How Long Does It Take Paint to Dry?

Whether you are using paint to transform an entire room or to recycle old furniture, you should pay attention to the drying time of a particular type of paint. Attempting to apply another coat before the first is complete can cause streaking and scuffing, which is difficult to correct and takes more time. Waiting too long between coats won’t hurt your paint job, but it will make the project take much longer than it should.

Thanks to modern paint technology, most paints available today dry very quickly, but the time needed between coats can vary significantly depending on the paint formula. Different types of varnish, different lacquers and varnishes from different manufacturers have slightly different formulations, which affects the expected drying time.

Different levels of dry ink

The drying times on paint can be confusing if you have no experience with painting and decorating, but they are easy to understand once you know what each drying time means.

Contact drying time

The time the paint takes to dry is called the drying time. At this point, you can lightly press your fingertips into the paint without leaving an imprint or walking away with paint on your hands. Once the wet paint has dried, you can let pets or children into the room without fear of them getting paint stains, but at that point the paint is not yet dry enough to repaint.


The overpaint time indicates how long the wet paint must dry before a new coat is applied. This time is longer than the drying time because the paint has to harden a bit before it can rub against the roller or brush without the paint running or slipping. You should allow equal time between coats to achieve an even, flawless finish. The overlap time indicated refers to the minimum time that should elapse between layers; you can wait longer if you wish.

Duration of treatment

The drying time is the time the paint needs to fully harden and become washable and wear-resistant. Many people are surprised at how long it can take, and some types of painting can take weeks or even months. You should not push or rub furniture against it until the paint has fully cured. The drying time varies greatly depending on the type of paint and can also depend on weather conditions.

Oil painting

Oil-based paints are more resistant to wear than water-based paints and are therefore often used for wooden surfaces and high traffic areas. If you want your paint to cure quickly, oil paint is a good choice because it usually only takes seven days for the paint to fully cure. The disadvantage of oil colours in terms of drying time, however, is that you have to wait quite a long time between layers, so that a painting project can take days.

Oil paints are usually hand-dry within four to eight hours. More detailed information about the drying time of the handle can be found in the information about your paint. If possible, it is best to avoid touching oil paint, even if you think it is a dry film, as fingerprints are very visible with this type of paint. Most oil paints require a waiting period of 24 hours between coats, as they must be completely dry before an additional coat can be applied without the risk of damaging the existing paint film.

Water-based paint

Water-based paints, when it comes to indoor paints, are called latex paints by most people. These types of coatings have a water content, as opposed to oil-based coatings. The water evaporates, causing the paint to dry. The advantage of water-based paints is that they dry incredibly quickly, in some cases they are hand-dry in as little as 30 minutes. You can also finish your project much faster with water-based paints than with oil-based paints, as the coverage time is usually one to four hours.

However, it is interesting to note that the drying time for water-based paints is much longer. On average, most water-based paints take 30 days to dry completely, but if the weather conditions are not ideal, it may take a few weeks longer. A water-based paint affects the drying time. General Rule: The shinier the paint, the longer the drying time between layers. This is because water-based paints contain binders that hold the colour pigments.

Matt coatings contain less binder and glossy coatings have a higher percentage of binder. The more binders in the paint, the longer it takes to dry. If you are in a hurry to finish a project, flat or matte paint is best because it dries in 30 minutes to an hour and can be painted over in one to two hours. Egg shells are also a good option, as they dry by hand in an hour and can be applied in layers after two hours. The disadvantage of matte lacquer is that it is the least resistant to wear and tear, while eggshell offers a little more protection.

When it comes to water-based paints that need to be durable, semi-gloss and gloss paints are the most reliable options. They are usually dry after one to two hours and may overlap after two to four hours. It is best to consult the information on your paint can, as this time is a guide and may vary depending on the paint composition.

Factors that affect paint drying time

The drying time of the paint can depend on a number of factors. If you want the paint to dry faster, it is therefore advisable to adjust the space or the method of application to create ideal conditions for the paint to dry.


The ideal temperature for drying water-based paint is about 70 degrees Fahrenheit. This type of paint does not dry well at low temperatures because drying requires water to evaporate, which happens faster in a warm, but not hot environment. By comparison, oil paint hardens when oxidized, so it’s not as temperature dependent and dries quickly. Oil colours dry well at temperatures between 50 and 90 degrees Celsius.


Moisture can affect the drying process of water-based coatings because it affects the evaporation capacity of the water in the coating. Ideally, you want medium humidity so the paint dries quickly. If you are painting in a humid environment, close the windows and turn on the fan or air conditioner. If it is warm outside, it may help to open a window to let the paint dry, but if the humidity is high, it is better to keep the windows closed. Oil colours are not affected by humidity.

Method of application

The way the paint is applied affects the expected drying time. Thick layers of paint are applied with a roller or brush, so this method takes longer for the paint to dry. A paint sprayer is the best method if you are in a hurry. This is because the spray cans apply a very thin layer of paint to the surface, which makes them dry faster. Using a sprayer also reduces application time, as large areas can be covered quickly, significantly reducing the time it takes to complete the project. With a paint sprayer, even glossy paints can be dry in 30 minutes.

It can be frustrating to wait for the paint to dry between coats, especially if you’re using a glossy paint or oil-based paint, but don’t be tempted to take shortcuts, as this usually leads to streaking and poor paint performance. You might be tempted to apply the paint in a thick layer to reduce the number of coats needed and speed up the project, but this too is a bad idea.

Thick layers of paint cause drips and give the surface an uneven appearance. Thick layers also take much longer to dry than expected, so you’re not really gaining any time. The best method to achieve a professional finish is to apply several thin coats rather than a minimum of thick coats, and wait the necessary time between coats to allow the paint to dry completely.

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