How Long Does It Take For Paint To Dry?

When doing any kind of home building or renovations, you’re bound to paint something at some point.

Whether you’re focusing on the interior or exterior of your home, a new coat of paint can sometimes be all you need to completely freshen up a living space and make it look like something new.

How Long Does It Take For Paint To Dry?

Although painting is so common in home improvements, many people don’t know how long it takes for paint to dry.

If your paint hasn’t dried completely and you start moving furniture or get too close, you can easily ruin the finish as well as your soft furnishings or clothes!

In this article, we will look at how long it takes for paint to dry and what factors affect this timescale.

Let’s get started!

How Long Does It Take For Paint To Dry?

This is a more complex question to answer than it might seem at first glance. This is because there are many different factors that can affect the drying process.

We also need to define what we mean by dry, as there are different stages of drying.

For example, paint can be dry enough to accept another coat but it might not be dry enough to be touched or brushed against.

For that process to happen and for your paint to be completely dry, or cured, it might take up to 72 hours.

Factors That Affect The Drying Time

Let’s take a look at some of the factors that affect the drying time scale and then we can use these to answer our question. 

How The Type Of Paint Can Affect The Drying Time

One of the major factors that dictate how long it takes for paint to dry is what type of paint you’re using.

When doing home improvements, whether they’re exterior or interior, you will usually need to choose between paints that are oil-based or latex-based.

Paints that are oil-based are often more common as they’re thicker, more durable, and more water-resistant.

They generally have a glossier finish to them as well, making them very popular around the home.

In contrast, latex paint is water-based, making it a thinner consistency than oil-based paint. It will also give you a matte finish instead of a glossy finish.

The drying times of these two paints can differ greatly. When it comes to drying enough for another coat to be added, using latex paint is far quicker.

In fact, latex paint can be ready for another coat in only an hour! Oil-based paint, on the other hand, could take six to eight hours to be ready for more.

Oil-based paint is generally considered to be more durable so it is more commonly used around the home, especially in areas of high traffic.

Latex paint is more durable than it used to be, however, and is a great choice if you need your paint to dry fast.

How The Application Of The Paint Can Affect The Drying Time

How Long Does It Take For Paint To Dry?

Another major factor that can affect the drying time of the paint is how it is applied.

Many paints are advertised as needing only one coat, but even with these paints, one coat isn’t always the best option. 

You will often need to apply a thick coat of paint and this will take longer to dry than a thinner coat would. You’ll find that two thin coats of paint will have a better finish and each coat will dry quicker than a thicker coat.

As you apply your paint, make sure that you regularly stir the paint. This is because oil-based paints will separate and latex paint needs to be mixed as well.

If the paint separates, it won’t cover your surfaces as well or as evenly, resulting in a poor finish and longer drying time.

We would recommend using a high-quality paint roller when painting larger surfaces.

This helps distribute the paint more evenly and will help you create a thin layer with fewer drips than if you used a brush. Any paint that has drips and blemishes will take longer to dry. 

Before you apply a second coat of paint, ensure that the first layer is dry. If it isn’t, your second layer will become messy and will take longer to dry as well.

How The Location Can Affect The Drying Time

The location of the surfaces you’re painting will also determine how long it takes for the paint to dry. This is regardless of whether you are painting the interior or exterior of your home.

The optimal temperature for drying paint is around 70 degrees Fahrenheit, but you should be able to successfully paint surfaces if the temperatures range from 50 to 90 degrees.

If you’re painting in the middle of summer or winter and the temperatures are outside of these ranges, we would advise delaying the painting until a milder day with better temperatures.

When painting outside, you should also avoid painting right after some rain or if the humidity is much over 50 percent.

When you’re painting indoors, you can use fans, air conditioners, or heat systems to try and get a better temperature.

Opening windows will help as well as they will promote more airflow, just be careful if the exterior temperature is too hot or cold.

If you live in a humid part of the country and have some exterior painting to do, try to schedule your painting for spring or fall.

You should get some days of sunshine and dry weather in spring that are suitable and some warmer days during fall or early winter.

Final Thoughts

In this article, we looked at how long it takes for paint to dry. We learned that there are several factors that affect this timescale and one of the major factors is the type of paint.

Latex paint dries quickly but oil-based paint can take 72 hours to fully dry. You also need to consider how the paint is applied, the location, and temperatures. 

We hope that the details in this article will answer your questions.

Joel Adams
Latest posts by Joel Adams (see all)