How Long Does Spray Paint Take to Dry?

logo by Editorial Staff | Updated on August 2nd, 2022

The time it takes for spray paint to dry varies substantially based on various factors. In this essay, I’ll explain how long it takes and the primary elements that influence how long it takes.

How long does it take for spray paint to dry? After spray painting, the surface takes around 5 minutes to dry and about 60 minutes to harden fully. Among the spray paints available on the market, epoxy or polyurethane paint dries the fastest. However, a pause is required in this formulation for the two components to react chemically.

variety of paint spray bottles

The following are the six elements that influence how long it takes for spray paint to dry:

  1. Humidity and temperature
  2. Air circulation
  3. Surface Type
  4. Spray Paint Type
  5. How Do You Use Spray Paint
  6. Proper Surface Preparation

Continue reading to find out how long it takes spray paint to dry and advice on how to help it dry faster.

What Is the Process of Spray Painting?

Even if you’ve never dealt with aerosol paint before, you’ve seen clips of youngsters using it to make graffiti art or a commercial utilizing them to showcase an edgy new range of products.

At first look, aerosolized spray paint appears to be nothing more than a container with a little ball inside that allows you to mix the paint before pressing the button that permits the spray to be discharged. The physics of this game-changing breakthrough and its following applications are a little more subtle.

Something resembling today’s aerosol cans was developed in the late 1940s for the 1949 World’s Fair, which required a large number of surfaces to be painted rapidly and effectively.

Since then, mass-production technology has been investigated and refined, resulting in the simple-to-use, quick-drying aerosol we know and love today.

But how do these cans work? You’ve probably seen the small ball in the can (it’s there to keep the paint thin), but do you know what the cans are composed of? Most spray paint cans are composed of lightweight aluminum or steel that has been rolled, connected, and capped at either end to produce the can. But how do they make the paint spray? Surprisingly, it is not accomplished by black magic.

These freshly created cans are filled with paint and an aerosolized material known as hydrofluorocarbon, which pressurizes the can. How is the paint discharged as a result of this?

This is when things get a little complicated. The button you push to release the paint is connected to a valve and tube inside the can, reaching towards the bottom.

As a result, when the button is pressed, the valve is opened, allowing air to enter the container. The air displaces the hydrofluorocarbon, causing the paint to rise the tube towards the nozzle. This nozzle has a small opening that atomizes the paint into a fine mist before spraying it toward your project.

How Long Does it Take for Spray Paint to Dry?

1. Humidity and temperature

Spray painting requires a temperature range of 50oF to 90oF (10oC to 32.2oC) and a humidity level of less than 85%. Wait for the temperature outdoors to be at least 65oF to 70oF (18.3oC to 21.1oC) if you want the spray paint to feel dry in approximately half an hour to an hour.

Because of the thick layer, spray paints will not dry completely in very cold temperatures, especially if they are oil-based. Avoid using oil-based spray paints if the temperature goes below 40oF (4.4oC).

When you paint in really hot temperatures, the reverse happens. The paint may dry too quickly. However, it may blister, create lumps, break, change color, or peel in rare circumstances.

Another element that affects the drying time of spray paints is humidity. If the humidity level exceeds 85%, it may result in a sticky finish or prevent the top layer paint from sticking to the substrate.

2. Air circulation

This may seem obvious, but it’s worth mentioning. Spray paint dries faster when there is enough ventilation. It also aids in the removal of harmful gases.

Before painting any inside space, open as many windows as possible to allow enough air circulation. Run several fans (window fans, exhaust fans, stand fans, etc.) if feasible to maximize ventilation and force more hazardous gases out the windows.

After spray painting the room, open the windows for at least 48 to 72 hours. In this manner, the paint dries quickly, and you don’t endanger your health by breathing annoying and hazardous fumes.

3. Surface Type

The type of surface you paint is the second most important element in determining how long it takes for spray paint to dry. Most paints are designed for certain materials, and if used on the incorrect one, they may not dry correctly.

Let’s see how long it takes spray paints to dry on the different surfaces or materials:


Metal objects typically dry in 36 to 48 hours after being spray painted.

However, if the weather is quite warm and low in humidity, the paint may dry faster—approximately 10 minutes or less.


There are competing viewpoints on this subject. Some claim spray paint takes longer to cure wood because it is completely absorbed (instead of staying on top). Others claim that if you simply reapply the spray paint, it only takes 10 to 15 minutes to dry.


Cardboard boxes may be spray painted. However, because cardboard boxes absorb moisture, you must first prepare the surface with a primer or coats of paint to prevent them from decomposing. Spray-painted cardboard might dry in about 15 minutes under ideal conditions, especially if the space is well-ventilated.


It is critical to allow enough time for the glass to cure after spray painting to avoid drip stains. Wait for 15 to 20 minutes before applying another coat. The paint takes around 24 hours to dry on average completely.


After spray painting, plastic objects may take up to three hours to completely dry. If you want to add additional coats of paint, you should wait at least half an hour.


Because of its porous surface (holes), rubber takes at least 24 hours to dry after being spray painted thoroughly. It’s advisable to wait at least half an hour before applying a new coat.

Ideally, materials with a smooth surface would dry faster. On the contrary, rough surface materials will take longer to dry after spray painting. So, how long does it take for spray paint to dry? The drying time is mostly determined by the type of surface or substance on which you are spray painting.

4. Spray Paint Type

Check that the paint you use is appropriate for the material you’re going to paint on.

Priming the surface is also necessary for the paint to adhere better and apply evenly.

Now, let’s look at each sort of paint and their spray painting drying durations.


Enamel paint, often known as latex paint, gives any surface a polished or glossy appearance.

The benefit of enamel is that it does not leak since it dries quickly when exposed to air. On average, it takes around 8 hours to thoroughly dry.


Lacquer paint is commonly used to produce a clear (or colorful) long-lasting finish to a car or wood furniture when painting or refurbishing it. It may be used alone or with other paints to provide a superior finish.

The drying time of lacquer paints may differ depending on the brand. For example, the Rust-Oleum®.

Specialty Lacquer dries to the touch in around 20 to 30 minutes. Other lacquer paints may be touch dry in 3 to 5 minutes and fully dry in 3 hours.

Polyurethane or Epoxy

To dry, epoxy and polyurethane spray paint must chemically react. This might happen in 2 to 4 hours in most formulations. It does, however, take 24 hours to thoroughly dry.


Acrylic spray paint is used on various applications and materials such as ceramic, glass, hardboard, metal, and plastic. Acrylic paint dries quickly on the surface, in as little as 10 to 30 minutes.

The hard drying time is 8 hours, although it is advisable to wait 24 hours before applying another layer of acrylic paint.


The drying time of vinyl paint, like that of other spray paints, is determined by the ambient temperature of the painting’s setting. It requires a temperature of 70°F (21°C) and relative humidity of at least 50%.

Vinyl paint typically has a dry-touch time of around one hour. You must, however, wait at least 6 to 48 hours before utilizing the painted object.


Alkyd spray paint is oil-based spray paint with a high-shine, long-lasting surface that resists dirt and stains. The touch-dry time of most alkyd paints ranges between 6 and 8 hours, depending on the climatic circumstances and product used. After 16 hours, you may safely recoat.


Latex is a catch-all for water-based paints such as acrylic, latex, and vinyl styrene. Latex paints typically cure to the touch in one hour or less when painted in a room temperature atmosphere. However, you must wait four hours before applying more coats.

5. How Do You Use Spray Paint?

The idea is to start with a small coat of paint and gradually increase the thickness of subsequent layers. The surface of the paint layer dries rather quickly if you spray thin applications. It will also make the surface seem smoother and more homogeneous.

The spray painting instrument you employ will undoubtedly influence the outcome of your paint job.

Aerosol spray cans and paint sprayer guns are the two most common forms of spray painting instruments used by professionals and non-professionals.

Paint sprayer guns (airless) are often efficient and accurate, depending on the kind used. They also help to reduce paint waste and overspray.

Aerosol spray paints feature caps and nozzles in various shapes and sizes to make thin or thick lines. When you utilize aerosol spray paints, you don’t have to worry about upkeep or mixing as you do with paint sprayer guns.

The material and your intended use determine the ideal spray painting instrument. Paint sprayer guns are better if you want more control over the viscosity of the paint and the ability to add drying agents to the mixture at any moment.

Another factor to consider is the distance between the spray paint instrument and the surface or item to be painted. Aim for a 6 to 8-inch distance. To minimize leaking and to wait too long between applications, apply a thin, even coat in a sweeping motion. So, how long does spray paint take to dry? The drying time is mostly determined by how you apply the spray paint.

6. Proper Surface Preparation

It is essential to prepare any material for spray painting. According to Wolfgang Maasberg’s book, incorrect surface prep and cleaning cause up to 80% of coating failures. [1]

A thorough surface prep process normally involves the following procedures, depending on the material you’re going to paint on:

  • scrubbing (using ordinary household detergent, bleach and water solution, or mineral spirits)
  • restoring (involves filling holes and cracks with caulk or filler)
  • Sanding
  • Patching
  • Masking (painting using masking tape)
  • Priming the surface to seal it

Below are some considerations to consider when preparing the surface of metal, wood, glass, plastic, rubber, or cardboard products.


Mineral spirits, sometimes known as mineral turpentine, can be used to remove oil and debris from metal surfaces. To remove old paint or de-gloss the surface, sand lightly with fine sandpaper and then wipe away dust with a clean, dry cloth. Apply a layer of rust-inhibiting spray primer next.

It normally takes roughly 24 hours, depending on the brand, before you may apply another priming coat. It takes 2 to 4 hours for the Rust-Oleum metal primer to dry to the touch.


Sanding wooden surfaces isn’t usually necessary unless they have an existing finish (old paint, lacquer, polyurethane, shellac, or varnish) or visible damage. You may use chemicals instead of sandpaper to complete this task faster and more efficiently.

Avoid using water to clean the surface of any wooden object since it might cause harm. Use a dry tack cloth or a vacuum cleaner to remove dust or filth.

Priming is also necessary before spray painting unpainted wood since it absorbs a lot of paint. Apply at least two coats of primer to help fill in the wood grain and flaws.

Most water-based wood primers, such as latex primers, dry for 30 minutes to an hour. Meanwhile, oil-based wood primers require at least eight hours to thoroughly dry.


To begin to spray painting glass, thoroughly clean it with warm, soapy water to remove oil, debris, and dust.

Before spraying the glass with paint, make sure it is entirely clear of soap film. Some manufacturers, like Krylon, recommend cleaning off the glass with rubbing alcohol (then letting it dry completely).


Plastic still has to be lightly sanded with sandpaper (220- to 300-grit) before it can be painted.

Unlike the other materials described earlier, however, it is not always required to apply a primer on plastic objects. You’re good to go if the surface is clean and sanded.


Clean the rubber with water and dish soap, wash it again and allow it to dry thoroughly before moving on to the next stage, priming. Coat the surface with a flexible primer to allow the paint (often acrylic paint) to dry completely and adhere better to the rubber.


After washing and priming the cardboard, you may need to wait up to 24 hours before spray painting on it. If the surface of the cardboard is too coarse after priming, you may sand it down gently using very fine sandpaper (240-grit, 320-grit, or 400-grit) or extra-fine sandpaper (grits up to 600).

Before you start spray painting tips

Before you start spray painting, here are some pointers.

  • Always spray paint outside or in a well-ventilated area, such as a garage, with the door wide open, and always wear a protective mask before spraying.
  • Shake the can for at least a minute before spraying; shake it again for another minute before spraying.
  • Spray when the temperature is between 65 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit for the best paint adherence and drying. The cooler is preferable. Perfect weather with a temperature of 75 degrees and no humidity.
  • Spray with long, thin, flowing strokes – and remember to shake the can a few times while spraying.
  • It’s preferable to finish all the coats on the spraying piece within an hour. If you cannot complete this task, wait 48 hours before applying a fresh layer. If you apply a coat before the waiting period, you may have spray paint wrinkling.

Is it necessary for the paint to be completely dry before applying another coat?

No, the paint does not have to be entirely dry if you’re applying another layer. Instead, spray on the next coat when it is still semi-dry, which should take around 5 minutes. At this time, the paint’s surface will be dry, giving the fresh coat something to adhere to.

However, it may not be dry enough to touch since the lowest coats of paint may still be wet.

You may significantly reduce the overall waiting time if you merely wait for the paint to be semi-dry between coats.

How Long Do You Have to Wait for Primer to Dry?

If you’re unfamiliar, primer is a material applied to a sanded surface after it has been sanded. There are primers for almost every surface, and they aim to help the paint adhere to the surface of your workpiece because sticky paint dries faster than continuously running off paint.

The drying time for primers varies significantly because each primer is created for a certain surface. Still, the general rule for primers is that they take roughly three hours to dry and accept the paint entirely.

Primers, like paint, are affected by factors like humidity, ambient temperature, the temperature of your workpiece, and the overall state of the surface to which it has been applied.

How Can I Get Spray Paint to Dry Faster?

Is the paint drying too slowly for you? Is your project time-critical? Do you want to be able to use the space as soon as possible?

Don’t worry; several tactics and ideas will help you speed up the drying process.

Use a Light Coat of Paint

To begin with, if the paint layer is thin, there will be less paint available for drying. So, for a faster drying time, apply a thin coat of paint. If the prior effort did not provide adequate coverage, do not recoat over wet paint.

Please allow the last coat to dry before considering a second round. Even the pros are sometimes rushed and forget about this.

Heat the area around the object with a heater.

In a nutshell, heat is good, and cold is bad. The higher the temperature of your workplace, the faster paint will dry.

You may dial up the heat on your thermostat when working indoors or use a little heater.

You may also use a hairdryer nearby to speed up drying in tiny places. But keep in mind that raising the heat will not significantly speed up the procedure.

The sun is your buddy while you’re painting outside.

Reduce Humidity

If you are working inside in a humid atmosphere, you might consider running a dehumidifier in the room.

It is best to keep the windows closed if the weather is likewise rainy outside. If you are painting a moving object during this time, please bring it inside the less humid room.

Check the weather forecast ahead of time and schedule the painting project for a nice, warm, and dry day. The rainy season is not the best time to give your property an exterior facelift.

Start as early as possible when you’ve decided on a day and make the most of the daylight hours. Once again, sunshine is beneficial.

Turn on a fan to circulate air.

The wind is your best friend if the sun is your friend. If there isn’t any wind, this amazing technology can create it for you.

Because of the movement of the surrounding air, the rate of evaporation increased. You might utilize ceiling fans or heavy-duty stand fans to get the desired effect.

However, if the workstation is not clean, do not use the fan. Dust, grime, and other material may be carried by the wind and adhere to the paint.

Pro Tip: Begin using the fan after the second stage of drying (touch dry).

Finally, how long does it take for spray paint to dry?

To summarize, how long does it take spray paint to dry? After spray painting, the surface takes around 5 minutes to dry and about 60 minutes to harden fully. Although epoxy spray paint dries the fastest, you must sometimes pause to enable the chemicals to react and dry chemically.

A variety of factors influence the drying time of spray paints. Consider the formulation used by each brand, the brand’s quality, and the usage of reducers and hardeners.

Six of the most important elements influence how long it takes for spray paint to dry.


Editorial Staff

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