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

DIYers struggle with flat paints because the paint dries quickly. But if you know how long it takes for the paint to dry, the application will be easier. So how long does it take?

On average, it takes flat paint about 30 minutes to dry. The paint can be recoated in an hour and it will cure in less than 4 hours.

The reason for this quick dry time is that flat paint is water-based. The water-based nature of the paint means that it will evaporate and dry quickly.

Flat paint also cures quickly because the paint has no gloss in its formula. However, you should know that the number of coats, ambient temperature, and humidity determine how long it will take for the flat paint to dry.

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

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

It takes flat paints an average time of 30 minutes to dry between coats. This is because flat paint also known as matte paint is water-based.

For the paint to become dry enough for a recoat, the solvent in the paint has to be evaporated. Flat paints like other water-based paints use water as the solvent. Since water evaporates quickly, the flat paint will also dry quickly. Most matte paints can be recoated in about 20 minutes but it’s best to wait at least 30 minutes before a recoat.

You should know that if the flat paint was mixed with another type of paint, then it will take longer to dry between coats. For instance, if you thin polyurethane by mixing it with flat paint, the mixture will no longer be 100% flat paint.

It will also contain urethane particles which are thicker and glossier than the flat paint. As such, the mixture will take longer to dry. If you mix the flat paint with another type of paint, it’s best to judge the dry time of the mixture by the other type of paint.

How Long Does It Take For Flat Paint To Cure?

How Long Does It Take For Flat Paint To Cure?

Flat paints usually cure within 4 hours. The cure time refers to when the paint becomes hard and dry. It is at this stage that the flat paint reaches its full potential and when the colors become vibrant. On average, the curing process of flat paints takes about 4 hours.

Flat paints don’t cure the same way as the paint dries. For flat paints to dry, the solvent in the paint has to leave the paint coating and this occurs through evaporation. When all the solvent (or water) in the paint is evaporated, the flat paint will become dry and can be recoated, this occurs within an hour.

But, for the paint to cure, it will take longer. For the paint to cure, the resins in the flat paint have to be chemically bonded and this occurs through oxidization.

When the solvent has evaporated, the resins that were dissolved in water become free. The resinous compounds react with oxygen in the atmosphere which causes these resins to become forcefully packed until they get hard and well bonded.

This is when the paint is said to have cured. So in a way, the cure time of flat paints is the addition of the evaporation (or dry time) and the oxidization time.

But is there any way to make flat paints dry faster? Let’s find out.

How To Make Flat Paints Dry Faster?

Here are 4 effective ways to make flat paints dry faster:

1. Use A Hairdryer

Use A Hairdryer

The first and most common method to make flat paints dry faster is to use a hairdryer. You should know that this method can help flat paints dry faster but it can’t make flat paints cure faster.

So this method should only be used after applying the flat paint and while the paint is wet. Hairdryers produce heat and heat will increase the rate of evaporation in the flat paints so the paint can dry faster.

Here is a guide:

  1. Plug in and turn on the hairdryer
  2. Set the hair dryer to medium heat
  3. Point the hairdryer nozzle at the flay paint coating
  4. Move the hairdryer around the flat paint for 5 minutes
  5. Turn off the hairdryer and let the paint dry completely.

You should know that you can’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

This is more of a tip than a method. Using sprayers to apply flat paint makes the paint dry faster. This is because sprayers apply thinner coats than paintbrushes.

When you use a paintbrush to apply flat paint, the paint coating is usually thicker than when you use a spray gun, and painting 101 teaches that thin coats will dry faster than thick coats. Thinning the flat paint also works.

Here is a guide:

  1. Pour the flat paint into a paint bucket
  2. Add a cup of water to thin the flat paint
  3. Load the flat paint into the cup of the sprayer
  4. Prime the pump to ensure that paint flows freely
  5. Choose the right key or tip (The smaller the tip, the thinner the coat but if the tip is too small, you’ll spend more time covering the surface)
  6. Attach the key to the tip of the sprayer
  7. Spray the flat paint over the surface

After spraying the flat paint, ensure to soak and clean the sprayer in paint thinner. If you don’t do this immediately, the sprayer will get clogged with flat paint residue.

3. Increase Air Circulation

Increase Air Circulation

This is another tip and not really a step but it works brilliantly to make flat paint dry and cure properly. By increasing air circulation around the flat paint, you’ll increase the rate of evaporation and oxidization.

Here is a guide:

  1. Open all windows and doors
  2. Open the air vents
  3. Turn on the fans and direct them towards the flat paint
  4. Switch the air conditioner to “fan or blow” mode.

This method will make flat paint cure twice as fast. Let’s check out the next method.

4. Use A Dehumidifier

Use A Dehumidifier

You can also use a dehumidifier to make flat paint dry quicker. One of the biggest enemies of flat paints is a high level of humidity. If the humidity is more than 50%, flat paints will dry very slowly.

The humidity means the level of moisture in the atmosphere. During the rainy season and cold winter months, the humidity levels are usually higher.

So if you apply flat paint during this period, the flat paint will dry very slowly because the moisture in the air will constantly make the paint coating wet.

However, you can use a dehumidifier to reduce the moisture content in the air. The dehumidifier will suck the moisture and replace it with dry air. This will aid in drying and curing.

Here is a guide:

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

So how long does it take flat paint to dry inside? Here is the answer to that.

How Long Does Flat Paint Take To Dry Inside?

Flat paints take 30 minutes to dry indoors. You should know that flat paint dries slower indoors than outdoors. This is because the air circulation and heat levels indoors are usually lesser than the levels outside.

To know how long the flat paint should take to dry inside, you should check the manufacturer’s information on the paint container. Since flat paints are by design indoor paints, the manufacturer’s stated dry time of the paint is usually the dry time indoors.

The biggest factors that affect the dry time of flat paints indoors are the room temperature and airflow. You should apply flat paints when the room temperature is between 50- and 90-degrees Fahrenheit. You should also ensure proper ventilation before, during, and after applying the paint. As long as the room temperature is okay and there is air, flat paint will dry properly.

You should know that the weather doesn’t affect the dry time or cure time of flat paint if used indoors. This is because the temperature inside can be controlled. For instance, if the weather is cold outside, you can increase the heat inside using a thermostat to make the temperature ideal for the flat paint to dry. Also, if the weather is too hot outside, you can use an air conditioner to cool the temperature inside.

How Long Does Flat Paint Take To Dry Outside?

It takes less than 30 minutes for flat paints to dry outside. Flat paints can be safely recoated in less than 30 minutes too as long as the flat paint is exposed to the elements. The direct rays of the sun and improved airflow will make the flat paint dry and cure within 2 hours.

Flat paints usually dry faster outside than inside because the heat levels and airflow outside are higher than the levels inside. However, you should know that the dry time of flat paints outdoors is highly dependent on the humidity levels and weather.

If the weather is cold like it gets during the winter season, then the flat paint will take longer to dry and cure. Also, during the rainy season, flat paints will take longer to cure because the humidity will be very high.

So the weather plays a huge role in how long it takes for flat paints to dry outside. This is because you can’t control the weather or temperature outside as you can do indoors.

How Long Should Flat Paint Dry Before Sealant?

You should let flat paint dry for at least 4 hours before sealing it. This is because to seal the flat paint, you’ll have to cover the entire flat paint coating with a sealing top coat.

So if the flat paint hasn’t dried completely before you seal it, the paint will never dry since the sealant will prevent moisture from evaporating properly.

Also, if you seal flat paint too soon, the existing flat paint will bleed through and stain the sealant. If it’s a clear sealant like polyurethane varnish, then the finish will become ugly and poor. So how do you know if flat paint is dry enough? Let’s take a closer look at that.

How To Know If Flat Paint Is Dry Enough?

The Paint Will No Longer Smell

When you apply fresh flat paint, the paint will produce a strong odor. The odor is the smell of paint chemicals and resins. However, when the paint becomes dry enough, you won’t pick up any smell again. This is because the chemicals and resins causing the smell would have dried up and bonded.

The Paint Color Will Become Clear

When the flat paint color becomes clear and vibrant, the paint has dried enough. If the paint isn’t dry enough, the color will appear blurry or dull.

The Flat Paint Will Feel Dry and Textured

To know if the paint has dried enough, run your fingers across the flat paint coating. If the paint feels dry and textured, then the paint has dried enough.

Why Is Flat Paint Not Drying?

DIYers often complain that their flat paint isn’t drying as it should. Here are common reasons why:

  • The flat paint was applied to a dirty surface
  • There is grease or oil on the surface
  • The flat paint was applied on an oil-based paint
  • The surface is wet
  • You applied too many coats of flat paint
  • You recoated or sealed the flat paint too soon.

Final Words

In summary, flat paints take about 30 minutes to dry enough for a recoat but you should leave the paint to dry for at least a few hours before sealing it.

Also, you can speed up the dry time of flat paints by using a hairdryer, dehumidifier, or by applying thin coats of the paint.

Finally, remember to allow the paint to dry completely by itself. If you dry the flat paint too quickly, the paint will crack and peel off because oxidization didn’t take place.

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