How Long Does Car Paint Take To Dry? (& How To Speed It Up)

Painting a car yourself can be a fun idea that requires perfect timing for satisfactory results. "How long does car's paint take to dry?" "What if I start riding before complete curing?" "When do I bring in my clear coats?" 

Here, we answer these questions to ensure you get your painting project right. 

Car paint is the paint applied to automobiles for decoration and protection purposes. They differ from house paints in their ingredients and finishes.

Automotive paints or auto paint incorporate water based paint and acrylic resin-based options. In contrast, house paints comprise oil-based properties. 

Car paint to dry classification depends on their finishes. You can gauge them according to the deepness of color and richness in reflecting light.

House paints are more durable and deliver an even level when applied on surfaces. They also present a better appealing finish, leaving fewer brush marks on the walls. 

Spray Painting Car Body

It is essential to understand automotive paints before beginning your project. Car paint drying time can vary depending on the paint type you use.

You can find four primary kinds of automotive paints. Understanding their paint drying duration helps you select the most suitable choice for your preferences. 

1. Urethane 

Most people go for urethane paint since it is among the most durable paints available. It is also highly impervious to fading, meaning your car maintains a quality appearance for much longer. You can wait roughly 4 to 6 hours to cure totally.  

2. Acrylic Enamel 

Acrylic enamel presents quality looks and durability, making it a popular choice among car owners. Car owners may think paint brands offer quicker drying time. You can find two acrylic enamel types based on the coating mixture; the single stage acrylic enamel and two-stage acrylic paint. 

The drying time for single stage paint is 1 to 6 hours and 24 hours for complete curing. It takes 48 hours for the two-stage paint job because you apply a second layer over the first coat. Two stage paint jobs help prevent the freshly painted car or newly painted car from becoming oxidized and needing restoration later on.

3. Acrylic Lacquer 

Acrylic lacquer is that paint that gives your ride a shiny and sleek finish. It takes around an hour for the coat to dry or completely dry to the touch. However, long does it take or a whole day for it to cure completely. 

4. Acrylic Urethane 

Despite its name, acrylic urethane is different from the basic urethane mentioned earlier. Its drying process differs in that it involves baking the paint for 40 minutes. After that, you cool it for 30 minutes to car paint cure time thoroughly. 

Increasing the temperature surrounding the car is also a quick way to completely dry car paint quickly.

How Long To Let Car Paint Dry Before Clear Coats? 

Clear coat use is another element to ponder when painting your car. "How long does it take for car paint to cure?" Answering this question is necessary since it helps you find the right timing for the perfect application of new paint job. 

To properly paint a car, you'll generally need two coats to four coats to cover the car's body or car's surface or paint surface completely. You can wait around half an hour after laying the base coat before putting on the transparent layer.

After that, you will be applying four to five wet (but not dripping) clear coats. Notably, wait for each layer of clear coat to dry to touch before spraying the next one. 

Spraying the transparent layer in wet paint can cause the pressure from contact to displace and smudge the base coat. It can also create sagging clear coats and diminished glossy paint. Thus, it is vital to wait for the paint to dry before putting on the clear coat. 

Car Painting with Paint Sprayer

Factors Affecting The Drying Time Of Automotive Paint 

It is critical to learn the factors influencing paint curing duration when considering, "How long does automotive paint take to dry?"

The first aspect is the coating thickness to use. You can expect a longer curing time the more coatings you apply. 

Second, it is necessary to consider the weather, especially temperature and humidity. The higher the temperature, the faster your drying time will be. An ideal humidity perfect for curing car paints is 40% to 50%. 

However, normal environmental circumstances, including humidity, dryness, wind speed, etc., mean approximately 30-90 minutes it take for car paint to dry.

The paint mixing combination is another factor that can affect the drying time. Improper mixing can extend the curing time for acrylic paint layer, creating a more extended overall drying process period. 

The quality of painting accessories can make a difference in drying time. Incorrect tools can delay the process. Excellent items include a spray paint gun, emery papers, quality tape, a finishing tool, and a paint booth. Choose the Right Paint booth for your painting process.

Lastly, your vehicle size determines whether you have a short or long curing time. How long does it take for standard car paint to cure a paint job on a Toyota Land Cruiser Jeep than on an Alto 800. 

Here's How To Make Car Paint Dry Faster

You can use a few techniques for long lasting car paint to dry faster and resume your fun drives. These include: 

1. Ventilation 

You can find a robust fan to aid you in creating proper ventilation during your project. 

2. Thin Layer Application 

You can add thin coatings if your vehicle already has paint on it. Notably, you can incorporate some unique techniques to thin your paint. For instance, you can add some solvent to the automotive paint to thin its consistency. 

3. Decrease Humidity 

You can get a humidifier to control your humidity levels. Lower it to an ideal condition since painting in higher humidity can considerably delay paint curing. 

4. Increase the Temperature 

You can use a heater to increase heat if you lack the sun. 

Drying Car Paint

Frequently Asked Car Paint Drying Time Questions 

Does car paint lighten as the paint dries? 

No, car paint does not get lighter as it becomes dry! Proper mixing, application, and fast curing time do not affect the paint's hue. However, the longer it takes to dry, the darker the color becomes.   

Can I paint a car without a primer? 

No, it is not wise to paint your car without a primer since it affects the sticking quality. A primer is essential since it acts as a bonding agent between the car surface and the paint. 

How long after painting a car can you drive it? 

You can drive your car 24 to 48 hours after painting it. Although it takes 12 to 24 hours for the coatings to dry, it may take longer to achieve complete curing. 


Our piece explains the drying times you can expect when using different automotive paints.

We also present the elements that can affect drying time and the best ways to shorten the curing process. You can use our tips to ensure you can begin and complete your painting job on the right foot.