Flat Paint Dry & Cure Time (& How To Speed it Up?)

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Reviewed by
Eral Kadrija

Tony Adams

Flat paint has the lowest amount of sheen among all other paints. The low amount of sheen gives the paint a matte finish and a quick drying time. So, how long does flat paint take to dry?

It takes flat paint 30 minutes to dry to touch, one hour to dry for a re-coat, and less than 4 hours to cure (dry fully). The reason for this quick dry time is the paint’s low amount of sheen (or gloss) and its water-based nature.

While this paint dries fast, you can speed up the drying time by increasing the evaporation and oxidization rate. 

Dry Time Between Coats

How Long Does It Take For Flat Paint To Dry Between Coats?

It takes flat paint 1 hour to dry enough for a re-coat. This gives the paint coating enough time to harden and compact to support a new coating.

The paint’s solvent (water or oil) must evaporate for the coating to get strong, durable, and dry. The faster the solvent evaporates, the faster the paint dries. Since most flat (or matte) paints are water-based, the paint dries fast because its solvent (water) evaporates fast.

If you re-coat flat paint too soon, the finish will turn sticky and might peel off. That’s because the solvent that hasn’t evaporated will keep the old coating wet and prevent the new coating from sticking. This leads to a sticky and tacky finish.

To know if the paint is dry enough for a re-coat, use sandpaper. First, swipe fine-grit sandpaper over the coating; if the sandpaper gets clogged, the paint isn’t dry enough. But, if the sandpaper moves freely over the coating, the paint is dry enough, and you can re-coat it.

You can also know if flat paint is dry enough by touching the paint coating. If the coating feels dry and textured, the paint is dry. If the coating feels wet and sticky, the paint isn’t dry, and you shouldn’t re-coat it. 

Flat Paint Cure Time

How Long Does It Take For Flat Paint To Cure?

It takes matte paint 4 hours to cure (fully dry). The cure time refers to when the paint becomes hard and dry; at this stage, the paint reaches its full potential, and the colors become vibrant.

For paint to cure, the solvent (oil or water) must evaporate, and the paint particles must oxidize. Oxidization is a process where the paint coating reacts to the atmosphere, and the paint particles harden and become compact enough to withstand usage and water.

Since flat paint has a fast drying and curing time, the paint isn’t durable. That’s because the longer it takes the paint to cure, the more time the particles have to bond and compact, and the more durable the finish is. 

Flat paint must dry (cure) for 4 hours before sealing it. This is because when you seal the paint, you cover the entire coating with a sealant top coat. So, if the paint hasn’t cured yet, the paint will never dry because the sealant will prevent the solvent from evaporating. 

How To Speed Up Flat Paint Drying Time?

1. Use A Hairdryer

Use A Hairdryer

Since flat paint dries through evaporation, you can speed up its drying time by increasing the evaporation rate. To increase the evaporation rate, increase the heat around the paint coating. You can use a hairdryer for this. 

Here is a guide:

  1. Plug in and turn on the hairdryer.
  2. Point the hairdryer nozzle at the paint coating.
  3. Move the hairdryer around the paint for 5 minutes.
  4. Turn off the hairdryer and let the paint dry completely.

You shouldn’t use the hairdryer to dry the paint completely. This is because the heat will make the paint dry too quickly, and this will eventually cause the paint to crack and peel off.

2. Spray The Paint

Spray The Paint

If you use a sprayer to apply flat paint, the paint will dry faster. That’s because sprayers apply thinner coats than paintbrushes. The thinner the paint coating, the faster the paint dries. If the flat paint is too thick for a sprayer, thin it with water. 

Here is a guide:

  1. Pour flat paint into a clean paint bucket.
  2. Add a cup of water to thin the paint. 
  3. Stir the mixture.
  4. Load the paint into the sprayer. 
  5. Prime the pump of the sprayer, so the paint flows freely.
  6. Choose a smaller tip for the sprayer. The smaller the tip, the lighter the paint coating will be.
  7. Spray the paint.
  8. Allow it to dry. 

3. Increase Air Circulation

Increase Air Circulation

The air circulation must be high for the paint to oxidize (cure). The higher the air circulation, the faster the paint oxidizes and cures. So, to speed up the curing time of flat paint, increase the air circulation around the coating.

To do this:

  1. Open all windows and doors.
  2. Open the air vents.
  3. Turn on the fans and direct them toward the paint.
  4. Turn on the air conditioner.

4. Use A Dehumidifier

Use A Dehumidifier

The higher the humidity levels, the longer the paint takes to dry. That’s because during humid conditions there’s more water in the atmosphere, preventing the paint from drying fast. So, to reduce humid levels, use a dehumidifier. A dehumidifier will suck the moisture and replace it with dry air.

Here is a guide:

  1. Allow proper ventilation in the room.
  2. Place the dehumidifier near the paint coating.
  3. Set the dehumidifier between 30 and 50%. If the weather is cold, set it higher.
  4. Leave the dehumidifier to work until the paint dries.

Indoors vs Outdoors

It takes flat paint 1 hour to dry enough for a re-coat indoors. That’s because the air circulation and the temperature levels are lower indoors than outdoors. However, an indoor paint coating isn’t affected by outdoor weather conditions, so it will always dry at the same time. 

On the other hand, it takes flat paint 30 minutes to dry enough for a re-coat outdoors. That’s because the paint coating is exposed to increased heat and air circulation outdoors, so the paint dries faster.

However, the paint will take more than 2 hours to dry outdoors during cold and rainy days. That’s because the high humidity and rain won’t allow the solvent to evaporate fast.

In summary, the paint will dry faster outdoors than indoors during hot and non-rainy days. But, paint will dry faster indoors than outdoors during cold and moist conditions.

Matte Paint Won’t Dry If:

Here are a few reasons why your paint coating isn’t drying:

  • You applied it over a dirty surface.
  • There’s grease or oil on the painted surface.
  • You applied flat paint over oil-based paint (not compatible). 
  • The surface is wet.
  • You re-coated too soon.
  • You applied too many coats. 

Final Words

In summary, matte paint takes 30 minutes to dry to touch, 1 hour to dry between coats, and 4 hours to cure (dry fully). However, the drying time of flat paint depends on the room temperature, humidity levels, and coat thickness.

You can speed up the drying time by increasing the evaporation rate or decreasing the humidity levels around the paint coating. To increase the evaporation rate, use a hairdryer. To decrease the humidity levels, use a dehumidifier. 

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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