Before painting something, it really does help to know how long the paint will take to dry. Knowing how long paint takes to dry will let you know when to plan the second coat, and how long the project might take overall.
Spray paint is an amazing medium to paint with, and you can cover bigger areas quicker and give a project a really great finished look.
But how long does spray paint take to dry? How long spray paint takes to dry depends on the type of spray paint you are using, and what you are painting the spray paint on. Spray paint on plastic takes 30 minutes or longer to dry, and on metal, it can be as quick as 10 minutes.
Understanding the different types of spray paint, and the different materials you might be painting on gives you a good indication of how long you might wait for the paint to dry.
Keep reading to find out more, and what to expect!
The Different Drying Stages
Spray paint goes through different drying stages, and being familiar with these stages will help you determine when the paint is ready for another coat, or if you need to wait a little bit longer.
Here are the different stages that spray paint goes through before it is completely dry:
Surface Dry – This is the first stage of drying. A thin layer develops on the surface of the spray paint that appears slightly dry. This is sticky to the touch and often breaks through to the still-wet bottom layer.
Touch Dry – When the paint is touch dry, the paint will come off onto your fingers if you press down lightly on the paint. The paint is not necessarily sticky and will not stick to your fingers, but it is definitely not dry yet.
Hard Dry – Hard dry is the stage where the paint will not necessarily rub off too easily, but it can still be damaged and should be left to dry more.
Thorough Dry – Once the paint is fully dry and not easily damaged, it is considered thorough dry. This is when you can apply the next coat of paint safely, or use the object that you have painted.
How long the spray paint takes to get through all of these stages depends on a few different factors, such as climate and how thick the paint is.
Spray Paint Drying Time On Different Materials
Spray paint can be used on plastic, and you might get away with one coat, or you would have to wait for the paint to dry before applying another coat.
When spray paint is applied to a plastic surface, such as a deck chair, it could take half an hour to dry completely. You might notice that it will probably be touch dry at around 10 minutes, but you should still wait until it is thoroughly dry before applying another coat or using the object.
Even if you check the paint at 20 minutes and it doesn’t stick to your fingers, it is best to wait the full 30 minutes to be completely sure it is dry all of the way through.
Spray paint is a great option to use on metal and can help to restore or decorate some ordinary metal pieces.
The great bit of using spray paint on metal is that it dries quite quickly. On metal, spray paint can dry in as little as 10 minutes. This is when the conditions are right, such as when it is painted in a warm room where there is no extra moisture.
There are many variables to consider when thinking about the drying time of spray paint on wood, as different types of wood have different qualities.
Most of the time, it will take spray paint around 2 hours to dry, but if the wood is more porous, then it might take a little bit longer. Oil-based spray paint will also take longer than water-based paint.
Cardboard offers up one of the fastest drying times for spray paint, even though it is a fragile object that can be damaged quite easily.
Spray paint on cardboard can dry in 15 minutes or less. You can quicken this by placing the cardboard in a well-ventilated area and not putting the spray paint on too thick.
It is important to leave the cardboard to dry completely before touching it, as it can be easily ruined by continual touching if not dry.
It is not very easy to spray paint on glass, but it can be done. You have to be careful not to spray the paint on too thick, as the paint could drip and cause drip marks before it dries. You need to apply the paint very carefully and gently on the glass.
If applied gently and evenly, the paint should be left for up to 24 hours until you can use it. If the paint is really thinly applied, you can apply a very thin coat around 20 minutes later, but then it should be left to dry for up to a day.
Rubber is a porous material and does need to be left for a while before a second coat can be applied. You should apply the spray paint thinly, and then leave it to dry for around 30 minutes if you need to apply another thin coat.
Rubber will be completely dry within 24 hours, so try not to use it before this time if you do not want to ruin the paint effect. Try not to touch the rubber before a day has passed.
What Factors Affect Drying Time?
Different factors affect how fast spray paint dries, with some making the spray paint dry quicker, and others making it difficult for the spray paint to dry in a short time.
You need to make sure that you do not spray the paint on too thick, as it can be really difficult for thicker paint to dry, and in some cases, it might not even dry at all.
You can gain good control of the thickness with spray paint, so it is easy enough to not apply too thick of a coat. Hold the spray paint the recommended distance away and give a thin layer of paint.
The thinner the coat of paint, the quicker the drying time will be.
Type Of Spray Paint
The type of spray paint you use also determines how quickly it will dry. These are the different types of spray paint and their general drying times:
Enamel Paint – Enamel paint is quick-drying and can begin to dry within a few minutes. This is due to the quick evaporation of the solvent. It will take between 10-30 minutes for the surface of enamel paint to dry, and around 8 hours for full drying.
Polyurethane Or Epoxy Paint – Epoxy spray paint or polyurethane spray paint is the fastest drying spray paint you could choose. The surface of the spray paint will begin to dry in around 5 minutes, and full dry can take about an hour.
Lacquer Paint – Lacquer paint can develop a surface dry in about five minutes, and the paint will completely dry within 3 hours.
The type of spray paint you use will depend on the project you are doing and the end results you are looking to achieve, but you should also consider the drying time!
Environmental factors play a huge role in how quickly spray paint takes to dry. Most importantly, the humidity has an effect on drying time. It is best to choose an area with low humidity to spray paint an item. If the item is painted somewhere with high humidity, it will take much longer to dry than when in a low humidity area.
A warmer area, with low humidity, will ensure that the spray paint dries quickly. Low temperature can cause the paint to dry slower.
The one exception to this is metal – the metal should not be too warm when you paint it, as this could be counter-productive to the paint drying quickly.
How Can You Make Spray Paint Dry Faster?
If you want to ensure that you do not have to wait too long for the paint to dry, there are some things that you can do to make it dry a little quicker.
Here are some tips on how to speed up the dryer process:
Apply A Thin Coat
The surest way to get the paint to dry quickly is to apply a thinner coat rather than a thicker one. There is less paint to dry in a thinner coat, so the drying time is reduced quite drastically.
You can always add over another layer of paint in order to make it brighter or give it better coverage, but you can enjoy less drying time between coats.
Control The Humidity
If you can control the humidity in the area where you are painting the object, you can try to decrease the drying time. Lower humidity is best to dry spray paint quicker.
You could run a dehumidifier in the room to reduce the humidity in the air and to ensure there isn’t too much moisture.
If it is a rainy day outside, try to keep windows and doors closed, so that your object remains dry and does not absorb too much moisture.
Turn On A Fan
Fans can help to increase the rate of evaporation, and for certain spray paints, this can help it to dry must faster.
Try and keep in mind to clean up your workstation first before turning on the fan, as it could blow dust and debris onto the wet paint and ruin the effect of the paint.
It is also advised to only switch the fan on during the touch dry stage so that the fan cannot blow the paint too much and cause ripples or drips. The touch dry stage will mean that the surface of the paint is strong enough to not cause these effects.
If it is a sunny, warm day outside, you could take your spray painting outdoors. You could even plan to paint on the next sunny day when the humidity is low.
The sun, slight breeze, and low humidity will all help the paint to dry quicker, and the benefit of painting outside is that there will be less mess on the floors and furniture if the spray paint misses the object a bit.
Avoid painting outdoors if there is a chance of rain or if the humidity is particularly high.
What Is The Shelf Life Of Spray Paint
Making sure to use spray paint before it passes its shelf life ensures that it retains its color, quality, and ease of use.
Spray paints should not necessarily expire, but most have a best-by date, and you should try to stick to this as closely as possible.
The best-by date on the spray paint indicates when the spray paint retains its best properties and the period in which you should use it by.
If the spray paint has run past its expiration date, you should do a test patch first to see if it is still okay to use. Try to find a scrap piece of material similar to what you are painting on. Shake the spray paint bottle and paint it onto the surface.
Leave this to dry for a day and then check the color, texture, and quality of the spray paint to see if it is still good to use.
The Benefits Of Spray Paint
Spray paint is available in such a wide range of colors and finishes, and there is so much that you can do with one or two cans!
It is also portable and affordable, and you can use it on many different materials. The other added bonus is that spray paint dries quickly, so you do not have to wait too long between coats, or for your project to be ready to use.
How long spray paint takes to dry will depend on a few different factors. It will depend on the material you are painting, the type of spray paint you are using, the environmental factors where you are painting, and how thick of a coat you paint on.
There are ways to control how quickly spray paint can dry, so take a read of the above information to find out how you can use spray paint in the right conditions, and not have to wait for ages for it to dry!
Does spray paint dry instantly?
Spray paint does not dry instantly, but it can dry quicker than many other paint options. Some spray paints, in the right circumstances, can dry in around 5 minutes, but this would only be surface dry. The quickest full drying time will be around 1 hour.
Why would spray paint not dry?
Spray paint might not dry if you apply too thick of a coat. The bottom of the coat will not be able to dry properly, and in many cases might not dry at all.
Spray paint might also not dry in high humidity or if it is too cold, so be mindful of these factors when you are spray painting an object.