How Long To Wait Between Coats Of Paint

When painting any kind of surface you will probably need to apply more than one coat of paint.

This is the same whether you’re working on the interior or exterior of your home and whether you’re working with wood, metal, or any other material. 

How Long To Wait Between Coats Of Paint

Waiting around for a base coat to dry so that you can apply the next coat can be frustrating, especially if you don’t know how long it takes for each coat to dry.

You want to finish the painting as quickly as possible, but try too quickly and your surface will only become messy.

In this article, we will look at how long you should wait between coats of paint.

What Do Dry, Cure, And Recoat Mean?

Before we answer the question of how long you need to wait between coats of paint, we need to clarify a few terms.

You’ll often see the terms dry, cure, and recoat used when it comes to paint but these words all mean very different things.


This refers to how long it takes for wet paint to become tack-free. You can touch dry paint with your fingers without them getting wet, but it doesn’t mean that the drying process has finished.

Below the top skin of the paint it can still be wet, so it’s not necessarily ready for being repainted. 


This is the time the paint needs to be fully dried and hardened from the skin all the way down. It means the paint is dry on a molecular level and is completely touchable and washable.

It can take weeks for paint to reach this level in some climates.


This is somewhere between dry and cure. It means that the paint is ready to be repainted and you can apply your next coat of paint.

How long this takes depends on the type of paint and this is what we will look at in this article.

How Long To Wait Between Coats Of Paint

How Long To Wait Between Coats Of Paint

Paint can generally be broken down into two broad categories: oil-based and water-based.

The recoat time for the different types of paint will be different so the first thing you need to consider is the type of paint that you are using. 

Let’s take a look at the recoat time for both types of paint.

Recoat Time For Oil-Based Paints

Oil-based paint is a great choice for surfaces such as doors, cabinets, and indoor trims because it’s more durable than water-based paints.

Unfortunately, oil-based paints take longer to dry than water-based paints.

For oil-dry based paints to be ready for another coat of paint, it’s best to wait a full 24 hours.

They will feel ready after only a couple of hours, but this is usually just the top skin of the paint. For the best results, wait for 24 hours.

Recoat Time For Water-Based Paints

Water-based paints will also dry more quickly than oil-based paints. This is because water-based paints dry by the process of water evaporation and this is quicker than the way oil-based paints dry.

Different types of water-based paints will be ready for another coat in different amounts of time. In general terms, the flatter the sheen of the paint, the more quickly it will dry.

For example, glossy paints will take the longest amount of time to dry but flat or matte paint will dry in the quickest amount of time.

Here are some rough times for water-based paints being ready for another coat of paint.

  • Primer: 30 minutes
  • Flat or matte paint: 30 to 60 minutes
  • Eggshell or semi-gloss paint: 60 minutes
  • Glossy paint: 60 to 90 minutes

Factors That Can Affect Recoat Time

The timings we’ve given regarding recoat time all assume that the paint is drying in average conditions.

Unfortunately, there are several factors that can make the drying times of paint take even longer and you should take these into account when you’re painting.

Temperature And Humidity

Even when painting indoors, you need to be aware of the temperature and humidity of the room you’re painting in.

These can both greatly affect your drying and recoat times and you should always try to paint during the optimum temperature parameters.

Avoid painting during the height of summer or winter as neither extreme is suitable.

Water-based paints will generally dry quicker if the temperature is around 70 degrees Fahrenheit and there is a little humidity in the air. The best conditions for oil-based paints, however, is between 50 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

Water-based paints are greatly affected by both cold temperatures and high humidity.

As we explained earlier, water-based paints dry because the water in the paint evaporates, but it won’t be able to evaporate if it is too cold or too humid.

Paint will usually dry quicker if there is some fresh air circulating. Try to open the windows if you’re painting indoors and use some fans to move the air around.

As long as the temperature outdoors isn’t too hot or cold, a breeze should speed up your drying times.

Application Method

Another factor that can greatly affect your drying time is how the paint is applied. Paint that has been sprayed usually dries the quickest.

This is because it is applied in a thin and even coat and some paints can be ready in as little as 30 minutes when sprayed.

In contrast, using a roller to paint will result in longer drying times. Rolled–on paint is usually applied in thicker coats so it will take longer for the paint to be ready for another application.

Make sure you follow the full recoat times if you use a roller.

Final Thoughts

In this article, we looked at how long you should wait between coats of paint. We found that it depends on the type of paint that is used.

Some types of water-based paint can be ready in as little as 30 to 60 minutes, but oil-based paint can take a full 24 hours.

Joel Adams
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