The drying time of paint varies, depending on various things. However, on average, paint takes between a few minutes and eight hours to dry. The drying time depends on the surface, type of paint used, and ventilation.

The method used to spray and the surface preparation will also affect how long the paint takes to dry. This article discusses all these aspects and various FAQs.

Factors that Determine How Long Paint Takes to Dry

Four critical elements significantly determine how long paint takes to dry. They include temperature, ventilation, surface, and spray type. Here are a few insights into each of these aspects.

Humidity and Temperature

High temperatures often speed up the drying process. A temperature of about 65 degrees Fahrenheit and less than 85% humidity is excellent for shorter drying times. This temperature ensures that the paint dries within an hour.

Surface Type

The average drying time varies from one surface type to another. Different paints suit different surfaces. For instance, it takes longer for the paint to dry on steel than on cardboard. We shall discuss each type of surface shortly.


Good air circulation could help shorten the waiting period after painting your surface. This ventilation helps remove any toxic fumes out of the room as well. Experts suggest that you keep the windows open for between 48 and 72 hours after the paint job.

Paint Type

Different spray paints are meant for distinct surfaces. Understanding which paint is suitable for a specific surface helps minimize time and resource wastage.

Types of Surfaces

Surfaces play a critical role in determining your painting experience. Different surfaces require specific spray paints, and choosing the wrong paint could result in more extended drying periods.

Mostly, smoother surfaces take a shorter time to dry. Here are a few details about each surface and how long paint takes to dry on it.


Paint often dries much faster on metal than on any other material. However, this will happen if the humidity and temperature are favorable.

The drying period could be anywhere between two and ten minutes, depending on the temperature and humidity levels. On the other hand, it could take between 36 and 48 hours for the paint to dry in unfavorable conditions.


Paint on cardboards takes a relatively short time to dry. As long as the room temperature is high and the humidity is favorable, drying will take no more than 15 minutes.

There must also be enough ventilation in the room. If you intend to shorten the drying period, invest your time for sufficient surface preparation. Its soft texture is susceptible to damage. Unless prepared adequately, it could take so long for it to dry.


Paint takes about three hours to dry on a plastic surface. However, you are free to paint additional layers every three hours.


Paint on glass does not take way too long to dry. In an adequately ventilated room, this drying process will take approximately 24 hours. However, you can paint additional layers after between 15 and 20 minutes.


Paint on wood has almost similar characteristics to metal. It takes between 36 and 48 hours to completely dry. This period allows for all the paint to get absorbed before drying. However, if you intend to apply a new layer, you need to wait for only ten to 15 minutes.


Rubber comes with a porous surface, meaning that paint could take a more extended period to dry. Paint on rubber takes at least 24 hours to completely dry. You have to wait for about 30 minutes for you to apply a new layer of paint.

Types of Spray Paint

Spray paints are designed for specific surfaces. For excellent results, you must understand which spray paint to use on your surface. Here are the different types of spray paint and how long they could take to dry.

Epoxy or Polyurethane

Epoxy is among the most popular spray paints in the market. The elements in this paint must chemically react with the surface before finally drying. It takes approximately one to two hours to dry.

If the conditions are suitable, it could take about five minutes. Remember, epoxy is the fastest drying paint.


This paint takes relatively few minutes to start drying, thanks to its high evaporation rate. It often takes between 20 to 30 minutes for it to start drying. However, you have to wait for up to eight hours for it to dry fully.


Lacquer paint is a product of a thermoplastic polymer. It is often used on vehicles and wood furniture. The drying time often varies from one brand to another. However, on average, it takes between five and 30 minutes to dry. This paint will be fully dry within three hours.


Acrylic paint is suitable for ceramic, glass, and metal surfaces. It takes approximately 10 to 30 minutes for it to dry.

On the other hand, hard drying could take up to eight hours. However, 24 hours will assure you of much better results.


Vinyl takes a relatively short time to dry, mainly within one hour. However, you will wait for approximately six to 48 hours before you use your product or surface.


Latex refers to water-based paints, and it takes less than one hour to dry. However, you must wait for at least four hours before you can apply a new layer of latex paint.

Surface Preparation

Drying time often depends on how much you prepare your surface. Proper preparation often assures you of excellent results. Surface preparation varies from one type of surface to another.

This process entails the following elements:

  • Use ordinary detergents to clean the surface.
  • Ensure that you fill or repair any damaged or cracked surfaces, preferably filler or caulk.
  • Sand the surface, mainly with 80-grit sandpaper.
  • Patch and mask up with painter’s tape.
  • Prime to seal your surface.

The Stages of Drying

Drying goes through four critical stages before it finally dries.

These stages are as follows:

  1. Surface Dry. Surface dry happens when the solvent of the paint evaporates. It leaves a relatively thin membrane on the surface of the paint. At this stage, the paint is a little too sticky to touch.
  2. Touch Dry. This stage allows you to touch the paint. However, you cannot apply any pressure on it, as it will readily break and stick to your finger.
  3. Hard Dry. This third stage of drying shows a dry surface. However, you still cannot apply too much pressure on it. That is because you will leave fingerprints on this paint at this stage. However, at this stage, the paint does not stick to your fingers.
  4. Thorough Dry. This is the last stage of drying, and it shows complete drying. At this point, you can touch and even apply pressure on the given surface.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to Make Paint Dry Faster?

There are various ways to make the paint dry much faster.

You will need to consider doing the following:

  • Ensure that you apply relatively light coats.
  • Ensure that the room has enough air circulation, as this shortens the drying period.
  • There should be friendly temperature levels in the room, preferably 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Use a mini heat gun at this point.

How Do You Know When the Spray Paint is Dry?

Paints take varying durations to dry, mainly depending on the surface and type of stain. In most cases, you will have to touch the paint to know whether it is dry. Sticky paint implies that it is not yet dry.

On the other hand, dry paint can sustain a little pressure on it without necessarily being sticky or leaving fingerprints. Ensure that you give your paint enough time before touching it.

Otherwise, you will end up messing your work. The approximate wait period will often be 30 minutes.

How Long to Let Paint Dry on Wood?

The waiting period will often vary with the type of paint used. For instance, oil-based paints take between six and eight hours to dry. However, you can only consider a recoat after approximately 24 hours.

On the other hand, you will wait for approximately one hour before you can touch latex paint on wood. Its recoat can only suffice after about 4 hours.

On average, it takes about 36 to 48 hours for paint on wood to completely dry. Remember, the wood has to absorb the stain before it can entirely dry.

How Long Does It Take for Spray Paint to Dry on Metal?

There is no denying that paint takes much longer to dry on metal. It is significantly affected by the temperature and humidity levels in the room.

This paint will often take between 36 and 48 hours to dry or cure. The time will depend on the temperature levels.

It will always be vital for you to clean the metal before applying any coat of stain on it. Properly preparing and cleaning the surface ensures that the paint takes a shorter time to cure. It will be best for you to consider applying some primer at this time too. It helps minimize issues in the long run.

How Long Does It Take for Spray Paint to Dry on Plastic?

Mostly, spray paint does not adhere to plastic properly. For that reason, it would be best to clean and prepare the surface properly before you apply paint. This move ensures that the coat does not crack or peel off in the long run.

The paint takes about 15 to 30 minutes to dry. This period allows you to touch the paint without remaining with any print on your fingers. You can apply a recoat after 30 minutes. However, it will take around three or four hours before it can completely dry.

How Long Does It Take for Spray Paint To Dry Between Coats?

The duration will often vary with the temperature and humidity levels in the room. The optimal temperature for faster drying is between 65 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

In such conditions, the spray will take about five to 30 minutes to dry. That means you can apply a new coat every five minutes.

However, you will wait for one or two hours before it can finally dry. Some surfaces, including wood and metal, require you to wait for about 24 hours before you can apply a new coat of paint.

How Long Does It Take for Spray Paint To Dry Before Wet Sanding?

As long as you want to wet sand, it would be best to wait for approximately 30 to 60 minutes. However, some surfaces require you to wait for about two to five days. This happens in the case of fresh paint.

Wet sanding your surface much sooner will often compromise the quality of your paint. This process aims to remove runs or orange peel. Doing it sooner will only worsen the situation.

Does Spray Paint Dry Faster in the Sun?

The optimal temperature for faster drying is between 65 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. If the sun temperature is within this range, you will be sure of better paint results. However, extreme heat could end up jeopardizing your entire experience.

It is not easy to measure optimal sun heat, meaning you should not consider painting under direct sunlight. Sunlight is also less ideal for curing or drying the paint.

While it is recommended that you paint in relatively warm temperatures, painting under direct and bright sunlight could be problematic.

Direct sunlight is hot enough to enhance the evaporation of the solvents and paint. With this, you end up with little clumps all over your painted surface.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, paints take varying times to dry. The duration depends on the type of paint used and the surface painted. Optimal temperature and humidity levels will help shorten this period.

For excellent results, ensure that the temperatures are within 65 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. With the details provided above, it becomes easier for you to know the approximate period it will take for paint to dry.