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How to Make Paint Dry Faster

Ways on how to make paint dry faster.

Life moves fast, and, sometimes, you just don’t have time to sit around waiting for paint to dry!

Although I definitely recommend planning your painting projects ahead of schedule, and always allowing plenty of drying and curing time, I understand that sometimes it’s not possible, and you need to speed up the paint drying process in order to accommodate your scheduling needs.

So what can you do? Are there ways to make paint dry faster?

Yes there is, and that’s what we’re here to learn about today.

I know, this is super exciting!

Now, time is precious.

Let’s get to work!

How Long Does Paint Take to Dry?

Blue paint on a corrugated roof.

Before we go into the 5 different methods of how to make paint dry faster, let’s take a quick look at how long different types of paint should take to dry.

And before we do that, understand the difference between drying and curing. Different types of paint dry in different timeframes. In general:

  • Water-based paints can be recoated within 1 – 3 hours
  • Oil-based paints require about 6 – 8 hours between coats

Paint being “dry” refers to the point where the paint applied no longer adheres to your fingertip if you touch it, although it may still be tacky. It’s still a bit sticky. You don’t want to bump into paint like this because it will scuff easily.

Cured paint is fully evaporated and hardened. It’s not sticky. It feels smooth and there’s no tackiness whatsoever. Fully cured paint is much tougher, and it can take a bump without incurring damage.

So, you don’t need a coat of paint to be fully cured before you recoat the same area. You only need the paint to be dry – dry enough to apply a second coat of paint as per the instructions on the label.

However, the precise amount of time it takes for a given coat of paint or other coating material to be ready for a subsequent coat depends on various environmental factors, including:

  • Moisture in the Subsurface
  • Ventilation & Air Flow
  • Temperature
  • Humidity

If the surface being painted is really dry, like old drywall might be, it is prone to sucking in the paint or other coating much faster than a well-hydrated surface. It’s thirsty! And changes in any of the other factors will also have an effect on drying and curing times.

We’ll get into all that more below.

Now, let’s look at the other possible scenarios that could make paint take longer to dry.

This is going to be FUN!

How to Make Paint Dry Faster

The 5 ways to make paint dry faster that we shall explore here today are:

  1. Planning your painting environment
  2. Increasing circulation & ventilation
  3. Applying the paint in thinner coats
  4. Increasing the temperature
  5. Reducing the humidity

Now let’s take a closer look at each.

Method 1: Plan Your Project’s Environment

Walls painted in red.

I was taught to, and believe in, spending extra time preparing for any job I undertake. When you plan your environment, you’ll end up with better results, whether it’s a paint job or any other type of constructive work.

Ideally, you’ll want your environment to be somewhere between 50 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit, and also have relatively low humidity. If your environment isn’t proper, your paint may not be able to perform appropriately.

Method 2: Increasing Circulation & Ventilation

I always have a window cracked in every room, and fans running all over my house, workshop, or wherever else I may find myself. Breathing is our first connection to life and it’s very important to keep the air moving at all times.

It can also help your paint to dry faster by increasing your environment’s evaporation rate. Plus, adequate ventilation coupled with consistent circulation will significantly reduce the amount of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that accumulate in your environment.

PRO TIP: Be careful about running a fan to increase circulation in an area that you’re applying fresh paint to, especially if you have recently been sanding in that space. You don’t want your fan to circulate dust through the air and onto your freshly painted surfaces. That wouldn’t be good at all!

So, consider facing your fan out of the room that you’re painting in and leaving a window in that room cracked or open. That way, the fan will draw air through the room, increasing circulation, but not blow any sawdust or other debris up onto your painted surfaces.

Method 3: Turn Up the Heat

 Electric heater in the living room.

As you would probably assume, warmer temperatures accommodate drying and curing better than cooler temps. In fact, if it is too cold in a room, the paint might not be able to activate properly. Cold air tends to increase the viscosity of paint, making it thicker and less workable.

Warming the paint up decreases its viscosity, making it thinner and more spreadable. So, after you finish your painting, crank up the heat in that area and seal it off. I set my temperature to about 80 degrees with good circulation and ventilation, and the paint always seems to dry faster than I can even go enjoy a delicious beer!

Whewie – it’s HOT in here!

Method 4: Applying the Paint in Thinner Coats

I see a lot of advice online about using thin coats of paint, relative to thicker coats, so that it dries faster in between coats. Hmmm. I don’t really like this idea.

My experience in painting (more than 30 years) has taught me that it is good to get a surface properly prepared, apply a coat of decent-grade primer, and then apply 1 thiccak coat of high-quality paint or other material. Many times, a second coat isn’t even necessary, meaning it wouldn’t matter how long it takes the first coat to dry. And if a second coat is needed, or just preferred, it spreads on smoothly and yields an excellent finish.

PRO TIP: So, instead of applying thin coats of paint (what I call “dry rolling”), I recommend using a good primer and then applying one good thick coat. Follow the rest of the tips in this article to make that primer coat and the first thick coat dry as quickly as possible. Again, I’m not really into rushing the procedure.

To me, painting is an art and an act of love, and I like to take my time with each phase of the process. That’s just me though, and I understand if you disagree. I just want the best paint job for you!

Method 5: Reduce the Humidity

Woman removing water in the dehumidifier.

The moisture in the air matters. If the environment is overly humid, the paint will dry slower. Conversely, a low humidity environment accommodates faster drying.

So, it’s a very good idea, whenever you’re painting anything, to go ahead and turn on a dehumidifier and set it for about 40% moisture. That’s a good, breathable moisture level that won’t slow your drying down like high humidity will.

Of course, anything less than 40% is also OK. I like to keep mine at 40% though, because that’s just a natural amount of atmospheric moisture that I find easiest to breathe in.

My Final Thoughts About How to Make Paint Dry Faster

So, there we are – 5 effective ways to speed up how fast paint dries. Remember that it’s always better to leave yourself plenty of time for every phase of a paint job, or any other type of home improvement project. Proper planning, having the right tools and equipment, using quality paint and other materials, and yes, allowing plenty of time for drying and curing, are all important for creating the best results.

And that’s what you want, right? The best results!

Thank you for reading along today, and I hope that you have learned some useful tips and information to help you in the case that you ever need to dry paint quicker. Always enjoy the process, wear proper safety gear, and take a little extra time to perform each phase of the paint job meticulously. You’ll be so happy that you did, for years to come, when you look back on your work and show it off to others!