How Long Should Paint Dry Between Coats?

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If you are eager to get your project finished, you might make the mistake of trying to complete the second coat before the first coat of paint has dried. 

So, how long should paint dry between coats?  

Well that depends... 

how long should paint dry between coats

How Long Does it take Paint to Dry? 

How long should paint dry between coats depends on a few factors.  If you are painting in ideal conditions, 1-4 hours is usually enough time for your paint to dry.  

Factors that increase/decrease paint dry time include:

  • Method you used to apply the paint  
  • What type of paint did you use? 
  • Do you live in a dry or high humidity area? 
  • Was it exterior or indoor paint? 
  • Is the area that you painted properly ventilated? 

How Long for Spray Paint to Dry? 

Typically, when spraying paint with a paint sprayer, the layer of paint is thinner than when you brush or roll it on.  Spraying paint can save you a ton of time!  

We ran the numbers for you to see how much time we could save with a paint sprayer!

If you are using thin latex paint for spraying, your dry times will be less than if you brushed/rolled it on 

This means you can paint more surfaces faster with your sprayer than with a brush and roller.  

We recommend waiting an hour and testing your newly painted surface in a hidden area.  

If it's dry, you are ready for your second coat!   

How Long Should Paint Dry Between Coats? 

Again, paint drying time can be very different depending on what paint you use, ventilation, heat, humidity and how you applied your paint. 

Paint Dry Time Basic Guideline 

You should wait a minimum of 2 - 4 hours for paint to dry before a second coat of paint if you are brushing/rolling it on.

how long does it take paint to dry

When spraying paint with a paint sprayer, you are applying thinner coats of paint than if you brush or roll it on.  Using a paint sprayer to paint means you can check your surface in an hour.  

Depending on how you apply the paint, the dry time can be longer or shorter.

Application Method

Paint Dry Times

Spray Paint Shortest
Brush Long
Roller Longest

Regardless of how you applied the paint, avoid rubbing or putting pressure on the newly painted area. 

Paint Drying in Different Climates 

Those of you that live in high humidity areas will need to wait longer, up to 24 hours to be safe.  

Low humidity areas, or areas with high temps will dry faster.  

I’ve been able to paint a wall with a roller and then start the second coat immediately, when painting in a low humidity environment.   

Paint Drying Conditions

Latex

Oil

High Humidity Faster Slow
Low Humidity Fast Slow
Poorly Ventilated Fast Slow
Higher Temperature Faster Slow
Lower Temperature Fast Slow

Use your judgement based on the interior paint type that you used for your project. 

Paint drying and curing times are totally different, which we will explain below. 

How Long to Let Paint Dry Between Coats? 

Paint Type

Humidity Conditions

Latex Paint Sprayer

Low: 1 hour

High: 2-4 hours

Brush/Roller

Low: 2-4 hours

High: Up to 24 hours
Oil Paint Sprayer

Low: 6-8 hours

High:Up to 24 hours

Brush/Roller

Low: More than 24 hours

High: More than 24 hours

How Long Should Paint Dry between Coats - Latex Paint Dry Time 

Most of us use latex paint regularly.  Latex paint dries relatively quickly compared to chalk paint and oil based paints.  

This is because latex paint is water based and some brands are even labelled "fast drying".   

So, how long does it take for latex paint to dry?

Follow our basic guideline of 2-4 hours and test the newly painted surface in a hidden area. 

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How Long Should Paint Dry between Coats - Oil Based Paint Dry Time 

So, how long does oil based paint take to dry?  You really should wait a minimum of 24 hours before testing your first coat.  Higher humidity, using a brush/roller or poor ventilation means waiting even longer.

Paints containing less oil dry faster.  Try to purchase a brand with more pigment and less oil to get those projects done sooner.

Troubleshooting: Oil Based Paint Not Drying 

This is usually because of two things: the paint was applied too thick and/or there is a ton of humidity in the area. 

Get some fans or a dehumidifier and ventilate the area to help speed up the process.  

Tip from Pros: You can purchase a product called Japan Drier for paint.  It helps speed up the drying process for oil based paints, varnish and enamel.

Pro Tip: How Long for Paint to Dry to True Color 

When paint is dry to the touch, it's reached its true color.  According to this post, paint changes color as it dries because it's mixed with a solvent such as water or oil.  

Once the solvent dries, only paint is left behind on the wall.  

Be careful when using left over paint to do touch ups.  Chances are, the paint in the can is NOT the same color as the paint on your wall.  

This is due to evaporation and the environment in your home.  Test in a small hidden area first, or you'll end up having to repaint entire rooms!

Pro Tip: Does Paint get Darker with a Second Coat? 

If you are painting a darker color over a lighter color then yes, a second coat could lead to a darker result as the first coat didn't entirely cover the lighter color and it might be showing through.

The reverse happens when painting light colors over dark: you WILL need several coats and the result will get lighter and lighter.  

It's because the light in your room is now reflecting off a lighter color on your walls.

Exterior vs Interior Paint Dry Times 

How Long Does Interior Paint Take To Dry?

2-4 hours is standard for a basic latex paint to dry indoors.  If you are looking for a quicker drying solution, try applying a fast drying latex with a paint sprayer in a well ventilated area.  

You'll get fast professional results.

How Long Does Exterior Paint Take to Dry? 

Exterior paints are tougher than interior paints.   They need to withstand changes in temperature, mold, mildew and the outside elements.

You should only paint outdoors when there is the lowest humidity, so that your paint dries faster.  

Try your very best to paint when there is sun in the forecast.  At least 2 hours of sun will dry your paint.  If it rains, it will increase the drying time to ast least 6 hours of sun.

Chalk Paint Dry Time 

Chalk Paint is so popular these days.  People are rocking chalk paint for a ton of different furniture make overs.  

Chalk paint dry time can be anywhere from 24 to 48 hours.  Be patient if you are applying a wax afterwards to age your piece.

Applying the wax before your chalk paint is fully dry could completely remove your beautiful chalk paint!

Don’t forget to let the chalk paint on those beautiful furniture makeovers cure for 30 days or the paint could be damaged. 

How Long Should Paint Dry Before Taping? 

24 hours is the minimum amount of time to wait before putting tape on your newly painted surface.  

Frankly, you could rip your new paint right off, so we recommend you wait even longer or plan out your project so you don't need to put tape on any surfaces until the paint is cured, close to 30 days.

If you must put tape on your newly painted surface, give this specialty tape a try that is made for newly painted surfaces.

How Long Should Paint Dry Before Installing Hardware? 

Paint dries soft at first and then as it cures, becomes harder.  The longer you wait to install hardware, the harder the paint will be. 

This minimizes the chance of adhesion.

You will wreck your paint job if you are too eager to put on those new hinges and pull handles.  

Give your project at least 24-28 hours to dry before updating your hardware.

Pro Tip: Paint Dry Time vs Curing Time 

Paint drying time and curing time are two totally different things.  

When a paint is cured that means the amount of time it takes for the paint to reach maximum hardness.

If you plan on painting a well used piece of furniture or your kitchen cabinets, you should wait until the paint that you used is fully cured.   

This stops the paint from becoming damaged from everyday use. 

When using oil versus latex paint and vice versa, the curing time changes.   

Latex Paint Cure Time 

Latex paint dries faster but takes longer to cure.  You can sometimes wait up to 30 days for latex paint to reach maximum hardness. ​

Don't apply pressure or clean the area too much, you could ruin your paint.

Oil Based Paint Cure Time 

Oil based paints take forever to dry, but the results can be amazing.  They hide stains and give you a rock solid barrier on those heavily used items like cabinets, trim or furniture.

The trade off for slower drying paint is that oil based paint cures much faster than latex, in about 7-10 days.  

Time Saving Hint: How to Make Paint Cure Faster  

  • Run a large dehumidifier in the room or area that you painted.  Lower humidity helps paint to cure faster.
  • Ventilate the area by opening windows and/or running fans.
  • Apply thin coats of paint instead of 1 thick coat.  This is one of the benefits of using a paint sprayer for your projects.  
  • Paint sprayers atomize the paint and spray out a thin coating each time, reducing your drying and curing time.
Paint dry time

 

What Happens if You Paint a Second Coat too soon? 

It's super important to make sure that your first coat is dry before trying to paint your second coat. 

If you apply a second coat before the first coat is fully dry, you can end up with uneven color, streaks and the paint may even pull up if you are brushing or rolling.  

Conclusion 

Paint drying time depends on so many different factors!  If you take them into consideration before you begin your project, you can achieve professional results with less effort, every time.

Quick FAQs

How long should interior paint dry between coats?

Under ideal conditions, you can paint another coat from 1-4 hours after the first. High humidity, cool temps and bad ventilation will increase that time.

Can you wait too long between coats of paint?

You should recoat your surface with a second coat within 30 days of applying the first coat. Same with primer.


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