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

Before you can sand or shape the enamel 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 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.

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

Enamel Paint Dry Time Between Coats

Enamel Paint Dry Time 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.

Enamel paint 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 applying the next coat, the previous coat must dry enough for a 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 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.

Enamel Paint Curing Time

Enamel Paint Curing Time

It takes water-based enamel 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.

Enamel paints have different curing times because of the chemical make-up and solvents. Oil-based enamel uses natural or synthetic oils to dissolve the paint particles. While water-based enamel uses water as its solvent. 

For the oil-based enamel paint to cure, the oils should evaporate completely. This takes several hours because oils have slow evaporation. Oil-based enamel can take up to 7 days to properly cure, depending on the environment.

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

If you use enamel paint too soon, the color will wear off. Also, the paint will bleed through, causing the finish to develop stains. You should let the 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.

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.

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

Enamel paints take longer to dry and cure because the paint is affected by cool air and humidity while drying. So, you can speed up the enamel dry 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’s what you should do:

1. Turn on the dehumidifier – This helps decrease humidity or moisture in the atmosphere. For paints 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 paint to dry, increasing the heat will speed up the rate of evaporation or moisture loss.

You should apply enamel paint at room temperature between 40- 90 degrees F. Turning on the furnace or fireplace also helps paint dry faster by replacing cool humid air with warm air.

Method 2. Use a Hair Dryer

Use a Hair Dryer

Hairdryers can help to get the enamel paint to dry faster. Hairdryers produce about 300 F of heat, and this is enough to increase moisture loss in the paint coating. To use this method, you’ll need:

  • A hairdryer

Here’s how you should do it:

1. Plug in and turn on the hairdryer.

2. Hover the hairdryer across the enamel paint coating. The hair dryers shouldn’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.

3. Turn off and unplug the hairdryer.

Tip: Never use a heat gun on enamel paint. Heat guns can produce over 1000 F of heat, which 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 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. To use this method, you’ll need:

  • A Japanese Drier
  • A Paintbrush

Here’s how to do it:

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

2: Inspect and touch up the drier based on the manufacturer’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 the heat in the room.

How Long Does Enamel Paint Need To Dry Before Rain?

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

Before enamel paint can take rainfall, the finish must be 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 that will experience rainfall, it’s best to seal the finish with a waterproof sealant, such as oil-based polyurethane.

Oil-based polyurethane will stick to both water-based and oil-based enamel paints and prevent 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 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 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 dry enamel paint’s thick and hard nature, 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 isn’t thick, the finish will not be as hard and can easily be sealed.

Enamel Paint Drying Time For Different Surfaces

Wood

It takes water-based enamel paint 6-8 hours to dry on wood. Oil-based enamel paint can take up to 24 hours to dry on wood. The drying time for enamel paint depends on the type of wood, the type of enamel paint, and how many coats you used. 

Metal 

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

Plastic 

It takes oil-based enamel up to 10 hours to dry on plastic. Water-based will dry within 6 hours on plastic. Enamel paint dries fast on plastic because plastic is a non-porous material. That means the enamel paint won’t penetrate the surface and still start the drying process immediately after you apply it. That results in a faster drying time.  

Final Words

Overall, enamel paints dry on an average of 4 hours. Water-based enamel tends 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, it will crack and eventually peel off. So always paint in the right room conditions. If you apply enamel paint in the right environment, the paint will dry as it should.

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