How Long Does Spray Paint Take To Dry? (Surfaces Compared)

Innovative spray paint has made at-home paint projects more effortless than ever, but DIYers still have to wait for the paint to dry.

Although traditional brushes result in thick, uneven layers of paint that can take days to dry, spray cans disperse aerosolized paint in a fine spray with just the touch of a nozzle.

Spray paint’s thinner, more even coats dry much faster than standard applications, but what’s the fastest way to dry spray paint? Read on to find out!

  • Surface dry
    The first stage of drying, surface dryness, occurs once the paint's solvent fully evaporates. This is when the paint begins to "look" dry but still stains a finger if touched. Be sure to avoid smudging the surface at this time. 
  • Touch dry
    Touch dryness is, as the name implies, when the paint can be gently touched by the painter's hands without smudging or stains. Many spray paints will list “to touch” dry-times in addition to full cure times.
  • Hard dry
    Once the painted surface can be directly pressed without warping the paint, the layer has reached hard dryness. Although it may appear fully dry, we recommend waiting until the surface has thoroughly dried before applying more coats.
  • Thorough dry
    The final stage of thorough dryness can occur overnight or within 24+ hours, although curing can take 3 - 4 weeks. Once cured, both the lower level and surface of the paint are entirely dry and have hardened to their final finish.
How Long To Let Paint Spray Dry

Factors That Can Affect Paint Drying Time

  • Temperature
    Warmer weather lengthens dry time, but colder temperatures can freeze paint solid. Paint brands will often list their preferred drying temperatures, but we recommend an ideal temperature range of 65° - 85° Fahrenheit
  • Surface material
    The texture and porousness of your surface can increase or decrease the mandatory dry time. More porous materials often take longer to dry, while sleeker surfaces such as metal can dry in just 10 minutes.
  • Thickness of paint
    The viscosity of your preferred paint also influences the dry time, as water-based formulas will invariably dry faster than dense oil-based or textured specialty sprays. Remember to keep your coats light and fully dried between applications.
  • Type of spray paint
    Just as paint thickness can affect dry-time, the formula’s base and finish can play a big role. Enamel paints, for instance, can take up to 10 hours to dry fully, whereas lacquer spray paint often dries in just 2 - 3 hours.
  • Humidity
    Since spray paint depends upon an uninterrupted aerosol spray, changes in the air’s humidity can easily warp a paint job and lengthen the dry-time. Try to avoid painting outdoors in humid or pre-storm weather.
  • Wind speed
    Windy days can speed up dry times, but high-speed winds can also distort wet paint into ripples. Even slight breezes can carry pollen, dust, or other particulates that run the risk of sticking to your paint, so consider using a paint booth to preserve your finish.

How Long Does A Spray Paint Dry (By Paint Type & Surface)

  • Enamel or latex spray paints
    Enamel and latex paints are often rapid-drying, with some formulas drying to the touch within just minutes. Due to their glossy finish, the solvent within enamel and latex paints quickly evaporates within just 10 - 30 minutes. As polymers link with one another to create a hard, durable surface, the paint typically thoroughly dries within 10 - 20 hours.
  • Lacquer paint
    Lacquer paint formulas also depend upon solvent evaporation to help the dry, but some faster-drying lacquers use water as a thinner. Such formulas often use a thermoplastic polymer, which allows them to dry to the touch in just 5 minutes. Thorough dryness often takes 2 - 4 hours.
  • Epoxy or polyurethane paint
    Unlike solvent-based paints, epoxy or polyurethane paints depend upon chemical reactions as they dry. As paint brands increasingly tailor chemical formulas to their purposes, some epoxy paints dry within 5 minutes or less and reach a hard finish within just half an hour.
  • Spray paint on metal
    Just 10 - 30 minutes is about how long does spray paint take to dry on metal. As a non-porous surface that dries rapidly in warmer climates, you’ll find an hour or less is how long for Rustoleum spray paint to dry when painting metal.
  • Spray paint on drywall and wood
    About 10 minutes is how long does spray paint take to dry on wood or drywall between layers unless you choose to sand between coats. If so, 30 - 45 minutes is how long to let spray paint dry before sanding the wood lightly with 400 grit sandpaper.
  • Spray paint on plastic
    As a non-porous surface, plastic needs to be sanded or coated with a bonding primer to promote adhesion. Once prepped and lightly painted, about 15 minutes to touch and 1 - 2 hours to handle is how long does spray paint take to dry on plastic.
  • Spray paint on glass
    Spray paint on glass is highly prone to streaks and running drips, so be sure to let it dry between light coats. We recommend waiting 15 - 20 minutes as to how long to let spray paint dry between coats, with glass fully drying within 24 - 48 hours.
  • Spray paint on rubber
    As an extremely porous surface, rubber surfaces can soak up paint like a sponge. Usually drying to the touch within 30 minutes or so, we’ve found that 24 hours minimum is how long for spray paint to dry on rubber surfaces.
Spray Paint to Dry

How To Check If Paint Is Fully Cured

Remember that curing almost always takes longer than one would expect. Although just 30 minutes to a few hours is how long does it take for spray paint to dry between coats, fully cured paint can take up to 60 days.

For best results, be sure to read all paint instructions carefully and learn how long to let primer dry before spray painting—generally overnight, or 24 hours.

If you’ve applied both paint and primer properly, curing generally takes about 3 weeks. Fully cured paint will be dry to the touch, can be wiped with a cloth without smearing, and will not smell of paint. To check, we recommend pressing a fingernail into an inconspicuous corner of the painted surface. If an imprint remains, the paint needs to continue curing.


Frequently Asked Questions

How long does Rustoleum brand spray paint take to dry?

Although specialty Rustoleum sprays may have different dry-times, 15 minutes to touch and 24 hours for a thorough dry is average.


Is it dangerous to spray paint indoors?

Yes, but particularly without proper ventilation and safety gear. Aerosolized solvents and paint fumes can wreak havoc on painters’ lungs, and consider how long is spray paint toxic for, specifically 2 - 3 days for fumes, or until fully cured.


How long does spray paint stay in the air?

Without proper ventilation or an outdoor workspace, spray paint fumes can linger for two to three days. Never loiter in a painted space without a proper respirator mask.


Can you use a heat gun to dry spray paint?

Yes! You can use a heat gun to dry spray paint, but be mindful of chemical-based paints that may be flammable. We recommend sticking to a lower temperature, between 86 - 260 degrees Fahrenheit, and carefully drying the surface in slow strokes while holding the gun at a safe distance from the surface.


How can I speed up the drying process?

The fastest way to dry spray paint is a heat gun. But for how to speed up spray paint drying, you can also use a hairdryer as a low-tech substitute. And if you’re looking for a simple way of how to dry spray paint fast, using essential products such as ventilation fans and a dehumidifier in your workshop is sure to help.

Conclusion

With so many paints, primers, and surfaces to choose from, it can be hard to find one standard rule of thumb for how long to let spray paint dry. But by researching your choice of paint and surface carefully and following our guidelines, your coats are sure to dry in a flash. Spray on!


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