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How to Make Paint Dry Faster

Painting a room can be a very fun activity, especially if you are in no real hurry and have plenty of time to let each layer dry before you need to move back into the room in question. 

However, if you need the paint to dry faster, for whatever reason, you may find it quite nerve-racking having nothing better to do than literally watching paint dry. Here’s what you can do to speed the process up. 

How to Make Paint Dry Faster

In order to make paint dry faster, make sure to apply thin coats and let each dry completely before going in with the next one. Keep the room well ventilated and choose a dry day for painting. You can also use a hairdryer on the parts that seem to be taking the longest to dry.

Latex paints will dry faster than oil-based paints, but you will need to give even them a good 3 hours of drying time before you go in with the second coat. Oil-based paints will require twice the drying time. 

While you are not advised to apply a second coat before those drying times have elapsed, there are things you can do to make the paint job go faster, and to ensure you are completely satisfied with the end result. And yes, you can go in with the second coat sooner than the 3 or 6 hours have elapsed, if you follow these suggestions. 

Apply Thin Coats

The most important tip for speeding up paint drying times is a simple one: make sure to apply thin coats of both your primer and your paint. 

While applying one thick coat may seem like the better idea, it actually isn’t. Quite the contrary. The paint job will look much neater with two thin coats, and a thin coat will dry much faster than a thick one.

Painting over a thick coat of paint can lead to smudges and peeling paint in the long run, so don’t overload your brush and roller and use even strokes. 

Give Each Coat Time to Dry 

Once you have applied your first coat, wait before you go in with the second one. Ideally 3 hours for latex paint and 6 hours for oil-based hues. 

Check that the first layer is dry to the touch before you start working on it again. And don’t forget that you also need to wait between primer and paint

Paint One Wall at a Time

By painting one wall at a time, you will give the others time to dry. If you are using water-based paint, you may find that the first wall is practically dry by the time you get to it again. Nevertheless, give it a bit more time, just to be on the safe side. 

Use a Hair Dryer 

If there is an area of paint that does not seem to be drying all that fast, you can use a hair dryer to speed things up. 

Keep the nozzle a couple of inches away from the wall and move it around slowly. Don’t use the hottest setting, as the paint may start to blister. 

You can also turn a heater on in the room, but only after you’ve applied the paint. Point it at the coldest wall, but make sure you don’t overheat the room, as it can have the opposite effect.

You want temperatures between 10 and 20 degrees Celsius, ideally. 

Air the Room Well

Having plenty of circulation in the room will speed up the drying process and also get rid of a lot of the paint fumes. Even if you are using zero-VOC paint, there will still be a smell you want to get rid of. Simply opening the windows will help. 

You can also add in a dehumidifier that will keep the air crisp, and put a fan in the room to make the air move and speed up the drying process even more. 

The sooner the paint dries, the sooner you will be able to move back into the room. Since you shouldn’t sleep in a freshly painted room, a fan can shorten your exile significantly. 

Use Fast-Drying Paint

You can also use fast-drying paint if you want your room to be up and running extra fast. If you apply it in thin layers and stick to the other tips we’ve provided, you can basically be done in a day from floor to ceiling. 

Why Is Paint Sticky After Drying?

If your paint is sticky after drying, it actually means it hasn’t yet dried completely. This could be due to excess humidity and heat in the room, or you may have applied too thick coats. 

If the room is too humid, the paint won’t be able to dry as fast and as well, and can remain tacky for quite a long time. If you live in a humid area or happen to be painting on a humid day, get a dehumidifier into the room to help. 

A fan, turning the aircon on and making sure there is plenty of air circulation can help you get your paint to dry completely. 

What To Do If Paint is Not Drying?

If your paint is not drying, you will need to get the temperature and humidity in the room right, as paint does not dry in high humidity and when it is too cold or too hot. You may have also used poor quality paint or applied it too thick, in which case you may need to start all over again.

If your paint is still tacky days after the paint job, you will need to consider starting over. Use a better quality latex paint that has good blocking agents, or even an oil-based paint. 

You can also aim to get the humidity down to 70 to 80 percent, and the temperatures to around 10 to 20 degrees Celsius and see if that helps. 

What Type of Paint Dries Faster?

Latex or water-based paints dry fastest, and will take around an hour to be dry to the touch, and 3 hours until you can paint a second coat. Oil-based paints will need 6 to 8 hours to dry. 

You can speed up the drying times of both types of paint with the tips we’ve provided: keep the room cool and dry, and apply thin coats that will dry faster. 

Does Cold Air Make Paint Dry Faster?

Cold air will not make paint dry faster. It can in fact make it thicker. You want the air to be cool and dry, at around 70 to 80 percent humidity and between 10 and 20 degrees Celsius. You can take the temperatures up to 30 degrees. 

Humidity will impact paint drying times more than temperatures, so aim to keep the room dry and cool to warm, not cold or hot. 

Can You Paint in Direct Sunlight? 

You shouldn’t paint in direct sunlight, as it will make the paint dry too fast. You can end up with marks and lines. 

Ideally, you want to paint in the shade or on a cloudy day if you are painting the exterior of your home. However, you should also consider when the sun will directly hit your walls indoors too. 

Aim to paint during a time of day when there is no direct sunlight on the walls you are working on. You may end up with patches of wall that have dried faster and that don’t quite look as even as the rest of the room. 

Will Paint Colour Change After It Dries?

Quality paints will remain true to colour after they have dried, i.e. they will be the exact same colour as the shade on the packaging. It may appear to be drying darker or lighter from what you’ve applied to the wall though. 

Don’t be confused if a paint applies to the wall a shade darker or lighter than what you were expecting. As the paint dries, it does not dry darker or lighter: it dries to the colour on the swatch and packaging. 

Low quality paints can dry a different colour, but they will also tend to dry patchy and uneven, so you will have another problem on your hands. 

What is the Difference Between Paint Drying and Curing Times? 

Drying times refer to the amount of time you need to wait before applying a second coat of paint. Curing times are the amount of time a paint needs to dry completely and be at its best. 

Drying times are measured in hours: around 3 for latex paints and around 8 for oil-based paints, roughly. Curing times on the other hand are around 2-3 weeks for latex paints, and around a week for oil-based paints. 

Wrapping It Up 

If you paint in thin layers, make sure the room is not too humid and not too cold or hot, keep the air moving and use quality paints, you can paint a room in a single day, with a bit of organisation. 


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