How Long Does Spray Paint Take to Dry and Why?

How Long Does Spray Paint Take to Dry and Why?

In our modern, fast-paced life, spray paints are like the fast food of paints. Spray paint’s prominent advantage is its versatility and portability.

You may use it for home décor, vehicle, furniture or maybe even become the next Banksy. It’s half the work and twice the productivity compared to the traditional way of painting with a brush.

It is vital to understand how much time is required for the paint to dry, especially for recoating purposes. Failing to understand that might ruin your entire project.

Pro Tip: Never mess with the paint when it’s wet, it’s easier to fix mistakes after it’s dry.

How Long Does it Take for Spray Paint to Dry?

This answer is probably beaten to death but; it depends... on the following variables.

Influence of The Surface Material 

Ask a physics professor; nothing is ever one hundred percent smooth. Everything has a texture (smooth or rough), sometimes you can see it other times you have to touch and feel it. Even the softest of the surfaces have a texture to its microscopic level.

The rule of thumb is, if it is smooth, it’s going to take less long to dry. In contrast, if it is rough, the time required will be increased correspondingly.

Metal surfaces dry fairly quickly; especially in the case of metal, environmental factors need to be kept in mind. Increased heat and humidity also drastically increase the time required for drying.

The drying process is slow for wood because of absorption. Cleaning the surface of dirt with the use of a wet rag before applying paint is recommended.

You can reduce any irregularities if you use high-grit sandpaper. You may also consider another method which is pre-coating with the precise formulation.

Tread the paint carefully when it comes to plastics and rubber. When it comes to these materials, the time required to dry is going to vary due to the texture.

This discrepancy is also highly dependent on the type of spray paint you’ll be using. Experts' suggestion is to use high-quality, wash-resistant paint.

Types of Spray Paint Being Used

Different types of spray paints are available to you on the market. Each product includes its exclusive construction that plays a massive role in how lengthy the drying procedure can be.

The issues mentioned in this article will influence the time required for drying. Therefore, to have a comprehensive understanding of what type of paint you should employ read through this section.

Enamel Paint

Enamel paint starts to dry within minutes. The principal reason contributing to that is the evaporation rate of the solvent. Here the existence of air in the formula cross-links the polymers and results in the creation of a firm surface.

After completing the application, it takes between ten to thirty minutes for a dry surface. It usually takes 8 hours for a full dry.

Lacquer Paint

Using lacquer spray paint will give you a faster drying time. In some types of latex, you can achieve the same result if the water is used to dilute the paint.

Lacquer Paint is made using a thermoplastic polymer. The surface-dry procedure happens in as little as three to a maximum of five minutes. A hard dry usually takes about three hours.

Epoxy or Polyurethane Paint

Epoxy or Polyurethane paint is the fastest drying spray paint on the market. In this formulation, you have to pause for the two ingredients to have a chemical reaction.

In five minutes, you’ll see a surface dry taking place. A hard dry usually takes about an hour.

Environmental Factors

Humidity is a crucial factor that has a hostile effect on the overall drying process. For paint jobs, the usual preference is a space with low humidity.

When it comes to heat, warmer weather will make the paint dry faster. (except for heated metals, in that case, if possible, try to get the metal temperature lower).

You need to take extra caution for working in below-freezing temperatures. If you’re painting below freezing temperature, the workspace needs to be well ventilated.

The spray gun and the about to painted surface should be clean of frost. Cold weather can cause issues with the paint consistency, so work as quickly as possible.

Pro Tip: Working quickly with the paint is highly recommended.

Please plan for a longer drying time while working in freezing temperatures. If the project is time-sensitive, and you’re painting something that is portable, it’s best to work inside. Otherwise, try to start painting just before midday.

Stages of Dryness

All paints go through four stages of drying. For determining how long it may take the color to finish drying, the understanding of the stages of spray paint drying is essential.

1. Surface Dry

When the solvent of the paint evaporates, it is known as surface dry. There will be a thin layer on the surface of the paint during this stage. But you have to be careful as this layer may be sticky.

2. Touch Dry

As the name suggests, you can now touch the layer of the paint. But apply even slight pressure to it is going to break and stick onto your finger.

3. Hard Dry

At this stage, the paint is dry, but you cannot apply any pressure on it. Putting pressure will leave your fingerprints on the color although the paint is no longer sticky enough to get on the finger itself.

4. Thorough Dry

It’s over. You can touch it, put pressure on it. Sit back and congratulate yourself on a job well done.

The Thickness of the Paint

The thicker the paint, the longer it’s going to take to dry. While the thickness may depend on the formula of the type of paint that you are using, the ratio of the solution of thinner, paint, water.

Spray Paint Shelf Life

Spray paint cans or sealed aerosol paint cans that are available on the market should not expire but lasts indefinitely. If you see a printed warning ‘Best use before’ date on the body of the can, it is recommended you finish using it by that time.

However, before you get to buy yourself a spray paint can, you might want to know if you are getting the full utilization of their money or not.

So, to estimate the quality of the color beforehand, you could shake the spray paint can.

Then if it sprays out, it is to be understood that the spray can is good to go. And if it’s otherwise, you should explore the options and get yourself another spray paint can instead of the other one.

Spray Paint Shelf Life

Lacquer paint which you can store in a capped tin also can last for decades, but meanwhile, the volatiles evaporate because that the capped tin container can never be 100% sealed.

But there is nothing to be worried about, as it only needs some thinners to be added, making it usable again.

Enamel is different, which has driers added into the formula. From brand to brand, the usable time may vary. The quality of the manufacturing process also plays a role in this matter.

Please note that the condition in which you are keeping the paint containers for storage is critical. Humidity is the archenemy.

Tips: If you don’t know “How to paint your car with spray paint” then go to this link.

How to Make Spray Paint Dry Faster?

Is the paint not drying fast enough for you? Is your project time-sensitive? Do you want space usable as soon as possible?

Don’t worry; there are some tips and tricks for speeding up the drying process.

Apply A Thin Coat of Paint

If the paint coat is thin, there is going to be a lesser amount of paint for drying, to begin with. So, for quicker drying, try to use a thin layer of paint. Do not recoat over wet paint if you don’t get enough coverage from the previous attempt.

Please let the last coat dry and then you can think of going for a second round. Sometimes even the pros hurry and forget about this.

Run A Heater Near the Object

In simple terms, heat is good, cold is terrible. The warmer your workstation is, the better it will allow for speedy drying of paints.

Working indoors, you can turn up the heat of the thermostat in your house or use a small heater.

You can even use a hairdryer in close proximity for speeding up drying in small patches. But remember increasing the heat will not speed the process drastically.

If you are painting outdoors, the sun is your friend.

Decrease Humidity

While working indoors, if you are working in a humid environment running a dehumidifier in the room could be considered.

The weather is also wet outside then its recommended to keep the windows closed. If you are painting a moveable object during this situation, please bring them inside the lesser humid room.

It’s the 21st century, the age of the internet, and unlimited information. Take advantage of that if your painting outdoors.

Check the weather ahead of time and plan the painting job in a lovely warm and dry day. The rainy season is not the ideal time for your home to get an external makeover.

When you have a day fixed, start as early as possible, use the daylight time as efficiently as possible. Once again, sunlight helps.

Circulate Air by Turning on a Fan

If the sun is your friend, the wind is your best buddy. If there is no wind, this fantastic piece of technology can make some for you.

It’s called ‘Fan.’ Art directors in Film units heavily rely on fans to get the set ready in time, the directors and producers never give them enough time — fans to the rescue.

The rate of evaporation increased due to the circulation of the surrounding air. You might use ceiling fans or heavy-duty stand fans to achieve results.

Fair warning, though, do not use the fan if the workstation is not clean. Dust, dirt, and other types of debris may come riding along with the wind to stick to the paint.

Pro Tip: It’s wiser to start using the fan after the 2nd stage of drying (touch dry).

In Conclusion

Spray painting is the staple of modern art culture, and it is the quickest form of painting. Not only it serves as a piece of art; you can use it to put a colorful coating over metal, wood, and other materials.

In this article, we have mentioned all the pertinent details. We hope our comprehensive guide on the use of spray paints has been informative and educational.

Remember to follow the instructions as we have mentioned and be mindful about the warnings. In case it slipped your memory, the rule of thumb is, in a smooth and even surface the drying process is quick. In contrast, in an uneven and rough surface, the time required to dry substantially increases.

Regardless, that’s not all; if you want to accelerate the drying process, you can use the environmental factors to your advantage. We hope you have found this writing piece helpful and informative.

Finally, if you are looking to paint using a spray, our advice is, go for it, the world needs more color anyway.

Avatar for Joshua D. Mattie

    Joshua D. Mattie

    My motorbike addiction began with 50cc at 5 years old. I rode motocross as a teenager & into my 20's when I worked as a mechanic. This helped me to see the light—sportbikes & cruisers became a passion. Now I'm building BikersRights to be the #1 resource for everything on 2 wheels!

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