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?

On average, it takes chalk paint 15 minutes to dry to touch, 30 minutes to dry between coats, and 24 hours to cure (fully dry). 

However, its dry time depends on the temperature, humidity levels, number of coats, and thickness of the coats.

Dry Time Between Coats

How Long Should Chalk Paint Dry Between Coats?

It takes chalk paint 30 minutes to dry between coats. This gives the existing coat enough time to harden enough to support another coating. 

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

If you re-coat it too soon, the finish will turn sticky. That’s because once you apply a new coat, the evaporation process of the old coat will be stopped (or delayed). Also, since the existing coat 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 completely. If the solvent gets trapped between the paint and the top coat, the finish will turn sticky and can prevent the top coat from sticking.

Cure (Fully Dry) 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 finish can handle the weight, be used and cleaned.

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

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

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

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

Its cure time also depends on the plaster of the paint. Chalk paint uses gypsum as its paint plaster, this is what gives it 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?

Method 1: Use Paint Thinner

Use Paint Thinner

Chalk has a thick flow, and thick paints take longer to dry. So, if you thin it, the thin coats will dry faster.

Here is how to thin it:

  1. Pour The It Into a Bucket – Pour the chalk paint into a larger clean bucket.
  2. Add Water – To thin chalk paint, use water. The more water you add, the thinner the paint flow gets. Add 1/4 cup of water to 1 cup to dilute it.
  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 the paint has a uniform appearance, you can apply it.

Method 2: Use a Hairdryer or Heater

Use a Hairdryer or Heater

Since chalk paint dries through evaporation, you can increase the heat around the coating to increase the evaporation rate. The faster the solvent evaporates, the faster the coating (finish) dries. You can increase the heat around the coating using a hairdryer or heater.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Plug in and turn on the heater or hairdryer.
  2. Use the medium temperature of the hairdryer.
  3. Move the heater around the coating to increase the evaporation.
  4. Turn off the heater. 

You shouldn’t dry the paint completely using a hairdryer. If the paint dries too fast, the paint particles won’t harden naturally, and the finish 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 coating will speed up its 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 it dry faster:

  1. Apply thin coats. Thin coats dry faster than thick coats.
  2. Apply it in open spaces or outdoors.
  3. Do not overlap the paint more than twice.
  4. Apply it 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.

Why Does Chalk Paint Dry so Fast?

Chalk paint dries fast because of its water-based nature. Also, it 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 paint dry fast too.

For the paint to dry, its solvent must evaporate from the 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.

Dry Time on Wood

It takes chalk paint 15 minutes to dry on a wooden surface. However, it takes it longer to cure on wood because it penetrates the wood fibers. Since the paint is soaked into the wood, the curing time is longer because of 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 paint on the wood surface will dry fast, the paint 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 it. This gives the coating that has penetrated the wood enough time to harden.

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

Wait Time Before Distressing

You must allow chalk paint to dry for 2 hours before distressing it. If you distress too soon, you will remove the entire coating since the coating isn’t hard or rigid enough to be sanded. 

However, you must distress chalk paint before it cures. That’s because once it cures, you won’t get a perfect distressed finish since the coating will be too hard to be harder. So, the perfect time for distressing is 1-2 hours after applying the paint. 

Related Read: How To Sand Chalk Paint?

Final Words

Chalk paint is one of the fastest-drying paint, it dries within 1 hour. This paint dries fast because it is water-based and uses water as its solvent. Since water evaporates from the coating fast, the paint will also dry faster.

Tony Adams
Tony Adams

Tony is a professional painter and an author of DIY Geeks. Tony has completed over 1,000 painting projects for his clients. It's safe to say he knows what he Is talking about,

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