How Long Does Spray Paint Take to Dry?

by Charlie
How Long Does Spray Paint Take to Dry

Spray paint is a fantastic material that a lot of people want to use for a whole range of different purposes. It’s quick to apply and gives you a beautiful, clear coat with no brush marks. It can be used on a wide variety of surfaces, and it comes in a huge array of colors, so you can use it for almost any project.

Additionally, spray paint is durable, so it should last for many years. However, you are probably already aware that you will have to wait for it to completely dry in between coats of paint, and that may leave you wondering how long this usually takes.

How long does spray paint take to dry? Spray paint dries quite fast, but it can vary significantly between the various types. There’s also a difference between touch dry and completely dry, and it’s important to understand this. Most spray paints take between 8 and 24 hours to completely dry, but may be touch dry in less than an hour.

How Long Do You Have to Wait For Spray Paint to Dry?

The drying time of spray paint can be quite varied, because there are many types of spray paint. The paint you choose should offer drying time estimates in the instructions. Many paints will be touch dry within 30 minutes, but it can take from 8 hours to 24 hours, or even longer for spray paint to completely dry.

Be aware that different kinds of spray paint have very different drying times. For example, if you buy enamel spray paint, it will be touch dry in 30 minutes, but not completely dry until around 8 hours have passed.

An oil-based spray paint will also dry very slowly. These take around 30 minutes to become touch dry, and 8 hours to completely dry. However, most oil-based spray paints can’t be re-coated until a full 24 hours have passed, so make sure you follow the manufacturer’s directions.

Acrylics are often comparable, with a touch dry time of anything from 10 to 30 minutes, but a full drying time of about 8 hours. The drying time does often vary depending on what sort of material you have applied the paint to.

Latex spray paint can be very varied. It will sometimes be dry in a few minutes, but it may take about an hour to become touch dry. It tends to have a faster complete drying time, generally taking around 4 hours.

Lacquer spray paints are usually the fastest-drying spray paints, and are popular for this reason. They can be completely dry within as little as 20 minutes.

Polyurethane is popular for many reasons, but it’s a pretty slow-drying option. It takes about 2 hours to become touch dry, and it may be as long as 3 days before you can add more paint – so check the manufacturer’s directions on this.

Epoxy paints are also slow to dry, and will take up to 4 hours to become touch dry, and around 24 hours to be completely dry.

When Can You Add the Next Coat of Paint?

It’s particularly important to understand your paint’s drying time if you are thinking of adding a second coat. This is because many spray paints have a period within which you shouldn’t respray them, or you won’t get a good finish. Some paints will say that you must add a second coat within 30 minutes or not until 3 hours have passed, or something similar.

Make sure you understand the window for recoating if you want to paint an object quickly. If you miss this window, you will often have to wait quite some time before you can add a second coat of paint. You really don’t want to ignore the painting window, as you may find that the second coat doesn’t adhere properly, or that it creates a disappointing finish.

You might be surprised by how long spray paint takes to dry. If it feels dry, surely you can add more paint – right? Unfortunately, this is not the case. As explained here, paints are often exuding fumes that you can’t see, and this can go on for some time, even after the paint feels dry to the touch.

That doesn’t mean you necessarily need to worry about your spray paint being toxic during this time, but if you add more paint before the first layer has dried, there’s a chance that the fumes will not be able to evaporate properly, and this can affect the appearance of the finished paintwork.

Which Spray Paint Should You Use?

It’s best to research the specific material that you wish to paint in order to figure out which the most suitable paint is likely to be. For example, if you are going to paint something like plaster, you may want to choose an oil-based spray paint. Acrylic is also pretty versatile, while enamel and epoxy are great for metal.

Choosing the right spray paint is key to making sure you get a good bond and the right finish. If you use the wrong spray paint, you may find that it doesn’t adhere properly, or that it appears dull when it should be shiny, etc. Always check the manufacturer’s suggestions for what materials the paint is suitable for.

You should also defer to the manufacturer’s directions on drying times, as these may vary. Although some types of paint tend to dry faster than others, it’s important not to depend too heavily on the averages, and instead pay attention to the drying times the manufacturer states.

Don’t assume the paint is dry before the window that they suggest, especially if you are working in damp or cold conditions.

Final Thoughts

Spray paints have quite varied drying periods, and the kind of paint you choose will have a significant impact on the drying time. Some spray paints, like oil-based ones, dry far more slowly than things like lacquer spray paints, which dry extremely fast. Check the estimated drying times on the can of spray paint to get a more accurate assessment of when that particular paint will be dry.

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