While painting is an inexpensive and easy renovation method for rooms and furniture, it’s not always the fastest.
Drying process can take hours or even days when you factor in primer and multiple topcoats, and less-than-ideal acrylic paint drying conditions can make it take even longer.
In this guide, learn how to make acrylic paint dry faster, how fast acrylic paint dry, as well as factors that make acrylic paint dry more slowly.
While you can’t control every single factor that plays into paint drying process (such as sudden weather changes), you can employ some tips and tricks to make your paint dry faster than it would on its own.
Use A Fan
As mentioned, great ventilation speeds up paint dry times dramatically (and helps get rid of lingering paint odors). But besides general ventilation in your work area, you can also aim fans directly at your painted surfaces to encourage evaporation.
Put A Dehumidifier In The Room
You can’t always wait for a day with perfect humidity, but you can create ideal conditions in your workspace.
Adjusting the thermostat and adding a dehumidifier to your painted room (or area where furniture is being painted) can get humidity below the ideal 50% range and temps to the right ballpark.
Try A Heat Gun Or Hair Dryer
For stubborn areas (like corners or edges where you had to cut in with a brush, where as much paint layers might be extra thick), try aiming a heat gun or hair dryer or infrared heat lamp on low at the paint job.
Use steady, even motions to apply heat and increase evaporation.
Change Your Application Method
Paint sprayers leave behind thin but even layers that dry remarkably quickly compared to brushes or rollers.
Although priming a paint sprayer and prepping the area against overspray takes time, the trade-off of shorter application and dry times is worth it.
Work In Multiple Rooms/On Multiple Pieces At Once
True, this won’t actually make paint dry faster—but it does help you make use of those long wait times.
If you have multiple pieces or rooms to paint, consider priming and oil painting or acrylic paintings in a rotation. As soon as you finish one room or piece, the previous one might be ready for its next thin coat.
Start With Primer
Primer reduces how many topcoats you’ll need for full coverage. So, while it doesn’t make those later thinner coats dry quicker, it will cut down how many you need—and how long you have to wait overall.
Use Quick-Dry Formulas
Some paints are marketed as quick-drying. They use formulas that evaporate faster than typical acrylic paints, and can require as little as an hour between coats, with full dry times being reached in 24 hours or less.
How Long Does It Normally Take For Different Paints To Dry?
Besides factors like humidity and application, the kind of paint quality you use can determine how fast or slowly it dries, too. This is because different formulas evaporate at different speeds than others.
Water-Based (Latex) Paints
Latex paints have pigments and gloss components suspended in mostly water, which evaporates pretty quickly. You’ll notice most latex paint varieties dry to the touch in an hour, with additional coats being safe to apply roughly every 4 hours.
The oil paint take a lot longer to evaporate than water. Allow 6 to 8 hours for coats to be dry to the touch and a full 24 hours between coats.
Although these take a while to dry and cure, their durability is impressive—and for some people, that makes the longer wait worth it.
These can be water- or solvent-based, although the former is much more common. As such, acrylic dry times are comparable to those of latex paint (acrylic paint dry faster), but can vary from 30 minutes to two hours depending on thickness.
Most wetting spray paints that come in cans are oil paints, but they don’t take nearly as long to dry.
The main reason spray paint dry faster is the application method: because they’re applied with aerosol through a small opening, the paint goes on in a very thin layer.
Lacquer spray paint dry faster, just takes only 2 or 3 hours to dry fully, but enamel spray paint dries in about 8 to 10 hours. The touch-dry times for most spray paints are very short, at 5 to 30 minutes for most formulas.
Although puffy paint—also known as dimensional or 3D paint—can be made with quite a few different recipes, most are water-based and dry in just 2-4 hours.
The downside is that, because these paints usually go on clothing, they need 24 to 72 hours to harden completely after expansion before the item can be washed or worn without damaging the paint.
The amount of time it takes for primer to dry will depend on its formula, since primers can be water- or oil-based. Like topcoat paints, water-based formulas and acrylic paint dry faster.
You also don’t have to wait too long before applying your topcoat—about 1-2 hours for water-based primers and twice as long (at least) for oil-based ones.
The surface type, weather, and other factors that affect topcoat drying times will also dictate primer drying times, along with the other paints on this list.
Factors That Can Affect Paint Drying Time
The drying time of paint will usually follow guidelines given on the paint’s instructions, but certain factors can make acrylic paint dry more quickly or slowly than it normally would.
When the humidity in a room or outdoors exceeds 50 percent, the moisture in the good air circulation keeps the solvents or water in your acrylic paint from evaporating at the rate they should.
This means your acrylic paint stays wet for longer. When the air is dryer—50 percent humidity or less—you’ll notice the dry time is much shorter.
Overly warm or cold days will also slow drying mediums down your paint’s drying time. It’s best to use latex paint in 50-85°F weather (or adjust your room's thermostat) and oil-based paint in the 40-90°F range.
When you simply can’t achieve the ideal temperature, such as an exterior painting project, too-warm days are better than too-cold ones; paint will dry better in heat.
Whenever possible, however, acrylic paint when temps are in the right range for your paint type.
Not only is air circulation important for your safety—so you don’t inhale the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) present in acrylic paint —but it also helps your paint dry faster.
Stagnant air, besides being hazardous, slows evaporation of the water or solvents in your acrylic paint. Turn on fans, open windows and doors, and keep the air moving.
Unfinished wood, never-before-painted walls, and other surfaces can absorb paint more readily than others. There’s also little to no color to cover, requiring apply light coats (sometimes).
These kinds of surfaces will dry a lot faster than previously painted ones—especially if you’re covering an entirely different formula of acrylic paint, such as oil-based over latex.
Thin layers and acrylic paint dry faster than thick ones, so how you deposit your acrylic paint can dictate its dry time. Paint sprayers leave the thinnest layers and result in dry acrylic paint faster, with rollers coming in second and brushes taking the longest.
Paint Drying FAQs
How do you make Rust-Oleum paint dry faster?
To make Rust-Oleum paint dry faster, you can apply thin coats on days with warm weather, low humidity, and good ventilation. You can also add a fan to speed the drying process.
Does watered-down paint dry fast?
Yes, watering paint down results in thinner layers, which will dry faster than thick ones.
What happens if you paint a second coat too soon?
When you paint a second coat too soon, you’ll notice streaks, peeling, and blotches where the pigment doesn’t apply evenly.
How long does paint need to dry before rain?
The time paint needs to dry before rain varies by formula and how heavy the rainfall is. You'll generally need 2 hours for acrylics or latex paints and 24 hours for oil paint to dry.
Can you dry paint in 5 minutes?
Very rarely will any kind of paint completely dry in 5 minutes, no matter what methods you employ or what kind of paint it is. You can, however, make thin layers of some paints dry to the touch in as little as 5 minutes with heat and high ventilation/air flow.
How can you make oil paint dry faster on wood?
To make oil paint dry faster on wood, you can apply heat either by increasing the room temperature or using a heat gun or hair dryer.
Is there a way to make paint dry faster on rocks?
You can make painted rocks dry faster by putting them in the oven for 10 minutes at 250°F. Keep a close eye on them, however, to make sure the paint doesn’t start peeling or bubbling.
Can you make paint dry faster on cardboard?
The best way to speed up the dry time of painted cardboard is to increase airflow. Place the cardboard in front of a fan, or put the piece outside for a while—about 15 minutes.
Waiting for wet paint to dry can be frustrating, especially if you know you need additional thick coats.
By acrylic painting in ideal weather conditions, changing your application method, and using other tips and tricks, you can speed the drying process along and use your painted room or wax based furniture polish much sooner.