When using spray paint for a project, I always wonder how long I have to wait for the paint to dry. I typically want to dive back into my project as soon as possible. If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably wondered how to make spray paint dry faster.
Luckily, there are many ways you can speed up the spray paint’s drying time. You could coat the surface with wax-based furniture polish or bake the paint in the oven. The easiest option is to alter aspects of your environment like airflow or humidity for fast-drying results.
In this article, we’ll dive into how long spray paint takes to dry and the methods you can use to speed up the dry time. We’ll even show you some of the best fast-drying spray paint brands for your next project.
How Long Does Spray Paint Take to Dry?
In general, spray paint takes at least a few hours to dry thoroughly. You can handle and re-coat the pain after a few hours. However, some brands take much longer to fully cure. You may need to wait 24 hours or more for the paint to fully cure.
You can check the label on the spray paint bottle for an exact estimate on how long it takes to dry. Sometimes the dry time is challenging to find, but most brands print it along with other product information. However, this is an estimation. Many factors go into how long spray paint takes to dry, such as humidity, air circulation, and the surface you’re painting.
What Is the Difference Between Dry Time and Cure Time?
To understand how spray paint dries, we need to discuss the difference between dry time and cure time. A paint’s dry time is the length of time between painting coats or the re-coat time. On the other hand, the cure time is how long it takes for the paint to dry before your project is complete and you can use the object.
Spray paint goes through four main drying stages, including:
- Surface dry: The paint’s solvent evaporates.
- Touch dry: This is when the paint may stop sticking to your finger.
- Hard dry: When the spray paint’s top layer becomes hard and is not likely to come off.
- Thorough dry or fully cured: The entire surface is dry, and the object is ready for use.
The cure time typically takes longer because the solvents evaporate from the paint’s surface as the drying process is underway. The paint cures when these residual solvents leave the film and link with air to create a robust and tough exterior.
How To Make Spray Paint Dry Faster
There are many ways you can make spray paint dry faster. The easiest methods involve altering elements of your environment, such as air circulation, humidity, or heat. However, how you apply the paint can also play a massive role in the dry time. Here are seven options to speed up how fast your spray paint dries.
1. Use Thin Coats
When applying paint, the best rule of thumb to follow is to paint in thin coats. The thinner the paint coats, the quicker the dry time. The technique you use to apply spray paint tends to result in thin coats already. However, you may make mistakes that could cause the paint to dry slower. For example, using thick coats could cause tacky-feeling paint.
For the best results, use your entire hand to move the can across the surface as you apply the paint. Avoid only moving your wrist. This technique can also help you avoid overlapping too much paint in one section and stick with lighter coats instead.
You can also use solvent or paint thinner to alter the thickness. Fast-drying spray paint also tends to provide more control over the application.
2. Lower the Humidity
For spray paint to dry quickly, you need low humidity. High humidity levels slow the drying process and even result in damage that can ruin your paint jobs, such as paint drips or dust contamination. Humidity levels between 40 and 70% are ideal.
Never paint during particularly humid days. If your location is humid, try reducing the moisture in the air with a dehumidifier. Sometimes opening windows and doors while painting is helpful if it’s your home that’s humid. If it’s humid outside, try to keep the windows shut.
3. Create Air Circulation
Ventilation is crucial when you’re working with paint, mainly spray paint. Many paint types, including most spray paint brands, contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are dangerous to breathe. Before you paint, it’s important to open windows and make sure you have plenty of airflow.
If you’re working inside, you could use a fan to produce more air circulation. Keep the fan running after you’re done painting to boost the dry time further. For outdoor projects, painting in a garage allows you to have access to a box fan as well. You want to avoid spray painting on windy days outdoors for safety reasons.
Be careful not to run a fan in a dirty room. Doing so could cause the fan to kick up dirt and debris, causing it to stick to your paint. Avoid placing the fan too close as well, or you could cause the paint to move and smear.
4. Run a Heater Nearby
Like a box fan, a space heater is an excellent way to create more airflow. The combination of the higher temperatures and air circulation is beneficial if you need to cut the drying period by a few hours. A heater is particularly useful on chilly or humid days, as using a heater can also help reduce humidity levels.
There are a few ways to use this method. You can run a heater near your work area to help paint dry faster. Leave the project to dry with a heater running near the surface, and the spray paint may dry to the touch in minutes instead of hours. Alternatively, you could turn up the heat in your home if you’re painting indoors.
Running a heater does not drastically reduce the drying time, but it could reduce the time it takes for spray paint to dry from 24 to a few hours. If you don’t have a space heater, you can try running a hairdryer over the painted surface.
5. Paint Outside on a Sunny Day
Why not allow mother nature to help dry your paint quickly? You can control the environment without overthinking the heat, humidity, and airflow by choosing a nice, sunny day to paint outside. Plus, the safest option is to use spray paint outdoors on a warm day.
Plan to make sure you can paint outside on a warm, sunny day. Many people enjoy painting outdoors in the summer because the hotter temperature speeds up the dry time. Start painting immediately in the morning, so the objects have plenty of time to dry.
Shoot for painting on an optimal day, when the temperature is between 65 and 85 degrees F. Humidity levels should remain average, with no rain in the forecast.
6. Coat Spray Paint with Furniture Polish
A little-known trick to help spray paint dry faster is to apply wax-based furniture polish. The polish can be challenging to find, but it can make spray paint dry instantly. It works like a matte sealant. Look for a wax-based polish you can spray for simple application.
Use the spray paint as usual, then coat the paint with furniture polish. Hold the can a few inches above the object and spray the entire painted surface. You may need multiple, thin layers. Allow it to dry for around 5 minutes before adding another coat. Wipe off the excess polish with a soft rag. Avoid applying too much pressure, or some of the polish may come off.
You may not need more than a single coat for some projects. For example, wood tends to need at least 2-3 layers of furniture polish. Always test to see if the object is dry using the pad of your pinky finger to pat gently. When the surface is touch dry, you can handle the object.
7. Curing Spray Paint in Oven
Finally, you can cure spray paint in a toaster oven. When the spray paint is dry to the touch, bake it at 250 degrees F for around two hours. Baking enamel paint is an ideal option. Some paints may bubble or crack at high temperatures. Make sure to use paint that’s safe to cure in an oven.
Never use a traditional over to dry spray paint. As spray paint dries, it releases harmful VOCs and chemicals into the air that could adhere to the inside of your oven. The next time you cook food in the same oven, these chemicals get released back into the food. Use caution with this method. Use a toaster oven, and only use it for drying paint.
How Long Does It Take for Spray Paint to Dry on Varying Materials?
The time it takes your spray paint to dry also depends on the surface you paint. For example, a porous surface may take longer. Although the drying process is not drastically altered, varying materials slightly shift the drying time.
Wood is a highly porous surface, so it often requires multiple coats of paint. Most wooden surfaces require at least an hour or two of dry time. Water-based paint will dry faster on wood than oil-based, on average. It’s best to paint wood with spray paint when temperatures are between 65 and 85 degrees F, so use a heater or paint on a sunny day for faster results.
Metal is a fast-drying, sleek surface. On a warm, sunny day with low humidity, spray paint can dry in as little as 10 minutes. You can increase the dry time of spray paint on metal with warmer temperatures. Using a space heater or painting outside on a warmer day could help the paint dry quicker.
Similar to paper, cardboard is another porous and soft surface that’s easy to warp if you apply too much paint at once. You must be careful not to layer the paint too heavily. Ventilation is an excellent way to speed up the dry time for the cardboard to around 15 minutes. Place a box fan near your project or paint outside for these results.
You can also try using the wax-based furniture polish method for cardboard. The polish acts as a paint sealant, which is highly recommended to use when you’re working with cardboard. Plus, the spray comes out lightly and doesn’t tend to run.
Glass is an unusual surface to spray paint. The surface is smooth, and the paint tends to run, drip, or streak on a surface like it.
For the best results, apply the spray paint in very thin, light coats. Provide plenty of dry time between the coats, between 15 minutes and sometimes up to 24 hours. Try using airflow or heat to speed up the process. You can also cure glass in a toaster oven at 350 degrees F for about 15 minutes.
Rubber is highly porous, so it takes considerable dry time. It’s best to plan your time accordingly if you want to spray paint rubber because you need to apply multiple coats, waiting around 24 hours between layers.
Does Spray Paint Dry Faster in Heat or Cold?
Learning how spray paint tends to dry under certain temperatures is helpful when painting interiors and exteriors. You’ll know where to set the thermostat as you work and be able to collect the fans or other equipment you may need to circulate the air or reduce humidity.
The temperature must remain above 50 degrees F for paint to dry correctly. If the paint freezes, it could slow down the dry time and cause damage to your project. In temperatures that are too cold, the paint does not bond to the surface. The paint would feel sticky or sloppy.
Overall, hotter temperatures help paint dry faster.
With too hot of a temperature, the paint will also dry too quickly and cause cracking. Avoid spray painting when it’s above 90 degrees F. If the paint cracks, you need to remove the top layer and start over again when the temperature has dropped.
Check the bottle on your spray paint for the most ideal temperatures. Some brands make spray paint you can use in cooler conditions, which is beneficial if you live in a northern location with long, cold winters.
In warmer locations, using a fan is ideal. It helps move the air and pull moisture from the paint, reducing the dry time.
Will a Heat Gun Help Spray Paint Dry Faster?
A heat gun is a popular tool DIY-ers use to strip paint from surfaces. If you turn the heat gun to a lower temperature setting, you can use it to dry paint significantly faster. However, using a heat gun is not an instant fix. You also need to follow safety precautions to avoid starting a fire.
To use a heat gun to dry spray paint, plug it in and set the temperature to 450 degrees F. Avoid temperatures as high as 750 degrees F, or the paint may start to boil and peel. This process is best for wooden furniture or painted walls, rather than sensitive surfaces like canvas or paper.
Hold the heat gun no more than two inches from the painted surface. Move the heat gun around to spread the temperature evenly. Never keep it in a single area for too long. Keep moving the heat gun until the surface is entirely dry, which generally takes around 10 minutes.
Does Spray Paint Dry Faster in the Sun?
For the best results, avoid spray painting in direct sunlight. The sun can cause spray paint to dry too fast, causing issues with peeling or marks. You want to work outside on a sunny day, but don’t leave the object to dry under harsh sunlight. The sun is powerful in the summer too.
Does Spray Paint Need to Dry Completely Before Adding Another Coat?
If you’re going to add another coat of spray paint, do you need to wait for the first layer to cure completely? No. The paint should be touch dry or in a semi-dry state before adding the next coat. When the paint’s surface feels dry, you can add a new layer. If it’s not dry enough, paint may remain wet too long and cause damage.
Best Fast Drying Spray Paint
Some types of spray paint are specifically formulated to dry faster as well. Here are the best fast-drying options on the market today.
Pintyplus Evolution Solvent Based Spray PaintPintyplus Evolution Solvent Based Spray Paint is a fast-drying acrylic paint. It’s excellent for many interior and exterior surfaces, including wood, cardboard, paper, metal, stone, and even some plastics. The paint has a matte finish, and it comes in 12 colors.
With this premium spray paint, you can finish any type of project faster. The best part about Evolution spray paint is that it has a low odor and is better for the environment. You can also paint over the surface in as little as 15 minutes.
Krylon 1602 Fast-Drying Spray PaintKrylon is a well-known brand of spray paint with an “acryli-quick” formula. It’s an enamel paint with a high gloss or matte finish that’s ideal for metal and wood. The line of spray paints is formulated for industrial maintenance or touch-ups.
Unlike other enamel paints for metal surfaces, this paint dries quickly. It provides the perfect appearance without drips and runs. But the best part is that the paint does not require downtime to dry between coats. You can re-coat the object anytime. It dries fully in 8 minutes.
Most spray paints dry within 24 hours, but there are many techniques you can use to cut back on the drying time. If you want to reduce dry time, plan by picking a warm, nice day to paint outside in the fall or spring. You can also use tricks like furniture polish or a toaster oven to alter the time.
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