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How Long Does it Take Spray Paint to Dry?

Spray paint is a quick and easy way to transform a project! Even though it's known for its convenience and wide range of applications, several factors impact drying time. Find out how long spray paint takes to dry, along with other spray painting tips, so you can complete your project quickly and efficiently.

Spray paint has taken the DIY industry by storm! Gone are the days of the singular spray paint brand in the basic colors. Now you can find chalky styles, textured, hammered, metallic, glitter, regular, indoor, outdoor….just about any variation you can think of! These days, choosing spray paint is almost as overwhelming as choosing a regular can of paint!

While spray painting seems like a basic task, there are a lot of different factors to consider. If you are a newbie to spray painting, check out our spray painting tips for beginners.

We’ve used spray paint for countless projects and love the versatility and convenience. It’s amazing how a can of spray paint can give an old thing new life!

Throughout all of our painting experiences, we’ve picked up a thing or two when it comes to spray paint drying time and the different factors that impact the drying process. The type of material, type of paint, and even the weather can slow down or speed up the process of drying.

Here, we will walk you through all of the details, including a few tips and project inspiration.

A person is holding a spray bottle and spraying. With a text overlays saying

Type of Surface

When we say you can spray paint anything….we mean it! From wood to metal, glass, and even plastic, there’s almost nothing that won’t hold onto a solid coat of spray paint. 

With that being said, it’s important to understand that the material you are painting greatly impacts overall drying time and paint absorption. For some surfaces, you may only need one coat. For others, a second coat may be required. Plus, don’t forget any sealants or waxes you may want to use to protect and finish your project.

Truth be told, spray paint might be dry to the touch in a matter of minutes but can take hours for the paint to completely cure and be fully dry.

Generally speaking, smoother and nonporous surfaces dry more quickly than a porous rough surface. Here are some estimated dry times for different surface types:

  • Metal: Since metal surfaces are non-porous, dry time is much faster than other materials. With a thin coat of spray paint in a well-ventilated area, your project can be dry to the touch in a matter of minutes. However, be sure to give your project about 24 hours for the paint to fully cure before handling.
  • Plastic: Plastic is also non-porous, but the smooth surface can make it difficult for the spray paint to adhere properly. Make sure you spray light, thin layers in one direction across the surface to prevent runs or sticky areas. Plastic will be dry to the touch in about 30 minutes, but give it a day to completely cure.
  • Wood: Wood is a super popular option for spray paint among DIYers. Even though the drying time varies more than other surfaces, it’s still among the most popular options for DIY spray paint projects. In most cases, spray paint on wood should be dry to the touch after about an hour but give the paint up to 24 hours to fully cure, especially if you plan to add wax or a finish to your project.

A note about textures:

Spray paint will adhere to just about any surface; however, rough or porous materials are best for spray painting projects. These materials have pores and naturally wick and absorb water. Some examples are wood, concrete, clay, brick, and other manmade materials like unsealed ceramics. These materials also have a longer drying time than their counterparts.

Smooth and non-porous textures don’t require as much paint but tend to run or become “tacky” to the touch if paint applications are uneven. Since these materials don’t absorb the paint, the drying time is much faster. Examples include glass, metal, plastic, and sealed tiles or ceramics.

A person is spraying a sculpture of wood with a spray bottle.

Drying Time for Different Types of Spray Paint

We get it…spray painting feels so easy, so it’s gotta be dry within minutes right? Well, sorta. Along with so many other factors, the paint formula also plays a big role in drying time. Most spray paints will feel dry to the touch within the hour; however, a 24-hour cure time is the safest and best for a quality job! 

  • Polyurethane, epoxy, and lacquer spray paints dry the fastest, usually within a few hours.
  • Enamel and latex paints take the longest to dry – about 8 hours or more.

There are a variety of different spray paint types to choose from. Here’s a quick breakdown of the different drying times.

Type of Spray PaintAverage Drying Time 
Fast-Drying Spray Paint5 Minutes 
Epoxy Spray Paint 30 Minutes to 1 Hour 
Acrylic Paints1-2 Hours 
Rust-Preventive Enamel Spray Paint2-4 Hours
Lacquer Spray Paint 3 Hours 
Latex Paint8 Hours 
Oil-Based Paints8 Hours 

Note: Allow more time when spray painting in cooler temperatures.

Ultimately, it is usually as simple as scanning the directions on the back of the can. This will give you the most precise drying time, but we still stand by our 24-hour rule before we handle it.

A person is holding a can of Rust-Oleum spray paint and spraying it under the sun.

When Can You Recoat Spray Paint?

Most spray paint can be recoated within a few minutes. Some types of paint should be recoated once they are dry to the touch- usually 30 minutes to an hour.

But for every type of paint, there is a specific recoat time window that is indicated on the can of paint. If you are able to recoat within the time window it really helps with the adhesion because that first coat acts like a primer and allows the next coat to bond with it.

When most spray paint dries it goes through an off-gassing process as it cures and hardens, but when you are able to recoat within the hour, the compounds in the paint go through to off-gassing process together. If you wait longer than an hour, you need to let that first layer of paint go through the chemical off-gassing process thoroughly before recoating.

That is why when you can’t apply the next coat within the hour, it is usually recommended to wait until the item is fully dry before applying the next coat.

Check your paint can for more specifics about the recoat times for your type of spray paint.

shows a hand spray painting a white glass vase on a wood pallet ouside

Environmental Factors and Spray Paint Drying Times

The local climate, including temperature, humidity, and other weather conditions greatly influences paint drying times. 

It’s best to apply spray paint when the ambient temperature is between 65-85 degrees Fahrenheit and the humidity level is between 40-50%. Anything outside of these ranges can hinder drying time or cause other issues with the paint’s appearance. These mild temperatures help the paint to dry quickly without becoming tacky or sticky.

Here’s a little more information about environmental conditions and how they impact drying times:

  • Too Much Humidity: Areas with too much moisture in the air will increase drying time significantly. If the humidity is too high, move the project indoors to a basement, climate-controlled workshop, or other well-ventilated area. You can also use a dehumidifier to reduce humidity.
  • Not Enough Humidity: Areas with low humidity can cause the paint to crack, but you can use a humidifier to help prevent this issue.
  • Warm Climates: Typically, warmer climates are ideal for spray painting outdoors. Early spring and late fall provide the best conditions. The warmer temperatures and humidity levels are usually mild, making working outdoors easy! But stay away from days with too much direct sunlight and high temperatures.
  • Cold Climates: In colder climates, spray paint becomes thicker and congeals inside of the can, preventing even paint flow – no matter how much you shake! As a result, the paint will go onto the surface in clumpy, uneven blobs of coverage. This is incredibly messy and difficult to correct. If colder temperatures are your only option, check out this post on tips and work-arounds for spray painting in cold weather so you can still have the best results!
A person is spraying a spray paint onto a cute doll house.

Tips for Making Spray Paint Dry Faster

Regardless of where you live, there are always surefire tips for faster drying times! 

  • Ventilation: Make sure your space is well-ventilated. Protect your lungs and your project by working in a space with good air circulation. This can mean an open window, garage, or other space where fresh air flows freely.
  • Apply thin coats: It’s always easier to add more paint than take away what’s there. Thinner coats also dry faster and more evenly, so you have an awesome finished product!
  • Weather conditions: Spray painting projects do best in milder climates, so choose a pretty day with mild temperatures and humidity levels.
  • Fans: Reduce drying times with box fans, space heaters, humidifiers, or dehumidifiers as needed in your space.

The length of time spray paint takes to dry can vary by many different factors. Remember, it’s always a good idea to start with light, even coats, allow the project to dry, then add additional spray paint as needed. Save this post for your next spray painting project!

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