speed Up Tips)

Many DIYers choose chalk paint due to its distressed finish but before you can sand or distress chalk, the paint has to dry. So how long does this take? Here is the answer to that.

Chalk paint dries very quickly. Chalk dries between 10 minutes and 1 hour. On average, chalk paint takes 15 minutes to dry to touch and you can safely re-coat in less than 1 hour.

However, before you can seal chalk with wax or any desired topcoat, it’s best to allow the chalk paint to dry for about 4 hours.

Before chalk paint can be used and cleaned, it has to dry for 24 hours. If the chalk is sealed with wax or any other top coat, you should wait at least 3 days for the chalk paint to dry before using the surface.

But there is more to know about the drying time of chalk. For instance, how long should chalk paint dry between coats? Let’s find out.

How Long Should Chalk Paint Dry Between Coats?

How Long Should Chalk Paint Dry Between Coats?

You should let chalk paint dry for at least 30 minutes before a re-coat. Annie Sloan’s chalk paint recommends a drying time of 24 hours between coats of the chalk.

Though chalk paint dries to touch pretty quickly, this doesn’t mean the paint is ready for another coat. Before you can apply another coat, the existing coat should be fully dry and hard so the second coat can sit well. The time to dry between coats means how long to wait before applying a second coat of chalk.

Chalk paint can be misleading when it comes to its drying time. After applying the first coat of chalk, you’ll notice it is dry enough to touch and handle within a few minutes. This however doesn’t mean the chalk paint is dry enough for a second coat.

Before the second coat of chalk can be applied, the existing coat should be hard and dry and this will take at least 30 minutes to an hour. You should know that the time to dry between coats is different from the time to dry before sealing the chalk.

While you can apply a second coat of chalk between 30 minutes and an hour, you should wait for at least 4 hours before the chalk paint is sealed with a top coat. This is because top coats like wax seal the chalk finish making it very difficult for moisture to evaporate or get into the chalk paint coating.

So if the chalk paint isn’t given enough time to cure before it is sealed, moisture will be trapped in the chalk paint and this can ruin the finish.

How Long Does It Take For Chalk Paint To Cure?

How Long Does It Take For Chalk Paint To Cure?

It takes between 24 hours and 1 week for chalk paint to cure. The curing time refers to how long to wait before the chalk paint can handle the weight, be used, and cleaned. Chalk paint dries based on evaporation of the paint solvent and this process can take a few minutes.

However, for chalk paint to cure, it will take a few days of repeated oxidization of paint particles. Oxidization is the process where the chalk paint particles react with the oxygen in the atmosphere. This reaction causes the paint binder (plaster) and paint particles to harden. When the paint has hardened, it has cured and can be used and cleaned without the chalk finish coming off.

If chalk paint is subjected to heavy use or cleaning before it cures, the paint can peel off, get sticky, or even gunk up. In simple terms, the paint will get damaged if used too soon.

You should know that temperature variation, dust, and humidity can affect the chalk paint’s curing time. In moist conditions and cold weather, chalk paint can take over 2 weeks to cure.

The curing time of chalk depends mainly on the plaster in the paint. Chalk paints contain plasters such as gypsum. This is what gives you that chalk or dry matte finish. The plaster binds the paint particles together and also binds 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. This guide will reveal the best methods of the lot so you can finish applying the paint sooner. The first on the list is…

Method 1: Use Paint Thinner

Use Paint Thinner

Chalk paint by design is quite thick and if you have painted anything before, then you’ll know that thick coats take longer to dry. If you apply the chalk paint directly, it will take longer to dry so a quick hack to make chalk dry quicker is to thin the paint before applying it.

Here is how to thin chalk paint:

1. Pour The Chalk Paint Into A Paint Bucket

The first step is to pour out the chalk paint from its container. Choose a clean bucket and ensure there is no leftover paint or water in the bucket.

2. Add Water To The Chalk

The next step is to pour water into the chalk paint. Since chalk is water-based, the paint should be thinned with water. Thinning the chalk paint means making it lighter by diluting it. You should add 1/4 cup of water to 1 cup of chalk paint.

3. Stir The Mixture

Use a paint mixer or turning stick to stir the chalk paint and water together. Ensure to stir the paint till you get an even consistency, paint flow, and color. When the paint has a uniform appearance, you can apply it.

Let’s check out another method.

Method 2: Use a Hairdryer or Heater

Use a Hairdryer or Heater

Making paint dry faster means increasing the rate of evaporation in the paint coating. The faster moisture leaves the paint, the quicker the paint will dry. The best way to increase evaporation is to increase heat around the paint coating. To do this, you can use a heater or hairdryer.

Here is how to increase the drying time of chalk using a heater or hairdryer:

  1. Plug in and turn on the heater or hairdryer
  2. Set the heater to medium (between 100 and 150 degrees Fahrenheit). Hotter temperatures can cause the chalk to blister off.
  3. Move the heater around the paint coating to increase evaporation
  4. Turn off the heater.

Though using the heater to dry the chalk paint entirely can be tempting, it’s advised not to do so. If you make the chalk paint dry too fast, it will not bind well to the surface. This will cause the chalk paint to fade, crack, and fall off. Let’s check out the next method.

Method 3: Increase Air Circulation

Increase Air Circulation

Since chalk paint dries through evaporation, increasing air circulation around the paint coating after applying it will help it dry faster. 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.

You should know that chalk paint’s drying time is different from its curing time. When the paint is dry, you can re-coat but the paint has to cure before you can use it.

Does Chalk Paint Dry Fast?

Chalk paint dries very fast. A coat of chalk paint can dry in as quick as 15 minutes. The major reason for this super quick drying time is because chalk paint is water-based. Not just that, chalk paint also has a very low level of paint chemicals, synthetic resins, and additives that can prolong its drying time.

Another factor that makes chalk paint dry fast is because the paint uses a large volume of plasters like plaster of Paris (POP) as the paint binder. Plasters when mixed with water (the paint solvent) dry faster making the chalk paint dry fast too.

Chalk paint is a water-based paint and like other water-based paints, chalk paint dries quickly. The base of the chalk paint means the solvent used in the paint coating. For paint to dry, the solvent or base in the paint coating has to be evaporated. Since chalk paint is water-based, the water will be evaporated quickly and this means the chalk can dry fast.

Also, chalk paint has a very low level of chemicals, resins, and additives. All of these compounds are included in paints to improve the finish but these compounds also make the paint dry slowly. However, chalk has very few additives and chemicals so the paint coating dries faster.

Chalk paint also dries quickly due to the binder in the paint coating. Most chalk paints contain gypsum or plaster of Paris which makes the paint dry faster when mixed with water which for the record is the paint solvent.

However, chalk paint can take a while to be fully applied because you need to wait at least 30 minutes between coats and you’ll need 3 coats of the chalk. Not to mention the time to wait before sealing.

How Long Does Chalk Paint Take To Dry On Wood?

It takes chalk paint a few minutes to dry on wood. On average, chalk paint will dry in 15 minutes on wood as long as the paint was applied in the right conditions.

Chalk paint should be applied in a dry environment where humidity is less than 50%. Also, the chalk paint should be applied at room temperature or temperature between 50 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

However, it takes chalk paint a while to fully cure on wood, especially porous wood. This is because the chalk paint when used on wood can easily sink into the wood fibers.

When this happens, the remaining chalk paint on the surface of the wood will dry quickly giving you the impression that the chalk paint has cured. However, it has not.

This is because the chalk paint that soaked into the wood fibers will take longer to dry and cure because of poor air circulation.

So, while the chalk paint that stays on the wood surface will dry quickly, the chalk inside the wood will take longer to dry and cure. If you judge the paint’s hardness by the surface alone, you’ll seal the wood too soon thinking it has cured and this will damage the finish.

It’s generally advised to wait for at least 2 hours before re-coating chalk paint on wood. This is to allow the chalk that penetrated the wood enough time to harden.

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

How Long Before I Can Distress Chalk Paint?

You can distress or scuff the chalk paint when it is dry. You should leave the chalk paint to dry for at least 1 hour before sanding or distressing. Especially, if the chalk was used on wood or any other porous material.

You shouldn’t let the chalk cure before distressing. If the chalk has cured, it will be difficult to achieve a perfect distressed finish as the paint will be too hard. It’s best to distress chalk before it cures.

Distressing chalk paint is very common. It would even look weird if you paint chalk and don’t distress. Distressing the chalk means sanding the finish to purposely damage it or scuff it. This is done to give chalk a vintage or matte look.

However, the chalk should dry for a few hours before you distress it. If you distress or sand too soon, you’ll remove the finish and that’s if you are lucky.

If you aren’t lucky, you will have a big mess on your hands and this will take a while to clean. Also if you wait too long to distress, then the chalk paint will be too hard. The perfect time to distress is between 1 and 2 hours after applying the chalk.

Related Read: How To Sand Chalk Paint?

Final Words

Overall, chalk paint dries very fast and is one of the fastest drying paint types out there. The reason for this is because the paint is water-based and has a very low level of chemicals and additives.

You should let chalk paint dry for at least 30 minutes before re-coating and 4 hours before sealing. You should also wait at least 24 hours before using the chalk and 3 days before washing or cleaning the finish. Sealed chalk will take longer to dry, cure, and be used.

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