How Long Does Chalk Paint Take To Dry? (How To Speed Up)

Learning the correct length of time that it takes for chalk paint to dry completely will ensure that your projects look as good as they possibly can now and well into the future.

Wondering just how many hours chalk paint takes to dry? Then read on for everything you need to know plus tips for how to speed this process up if you have a deadline.

Before we take a closer look at how long does chalk paint dries fast or slow, it is essential to understand just what chalk paint is and the ways it can be used.

In the simplest terms, "chalk paint" refers to a decorative paint that can be easily recognized thanks to a chalky, matte finish. It is typically seen in rustic or vintage-style furniture. 

Chalk paint has also become increasingly popular thanks to the increase in popularity in "upcycling" and transforming old, shabby-chic style painting furniture. It offers a trendy, distressed look that can bring real character back to an unloved piece. 

Chalk paint was originally the brainchild of a famous brand of paint, Annie Sloan chalk paint, and officially, “chalk paint” as an item and phrase is a registered trademark owned by the brand. This paint is quite thick, and it's meant to show brush strokes.

There are, however, a number of duplicates and copycats available - usually at cheaper prices - and many handy DIY-ers have turned to creating their own versions of the paint using instructions that they find online.

This accessibility has seen the popularity of chalk painting project and upcycling skyrocket, and fans continue to grow. 

Chalk Painted Cabinet

What Is The Drying And Curing Time For Chalk Paint?

Chalk paint typically dries within 30 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the humidity, temperature, and thickness of the coat applied. It is best to wait at least 24 hours before applying a second coat or using the painted surface.

Once chalk paint has been dried, DIY fans will typically add a finish to the surface; this can really boost the vintage vibes and means that the surface is totally sealed and ready to use. This leads us to our next question; just what is the ideal long does chalk paint cure time? 

The answer here ultimately depends on the item that you are painting and the material of the surface. Generally, chalk paint needs about an hour chalk paint to dry, but this should be increased to around ninety minutes when you are painting raw wood, as this will suck up some of your paint. 

With metals, plastics, and glass, around an hour is recommended, and this is also the case if you are chalk painting something which has previously had paint applied. 

In total, it will take paint to dry up to two weeks for the paint to cure completely - that is, to stay in place even when it is bumped or rubbed against. 

How Long to Let Chalk Paint Dry Between two Coats?

When considering how long to let spray chalk paint dries between first coat and another top coat or how long does chalk paint dries before the second coat or top coat, you will need to consider a range of factors, including the strength you desire and the material you are painting. 

According to the expert, Annie Sloan, you should allow 24 hours of chalk paint to dry time before adding second coat or top coat to the first coat you have just applied. 

While it can be super tempting to just go in with the second coat or top coat quickly and speed up the pace of your project, this is a rookie mistake that will actually cost you time in the long run.

Adding wet paint on top of paint that is not totally chalk paint to dry will result in the first layer becoming sticky and matted, and this can result in the paint peeling and lifting from the original surface, as well as creating lumps, bumps, and bubbles which may need to be removed.

Though it can be tempting to rush and get to the end result faster, this is not a good idea - you will end up ruining your hard work and ensuring that the task takes twice as long.

Remember, different paints will require more or less time between coats, so play it by ear according to your project - as a rule, however, around 24 hours is the minimum. 

Chalk Painted Black and White Drawers

How Long To Let Chalk Paint Dry Before Waxing?

Many DIY fans and those upscaling their furniture will choose to add a clear wax with wax brush or staining sponge to their project once the initial chalk paint has been applied. 

As the name suggests, waxing a piece involves applying a wax seal in same direction over the paint; this gives a shiny, polished finish to the surface and helps to reduce any damage from bumps or scratches, offering protective cover or more protection to your project. 

Waxing can also help to enhance the color that you choose. 

In most cases, adding wax to your item is easy; you can apply the wax to a dry cloth or tack cloth and then buff this over the surface using small circles - a little goes a long way here, so be careful! 

The main question is how long to let chalk paint dry before waxing. The answer will depend on your material, as porous materials tend to take a little longer to be totally dry and ready than non-porous materials. 

According to experts, you should wait around three days after painting to wax your surface; this ensures that the regular paint is totally dry and primed. 

Going in too soon will mean that the wax does not have a suitable surface to adhere to and can result in the wax becoming clouding or cracking, and the overall surface becoming yellow and blotchy.

When it comes to waxing, patience is key. 

Spray Painting Using Chalk Paint

How To Make The Chalk Paint Dry Faster? (Speeding Up Tips)

In some cases, you will want to speed up the process of drying your chalk paint, and there are a few options available to you.

The speed with which your paint dries will depend on a number of factors, including the temperature and humidity - a hot, moist environment will extend the drying time. Thick layers of paint take to dry a little longer. 

Chalk paint will dry according to the evaporation of the solvent, so exposure to dry, cool air can speed up the time paint take to dry. A few other popular options include: 

  • Using A Heater or Hairdryer 
    Sometimes, the classics work best; plug in your hair dryer and set the heat to "Medium" before moving the dryer carefully over the surface of the item - take care not to use too much heat, or stay in one spot for too long, as this can cause the paint to blister and bubble. 
  • Increase Air Flow 
    Make sure that doors and windows are all open, and use a fan or AC system to increase airflow in the room - this will seriously decrease drying time. 
  • Paint In Thin Layers 
    Using a greater number of thinner layers means that it takes less time for each section to dry, so if you have the time, this can be a great option. 
  • Let Coats Dry Completely 
    One of the most important things to remember is to ensure that the first coat is dry before adding more; this will provide a smooth, quality finish. 

Chalk Paint Versus Alternatives 

Many DIY fans may be questioning the difference between chalk paint and other popular options such as acrylics. The key difference here is the material. Acrylic paint is water-based, and the binder in the pigment requires water to work. This makes it suitable for a wide range of surfaces.

Chalk paint, on the other hand, can be made from a more varied range of ingredients, and this means that it is easier for artists to create their own tones and textures, and makes chalk paint great for that “shabby chic” vibe. 

Chalk paint can also be a little more limited in terms of shades, though this is increasing, but the ability to create your own chalk paint does boost versatility and offer more choice.

Ultimately, one of the biggest advantages of chalk paint over acrylic paint is that the former can be applied easily to any surface using a sprayer - even if there is paint present.

Rather than spend time stripping and sanding block, you can simply add chalk paint on top without issue; this speeds up the process and is super convenient. 

Chalk Paint Drying Time FAQs

Does chalk paint adhere to any surface? 

Yes! Chalk paint is super versatile and should be able to adhere to pretty much any surface with ease. There is also no need to prime or sand, which makes the whole process faster and easier.  

Will chalk paint dry in cold weather? 

Drying chalk paint in cold weather is not a good idea - lower temperatures can cause dew and condensation to form on your item, especially if you are leaving it to dry over time. This can then result in discoloration and blotches, ruining your design. 

Why is my chalk paint cracking when it dries? 

If your chalk paint cracks after drying, it may not have been clean before you started painting. In severe cases, you may need to sand the surface. 


Chalk paint can be a great solution to your DIY woes and is a perfect option for professional painter for giving old furniture a new lease of life after chalk painted furniture. 

By learning how to use and apply it properly - including ensuring that pieces have time to dry - you can enjoy quality results and take your items from drab to fab in no time!