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How Long Does Spray Paint Take to Dry?

Spray paint is a very versatile paint. You can use it on cars, canvas, fabric, furniture, glass, and more. Its versatility is just one thing that has made spray paint popular over the last several years. Spray paint has also become popular because it is known to dry fast. But how fast does it dry?

Spray paint can take anywhere from 10 minutes to 1 hour to dry in between coats. However, it can take one to two days to fully dry. Why is there a big gap in the time frames? Well, the drying time depends on what you are painting and the environment around you. Do not fear though, there are some ways you can speed up the drying time of spray paint.

In this article I will discuss the different drying times depending on the surface you are painting. I will also give you some insight on how to speed up your drying time and so much more.

how long does spray paint take to dry

How Quickly Does Spray Paint Dry?

Spray paint can dry in as little as 10 minutes. It all depends on the type of paint you use and the surface you are painting. Some environmental factors such as humidity and temperature also play a role in how fast spray paint can dry.

Typically the can of spray paint will state how long it takes the surface to dry. Just to be clear there is a huge difference between the spray paint being dry enough for a second coat and the spray paint being fully dry.

How Long Does it Take for Spray Paint to Fully Dry?

Just because the spray paint appears dry does not mean it is fully dry and ready for use. It can take anywhere from one to three days for spray paint to be fully dried. The type of surface you are painting and more can affect how long the paint takes to dry.

Some materials are porous and will take longer to dry. Below I will explain the different surfaces and how long each surface takes to dry between coats. I will also discuss how long it takes each surface to be fully dry.

Surface TypeDrying TimeCuring Time
Wall15 minutes6 hours
Plastic30 minutes24 hours
Metal10 minutes24 hours
Wood1 to 2 hours2 days
Car20 minutes1-2 days
Cloth30 minutes3-4 days
Glass15 minutes24 hours
Canvas6 hours2 days
Paper30 minutes24 hours

On Plastic

Plastic is very easy to spray paint and the paint is typically dry within 30 minutes. You should use paint specifically for use on plastic. This can also help the paint dry faster. It can take up to 24 hours for the paint to cure on plastic.

Related Read: How to Remove Spray Paint from Plastic

On Metal

Spray paint dries the fastest on metal surfaces. When applied in thin coats and in a warm environment the paint will dry in as little as 10 minutes. It does take up to 24 hours for the paint to cure. If you are in a cold environment it will take longer for the paint to dry.

On Wood

The length of time it takes spray paint to dry on wood varies. Different woods will dry faster or slower than others. This occurs because some woods are more porous than others. In general, it can take one to two hours for spray paint to dry on wood surfaces.

spray paint drying time on wood

Water-based paints will dry faster than oil-based paints on wood. It is best to apply the spray paint when the temperature is between 65 and 95 degrees. This ensures that the temperature is warm enough for the paint to dry properly.

On a Car

Are you brave enough to spray paint a car? It is considerably cheaper than having a professional do it. However, the car will probably stick out like a sore thumb. Spray painting a car is not an easy task to accomplish and people can always tell if you did it yourself.

If you are going to spray paint your car, I wish you the best of luck. The paint can take 20 minutes to an hour to dry. It mostly depends on the brand of paint that you use. It can take one to two days for the paint to fully cure on the car.

On Clothes

Yes, it is possible to spray paint clothing. You can spray paint just about any fabric. You should choose a spray that is flexible as you do not want your clothing to feel like cardboard. You must also choose nontoxic spray paint, especially if you are going to be wearing the fabric.

The drying time of spray paint on clothes varies depending on the material and the spray paint used. It can take about 30 minutes for the spray paint to dry. Even if the clothing is dry, you should avoid letting it come in contact with water for a couple of days. This allows the paint to set without blending or running from contact with water.

On Glass

Spray painting glass is a tricky operation. Glass is very smooth which can allow the paint to drip leaving streaks on the surface.

If you are going to spray paint glass you need to paint very thin and light coats. You should wait at least 15 minutes in between coats. Some people even recommend waiting a full 24 hours in between coats.

Related Read: How to Paint Glass Windows Step by Step

On Canvas

Spray painting canvas is a popular trend. The paint does take longer to dry compared to other surfaces. It can take one to two days for spray paint to dry on canvas.

Water-based and acrylic paints may dry in as little as 6 hours, but oil-based paints can take a whole day to dry. Some people have jumped on the trend of spray painting canvas shoes. This is a cool trend, but it can still take 6 to 24 hours for the spray paint to dry.

On Paper

If you are interested in spray painting paper, you should look for a paint specifically designed for paper. This can help reduce the drying time. The paint will be dry enough to apply another coat within one hour. However, it can take up to one day for the paint to completely dry.

Paints that are designed for general use have chemicals and solvents in them that protect the object from the elements. These ingredients are why it takes the paint so long to dry on paper.

Just like any other surface, water-based and acrylic paints will dry significantly faster than oil-based paints. You should look for water-based paint that is designed for paper. You should also apply the paint in thin coats since the paper is a thin and porous surface.

How Do You Know Your Spray Paint is Fully Dry?

Spray paint is fully dry when you can touch it and it does not feel sticky or wet. You should use the pad of your pinky finger to test if the paint is dry. Simply place the pad of your finger in an inconspicuous place and see if any paint comes off or if the paint feels sticky.

You should test how dry the paint is in an unnoticeable area in case the paint is not dry. You would not want an obvious fingerprint on the middle of your new coffee table.

Side note; if the paint is not wet or sticky you should still wait before using the object you have painted. Paint has to cure before you can use the furniture or place objects on it. I will discuss why this is important later in the article.

Reasons Why Your Spray Paint is not Drying

reasons why spray paint isn't drying

There are a couple of reasons why your spray paint may not be drying. Paint and humidity do not get along very well. You need the solvents in the paint to evaporate, but if the environment is humid the solvents will not be able to properly evaporate. This can cause the paint to drip and leave streak marks.

It is also possible that you did not allow the underlying coats of paint enough time to properly dry. Most spray paints need 10-15 minutes in between coats to dry. However, different outside factors can affect if that is a long enough time frame. The more time you allow underlying coats to dry the better the finished product will be.

How Can You Make Spray Paint Dry Faster?

Generally speaking, spray paint only takes a couple of hours to dry. There are a couple of outside factors that affect drying time such as humidity, air temperature, and the surface you are painting on. However, there are some things you can do to make the paint dry faster.

Apply Thin Coats

This may sound impossible to do with spray paint. It is already a very thin paint, how could you possibly apply it any thinner? Easy make sure you are at a safe distance from the object and paint from one direction to the other.

If you are right on top of the object the paint is going to come out thicker and it will drench your object in paint. You should read the label on the spray paint to determine how far away you should be when applying it.

You also have to avoid overlapping your paint. If you accidentally missed a spot you can go back over it with the second coat. When you overlap paint while it is still wet it becomes bulky and will take longer to dry.

Change the Humidity

Any paint dries slower in high humid environments. Ideally, you should be painting in areas with humidity between 40 and 70%. If you are painting outside and it is too humid try moving inside or paint on another day when it is less humid.

If the house or building you are painting in is too humid you can try opening the windows. High humidity not only causes the paint to dry slower but can also damage the paint job. The high humidity can cause the paint to drip and can leave streak marks on your painting project.

Apply Furniture Polish

Not many people know about this little trick. Spray paint the object like normal and then spray it with furniture polish. It may require several layers, but allow the polish to dry for about 5 minutes in between coats.

You can wipe off the excess polish with a dry rag. Be careful to not apply too much pressure as you could wipe off all of the polish. It is best to use a wax-based polish, which can be a little tricky to find.

Furniture polish acts as a sealant which is how it helps the spray paint dry faster. Many people suggest only applying the furniture polish after you have finished applying all the coats of spray paint.

Use a Lighter

I know it sounds crazy, but people have used a lighter to dry spray paint. This is a very common drying method among graffiti artists and canvas painters. The flame will dry the paint and it burns off the flammable liquid.

This solution is not the best idea for beginners. It does take a lot of practice to not burn yourself. Please do not attempt to try this inside or near open flames or other flammable liquids. This is also not an ideal solution for certain surfaces as the heat can warp and melt things like plastic, metal, and wood.

Why You Should Not Use An Oven to Dry Spray Paint

As spray paint is drying it releases harsh chemicals. These harsh chemicals can adhere to your oven if you place the object in it to dry. They can then leech onto food when you use the oven for cooking.

If you truly want to use an oven to cure the spray paint you should use a toaster oven. This toaster oven should be used for paint curing only. You should never put food in that toaster oven.

It is very important to only use the toaster oven when the paint is fully dry. The toaster oven will not dry the paint, but it can be used to cure the paint. Set the temperature to 250 degrees and bake it for two hours.

How Long Should You Let the Spray Paint Dry Between Coats?

The longer you can let spray paint dry between coats the better. Many canisters will state that you can apply another coat after 10-20 minutes. That time frame is based on being in an ideal environment and applying the paint in very thin layers.

If you are concerned that the paint may not be dry after 20 minutes then you should wait longer. There will be no damage to the paint from waiting longer to apply another coat. If anything it is more beneficial to wait longer between coats.

The longer you wait the longer the underlying paint has to dry. That can ultimately help with the durability of the paint. How does it help? If you apply paint without letting the underlying layer dry it can make your finished product chip and peel faster. It can also cause the paint to drip and form streaks.

Does Spray Paint Dry Better in Hot or Cold Temperatures?

The spray dries best in temperatures between 65 and 77°F therefore spray paint dries better in warm conditions. In colder weather, the spray paint can have issues adhering to the surface, and in hotter weather, the paint may have issues with consistency.

Some of you may live in an area where it is cold most of the year. Try to plan your spray painting around the warmer days of the season. If that is not an option you can spray paint indoors with proper ventilation and heat lamps or a space heater to bring the temperature up.

You can still paint if the temperature is above 77°F. Just be mindful that the heat could still harm the paint. If you can paint in the early morning when the temperature is below 77°F you will be better off.

What Spray Paint Dries the Fastest?

Both Rust-Oleum and Krylon have fast-drying spray paints. There are countless debates about which one dries faster. I believe they both dry around the same time so it ultimately comes down to your preference.

Krylon may have the color that you are looking for or maybe you just like their products over Rust-Oleum’s and vice versa.

What is the Difference Between Dried and Cured Paint?

A paint’s drying time and curing time are two different things. To apply a new coat of paint the paint needs to be dried but does not have to be cured. Curing takes significantly longer than paint drying time.

When the paint is dry you can touch it without a sticky feeling and you can apply a new coat of paint. However, if you were to gently apply pressure to the paint there would be a visible mark. Once the paint has cured you can clean it and place objects on the painted item without fear of it indenting or scratching the paint.

The drying time has been characterized as the solvent evaporating from the paint. This is why the paint appears and feels dry to the touch.

The curing time has been described as the paint reaching its full hardness. This occurs when all of the solvents have evaporated and the film has been able to oxide. This oxidization allows the paint to build strength and durability.

Verdict

Spray paint dries relatively quickly between coats, but it can take one to three days for the paint to cure. The surface you are painting on and some environmental factors can affect how quickly the spray paint dries.

Smoother and nonporous surfaces will dry faster than rough porous surfaces. Cold temperatures and high humidity can also slow down the overall drying time.

Luckily, there are a few ways you can speed up the drying process. The easiest way to make the spray paint dry faster is to apply thinner layers of paint. The more paint you apply to a surface the longer it will take to dry, and it does not matter what surface you are painting.

There are also a few cool but dangerous ways to dry spray paint. It may be awesome to see a street artist using a lighter or blow torch to dry spray paint. But you should remember that they have probably practiced that hundreds of times.

You should also remember that there is a difference between paint drying and curing. Curing is when the paint is dry and will not be damaged by gentle scratching and wear and tear. Spray paint can take over 24 hours and sometimes longer to fully cure.

Most cans of spray paint will tell you how fast the paint takes to dry. It should also tell you how long the paint takes to cure. Now you know that there are a few outside things that can affect how long it takes for the spray paint to dry. You also know some ways you can speed up that process.

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