Spray paints are super easy to apply. But before you can re-coat, the spray paint has to dry. So how long does it take for spray paints to dry?
Spray paints take between 10 minutes and 30 minutes to dry to touch. This is when the spray paint coating no longer appears sticky. Spray paints take between 1 hour and 4 hours to dry enough for re-coat and at least 24 hours before the paint can be subjected to light use.
It’s best to allow the spray paint to cure for 3 days before it is subjected to regular use and cleaning especially if the paint was sealed. The type of spray paint, surface, and temperature all affect the spray paint’s drying time.
There is more to know about spray paints and how long they take to dry. So let’s dive in.
Dry Time Between Coats
You should let each coat of spray paint dry enough for re-coat before another coat is applied. It takes between 1 hour and 4 hours for spray paint to dry between coats. On average, spray paints can be re-coated in less than 2 hours.
Water-based spray paints take less time to dry between coats since the solvent in the paint coating is water and water evaporates quickly. You can re-coat most water-based spray paints 1 hour after the first coat was applied.
Oil-based spray paints take longer to dry between coats due to the oil-based nature of the solvent. Since oil evaporates slower than water, the paint will take longer to dry between coats and longer to dry fully. It can take over 2 hours for oil-based spray paints to dry enough for re-coat. Oil-based spray sealants take even longer.
Spray Paint Cure Time
It takes spray paints between 12 hours and 72 hours to cure. On average, spray paint will cure 24 hours after the paint was applied. Spray sealants especially oil-based variations take longer to cure due to the presence of gloss in the finish. These sealants like oil-based Polyurethane can take well over 3 days to cure.
For paint to cure, the solvent in the paint coating has to be completely evaporated from the paint coating. Not just that, the entire paint coating has to harden. The more coats of spray paint you add, the longer it will take to cure.
Related Read: Does Spray Paint Go Bad?
Dry Time vs Cure Time (For Spray Paints)?
The dry time of spray paints refers to how long it takes for the solvent (or vehicle) in the paint coating to evaporate. This period starts after the final coat of aerosol and ends when the paint coating is no longer tacky or sticky.
The dry time of spray paints also extends the wait time before a re-coat. Spray paint coatings have to harden and dry for a period before the existing coat can be covered.
After spraying paint, the paint coating will be wet and very reflective. This is due to the presence of solvent in the paint coating. When spray paint has dried, it will no longer appear wet or shiny because the solvent has evaporated.
The solvent is the liquid added to the paint’s formula to keep the paint from solidifying inside the paint. As long as the solvent is present in the paint coating, the paint will not dry.
So, only after the solvent has evaporated you can say the spray paint has dried and this takes between 1 hour and 4 hours after the paint was applied.
The cure time of the paint refers to how long to wait before the finish can be subjected to regular use. For the paint to handle weight, foot traffic, spills, stains, and cleaning, the spray paint has to cure. This means the spray paint coating has to completely harden.
This is when the spray paint reaches its full potential and this takes between 24 hours and 3 days for spray paints. And, between 48 hours and a week for oil-based sealants. On average, spray paints cure 24 hours after the paint was applied and sealants cure 72 hours after application.
3 Methods To Speed Up Spray Paint Dry Time
There are a few methods to make spray paint dry faster. These methods will have varying effects on the dry time of the spray paint based on the type of spray paint used and environmental conditions.
The first method on the list is:
1. Using A Hairdryer
There is hardly any device that can make spray paint dry faster than a hairdryer. Hairdryers produce heat between 200 – 300 degrees F. This level of heat is enough to improve the rate of solvent evaporation in the paint coating.
To use this method, you’ll need:
- A hairdryer
Here is a quick rundown of how to dry spray paint faster with a hairdryer:
- Power The Hairdryer – If you have a battery-operated hairdryer, fix the batteries to power the hairdryer. Then turn it on. If you have a corded hairdryer, plug the cord into a wall socket and turn on the hairdryer.
- Set The Heat To Medium – Set the heat between 200 – 250 degrees F. If you are dealing with light objects like plastics and plaster, it’s best to go for a lower heat level. Any level at or below 200 degrees is right for plastic. For other surfaces that can handle the heat, you can use 250 degrees. Setting the heat to medium also helps prevent the paint from drying too fast and peeling off.
- Hover The Hairdryer Around The Paint Coating – Move the hairdryer over the spray paint coating. Ensure to cover all the areas of the paint and do not spend too much time on one part of the spray paint coating because the paint will dry unevenly. Do this for about 10 minutes.
- Turn Off The Hairdryer – Turn off the hairdryer and let the paint dry fully. Hairdryers are known to speed-up paint drying by over 50%. So if the paint was supposed to take 2 hours to dry, it will dry in 90 minutes or less. This method works best for oil-based spray paints.
2. Ensuring Proper Ventilation
Spray paints dry when the solvent has been fully evaporated from the paint coating. Evaporation occurs through heat and air circulation. Since we already covered using hairdryers, the next method is to improve air circulation by ensuring proper ventilation. When there is proper air movement, the solvent will evaporate quicker.
To ensure proper ventilation, you should:
- Open all doors in the room
- Open all vents and windows
- Turn on the fans
- Set the air conditioner on blow or fan.
3. Reduce The Humidity
This method works best for water-based spray paints. Nothing slows down the drying time of spray paint better than humidity. Humidity refers to the level of water in the atmosphere.
If you paint in humid conditions, the water in the atmosphere will settle on the spray paint coating, increasing the level of solvent and causing the paint to take longer to dry. To reduce the humidity, you can use a dehumidifier.
All you need to do is plug-in and turn on the dehumidifier. The device will suck in and trap moisture in the air while releasing cool dry air to make the spray paint dry faster. The good thing about this method is you can use it with any other method.
Let’s check out a few extra tips that can get spray paint to dry quicker:
- Spray light coats: with paint, heavy coats mean a longer drying time.
- Paint when the temperature is above 60 degrees F.
- Paint when the humidity is less than 50%.
- Spray the paint outdoors for better ventilation.
- Some spray paints can be baked in the oven but be sure before you attempt it. See the instructions on the container for this.
Spray Paint Dry Time For Different Surfaces
The dry time of spray paint is very relative. One factor that determines the dry time is the type of material the paint is used over. Let’s check out how long it takes for spray paints to dry on different materials:
Spray paints dry quickly on plastic. This is because the spray paint can’t penetrate the plastic. As such it only stays on the plastic surface where it is quickly air-dried. On average, spray paints dry to touch in less than 15 minutes and dry completely in about an hour on plastic.
It takes longer for spray paint to dry on wood. This is because wooden surfaces are usually porous and the spray paint can penetrate the wood. This makes it difficult for evaporation to take place inside the wood where there is no air circulation.
On average, it takes about 30 minutes for spray paint to dry to touch on wood and over 2 hours to dry completely. The type and texture of wood also matters.
Spray paints dry super-quick on cardboard. Spray paint will dry to touch in less than 10 minutes and the paint will fully dry completely in 30 minutes when used on cardboards. This is because cardboard is light and also porous meaning that it allows air to penetrate from both sides. So the paint dries twice as fast.
Spray paints dry fast on metal as well. On average, spray paints dry to touch within 30 minutes on metal and can be re-coated in an hour. One reason is due to the high thermal conductivity of the metal. When the weather gets hot, the metal will get hotter too making paint evaporate faster. However, the paint will dry slower if the weather is cold as the metal will turn cool and sometimes moist.
Spray paints dry fast on glass. The reason for this is similar to the reason spray paints dry fast on plastic. Since the paint can’t penetrate glass, then it only sits on the top glass layer where it is quickly air-dried, usually within 30 minutes.
Related Read: Can You Spray Paint Glass?
Spray paints don’t dry quickly on plaster as plaster is porous — so the paint easily gets into the plaster. On average, you can re-coat spray paint on plastic within 1 hour. It takes up to 24 hours for spray paint to cure on plaster. But on the bright side, spray paint adheres well to plaster because plaster is an adhesive.
How Long To Let Spray Paint Dry Before You Can Sand It?
You have to let the spray paint dry for at least 1 hour before you sand it. If you sand the spray paint before it’s fully dry, the finish will turn sticky. You will have to re-apply the spray paint if that happens.
What Happens if Spray Paint Dries Too Fast?
If the spray paint dries too fast, it will start to crack after a while. The paint particles have to bond naturally for the spray paint to be durable. If you use the hairdryer method too much to dry the spray paint fast, the paint particles won’t bond naturally. That means the spray paint will crack and peel off after a while. If you apply spray paint in a high-temperature area, then the spray paint will dry faster than it should and will start to peel off.
Why Isn’t Spray Paint Drying?
If the spray paint isn’t drying that means that you re-coated too soon. The spray paint won’t dry if you apply more coats than required. To fix this spray paint problem, you have to make the spray paint dry by using a hairdryer.