How Long Does Exterior Paint Take To Dry Outdoors?

If you have ever found yourself wondering how long does exterior paint take to dry, then you are in the right place. We have everything you need to know about the exterior painting process, including all the information you need to ensure that you can enjoy the best results and ensure that your space looks and feels its very best. 

Exterior Paint Overview

What Is The Difference Between Interior and Exterior Paint? Before we take a closer look at just how long exterior paint takes to dry, it is worth noting the ways in which this is different from the interior paint that you would use in your home.  

There is one main key difference that exists between interior and exterior paint, and this is the type of resins and additives that are used within each substance. Exterior paint will be made with more flexible resins - this allows it to handle the more extreme temperature changes which come with being outside. If the right paint is not used, a dramatic fall or increase in temperature can lead to paint contracting or expanding, resulting in cracks.  

In addition, exterior paint will also contain additives specially designed to help it resist fading, stick to rougher surfaces such as brick and stone, and stay resistant to mildew or molds. There also tend to be fewer color and finish choices for exterior paint, with the majority of brands offering gloss enamel, flat and semi-gloss finishes.  

Exterior paint also comes with higher levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) than interior paint, which can make it more hazardous. These VOCs are more common in oil-based exterior paints, and, as a result, this type is slowly starting to be phased out. 

How Long Does Exterior Paint Take To Dry Outdoors

Where Is Exterior Paint Used? 

You can use exterior paint for tackling a range of projects and surfaces on the outside of your home, including painting bricks, stone or masonry, adding color to wooden siding or fences, or sprucing up doors and porches to give them a new lease of life. Exterior paints can also be used for brightening up trims and, in some cases, can also be suitable for fences and metalwork. However, it is important to select a product that is designed for this specific need and intention. 

How Long Does Exterior Paint Need to Dry? 

Exterior paint dry time will depend largely on the nature and base of the paint that you choose and the surface that you are trying to paint. While oil paints tend to be more durable and long-lasting, with an even, smooth, and often glossy result, they also take longer to dry. On average, it can take between 6 and 8 hours for an oil-based paint to become totally dry to touch, and you should expect to wait for at least 24 hours before you apply the next coat in order to enjoy the best results. 

Latex-based paints, on the other hand, tend to dry more quickly. They will usually be dry to the touch within an hour after the initial coat, and you will only have to wait for around 4 hours before you can apply another layer of paint. This faster drying time, combined with the reduced levels of VOC in latex paint and the resistance to cracks and damage even when outdoors, means that latex paint tends to be a popular choice. 

In most cases, exterior paints will be dry and ready for another coat within 24 hours, and this should be the case for most surfaces, including wood, metal, concrete, and masonry. It is important to note, however, that a number of factors can have an impact on drying time, including the temperature and humidity levels - the cooler and more humid it is, the longer the drying time - as well as the weather, the nature and condition of the material, and the thickness of each layer that you apply. 

How Long Should You Let Exterior Paint Dry Between Coats?  

One of the secrets to helping your exterior paint look its best and last for longer is to ensure that you leave adequate time between coats for the paint to dry. For best results, most manufacturers will recommend that you wait for at least 24 hours before you apply another coat to the first one - this will ensure that the paint is 100% dry and reduce the risk of any smudges. 

Patience is key here - while it can be tempting to race ahead and get your second coat applied as quickly as possible, this will damage the first coat and leave the overall surface lumpy, cracked, and discolored. Applying the second coat of paint too quickly also increases the risk of the paint starting to peel off, and this can leave the surface looking super uneven. 

In most cases, many brands will advise that you apply two coats of exterior paint, and you should avoid the temptation to make these too thick. Applying your paint in thinner layers will give you greater control over the final result and will also speed up the drying time. Taking it slowly and evenly will improve your overall results, so resist the urge to rush. 

exterior door

Factors Affecting The Drying Time Of Exterior Paint 

There are a number of factors that can impact exterior paint cure time, and some of the most common include: 

Temperature 

Many manufacturers will mark their products with ideal temperature ranges, and applying paint while the outside temperature is within this range will help you obtain the best possible results. Both extremes of temperature can impact your final result- painting when it is hot means that the paint is less likely to stick, as it will dry before it really has a chance to adhere. High temperatures also cause the paint to bubble and flake, ruining the whole look. 

When the weather is cold, the paint can take far longer to dry, and this can be frustrating if you are waiting to apply your second coat. It is also a good idea to check your local forecast for rain, and avoid painting if it is cold and rain is due within the hour. 

Humidity 

Humidity is another factor that can impact your exterior painting, and this refers to the levels of moisture that are in the air. High humidity levels will mean that your paint takes longer to dry and increase the risk of streaks and drips. If the humidity in the air is above 50%, it is a good idea to hold off painting. 

Wind 

The wind can also play its part in drying exterior paint; if the humidity in the air is low, and a breeze is present, you can enjoy the ideal combination for faster, more effective drying. Avoid painting if winds get too high, however - not only can this be dangerous, but it can also cause ripples in your paint. 

Thickness 

The thickness of the paint also plays a part in the drying time - the thicker the paint, the longer it takes to dry. 

Type of Paint 

As we mentioned, oil-based paints take longer to dry than their latex counterparts, so take this into account. 

man mixing a paint in a can

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

Sometimes, you may need to get your exterior project painted and dried more quickly, but realize that incoming weather or circumstances are not on your side. There are a few techniques that you can use to help you speed up the process of drying exterior paint, and these include: 

  • Using Lighter Layers 
    As we discussed, the thinner the layers, the faster the paint will dry. Keep your layers light and thin, and you will speed up your drying time. 
  • Add Heat 
    Within reason, paint will dry more quickly in warm temperatures than in cold ones. When painting indoors, you can use hairdryers and heaters to speed up the process - for exterior walls, external heaters and infrared units can help to gently heat the air around the paint and speed up the drying process - just make sure not to get too hot, or too close. 
  • Avoid Oils 
    If you are looking for the fastest possible drying time, you should avoid oil-based paints and opt for latex. The latter have a much faster drying time and only need a few hours between coats. They also cure - that is, are totally sealed and completed - much faster than oil-based paints. 

Frequently Asked Exterior Paint Questions 

How long does exterior paint last? 

When treated and cared for correctly, you can expect your exterior paint to last for anywhere between 5 and 10 years before it begins to peel, crack or fade. Of course, the longevity largely depends on the surroundings, including temperature and humidity, but the preparation of the surface can also play a role - so don’t skimp on the sanding and prep work! 


How long do exterior primers take to dry on average? 

Most exterior primers should be dry to touch within 30 minutes to an hour of application - but this does not automatically mean that they are ready to paint on. It is a good idea to allow around 3 hours after applying the primer before adding the first coat of paint - this will help you enjoy a smoother finish. 


What is the best time to paint a house exterior? 

The best time to paint a house exterior tends to be when the temperature is warm but not too hot - as we have seen, exterior paint dries more quickly when the temperature is higher. It is also a good idea to check that there is no rain forecast, as this will impact the end result and quality. 


How soon after painting can it rain?  

It is a good idea to ensure that the surface that you are planning to paint is totally dry and that there is no rain due for around 24 hours once you have decided to paint - this will really offer the best possible results and ensure that your new paint lasts for longer. 


Conclusion

By gaining a better understanding of how exterior paint works, what it is made for, and how to use it, you can enjoy a better answer to the question  "how fast does exterior paint dry?" The short answer is that you should aim for 24 hours between coats, but if you are looking for something a little faster, latex-based paints should be your first option over oil-based brands. 


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