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How Long Does It Take Spray Paint To Dry?

A collage of different types of spray paint uses.

Depending on the type of service and spray paint, it could begin drying within five minutes. However, the full drying process takes about an hour to three hours.

Not so long ago, spray painting was only associated with graffiti. Now, we use spray paint for everything from our vehicles to appliances, furniture, and more. However, it’s not one type that suits all when choosing spray paint, especially if you hope for it to dry quickly.

Here, we’ll look at the types of spray paint, examine how long various paints need to dry and discuss how well each painting performs on common surfaces.

Related To: Types of Paint Sprayers | Paint Brush Roller vs Spray | Types of Painting Tools

How Long Does It Take Spray Paint To Dry?

A man using spray paint on a metal plate.

Let’s begin by looking at the types of paints and their specific drying times. Spray paints are not all the same and the materials we use them on, plus the environment, help determine how long they’ll take to dry.

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Oil Paint: To dry to the touch with oil paint requires 8 hours, as well as a full day(24hrs) for complete drying.

Enamel Paint: For enamel paint, the drying time is 30 minutes to the touch plus 8 hours to fully dry.

Acrylic Paint: Drying time for acrylic paint is anywhere from 10 minutes to half an hour to the touch plus 8 hours for full dry time.

Latex Paint: If you paint with latex, you’ll have to wait an hour for it to cure entirely, but it will be touch dry after only five minutes.

Do Layers Matter When Spray Painting?

Put simply, the paint will dry faster if you apply a thinner coat. So if you want to paint numerous layers, you should follow the advice of many painting guides and paint the surface very lightly each time.

If you apply several thick coats, the surface paint will be thicker and more resistant to drying. Aerosol cans make it easy to cover a large area quickly, but it’s tricky to avoid over spraying a region because of the requirement to maintain a steady pace.

What Affects Spray Paint Dry Time?

Rust-Oleum 7798830 Stops Rust Spray Paint, 12-Ounce, Semi Gloss Black

Spray paint takes a long time to cure because of all the variables involved. If this worries you, know that these variables are well within your control and won’t have a major impact on how long your spray paint takes to dry.

We’ll take a look at a few of the variables that can affect the drying time of spray paint, which are important to bear in mind if you’re working on a project that needs to be completed quickly.

The Type of Substance We’re Painting

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You may have understood this your whole life without recognizing it, and the underlying premise is simple in comparison to the others we’ve discussed. The drying time of spray paint is greatly affected by the surface it is applied.  

Since we spray paint such a wide range of structures today, there is no universally applicable solution; nonetheless, we can go through a few important considerations. It may take longer for the paint to dry, since drying occurs not only on the surface of the material but also in the threads of the substance if the surface is absorbent.

Wood and Styrofoam are two materials where this event is most noticeable; paint soaks into the wood fibers and flows of Styrofoam, making them somewhat challenging to paint, particularly with aerosol spray paint.

The conductivity of a substance can also delay the curing period of spray paint. The rate at which paint dries on a surface can be affected by the material’s ability to conduct heat, electricity, or sound. 

Metal is a classic illustration of this because it is difficult to paint at extreme temperatures and because metal expands and contracts as the temperature changes. Because of their resistance to heat and cold, enamel paints are frequently employed on high-heat metallic surfaces like automotive engines.

The Way We Apply Spray Paint

How you apply spray paint to a surface can also affect how long it takes to dry. Did you know that paint that is left on a pallet dries far faster than paint that is stored in a container? The difference in paint volume between the pallet and the container is to blame. The container is not made of some special material, though that helps.

The Roughness (Friction) of the Surface

A painter using spray paint on top of the building.

The roughness of a surface is the primary factor in its friction, but what causes a surface to be rough? When anything comes into contact with a rough surface, such as one that is porous or raised, it can “grab” the surface with greater ease. 

The drying process, although a bit slow for spray paint, begins as soon as it is exposed to the air, so the coarser the surface, the longer it will take to dry. Therefore, before spray painting, it is generally recommended to sand the surface slightly to improve surface friction.

That’s due to the uneven topography of the item, the paint’s drying temperature will rise and fall at different rates depending on where it is applied. The opposite is true for fairly flush surfaces, as the paint dries at a similar rate regardless of the surface’s size. This means that the smaller and more flush your surface is, the less time it will require for the paint to dry.

The Atmosphere Around us is Vital

A painter spraying paint inside the room.

Although it may not seem possible, the air temp of the immediate surroundings can have a significant impact on the cure as well as the drying time of the spray paint. If the humidity in your near vicinity or the surrounding weather outside is excessive, the drying period of your paint will be much slower than you would like.

A dehumidifier could be used in this situation to substantially reduce the humidity in the air, speeding up the drying time of the paint. While it is possible to spray paint in humid conditions, you should avoid doing so if the task is urgent or if you’re working with sheer surfaces, since this may cause the paint to run. 

Another situation in which spray painting is not advised is when the temperature is either hot or extremely low. Spray painting in cold conditions takes much longer to dry, whereas painting in extremely warm temperatures causes the paint to dry too quickly, leading to cracking.

How Long Does Paint Take to Dry on Different Surfaces?

Plastic

Doing some home improvement projects may be a fun way to exercise your brain and body when the weather is nice or when you’re feeling a bit cooped up indoors during the colder months.

Lawn or deck chairs, which are often made of plastic these days, are a few of the simplest things to resurface, but they might be a little tough to work with. Since plastic has such low surface friction, whatever aerosol spray paint is sprayed on it, even after a primer, will take much longer to dry. When you consider how readily water drains from plastic, this is not surprising

If you can touch the surface of the coat with a finger after drying for what seems like an appropriate amount of time, even though the paint seems dry on the face of the object, you should give it a little more time to fully dry (at least 30 minutes).

Metal

A man spraying paint on metal purlins.

Spray painting metal can be time-consuming and labor-intensive because metal is a difficult material to work with in general. Metal, as we’ve already established, is a great heat/cold conductor, making it difficult to estimate how long it will take for something to dry on it.

Due to the metal’s high heat retention and slow rate of heat dissipation, spray painting a hot metal surface can be a time-consuming process.

Spray paint adheres slightly better to cold metal, but in sub-freezing temperatures, the paint will freeze and split upon contact with the metal because, once again, metal holds energy exceptionally effectively.

Spray paint takes around 2 to 3 hours to dry to the fingertips after being applied to the metal, and about twice as long to fully cure and solidify. This is true even after priming the metal surface, which is perfect.

Wood

A man spraying black paint on a canvas.

Spray paint is used on a wide variety of surfaces, but wood is by far the most frequent. Spray paint takes a long time to cure on wood since there are many variables to take into account while applying the paint. Spray paint takes longer to dry when applied on pressure-treated, improperly kiln-dried wood because the paint has to penetrate the wood fibers.

Painting with oil-based paint takes longer since it is denser than other paints and because it permeates into the wood fibers, creating a more lasting finish, but it also takes significantly less time to cure.

The paint on the interiors and exteriors of the wood can dry more quickly if the room temperature is lowered. Using latex paint or other thinner paint will result in a significantly faster dry time, but the finish becomes less resilient and more vulnerable to environmental factors.

Painting indoors is advised if you are to live in a humid location, as the moisture will also impact the time it takes for the spray paint to dry.