How Long Does It Take For Paint To Dry And Other Answers To DIY Projects

How long does it take for paint to dry? This question and others like it are asked daily by DIY enthusiasts. Although the question is easy to answer, but not every answer is the same.

The answer depends on the project. If you’re thinking about a new paint project, we can provide you with answers. We’ll also show you how to answer the question by yourself. We have a few examples to help you. Plus we’ll cover the basics of paint drying and curing.

How Long Does It Take Paint To Dry

Dry Or Cure?

Drying and curing are not the same. It’s important to understand their differences. You need to know what types of paint you’re working with before you can move forward with a project. 

Dry Paint

You’ll know fresh paint is dry when it can be touched without being harmed or staining your fingers, for example. When this is the case, then the paint is dry. 

Paint dries after its solvents have evaporated. The paint also doesn’t feel sticky anymore. Most paint takes between one hour and eight hours to dry.

You should wait until after the paint has dried before applying a second or third coat. When in doubt, refer to the manufacturer’s instructional guide.

Cured Paint

The curing process takes longer than the drying process. Curing is when paint reaches its maximum hardness and its solvents have evaporated.

Before paint cures, it’s fragile. If you hang something on a freshly painted surface or apply pressure on it before the paint has cured, you’ll cause permanent indentations.

Curing takes more than just 24 hours. It can sometimes take weeks. You can check to see if your paint is cured by pushing your fingernail into a space that isn’t highly visible. Sometimes people refer to the amount of time it takes for paint to cure as the “set time.”

How Do Paint Types Impact Drying Time?

Painting furniture multicolored

The type of paint that you’re using to paint the room or space can also impact how long it takes the paint to dry and be ready for the next coat. There are two main types of paint that folks usually use when they’re painting inside their homes. Oil paint or latex paint. So what’s the difference? Let’s take a look.

Oil based paints take longer to dry than latex paint does. Oil-based paints used to be very popular in homes, however, it is not quite so popular any longer. The reason it’s less popular is in part due to how long it takes the paint to dry when you’re using oil paints. Oil paint takes an extensive amount of time to dry: each coat can take between six and eight hours to dry.

Sometimes second coats are applied on the same day, but it’s more frequent than it happens the following day. People have stopped using oil based paints for their home projects.

Oil based paints cure more than other paint. It takes between three and seven days and is durable.

Related: Painted Furniture: How to Prep, Paint and Seal a Dining Table

Latex based paints dry fast. In contrast to oil based paint, latex paint dries from the outside in. This shortens the drying time but leads to longer cure times. Often, latex paint is referred to as acrylic latex after it has been thinned with water.

One benefit of latex based paint is how it’s easily washable. Think about when you’ve used latex paint, after you finished, all you had to do was wash the roller and brush with water, and the paint was removed.

What Influences Paint To Dry? 

Painting furniture multicolored

There are a number of factors that can affect how fast paint dries, regardless of the type of paint. 


Because high humidity levels add moisture to the air, humidity levels can drastically impact how long it takes for paint to dry. If it’s rained outside recently, humidity levels are probably high, so you’ll want to avoid painting during this time. It’s best to try to have the humidity levels around 50% or lower. If you live in an area where it’s always high humidity, you may be asking, when can I paint? You should try to paint when there’ve been a few days of dry weather. The reason is that with more moisture in the air, the water in the paint can’t evaporate as quickly. This can lead to damage on the final paint layer.


The temperature of the house or room you’re painting in strongly affects how the paint dries or cures. It’s very important to make sure that the space is at least 50 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperature is too cold, paint isn’t able to dry period.

However, if the paint is too hot, say above 70 degrees, the paint can dry too quickly on the top layer. The result is that the bottom layer isn’t dry, and may result in bumps and blisters.


Ventilation impacts how fast paint dries in several ways. A well-ventilated space helps paint dry quicker. If the space isn’t well-ventilated, and the temperatures (and humidity) are mild outside, consider opening a window to help with ventilation.

Things that help

If you’re concerned about ventilation consider using a box fan to help with the drying. A box fan not only increases ventilation, but can also help decrease the humidity in the room. If you don’t have a box fan, a ceiling fan is another good option. Creating some cross-ventilation will assist with airflow in the room.

Follow Instructions 

Follow what is written on the paint can. The manufacturer’s directions will be your best guidance.

Painting furniture multicolored
DIY Retro Rainbow Wooden Dresser – full tutorial.

How long does it take for paint to dry based on application?

The amount of time that it takes for your paint to dry can be impacted based on how you apply it. You want to ensure that when you paint, whether you use a roller or a brush, you do not apply it too thickly.

If you paint a thick layer, the dry time will take incredibly longer than normal. Plus, the paint might dry unevenly or with bubbles of spots on it. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ

How long should I wait between coats?

The amount of time between coats will depend on the type of paint you’ve used. Oil-based paints will require a longer wait between coats (closer to 24 hours), however latex-based paints can take a second coat after about four hours of waiting. Just make sure that the wall is dry before you paint another coat.

How can I tell that the paint is dry?

You can tell that the paint is dry when it’s no longer sticky to the touch. Tacky paint needs to wait longer. Although you might be tempted to dive in, if you rush the waiting time, you’ll end up having to duplicate work.

How many coats should I use?

The number of coats that you use is mostly a matter of personal preference. But, the best bet is to use at least two coats. Some paint colors will need more coats, depending on the richness you’d like. Darker colors can require more coats to get a deep tone. If you’re going to paint a lighter color, the amount of coats you need will depend on what color you’re painting over. This brings us to the next question.

Do I need primer?

There are a few situations where you do need primer. The first instance is if you are using a light color over a darker color. If you attempt to paint a light color over top of a dark paint color, say a yellow over top of a red, the yellow won’t be a true yellow. Primer will give you a base to work from. Primer is also ideal if you’re painting new drywall, as drywall soaks up paint. The bonus to all of this? Primer is way less expensive than regular paint. That means that you can spend more money on quality paint!

Do I start with the trim, walls, or ceiling?

Different folks will have varying approaches about how to paint a room. Generally, when a house is built, the builders prime the ceiling and walls first. Then they install the trim, caulk it, and prime and coat the trim. It would make sense then, that if you’re repainting a room, you should approach it in the same order. Although you might not be repainting the ceiling, it’s good to keep it in mind and repaint it every so often.

When you paint then, you’ll want to begin by painting the walls, and then the trim last. The reason this makes the most sense is that if anything splatters as you paint, you won’t have to reapply to cover up what was already taken care of.

How long does it take for paint to dry?

Although we’ve answered this above with very specific ranges of information, if you’re looking for a simplified answer, the short version is this. Oil paints can take between six and eight hours to dry, whereas latex paints often take one hour. A second latex coat can be painted in about four hours, and the second oil coat can be done the next day. Twenty-four hours is a safe bet. Simple answers aside, it’s always best to check what the manufacturer’s label says. That will offer the best guidance, even if you take into consideration the factors we listed above.

Does it matter what type of brush I use?

It does! If you’re using oil-based paint, a china bristle brush is a good plan. If your paint is a latex-based paint, then stick to a synthetic brush.

Which Paint Jobs Require Multiple Coats? 

Although you may be using multiple coats in a normal everyday way, where you just use a single color, perhaps you’re looking for something that’s a bit more fun. 

Maybe you just want a fresh design that can add some pizzazz to your project! Here are ten of the best painting techniques to

Polka Dots

Polka dots bring whimsy and play to any room, making them perfect for children’s rooms and adults who love fun. They’re an easy technique to tackle and don’t take very long.


If you’re concerned about your artistic abilities, stenciling is for you! Find a stencil that you love and then dive into the creativity to your heart’s content

Color Wash

Color washing is usually referred to as faux painting. The secret to a successful color wash application is to gather the correct tools. Color wash has its roots in Tuscan techniques and brings extra warmth to any room.


Strié is a faux finishing technique that uses negative glaze. The key is to roll the glaze over the surface and then remove part of it with specific tools. Strié looks very elegant and makes the walls look as if they’ve been covered in fabric.


Sponge painting is one of the easiest paint techniques to tackle and try. You’ll want to make sure that you gather sponges, gloves, and a bucket of water! Squeeze out the sponge before each use so that the application is consistent as you go.


Perhaps one of the most distinctive patterns, harlequin creates movement in your room, regardless of how small or large the room is. Incredibly versatile, you can use colors that are similar for a more elegant look, or colors that offer a strong contrast for a bold vibe.


A checkerboard pattern may be overwhelming if you attempt to paint the whole room in this style. It is a solid option though if you’re looking to paint an accent area or even a border around a portion of the room!

Rag Rolling

This process allows you to start from scratch and use new paint, or enhance things by applying a fresh topcoat. Rag rolling adds extra depth to a room, thus creating texture.


Metallic paint creates a statement. Whether you’re going for an iconic style with an accent wall, or a smaller accent look, metallic paints are sure to please.


Stripes are a classic painting technique that offers charm to a room. You can go big with your stripes, or you keep them thin. Additionally, you can use vertical or horizontal lines to vary it up.


How Long Does It Take For Latex Paint To Dry?

After applying the first coat to your surface, wait one hour. This is how long it takes until it is no longer wet to the touch. Allow another four hours before applying a second coat.

How Long Does It Take For Semi-Gloss Paint To Dry?

Allow three hours for your first coat of semi-gloss paint to dry. Once it’s dry, you can apply a second coat.

How Long Does It Take For Chalk Paint To Dry?

Chalk paint is one of the fastest drying paints. However, it takes almost two weeks for it to cure.

How Long Does It Take For Enamel Paint To Dry?

With enamel paint that’s oil-based, allow eight to 24 hours for it to dry. Enamel paint is thicker than other paints, so it takes longer to dry. External factors like temperature and humidity will impact how long it takes enamel paint to dry, which means you should allow more time for outdoor projects.

How Long Does It Take For Fabric Paint To Dry?

Fabric paint can take anywhere from 12 hours to 36 hours to dry. And just like it is with all paint types, the drying time depends on the paint’s thickness. You can also use fast-drying fabric paint, but make sure it’s labeled accordingly.

How Long Does It Take For Paint To Dry Conclusion

Paint drying is it’s own world. When working with interior paint or exterior paint, be aware of what to expect before you start painting. Your first coat will be your most important. A freshly painted room not only needs time to dry but also time to cure. 

Exterior painting is different. Latex paint and oil based paint will require more time to dry and cure. And it’s because of location that makes each paint project special. There will be moments when all you need is one thick coat, but again, it will depend on the type of paint.