How Long Does Latex Paint Take to Dry? (& Speeding Up Tips)

Latex paint takes around 3 hours to dry between coats, 24 hours to dry to use, and 2-4 weeks to fully cure.

To make latex paint dry faster, use a hairdryer, open more windows, thin latex paint, or apply it during the day.

How Long Does Latex Paint Take to Dry Between Coats?

Most of us apply multiply coats of latex paint. So, how long should latex paint dry between coats?

Latex paint takes around 3 hours to dry between coats. The solvent of the latex paint (water) must evaporate from the coating for the paint to dry enough for a re-coat.

However, the exact dry time depends on the brand of the paint, room temperature, thickness and number of coats, and humidity levels.

For instance, during cold or moisture conditions the paint will take longer to dry as the high level of humidity will reduce the evaporation rate of the solvent.

The finish will turn sticky, tacky, or peel off if you re-coat latex paint too soon or before the previous coating has dried.

Latex can be deceiving as it dries enough to touch in a few minutes, but you must wait a few hours before re-coating it.

Related Read: Can You Sand Latex Paint?

Different Drying Stages of Latex Paint

The different drying stages of latex paint are listed below.

Dry To Touch

The dry-to-touch stage refers to when the paint top layer is dry enough so the coating won’t stick to your hand. In this stage, only the top layer is dry while the underneath of the paint is still wet and you can’t apply another coating over it yet.

Latex paint dries to touch within 30 minutes of applying it.

Dry To Re-coat

The dry-to-re-coat stage refers to when latex paint is dry enough for a re-coat and you can apply another coating over it. Latex paint takes around 3 hours to dry enough for a re-coat.

After 3 hours, the solvent (water) will evaporate from the coating and the paint particles will bond enough to accept another coating.

The wait time can be longer if the temperature is low and the humidity is higher than 50%

Dry To Use

The dry-to-use stage refers to when the latex paint is dry enough and you can use the object you painted. Latex paint takes around 24 hours to dry to use.

Cure Time

The “cure time” refers to the time when the solvent has fully evaporated from the coating and the paint particles have bonded and hardened perfectly. Once the paint cures (fully dries) you can wash it.

Latex paint takes around 2-4 weeks to fully cure.

How To Make Latex Paint Dry Faster?

To make latex paint dry faster, do the following things.

  1. Use a Hairdryer.
  2. Open More Windows.
  3. Thin Latex Paint.
  4. Paint During The Day.

1. Use a Hairdryer

Use a Hairdryer

To speed up latex dry time increase the evaporation rate so the solvent (water) evaporates faster from the coating. To increase the evaporation rate, increase the heat around the coating using a hairdryer.

To speed the drying time of latex paint with a hairdryer, do the following.

  1. Turn on your hairdryer and move it over the coating.
  2. Don’t let the hairdryer touch the surface. Just keep it a few inches from the surface and hover it across the coating repeatedly.
  3. Turn off your hairdryer and let the coating dry naturally (important!)

Don’t use the hairdryer for more than 5 minutes as it can make the coating dry too fast and this leads to a cracked finish.

Note: Avoid using heat guns as they can dry the coating too fast, making it crack or peel off. 

2. Open More Windows

Open More Windows

Open more windows and turn on fans around the coating to increase the air circulation which increases the evaporation rate of the solvent and makes the paint dry faster.

3. Thin Latex Paint

Thin The Latex Paint

A thin latex paint coating will dry faster than a thick latex paint coating as there’s less solvent on the surface to evaporate. So, to make paint dry faster thin it before applying it.

To thin latex paint, use a ratio of 1:4 (1 part thinning compound, 4 parts paint). Simply put 4 parts of latex paint into a clean bucket and add 1 part thinning compound (water) to it and mix both.

Use fewer coats if you want to complete the painting project faster. So, instead of applying 3-4 coats of latex paint, apply 1 coat of primer and 2 coats of latex paint.

Related Read: Can You Apply Latex Paint With a Roller?

4. Paint During The Day

Paint During The Day

Paint during the day (10 am – 4 pm) as the temperatures as higher and the coating will dry faster. Painting during the night isn’t ideal as the temperature is lower and humidity levels are higher which increases the evaporation rate.

Addition tips to make latex paint dry faster are listed below.

  1. Paint at the right room temperature.
  2. Ensure the humidity is not above 50%.
  3. Use a dehumidifier. 
  4. Sanding between coats

Note: Sanding doesn’t help the paint dry faster, but it helps the coating stick better. If the coatings stick properly, the finish will dry better and you will get a durable finish. 

Why Does Latex Paint Turn Sticky or Tacky?

Why does latex paint stay tacky even after it has been dried?

Latex paint turns sticky if the surface is wet or isn’t prepped enough, or if the coatings don’t adhere properly, and you re-coat too soon. A wet surface will prevent latex paint from drying as it will increase its solvent (water) ratio.

If the paint is applied on a greasy or filthy surface, it will remain tacky or sticky. This is because the grease and filth will prevent proper adhesion, so the coating won’t stick properly.

Latex paint will turn sticky if you re-coat it too soon as the new coating will prevent the solvent of the existing coating from evaporation. Since the solvent can’t evaporate, the existing coating will remain wet and prevent the new coating from sticking or drying.

To fix sticky latex paint, remove excess paint from the surface and increase the heat around the coating with a hairdryer to increase the evaporation rate.

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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