DIY Painting & Finishing

Solved! How Long Does It Take for Spray Paint to Dry?

Find out how long spray paint needs to dry, so you can move on with the next step in your painting project.
Deirdre Mundorf Avatar
how long does it take for spray paint to dry


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Q: I found an old table and chair set at a thrift store, but the finish is scratched up and I’m not a huge fan of the current color. I’d like to spray paint the set to give it new life and help it match my dining room decor, but I’m not sure how long I should wait between applying each coat of paint. How long does it take for spray paint to dry?

A: “How long does spray paint take to dry?” is a common question that doesn’t have a simple answer. Even when you choose the best spray paint for your project, a number of variables can impact dry time, including the material type, the type of paint, and even the humidity and temperature. Additionally, there is a difference between paint being cured (100 percent dry) and just dry to the touch. You can apply additional coats of paint after just a few minutes, but it can take hours for the paint to cure and be fully dry. In many cases, the package instructions on the spray paint you’re using will offer the most reliable information to help you successfully complete a project. Continue reading to learn some general information about how long spray paint takes to dry and some other spray painting tips to help you plan out different projects.

It depends what you’re spray painting.

When you’re asking, “How long does it take spray paint to dry?” the answer can vary greatly depending on the type of surface you’re painting. For example, if you’re spray painting furniture made from metal, the drying time will be different than if you’re spray painting a wooden sign. Generally speaking, smoother and nonporous surfaces dry more quickly than their rough and porous counterparts. Here are some estimated dry times for different surface types:

  • Metal: Paint dry time for metal is typically lower than for other materials. Thin coats of spray paint on metal can be dry to the touch after only 10 minutes. However, it can take up to 24 hours for the paint to fully cure.
  • Plastic: Spray paint takes about 30 minutes to feel dry to the touch on plastic surfaces. If you can touch the surface without getting any paint on your hands or leaving any impression on it, then the paint has cured. Allowing 24 hours for the paint to cure on plastic items before using them is a good idea.
  • Wood: The length of time needed for spray paint to dry on wood varies more than for other surface types and depends on the type of paint, the thickness of each layer, and the temperature in the room. In most cases, however, spray paint on wood should be dry to the touch after about an hour; but again the paint may need up to 24 hours to fully cure.

RELATED: The Best Spray Paint for Metal Surfaces

The paint formula plays a factor.

how long does it take for spray paint to dry

How long for spray paint to dry can also vary based on the type of paint you use. Polyurethane and epoxy spray paints dry the fastest. After about 5 minutes the surface should be dry to the touch, and after only an hour it should be fully dry.

Lacquer spray paints are made with thermoplastic polymers that will offer a surface-dry feeling after just a few minutes. However, for lacquer paints to completely dry, you’ll need to wait approximately 3 hours.

Enamel and latex paints take the longest to dry. These paint types may require up to 8 hours to be fully dry.

Air temperature and humidity can affect how long it takes for spray paint to dry.

The temperature in the space where you are working will also impact paint dry times. Generally speaking, warmer temperatures are better for helping spray paint dry more quickly. Spray paint in cold weather, especially in below-freezing temperatures, can freeze or have its consistency negatively impacted. In most cases, spray painting in an indoor or outdoor space with a temperature between 65 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit will yield the best results.

The humidity of the space is another important factor to consider. High humidity levels will lead to increased drying times for all material types. For best results and faster drying times, work in a low-humidity space.

RELATED: The Best Copper Spray Paint for Your DIY Projects

How to Make Spray Paint Dry Faster

how long does it take for spray paint to dry

While there are a number of variables that can impact how long spray paint takes to dry, you can take steps to help the paint dry more quickly.

Apply thin coats.

Thin coats of paint dry quicker than thicker coats. Rather than over-spraying to fully cover a surface, allow the first pass to dry for a few minutes, then spray some more. Applying thin coats of paint can also prevent the spray paint from running or pooling on the item.

Reduce humidity in the air.

As we shared above, spray paint takes longer to dry in high-humidity spaces. Taking measures to decrease the humidity before spray painting, such as using a dehumidifier or keeping the windows closed, can be effective. If you are planning on painting outside, check the weather forecast and avoid painting on humid days.

RELATED: How To: Remove Spray Paint

Place a fan nearby.

Placing a fan close to the objects you spray paint can also help speed up dry times. Fans provide increased air circulation, which allows for faster evaporation and shorter drying times. However, if using a fan, make sure the area is free of dust or dirt to avoid blowing debris on your freshly painted surfaces.

Turn up the heat.

One more tip for how to dry paint fast is to raise the temperature in the room. Consider turning up the thermostat when painting indoors, using a blow dryer over smaller surfaces, or placing painted items out in the warm sun to dry.