How Long Does It Take Paint To Dry?

Sep 17, 2021 | Home Design Decor, Interior Decorating

In this post, we’re going to answer the question: how long does it take to paint to dry?

We’re going to look over some basic dry times before looking into other factors like humidity levels which affect drying time.

Drying vs. Curing


Dry paint is when the paint is dry to the touch when you place your fingers on it. This may take anywhere from one hour to eight hours depending on which type of paint and what other factors come into play.

Most paint takes between one hour and eight hours to dry. Again, this varies based on the types of paint you are using.


You can check to see if your paint is cured by pushing your fingernail into a space that isn’t highly visible. If the paint underneath is dry, it won’t damage the surface of the area you’re about to paint over.

It’s best to try to have the humidity levels around 50% or lower. After all, most paints don’t like high humidity and will take much longer than normal to dry when there’s lots of moisture in the air around them. If possible, turn on fans so that moist air leaves the room while wet paint is drying for faster results.

Sometimes people refer to the amount of time it takes for paint to cure as the “set time.”

Curing paint is when the paint’s final appearance and drying time has been reached and usually takes another 24 hours to complete. If you want, you can test out your painted walls or surfaces to make sure that they dry properly by sticking a piece of paper on it and checking if it gets wet. This will work once the surface isn’t sticky anymore.

How Long Does It Take Paint To Dry Based On Application?

When using paint for indoor projects, you may need to know how long does it take for spray paint vs brush-on paint to dry so that you can ensure your efforts are efficient with time. Here are some basic facts about application methods:

Brush-On Paints

Brush-On paints have their own schedule for drying and curing. These paint types usually take between eight to twelve hours to dry and set properly.

Spray Paints

While spray paints might seem like the quickest and easiest option, it actually takes them longer than other methods to get their final look. You can expect that spray paint will take twenty-four hours or more to cure, depending on the product you’re using.

How do the types of paint impact how long it takes to dry?

There are three types of paint that you might be using for your project: acrylic, oil-based, and latex.

Acrylic Paints

Acrylic paints need less time to dry than most other types of paint do. They usually take anywhere from one hour to eight hours to cure completely.

Oil-Based Paints

These types of paints typically take longer than regular acrylics due to the high solvent content within the formula. Among other factors, this leads to a thicker consistency than water-based paints which can also increase drying times. Acrylics will start out wetter than oil-based paint but won’t stay that way for as long because it dries much faster. You can expect oil-based paints to take twenty-four hours or more to dry, depending on the humidity levels in your home.

Latex Paints

Lastly, latex paints are water-based and usually take between eight to twelve hours, but sometimes up to twenty-four hours if there’s too much humidity in the air. Latex is slightly thicker than water-based paint so that can affect drying times as well. You’ll want to wait until it feels like the paint might be sticky before laying down newspaper over it for indoor projects like painting furniture or walls.

What are factors that can impact how long it takes for paint to dry?

There are a few factors that can impact how long it takes for paint to dry, such as:

Type of paint

The type of paint you use will affect the drying time along with any other product you mix into the batch. For example, if there is high humidity or too much moisture in the air around your project, polyurethane could take longer to set than normal and may need twelve hours instead of eight. This also applies to paint thinners and primers.

Weather and temperature

High humidity and low temperatures tend to slow down the process even further because there is more moisture in the air which affects evaporation times for water-based paints. You should always check local alerts before starting a painting project to be on the safe side.


How do you know when the paint is dry?

When applying paint with a brush, make sure that you give it time enough to set or cure before allowing an object onto it. For example, if you’re painting a table and want to start assembling it, try to give the paint at least one hour (usually more) for it to dry properly before you set anything delicate or expensive on top of your work.

When using spray paints, make sure that you allow the paint enough time to dry completely. If you don’t, there is a possibility of paint being tacky after being applied so be patient with your project if you are spraying.

To help speed up drying times, consider using fans in your home when using acrylics or oil-based paints. This will help speed up the process by helping move moist air away from surfaces where wet paint is being used.

How Long Should I Wait Between Coats?

When should you wait after one application of paint before starting another? This varies based on the type of paint you are using; here’s an easy breakdown:

Brush-On Paint

For brush-on paints, you’ll need to let each coat sit for at least six hours before adding a new one. If you want, you can wait even longer to ensure that your layers are ready.

Spray Paint

You have the freedom of being able to add new coats at any time after you’ve completed one layer of application if you’re using spray paint. It’s best not to apply another coat until the surface is dry and it feels like the base layer has set in well with no tacky feelings or surfaces that feel sticky still left behind.

How Many Coats Should I Use?

If you don’t properly prepare your walls before painting them (this article on how to prep your walls tells you everything), then it may be hard for your coats of paint to stick to the wall. This leads us to our next question: How many coats of paint should you use?

When applying multiple coats of paint, it’s best to use two or three layers. One layer may not provide enough coverage to your walls if their surfaces are rough.

If you want to avoid using several coats of paint on both your walls and ceilings, then you can opt for using a primer first. Primers are high-quality coatings that help the second coat stick better to the wall surface. While they won’t work as well as multiple layers of different colors might have, primers can save time in some cases by making just one layer suitable enough for covering the walls up properly.

Do I Need Primer?

It’s important that you determine whether not primer is needed before beginning your project. This will save you time and effort during the process by knowing whether your paint can stick well to its surface or not. Here are some helpful questions that might help you figure out if the primer is necessary for your task at hand:

1. Is it a new wall?

2. Do you have an uneven surface?

3. Is there old paint on top of the current color/paint type?

If you answered yes to any of these, then primer may be necessary for your walls before painting them. Ideally, primers are used on surfaces that aren’t smooth enough to hold up coats of regular paints easily because they provide a better foundation for future paint layers without sacrificing too much style. However, it’s best not to use a primer if you’re just going to add another coat on top of the priming coat anyway.

How can I tell that the paint is dry?

Once you’ve finished painting, it’s best not to wait until your paint drys and set in before coming back and touching it again. This is because you’ll keep smearing or disrupting anything that might be forming in how thick and smooth the layers are against one another. Instead, here’s what you should do:

1. Wait at least twelve hours after your final layer of paint has been applied (this isn’t counting drying time for any coats beforehand.)

2. Touch each area once with a light hand; don’t push too hard into the surface

3. If the paint feels tacky, then it’s not dry yet and you should wait a couple more hours before continuing on.

Do I start with the trim, walls, or ceiling?

The answer depends on what your painted surface is like and how large it is. A good rule of thumb when deciding how to determine the order in which you’ll paint different surfaces with multiple coats is as follows:

1) Walls:

After trim, if they’re both done (or at least primed.)

2) Trim: After walls are done (or at least primed.)

3) Ceiling: Before walls are painted, even if it’s a quick coat.

4) Floor: After all other surfaces have been painted.


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