Epoxy paint produces one of the hardest finishes out there. But before you can use or enjoy its hard finish, it has to dry and cure. So how long does epoxy paint take to dry?
It takes epoxy 4-6 hours to dry to touch, 12 hours to dry enough to handle weight such as waking, and several days to cure. 1 part epoxy takes 4 days to cure, while two-part epoxy takes 7 days to cure.
However, the drying and curing time depends on the ambient temperature, humidity levels, and surface type.
1 Part Epoxy
It takes 1 part epoxy 4-6 hours to dry between coats and 4 days to dry fully (cure), and 7 days before it can handle heavy weights. It takes 30 days before you can wash and clean its finish.
1-part epoxy has a fast drying time when compared to other epoxy resins. This is because it is a latex acrylic floor paint with resins added to the formula.
Other epoxy paints require a chemical reaction to dry and harden. But, one-part epoxy paint goes through a process called “air-drying. Air-drying is a process where the particles harden based on exposure to cool air. This process is very similar to how traditional paints dry and cure.
It takes 2-part epoxy 2 hours to dry to touch, 8 hours to dry enough for a re-coat, and 7 days to cure. You should leave it to cure for at least 30 days before you can clean it with solvents.
However, its drying time is determined by humidity levels, room temperature, surface type, and the number of coats. That said, you must apply it when the room temperature is above 60 degrees F.
The main reason 2-part epoxy paint takes longer to dry and cure is that the paint contains a hardener and a resin. Both parts come together but the user has to mix them to create the paste which will then be applied to the concrete. The hardener and resin will ignite a chemical reaction that will produce exothermic heat.
It takes a while for this chemical reaction to be completed which is why two-part epoxy paint takes longer to dry.
How To Make Epoxy Paint Dry Faster?
Method 1: Increase The Heat
By heating the epoxy, you will jumpstart the chemical reaction and drying process of the paint. To increase the heat around the coating use a heat lamp, hairdryer, room radiator, or heater.
Here is how to do it:
- Turn on The Heater – Plug it in and turn it on.
- Set The Temperature – Other paints will blister off when exposed to increased temperatures. But, epoxy paints dry faster when exposed to increased temperatures. The temperature, however, should be set below 90 degrees F.
- Move it Around – The heating source shouldn’t come in contact with the coating. Keep it 3 inches or more away from the coating and move it around.
- Turn it Off – After 10 minutes, turn the heater off and allow the paint to dry naturally.
Tip: Never use a heat gun to speed up the dry time.
Method 2: Increase Air Circulation
Since 1-part epoxy dries through evaporation, you can increase the air circulation around the coating to make it dry faster. The improved air circulation will increase the evaporation rate of the solvent.
To increase air circulation:
- Turn on fans
- Open the air vents in the room
- Open all doors and windows around the coating
- You can also run the blower or fan in your air conditioner
Tips To Follow:
1. Don’t Apply Too Many Coats
Epoxy paint has a thick flow, so adding more than 2 coats will take longer to cure since the evaporation rate and the chemical reaction is slowed down.
2. Don’t Add Too Much Hardener
The hardener is designed to make the coating harder so most users think adding a hardener will make the paint get hard quicker. This is false. When you add too much hardener, the ratio of the epoxy paint will be thrown off balance and thus will result in poor results and a slower dry time.
3. Room Temperature
During cold and moist temperatures, the evaporation rate and the chemical reaction are slowed down. This is because, during cold temperatures, moisture is increased in the atmosphere, causing the paint to dry slower.
4. Prep Work
You must always clean, sand, and prime the surface before applying the epoxy paint. If you don’t, the paint will be applied over a dirty surface which causes poor adhesion and a slow dry time.
Wait Time Before Walking on Epoxy Floor
For 100% solid epoxy, wait 12-18 hours before walking over it. This time is to allow the epoxy to become strong enough to withstand weight and foot traffic. You should let it cure for about 3 days before heavy foot traffic or objects are placed on the finish.
Epoxy paints that contain polyaspartic tend to dry faster. You can walk on them in less than 10 hours provided the paint was applied correctly and in temperatures higher than 60 degrees F. Polyaspartic flooring dries faster due to the chemical makeup of the coating.
What Temperature Does Epoxy Cure At?
Most epoxy paints and resins reach full hardness and physical properties when exposed to temperatures between 60 – 85 degrees F. This is because they harden or cure based on the cross-linking of the resin and hardener molecules and exothermic heat.
When the hardener and resin are mixed, the mixture causes a cross-link between their molecules. This link ignites a charge that produces exothermic heat in the epoxy paint coating which causes it to harden and cure.
So, if the paint is exposed to higher temperatures, the ignition caused by the cross-link of molecules will be accelerated causing an increased level of exothermic heat which will then cause the epoxy coating to cure or harden quicker.
However, you shouldn’t expose the paint to a heat source above 85 degrees F. Though two-part epoxy will benefit greatly from increased temperatures, one-part epoxy doesn’t need that high of a temperature to cure because it cures based on ambient airflow.
One part epoxy will even cure in weather temperatures lower than 60 degrees F. But, you should never apply any type of epoxy at a temperature lower than 50 degrees.
How To Know When Epoxy Has Cured?
Epoxy paint has cured when the paint has hardened and reached complete physical properties.
To know if epoxy paint has cured, try denying the coating with a sharp object (don’t use your fingernail). If you notice an indent, the coating hasn’t cured. If the coating has cured, it will be very difficult to cause a dent in the finish.
Epoxy paint has one of the hardest finishes in the painting world. The finish is so hard that it is used to cover garage floors, walkways, car parks, and driveways. When its coating has hardened completely, it’s hard to dent it. So if you can dent it, then the coating hasn’t cured yet.
In summary, epoxy paint takes longer to cure because its finish is designed to be used in heavy-traffic areas. As such, the paint will take some time to dry and harden enough to handle heavy use. Also, the paint requires a chemical reaction to dry and this will take some time too.
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,