drying time for paint

How Long Does Paint Take to Dry?

You have finally finished painting your living room and now you’re staring at the walls wondering how long you need to keep the windows open and when you can move the furniture back in.

The waiting game begins. Anyone who has recently painted knows the frustration of wanting to get back to life as usual but needing to give the paint enough time to dry and cure properly.

So before you start moving furniture and knickknacks back into place, read on to understand the drying and curing process so you can avoid dents, scratches, and tacky surfaces.

The key is patience, grasshopper. Keep those windows open and find temporary spots for your furnishings for a bit longer. Your freshly painted walls will thank you.

Factors That Affect Paint Drying Times

So you’ve finally finished painting your living room and the smell of fresh paint is in the air.

Now for the hard part – waiting for it to dry! There are a few factors that determine how long that new coat of paint will take to dry completely.

Temperature and Humidity

The temperature and humidity levels in the room play a huge role.

Warmer temperatures will speed up drying times.

Colder temps mean the paint takes longer to release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air, delaying the hardening process. High humidity also slows drying since the air can’t absorb as many VOCs.

Run a heater and dehumidifier if needed.

Type of Paint

The type of paint used impacts drying times. Latex or acrylic paints dry faster than oil-based ones. Primer paint or sealers also take longer.

Glossy paints take the longest to dry since their smooth surfaces have more area for VOCs to escape from. Matte or flat paints have more surface area so they dry quicker.

Paint Thickness

The thicker the coat of paint, the more time required for thorough drying.

Two coats of paint or overlapping strokes will take longer than a single thin coat. For the best results, apply multiple thin coats, waiting for each to dry completely between applications.

Average Drying Times for Different Types of Paint

When it comes to drying times, there are a lot of factors to consider with different types of paint.

In general, you’ll want to wait at least 24 hours before doing a second coat, but some can take days or even weeks to fully cure.

Oil-based Paints

These typically have the longest drying times and can take 6-8 hours between coats, and up to 24 hours before you can touch them without leaving prints.

They need 24-48 hours before light use and a full week before heavy use. The upside is they provide great coverage and durability.

Latex or Acrylic Paints

These are water-based so they dry much faster, usually within 1-2 hours between coats.

You can do a second coat after 2-4 hours and light use after 24 hours. However, they need 3-7 days of curing before washing or heavy use. The faster dry time is convenient but they may require an extra coat for good coverage.


Primer also needs 24 hours between coats and before painting. It takes at least 24 hours before you can sand it, and 3-7 days before heavy use. Primer helps provide adhesion for your paint, so don’t rush the drying time.

Clear Topcoats

Polyurethane and lacquer topcoats dry faster, within 2-6 hours between coats.

They need 24-48 hours before light use and 3-7 days before placing heavy objects on the surface. Rushing can lead to imperfections as they cure.

Tips for Speeding Up the Paint Drying Process

To speed up the drying time of your fresh paint job, there are a few tips you can try:

Increase Ventilation and Airflow

Open windows and use fans to keep the air circulating in the room. The more air movement, the faster the solvents in the paint can evaporate. Run an exhaust fan to vent paint fumes outside.

Raise the Temperature

The warmer the temperature, the faster paint will dry. Aim for at least 65-70 F. Turn up the thermostat or use space heaters to warm the room. Just be very careful to keep all heat sources away from paint fumes to avoid fire hazards.

Use a Hair Dryer

Carefully use a hair dryer on a low, cool setting to speed up drying in small areas or tight corners. Keep the dryer moving to avoid overheating the paint. For larger surfaces, multiple dryers or a more powerful model will work better.

Apply Thinner Coats

The more thickly you apply the paint, the longer it will take to dry. Use a high-quality paintbrush or roller cover to apply thinner, even coats. Two thinner coats are better than one thick coat.

How Long Does Paint Take to Dry – The Conclusion

While every painting project is different depending on the specifics of your space and the products you choose, you now have a good sense of what to expect and how to speed things up or slow them down.

The most important thing is not to get impatient and rush the drying process. Give your new paint job the time it needs to cure completely so you can enjoy it for years to come without worrying about dents, scratches, or touch-ups.

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Advanced Painters

Advanced Painters are professional painters and decorators in the Home Counties. From exterior painting and rendering, to uPVC window spray painting and interior decorating, we produce high quality finishes that will transform the appearance of your property.

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