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

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

Oil-based enamel paint takes between 8 and 24 hours to dry. Water-based enamel paint takes between 2 and 6 hours to dry. On average, oil-based enamel paint dries in less than 12 hours while water-based enamel paint dries in less than 4 hours.

Oil-based enamel takes longer to dry because it takes several hours for the oils in the paint coating to be fully evaporated. Water-based enamel paints dry quicker because the water in the paint coating evaporates quickly.

But, before you can paint over, seal, or distress the enamel finish, the paint has to cure. While water-based enamel paint can cure and be sealed in less than 6 hours. Oil-based enamel paint can take over 48 hours to fully cure before sealing is allowed.

You should know that humidity and temperature variations also determine the drying time of the enamel paint.

How Long Should Enamel Paint Dry Between Coats?

How Long Should Enamel Paint Dry Between Coats?

Water-based enamel paint should be allowed to dry for 2 hours before a re-coat. Oil-based enamel paints should be allowed to dry for 4-6 hours before re-coat.

If you apply a second coat of enamel paint too soon, the coat will not stick well to the first coat. Also, the finish will gunk up and remain tacky for several hours. If you re-coat too soon the oil-based enamel paint can remain tacky or sticky for up to 3 days.

Like most paints, enamel paint also needs more than one coat for a perfect finish. Usually, you need 2-3 coats of enamel paint on material for good protection and a smooth finish. But before a second and third coat can be applied, the first and second coat must have dried enough for re-coat.

Since oil-based enamel uses oils as the solvent, it takes longer to dry between coats because the oil takes longer to evaporate. Water-based enamel however can be re-coated in less than 2 hours because water leaves the paint coating faster than oils.

However, for enamel paint to be sealed, the paint must have cured. This means the paint coating must have hardened completely. So how long does it take for enamel paint to cure? Let’s find out.

How Long Does Enamel Paint Take To Cure?

How Long Does Enamel Paint Take To Cure?

It takes water-based enamel about 24 hours to fully cure. Oil-based enamel takes up to 3 days or more to fully cure. The cure time of the paint means how long to wait before the finish can be subjected to daily use.

If the enamel finish is used too quickly, the color can wear off. Also, the paint will bleed through causing the finish to develop stains. It’s also advisable to let enamel paint cure before sealing it. If you seal water-based enamel too soon, the finish will turn whitish. Oil-based enamel can gunk up and turn yellow over time.

Enamel paints have different curing times. This is because enamel paints have different chemical make-up and solvents. Oil-based enamel for instance uses natural or synthetic oils to dissolve the paint particles.

For the enamel paint to cure, the oils have to be completely evaporated and this will take several hours because oils have slow evaporation. Oil-based enamel can up to 7 days to properly cure depending on the environment.

Water-based enamel though has a quick drying time still takes a long time to cure. Though the solvent will evaporate completely within 24 hours, it can take over 48 hours for water-based enamel to cure. This is because the doesn’t harden as quickly as oil-based enamel as the emulsions in the water-based enamel will take longer to evaporate.

You should also let enamel paint cure before you seal the finish. If you seal enamel paint too soon, you will trap moisture (oil or water) in the enamel coating. The trapped moisture will bleed through and dissolve the paint pigments causing stains and uneven color on the finish.

However, not everyone can wait for several hours to allow the enamel paint to dry. So how can you make enamel paint dry faster? Let’s take a closer look.

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 and how to use them. First on the list is…

Method 1. Use a Dehumidifier and Heater

Use a Dehumidifier and Heater

One reason why enamel paints take so long to dry and cure is that the paint is easily affected by cool air and humidity while it’s drying.

But you can speed up the drying time by using a dehumidifier. Using a heater alongside will also help to increase room temperature so the enamel paint can dry faster. To do this, you’ll need:

  • A Dehumidifier
  • A Room Heater or Radiator

Here is a quick rundown of how to make enamel paint dry faster using this method:

Step 1: Turn on the dehumidifier

This helps to reduce to decrease humidity or moisture content in the atmosphere. You can also change the settings on the control panel. It’s advised to keep humidity between 40 and 50% for paints to dry properly and quickly.

Step 2: Turn on the heater or radiator.

This helps to increase heat. Since the solvent has to be evaporated for the paint to dry, increasing the heat will speed up the rate of evaporation or moisture loss from the paint coating.

It’s advised to apply enamel paint at room temperature between 40 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Turning on the furnace or fireplace also helps paint to dry faster by replacing cool humid air with warm air.

Let’s check out the next method.

Method 2. Use a Hair Dryer

Use a Hair Dryer

Hairdryers produce heat to dry your hair after washing it but they can also help to get the enamel paint to dry faster. Hairdryers produce about 300 Fahrenheit of heat and this is enough to increase moisture loss in the paint coating. To use this method, you’ll need:

  • A hairdryer

Here is how to make enamel paints dry faster using this method:

Step 1: Plug in and turn on the hairdryer.

Step 2: Hover the hairdryer across the enamel paint coating. Ensure the dryer doesn’t come in contact with the enamel paint. Keep moving the hairdryer over the enamel for up to 5 minutes. Ensure to cover the entire coating.

Step 3: Turn off and unplug the hairdryer.

Tip: You should never use a heat gun on enamel paint. While hair dryers produce an average heat of 250 degrees Fahrenheit, heat guns can produce over 1000 Fahrenheit of heat and this will melt the enamel paint and the material underneath.

Method 3. Use Japan Drier

Use Japan Drier

Japan driers work best for oil-based enamel. Japan drier is an additive that contains naphtha, metallic salt which helps to increase the rate of oxidization in the paint particles. For paint to dry, the solvent needs to be evaporated but for paints to cure, it takes oxidization. To use this method, you’ll need:

  • A Japanese Drier
  • A Paintbrush

Here is a quick rundown of how to fasten enamel paint drying time with Japanese dried

Step 1: Apply the Japanese drier on the paint surface and let it work its magic.

Step 2: Inspect and touch up the drier based on the manufacture’s instructions.

Other tips to make enamel paint dry quicker include:

  • Applying thin coats of paint. 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 heat in the room.

How Long Does Enamel Paint Need To Dry Before Rain?

You should let enamel paint dry for at least a week before rain. If the enamel finish is exposed to rainfall too soon, the rain will wash off the finish.

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

Before enamel paint can take rainfall, the finish has to have cured completely. Wet or fresh enamel paints regardless of the type will be ruined if the finish is exposed to rainfall before it cures.

If you use enamel paint on material or surface that you know will experience rainfall, it’s best to seal the finish with a waterproof sealant. A top choice will be oil-based polyurethane.

Oil-based polyurethane will stick to both water-based and oil-based enamel paints and it prevents the enamel from being washed off.

However, it’s common for rainfall to smear or alter the sheen of enamel paint. This is very common with enamel paints that haven’t cured and water-based enamel paint that doesn’t thrive when exposed to moisture.

If this happens, let the enamel paint dry. Then sand, scuff, prime, and re-coat the enamel finish to revive the finish.

Does Enamel Paint Dry Hard?

Enamel paints dry hard. This is one common feature of enamel paints. The hardness of enamel paint is due to the thick consistency and make-up of the paint. Enamel paint is purposefully designed to be hard so the finish can withstand heavy use, dents, and moisture.

This is why enamel paint is very durable and used to cover surfaces that will experience heavy use and high traffic.

This hard finish protects the material or wood underneath the enamel paint but it also makes it very difficult to seal the enamel paint with a top coat.

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

However, if you aren’t into the thick and hard nature of dry enamel paint, there is a hack to soften the enamel finish. The hack is to thin the enamel paint before using it.

By thinning the paint, you reduce the thick consistency of the enamel paint. Since the paint wouldn’t be very thick, the finish will not be as hard and can easily be sealed.

Final Words

Overall, enamel paints dry on an average of 4 hours. But water-based versions tend to dry quicker than oil-based versions. But, oil-based enamel cures quicker than water-based enamel.

It’s usually best not to alter the drying time of the enamel paint. If you allow the paint to dry too fast, then it will crack and eventually peel off.

So always ensure to paint in the right room conditions. If you apply enamel paint in the right environment, then the paint will dry as it is supposed to.

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