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How Long Does Paint Take to Dry & Cure?

Painters painting wall using roller with yellow color paint

The hardest part of any beautification project done with paint is waiting for the paint to dry. Most painting instructions tell you to wait for the paint to dry completely before you add another coat of paint, or before you apply a clear coat, or varnish.

When paint is dry it is said to be “cured”. That simply means that is has hardened as much as it can. But, the questions is how long does it take paint to dry?

Before you can determine how long it will take for your paint to cure you have to consider the following things.

What type of paint did you use?


  • Paint that has a water base will dry in a much shorter amount of time than paint with an oil base. Oil based paints have a higher amount of volatile organic compounds in them. Oil based paints are thicker, and oil based paint dry slower.
  • Oil based paints will generally take between 6 and 8 hours to dry enough that you can apply a second coat. You will need to wait about 7 days before oil based paints are completely cured.
  • Water based paints may become dry enough for a second coat in as little as 30 minutes, or it may take 2 to 3 hours. These paints should be completely cured in about 30 days.
  • You are probably saying “wait” if oil based paints dry slower then why do oil based paints cure faster? That does not make sense.
  • Remember that when paint is dry it is hardened enough that it can be touched without causing a transfer. When paint is “dry” it can still be a little sticky or tacky. You can touch it without transferring the paint to your skin, but, if you press firmly you might cause the paint to stick to your skin and peel away from the surface, or be damaged.
  • You can touch it without transferring the paint to your skin, but, if you press firmly you might cause the paint to stick to your skin and peel away from the surface, or be damaged.
  • When paint is cured it has gotten as hard as it is ever going to get.
  • The amount of volatile organic compounds that cause oil based paints to be thicker and dry slower than water based paints; also cause oil based paints to harden faster than water based paints.

What method did you use to apply the paint?


What method did you use to apply the paint?

  • Paint application methods apply paint in different thicknesses. If you used a brush and roller your paint will take longer to dry than if you used a paint sprayer to apply it.
  • If you would like your paint to dry faster you should apply thin coats. It is recommended that you apply 2 thin coats instead of one thick layer. The thin layers dry faster, and you have the ability to see if there are any areas that did not get properly covered during the first application.

How is the weather?

concerning about weather when you painting

  • Humidity and outside air temperatures make a big difference in how fast paint dries.
  • In humid weather there is more moisture in the air. The moisture in the air is the humidity. On rainy days oil based paints can sit in a state of wetness for more than 24 hours before you can even apply a second coat. The actually curing time could be increased to 48 hours or more.
  • If you live in a humid area you can speed the drying process up by closing the windows and doors and turning on your air conditioner. Your air conditioner will draw some of the moisture out of the air and that will allow the paint to dry faster.
  • When there is a lot of moisture in the air then the paint takes longer to dry.
  • If the temperature of the air is below 60 degrees then the paint will dry slower. As the temperature drops lower the drying time of the paint begins to take longer.
  • If the temperature is below freezing it is best if you do not paint. Your paint is not going to dry properly, and there is a good chance that it will not adhere to the surface properly.

The Ventilation of the Area

Ventilation of the Area

  • If you are painting indoors and do not have adequate ventilation then the paint you apply will take longer to dry. You must have good ventilation when you are painting.
  • The air circulation helps the paint to dry. Good ventilation also protects you from breathing in paint fumes and becoming dizzy, lightheaded, or ill.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long do you let paint dry?

The amount of time it takes for paint to dry is dependent on the paint you are using, the temperature you are painting in, the humidity levels, and the thickness of the coat of paint. If you apply thin layers you should begin to paint over the area in about an hour. Touch the paint and see if any paint transfers onto your hand, or if you leave fingerprints.

How can you make paint dry faster?

You can make paint dry faster in a warm climate by placing a fan in the room to circulate the air. In a cold room you can make the paint dry faster by placing a heater in the room to heat the air.

Does paint dry faster in heat or cold?

Paint dries faster in warm weather than in cold weather. Paint also dries faster when the humidity level is lower and when there is adequate ventilation and air circulation.

How long does oil-based paint take to dry?

Acrylic paints require more drying time than latex paints. Under perfect conditions and with light coats of paint you should see the paint dry to the touch in about one hour. Weather, temperature, and paint thickness will all effect the drying time.

How Long Does Interior Paint Need to Dry?

Interior paints are usually latex and they normally dry pretty fast. Interior paint should be applied in thin coats and these coats should dry in about thirty minutes or less. If it is raining, or the humidity is high your drying time will be increased. Cold weather and poor air circulation will also increase the drying time.

Final Thoughts

You might be waiting on your paint to dry so you can move your furniture back into position, or so you can hang pictures, curtains, or other items on the wall. You might be waiting on your paint to dry so you can add another coat of paint or a coat of clear finish.

For best results add another coat of paint when you can touch the paint without causing transfer. Professional painters will always recommend that your walls are completely dry peeling off painters tape or moving furniture around. Hang things on the wall after the paint has cured completely.Want more painting tips? Come join me in the Painters Care.

About Lisa Bohrer

Lisa is a native Texan who says she wears many hats. She is a wife, mother, grandmother, farmer, animal lover, fisherwoman, gardener, and college student. Lisa is a sophomore at Liberty University where she is taking classes to earn her Associates Degree in Creative Writing. She and her husband of 35 years fill their days with life on the farm raising goats and chickens, and then most evenings she can be found at the computer writing, or researching a topic that has piqued her interest.

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