How To Make Paint Dry Faster [3 Methods]

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It’s painting time, and while it is exciting to imagine the result, the idea of waiting for the paint to set up in order to move to the next aspect of the project can deter even the most motivated painter. We have researched the best ways to speed up the drying process so that you can finish your project quickly. 

Paint type and environmental conditions can affect drying time. Water-based paints dry in about three hours and cure in seven days. Latex paints take an hour to dry to the touch and 14 days to cure. Oil-based paints take eight hours to dry enough for a second coat and cure in seven days. Speed up drying time by:

  • Choose a day between 50 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit for optimal drying and stay out of direct sunlight when painting outside.
  • Apply more thin coats instead of one thick coat.
  • Keep the air circulating to help the moisture evaporate.

Stay with us to explore these principles in more depth and learn how light reflection and paint base affect how your project will look when finished.

woman painting wall using roller. How To Make Paint Dry Faster [3 Methods]

Project Environment

Plan to paint when the environment has a temperature range between 50 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit and low humidity. Paint manufacturers create the paint to dry and cure smoothly within those temperature ranges. Painting outside the optimal temperature range can cause various issues. An environment above 90 degrees Fahrenheit can cause the paint to dry unevenly, causing cracks and other defects. Below 50 degrees and the bond in the paint will not activate and cause peeling. 

Cracked paint on Concrete Vintage Wall

Air Circulation

Ventilation and air circulation will help two-fold. Ventilation will remove fumes and will allow the paint to evaporate. Keeping the air moving will speed up the drying time. On a warm day, open a window to get the benefits of a shorter drying time and ventilate the paint’s fumes. Point a running fan at each wall to help move the air faster and speed up the drying process. 

Click here to see this Oscillating Fan on Amazon.

If the humidity is high and you need to paint, try to paint on the least muggy day and use a dehumidifier and a fan to help dry the paint. 

Click here to see this dehumidifier on Amazon.

Keep the dehumidifier and the fans running for at least two weeks to help the paint dry and cure faster. A freshly painted wall may feel dry but still needs time to cure. Once cured, the paint can handle accidental bumps from moving furniture.

Methods To Lessen Drying Time

Here are a few methods to help speed up the waiting time.

Hairdryer

Use a hairdryer on small sections by slowly moving it over the wet surface, keeping the nozzle a minimum of two inches from the paint. Don’t get too close to the surface, as the intense heat can cause the paint to blister.

Click here to see this hairdryer on Amazon.

Infrared Heater

The heater works by heating a cooler room to the optimal temperature. It will work well for thicker coats of paint and dry larger surfaces. It also can be set up to dry and left while you work on to the next section. Keep an eye on the room temperature as an infrared heater can warm up a room. Don’t let the room get above 90 degrees unless you are working with higher temperature-rated paint.

Click here to see this infrared heater on Amazon.

Number of coats

More thin coats of paint will dry faster than one or two thick coats. Use several thin coats instead of one thick coat to speed up the drying time. Apply a thin coat on the first wall, turn a fan on towards it, then move to the second wall. When you get back to the beginning, it will usually be dry enough to apply the second thin coat. 

What Type of Paint Dries Faster?

Open cans of paint of different colors. overhead photo

Paint has two levels of dryness. There is dry but sticky to the touch, then smooth to the touch. Paint is considered dry when it doesn’t transfer under the touch but still feels sticky. The surface can handle light bumps without transferring the paint, but a more intense bump may transfer the paint to the offending object.

Cured paint feels smooth to the touch. There’s not any tackiness. The surface can withstand rougher bumps from moving furniture.

  • Water-based paint dries very fast. The surface can be ready for the second coat anytime between 30 minutes up to three hours. It can take rougher treatment after it has wholly cured at 30 days.
  • Plan on six to eight hours for oil-based paints to dry enough for a second coat, yet cure in approximately seven days. It cures faster than water-based paint due to the organic compounds included in the paint.
  • Latex paint takes an hour to dry to the touch and four hours before it’s safe to apply a second coat. It takes two weeks to cure fully. 

Ideal conditions and good ventilation drives these calculations. Any changes to those conditions can alter the drying and curing time of your project. 

Additives to speed up the process

There is not one additive that will speed up the drying process that works with all paints. It is better to find a paint that will work in a lower temperature setting than it is to try to mix in an additive that may or may not work. 

Does Cold Air Make The Paint Dry Faster?

Warm air is best to speed up the drying process. Cold air can make the paint thicker at lower temperatures, and because the paint is formulated to cure in a specific temperature range, it may not cure properly in cold air. 

Paint that has been frozen from sitting in storage on cold days may be used if it returns to a smooth consistency when mixing. If it stays lumpy, then it will not correctly cure as it isn’t able to emulsify. 

Is It A Good Idea To Paint In The Sun?

Paint roller is being used to paint the outside of a home. The roller is attached to a pole.

It is not a good idea to paint in direct sunlight. While overall conditions may be ideal, direct sunlight can add up to 20 degrees of direct heat. The paint will dry quickly and can result in visible brush marks and adhesion issues. 

Paint in the early morning and evening to avoid direct sunlight issues. Use a covering over the paint area to create shade. You can also work on the house’s exterior by working on the shady side, outrunning the sun. 

Will Paint Color Change After It Dries?

Technically paint color will not change after it dries. The sheen of wet paint reflects light, and as it dries, it will look like the color changes, but it does not. Make sure to always select the color of paint you want by the dry swatch, not by how the paint looks wet.

Another thing that will change the paint color is if it is painted directly over the surface without a primer. Bleedthrough from a prior color can change the surface color. Using a primer coat first will help avoid any color surprises. 

Does paint finish affect color?

Sheen

The sheen chosen will affect the end color. Flat finishes absorb light and will make the color seem lighter with a chalky-like finish. Glosses reflect the light, which will make the color feel darker. Eggshell and matte finishes will match the swatch color the best as they do not absorb or reflect the light.

Lighting

The amount and type of light will also change how the color looks. The direction the light is coming in will determine how the paint is reflected. North facing natural lighting will bring a soft, warm glow, making dark paint seem darker, and light paint will wash out or be dimmer. A room facing south will have intense lighting that will brighten up dark colors and lose lighter colors. 

Incandescent and LED lights provide warm lighting. Use these to intensify reds, oranges, and yellows. Cooler colors will seem not as intense/duller.

Fluorescent lights give off a cooler blue-tinted light. Pair the fluorescents with the blue, green, and gray paint family. 

When looking at samples and attempting to find the desired color, look at the swatch or sample against a white background, or compare a large swatch against your trim color. Our eyes play tricks on us due to metamerism, so what looks good in the store will look different in your home due to the lighting and colors around you. Metamerism is when two colors seem to match under one lighting source, but when moved to another, it does not match.

The Payoff

We have discovered that we can speed up how fast our paint project will dry by painting in optimal temperatures, using thin coats, and working with good air circulation. Certain paint bases work more quickly than others. By following these principles, you will find the painting project finished faster than you imagined and can enjoy the result.

For more reading enjoyment, check out our article about “How Long Does It Take Caulk To Dry Before Painting?” and “How Long Should Exterior Paint Jobs Last?” 

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