How Long Does Enamel Paint Take To Dry? (& Speed Up Tips)

Before you can sand or shape its finish to your desired taste, the enamel paint should dry. So how long does enamel paint take to dry?

Oil-based enamel paint takes between 8-24 hours to dry and 48 hours to cure, while water-based enamel paint takes between 2-4 hours to dry and 8 hours to cure.

The oil-based type takes longer to dry because it uses oil as its solvent, and oil evaporates slower. On the other hand, the water-based type uses water as its solvent. Also, the humidity and temperature variations also determine the drying time.

Between Coats

Enamel Paint Dry Time Between Coats

It takes water-based enamel 2 hours to dry enough for a re-coat, while oil-based enamel dries enough for a re-coat within 6 hours. This gives the coating enough time to harden and compact to support a new coating. 

If you re-coat too soon, the next coat won’t stick properly and the finish will turn sticky. Enamel paint needs more than one coat for a perfect finish. Usually, you need 2-3 coats for good protection and a smooth finish.

For the paint to dry, the solvent must evaporate from the coating. Once the solvent (water or oil) evaporates, the coating becomes rigid and compact enough to withstand a new coating. 

Curing Time

Enamel Paint Curing Time

It takes water-based enamel 8 hours to dry fully (cure), while oil-based enamel cured within 48 hours. The cure time means how long to wait before the finish can be subjected to daily use.

Enamel types have different curing times because of the chemical formula and solvents. The oil-based type uses natural or synthetic oils as its solvent. Since oil evaporates slower, the oil-based type also dries and cures slower. 

The curing process starts once the solvent evaporates. The coating start to oxidize and become harder as time passes by. The longer it takes the coating to oxidize, the stronger it becomes. Once the coating cures, you can use, clean, it and paint over it.

However, if you use the coating too soon, the finish will get removed. 

How To Make Enamel Paint Dry Faster?

There are a few methods to make enamel paint dry faster. To make this post more helpful, we’ll check out the top 3 ways to do it:

Method 1. Use a Dehumidifier and Heater

Use a Dehumidifier and Heater

If the coating is exposed to cold air and high levels of humidity, it will take longer to dry. So, you can speed up its drying time by increasing the temperature and lowering the humidity levels. To do this, use a heater and a dehumidifier. 

Once the temperature leaves increase and the humidity levels decrease, the solvent will evaporate faster, leading to a quicker dry time. 

Here’s what you should do:

1. Turn on the dehumidifier – This helps decrease humidity or moisture in the atmosphere. For the coating to dry faster, it’s advised to keep humidity levels between 40 and 50%.

2. Turn on the heater or radiator – This helps to increase heat. Since the solvent has to evaporate for the coating to dry, increasing the heat will speed up the rate of evaporation or moisture loss.

You should apply it at room temperature between 40- 90 degrees F.

Method 2. Use a Hair Dryer

Use a Hair Dryer

A hairdryer will also increase the heat around the coating, making the solvent evaporate faster. 

Here’s how you should do it:

  1. Plug in and turn on the hairdryer.
  2. Hover the hairdryer across the coating. The hair dryers shouldn’t come in contact with the coating. Keep moving the hairdryer over the coating for up to 5 minutes.
  3. Turn off and unplug the hairdryer.

However, you shouldn’t use it to fully dry a coating as it can make the particles harden too fast, meaning their bond will be weak. This leads to cracks in the finish. 

Method 3. Use Japan Drier

Use Japan Drier

Japan driers work best for oil-based enamel. Japan drier is an additive that contains naphtha and metallic salt, which helps increase the rate of oxidization in the paint particles. The solvent needs to be evaporated for the paint to dry, but for paints to cure, it takes oxidization. 

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Apply the Japanese drier to the surface and let it work its magic.
  2. Inspect and touch up the drier based on the manufacturer’s instructions.

Other tips to make the paint dry quicker include:

  • Applying thin coats. Thin or light coats will dry faster than thick coats.
  • Allowing proper ventilation. Before you paint, open all doors and windows to allow air to circulate. This speeds up the process of evaporation.
  • Paint early in the day so you can take advantage of the hot afternoon temperature
  • Let existing coats cure before re-coating. This prevents the paint from being tacky or sticky.
  • Turn on fans to circulate air in the room.

Tip: The best way to improve the drying time of water-based enamel is to reduce moisture in the room. For oil-based enamel, the best way is to increase the heat in the room.

Dry Time Before Rain

You should let enamel paint dry for at least a week before exposing it to rain. The rain will wash off the coating if the finish is exposed to rainfall too soon. This means the coating must dry fully (cure) before it can get exposed to rainfall. 

Also, use only exterior enamel for materials and surfaces that will experience rainfall. Interior and water-based enamel are not ideal for such surfaces.

However, enamel paint isn’t durable enough to withstand rain for a long period. If it’s exposed to constant water, the finish will get washed off eventually. So, to increase its durability you must seal it.

A sealant, such as exterior polyurethane, will produce a glossy and moisture-resistant layer over the coating and protect the finish from moisture, water, and other outdoor elements. 

Does Enamel Paint Dry Hard?

Enamel paints dry hard. Its hardness is due to the thick consistency and formula of the paint. The paint is purposefully designed to be hard so the finish can withstand heavy use, dents, and moisture.

This is why it is very durable and is used to cover surfaces that will experience heavy use and high traffic. The hard finish protects the material underneath but also makes it very difficult to seal it with a top coat.

Since enamel paints dry hard, it becomes difficult for paints to be applied over them because paint adhesion will be weak. Its hard texture will prevent paint from sitting properly over it.

Howeer, if you don’t want a thick and hard finish, you can thin enamel paint before applying it. By thinning it, you reduce the thick consistency of the paint. Since the flow isn’t thick, the finish will not be as hard and can easily be sealed.

Different Surfaces


It takes water-based enamel paint 6-8 hours to dry on wood, while oil-based enamel paint takes 24 hours. Its drying time also depends on the type of wood, and how many coats you used. 


It takes the oil-based type 8 hours to dry on metal, while the water-based can take up to 4-6 hours. When the weather gets hot, the coating will dry faster on the metal. That’s because the metal surface will get hotter and improve the evaporation rate. 


It takes oil-based enamel up to 10 hours to dry on plastic. The paint dries fast on plastic because plastic is a non-porous material. That means it won’t penetrate the surface and start the drying process immediately after you apply it. 

Tony Adams

Tony Adams

Woodworker, Interior and Exterior Painter, Flooring Specialist

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.

Eral Kadrija

Eral Kadrija

Lead Editor, Home Renovator

Eral has a passion for home renovation and repair. Over the years, he has bought, renovated, and sold 7 old homes. Using his experience from different DIY projects he created DIY Geeks.

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