“How long does an epoxy floor take to dry?” is an important question to know the answer to, as not knowing could mean the difference between a beautiful new surface and a sticky, tacky mess.
Here, we discuss the typical amount of time it takes epoxy paint to fully cure while noting factors that can speed up or delay that time.
Epoxy paint – also called epoxy floor coating and epoxy sealant – is a distinct coating product consisting of both a resin and a polyamine hardener.
The resin gives a finished epoxy coating its characteristic shine, while the hardener is what makes it such an effective, durable surface material.
Floors coated with epoxy paint are well protected against cracks, tire marks, and chemical stains resulting from oil or gasoline spills. This separates it from paints like acrylic or latex, which often end up cracking or bubbling.
Because of its durability, epoxy paint is commonly used for projects such as garage floors, warehouses, patios and decks, basements, and even countertops.
Epoxy paint contains more moisture than either latex or acrylic, and therefore takes longer to dry. Though official dry times will vary from brand to brand, epoxy paint is generally:
These times vary slightly depending on the material being painted. The dry time for wood is approximately 24 to 36 hours, while concrete takes anywhere from 48 to 72 hours. Metal takes the longest at 72 to 96 hours.
When an epoxy coating is fully dried, it is said to be “cured.” A full chemical cure takes about seven days.
How Long To Let Epoxy Paint Dry Between Coats?
Most painting professionals recommend using just two coats of epoxy paint for floors. Epoxy paint is naturally very thick, so using more than two coats will slow the rates of evaporation and chemical reaction to the point of needing weeks to fully cure.
But how long after your first coat of epoxy should you apply your second coat?
On the surface, epoxy paint appears to dry very quickly, and some sources will tell you that a second coat can be applied as soon as four hours after the first. However, the ideal time to apply a second coat of epoxy is 16 to 24 hours later. This is a longer recoat time than most other paints.
These extra hours matter. If you apply a second coat before the first is thoroughly dried, you may exacerbate common issues like cracks, holes, application line marks, and caught dust and debris.
Pros also recommend beginning with a primer. Doing so will reduce the risk of bubbles and gasses forming, or debris making it into your final epoxy coat.
Factors Affecting The Drying Time Of Epoxy Paint
The brand of epoxy paint you choose to use, the solids content of your mixture, and the type and thickness of your application can all affect the overall drying time of your epoxy paint. However, the two biggest factors for predicting drying time are temperature and humidity.
Epoxy paint cures best when temperatures fall between 55 and 89 degrees Fahrenheit. If you paint when temps are too cold, you risk negatively affecting your paint's adhesion and viscosity and elongating an already-long curing time.
The temperature of the floor is more important than the temperature of the air. This means you can warm your heated garage or space ahead of time so that the floor you intend to paint is warm enough.
Pro Tip: If you are not able to heat your space and you must paint during colder winter months, then look for an epoxy paint manufactured specifically for lower temperatures.
Epoxy paint naturally contains a lot of moisture (hence the already long drying time). When humidity levels in your painting environment are above 85%, a thin layer of moisture may develop over the epoxy paint and affect the paint’s bond to the surface.
How To Make Epoxy Paint Dry Faster? (Speeding Up Tips)
When it comes to the fastest epoxy paint drying time, the ideal conditions are sunny, windy, and warm. But if you are missing one or more of these environmental factors (or if you are applying your epoxy paint indoors), then there are a couple of tricks that will make your environment more ideal.
Heat The Room
As epoxy paint dries, it undergoes a series of chemical reactions. These chemical reactions occur most smoothly in temperatures between 70 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. In fact, when left to dry in a sufficiently warm environment, an epoxy floor will dry as much as 50% faster.
If your space isn’t naturally this warm, then a heater or space heater will do the trick. When using the latter, it is important to make sure it stays at least three inches away from the epoxy itself, and that you move it around about every 10 minutes or so to avoid inconsistencies.
It is important that you do not use a heat gun to heat your drying epoxy floors, as heat guns can produce heat up to 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit!
Increase Air Circulation
To create the ideal “windy” condition, simply open windows and doors.
Additionally, or if that is not possible, run the fan in the building’s air conditioner and open any air vents.
Portable fans arranged to create a sort of crosswind will also work well.
Frequently Asked Epoxy Curing Time Questions
How do you know when epoxy paint is fully cured?
Epoxy paints cure via a chemical reaction at a pretty consistent rate. You can expect to be able to walk on your new epoxy floor after 24 hours, place furniture after 2-3 days, and drive on it after 7-10 days.
When epoxy paint is fully cured, the chemical smell will be gone, and any tackiness will have solidified into what feels like hard rubber.
What type of surface does epoxy paint dry fastest on?
Epoxy paint dries fastest on decks and other wood surfaces. Compared to metal and cement, which can take 48 to 72 hours to dry when painted with epoxy, wood takes just 24 hours to dry.
Will epoxy paint dry slower in cold weather?
Epoxy paint transitions through three phases as it dries: liquid, gel, and solid. While warmer temperatures accelerate the chemical reaction that drives this drying process, colder temperatures hinder it.
Ideally, you should wait to apply epoxy paint until the temperature is between 55 and 89 degrees Fahrenheit.
How does epoxy compare with other paint types in terms of drying time?
Latex paint can dry in as little as one hour, while acrylic can take anywhere from 20 minutes to two hours, depending on the thickness of the application.
On the other hand, epoxy paint has a much higher moisture content than both acrylic and latex. Depending on the environment, epoxy paint dries in 48-72 hours.
Painting floors and other surfaces with epoxy paint results in a shiny and durable finish. But getting to that shiny durability requires a long process ending in a whopping 24 to 72 hours of drying time.
Though this drying process can be affected by factors such as temperature and humidity, it can also be sped up with manipulations as simple as heating your space or adding air circulation.