How Long Does Rustoleum Take to Dry?


Last updated: September 1, 2023

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How long does rustoleum take to dry

Many people choose spray paint over traditional methods, mainly because it simplifies the painting process. Rust-Oleum happens to be one of the more popular brands out there that work for different materials, and it’s well-known for its durability. 

If you’re considering using Rust-Oleum for your project, one of the questions you may ask is – how long does Rust-Oleum take to dry? While this seems like a simple question, it doesn’t have a straightforward answer as there are many factors that affect the drying time.

Continue reading to know more!

How Long Does Rustoleum Take to Dry?

The drying time of Rust-Oleum depends on several factors, such as the paint used, type of material, number, and thickness of coats, and environmental conditions. In general, most Rustoleum paints dry to touch in 15 to 60 minutes and reach full curing in 24-48 hours. 

What Is Rustoleum Paint?

Rust-Oleum is one of the more popular paint brands that produce both consumer and industrial paint products. The company was founded in 1921 by a sea captain, Robert Ferguson. Robert discovered that fish oil could stop rust from spreading on a ship’s metal deck. 

While the initial Rust-Oleum contained whale oil, today, it has been replaced with resins obtained from epoxies, alkyds, latex, polyurethane, and more. 

Rust-Oleum paints are known for being very durable and are often used for exterior surfaces. They work for various materials, including metal, wood, glass, plastic, etc. Besides spray paints (which are great for small projects), they also come in regular cans for brush and roller applications. 

Factors Affecting Rustoleum Drying Time

The exact drying time of Rust-Oleum depends on several factors, such as the paint type, surface type, and weather conditions. Let’s go over each one in the section below.

1. Paint Type

Rust-Oleum paint can be divided into two broad categories depending on the solvent, i.e., water-based and oil-based paint. This is true with almost every brand. 

While oil-based paints are usually more durable, they take longer to dry. Specifically, water-based rustoleum paints dry to the touch in 30-60 minutes. In most cases, you will be able to apply a second coat within 3 hours. 

Oil-based paints, on the other hand, usually take 4-8 hours to dry. Sometimes, you may need to wait up to 24 hours before applying a second coat. 

Rust-Oleum paint can also be classified as polyurethane, latex, acrylic, enamel, lacquer, etc. Some of these can be water- or solvent-based. Acrylic and latex paints generally dry the fastest.

2. Surface Type

Another thing that could influence the drying time of Rust-Oleum is the type of material you’re painting. In general, the paint will dry faster if the surface is smooth, but if it’s uneven, it will take longer. 

As a result, plastic and metal surfaces usually dry faster than wood. This is why sanding is often recommended before and in-between paint jobs. 

Having said that, the type of paint will determine the exact drying time regardless of the substrate. 

3. Paint Thickness

Whether you’re using brush-on paint or spray paint, if you apply the paint too heavily, it will take longer to dry. However, if you use thin layers, the paint will dry faster. 

This is why it’s mostly recommended to use thin layers, especially when working with spray paint. Besides drying faster, it will also prevent drips on the paint job. 

To apply light coats of paint, keep the nozzle at a considerable distance from the target surface (usually 6-12 inches). 

4. Temperature & Humidity 

Two other things that can affect the drying time of Rust-Oleum are temperature and humidity. 

Humidity is a measure of the moisture content in the air. This means that when there’s too much water in the air, humidity is high. When humidity is high, the paint solvent takes longer to evaporate, which increases the drying time. 

Likewise, the paint will not dry well if the temperature is too hot or too cold. 

For the best results, work in a space with low humidity and moderate temperature. If you end up painting in cold temperatures and high humidity conditions, you can use a hairdryer or similar equipment to quicken the drying process. 

Understanding Rustoleum Drying Stages

Once Rust-Oleum is applied, it goes through a number of drying stages before it becomes fully dry. The stages include: 

1. Surface dry

The paint becomes surface dry as soon as the solvent evaporates. The drying is such that it doesn’t move from the surface. However, even though the paint looks to be dry on the outside, it is still damp on the inside and looks very sticky. Touching it will get some of the paint on your finger.

2. Touch dry

The next stage of dryness is “touch dry,” where the paint is dry enough to handle a pinch. At this point, you can gently touch the paint, and it won’t adhere to your finger. Nevertheless, if you press it too much, the paint will fall off. 

3. Hard dry

At hard dry, the coating is a lot dryer and will not fall off when handled. However, if you apply enough pressure on it, it could leave fingerprints.

4. Complete dry (or thorough dry)

In the stage, the paint is completely dried and cannot be moved. In other words, you can touch or press it without worrying about smearing it or leaving hand marks. 

How Long Does Rustoleum Take to Dry?

Let’s uncover how long rustoleum takes to dry on different surfaces below;

How long does rustoleum take to dry on wood?

So, how long does Rust-Oleum spray paint take to dry on wood surfaces? This depends on the type of wood. But generally, Rust-Oleum takes longer to dry on wood than other surfaces such as metal and plastic. 

If the wood is rough, such as raw timber, it will take longer to dry compared to when it has a smooth surface, as seen in cardboard. In general, you can expect to wait 1-3 hours for the paint to dry, but full curing may take up to 24 hours. 

Again, the paint type and the thickness of each coating will determine the overall drying time of the paint job.  

How long does rustoleum take to dry on metal?

Rust-Oleum usually dries faster on a metal surface than other materials. If you apply thin layers of paint, it will typically dry to the touch in 10-30 minutes, depending on the formula. 

In fact, it can dry to touch in less than 10 minutes if you’re working in an arid space with little or no humidity. 

However, you will need to wait at least 24 hours for it to fully cure before using the item. This is really important to ensure the paint doesn’t flex under any kind of pressure. Also, ensure you work at optimal temperatures when using Rustoleum to paint metal.

How long does rustoleum take to dry on plastic?

Plastic is often considered a difficult surface to paint due to its smooth surface. This can be overcome by etching the surface or using a compatible primer. 

On average, most Rust-Oleum spray paints dry to the touch in 20-30 minutes on plastic surfaces and are ready to handle in an hour. But full curing is usually reached after at least 24 hours. 

The recoat window is usually within an hour after applying the paint or after 48 hours. This may differ for different Rust-Oleum formulas. Make sure to check the label of the rustoleum spray paint for plastic surfaces.

How long does rust oleum take to dry on fabric?

Rust-Oleum fabric paints typically dry to the touch in 10 minutes and can be handled after an hour. But it usually takes up to 24 hours before it’s completely dry. A good example is the Rust-Oleum Fabric & Vinyl Paint. 

Some formulas, especially those that are meant for a variety of surfaces, including fabric, may take up to an hour or two to dry to touch. Regardless of the product, always wait for at least a day before you use the item. 

While Rust-Oleum works for different fabrics, it is not ideal for fabrics that are washed frequently. Otherwise, the paint might chip or peel. 

How long does rustoleum take to dry on cardboard?

Cardboard is a very soft material, but it dries really fast. So you must know what you’re doing. Otherwise, you could ruin the material. Depending on the environmental conditions and how heavy or light each coat is, Rust-Oleum generally takes 15-30 minutes to dry to touch on cardboard. However, you will need to wait another 24 hours to cure. 

Some formulas, such as the Rust-Oleum Stops Rust, will take longer to dry, usually around 2 to 4 hours. 

How long does spray paint take to dry on glass?

If you’re using a general-purpose or all-surface Rust-Oleum paint, then give it an hour to dry before touching the painted surface. Allow it to cure for at least 24 hours before exposing the surface to any kind of moisture.

Specialized Rust-Oleum glass spray paint typically dries faster (within 10 minutes) and can be recoated anytime. A good example of such a product is the Rust-Oleum Frosted Glass Spray Paint. Always check the label for more info on the drying time. 

How to make Rustoleum Spray Paint Dry Faster?

While there are many factors that can influence how long your Rust-Oleum paint dries, there are a few things you can do to speed up the drying time. 

1. Use thin coats

Rather than applying one heavy coat just because you don’t want to repeat the process, apply multiple light coats. A heavy coat will take longer to dry, and you have to worry about runs or pooling. In general, the less paint you apply, the faster it dries.

2. Reduce humidity

Avoid painting on days when the weather is too humid. This is because spray paint takes longer to dry when there’s high humidity in the air. You can also use a dehumidifier to reduce humidity, or you can close the windows if you’re working indoors. For the best results, ensure humidity is 40-70 percent.

3. Increase air circulation

Increasing air circulation is another way you can speed up the drying time of Rust-Oleum. Simply place a fan near the painted object, but not too close. This will allow the paint to evaporate faster and shorten the drying time. You can also use a fan box if you’re working in the garage. Make sure the area is free of dirt and debris to avoid getting them on the fresh paint. 

4. Increase temperature

If you’re painting indoors and the room is too cold, you can turn up the heat to raise the temperature. This helps to reduce the humidity levels. If you don’t have a standard heater, you can use a blow dryer (for small surfaces) or simply turn on the thermostat. Better, you can take the painted object outside and leave it to air dry under the warm sun. 

5. Paint outside

This makes sense. You would agree there’s usually more ventilation outside than indoors. In fact, it’s generally recommended to use spray paint outdoors, and that also applies to Rust-Oleum products. Painting outside, especially when the weather is warm, will ensure the project dries in time and reduce the impact of the fumes. 

How Long Does it Take Rustoleum Clear Coat to Dry?

Rust-Oleum clear coat is typically used as paint alone or a sealant on top of another coating. So, it can be considered as paint except that it’s transparent. The drying time depends on the base paint, but in general, you can expect it to dry to touch in 20-30 minutes while it reaches full curing in 24 hours. The overall time spent on the painting project will depend on how many coats you apply. 

How Long Does it Take Rustoleum Primer to Dry?

This depends on the type of primer and environmental conditions. For instance, the Rust-Oleum Surface Primer dries to touch in only 20 minutes, while the Metal Primer dries in 15 to 30 minutes. With each product, you will be able to handle the paint job in an hour, but it may take up to 48 hours to fully cure.

In general, the drying time of any Rust-Oleum primer can be found on the label, but in most cases, it will be around the 1-hour mark. Of course, temperature and humidity need to be optimal in order not to prolong the drying time. Specifically, temperature should be 55-80°F while humidity should be 60 percent. 

If you wish to sand the primer, wait for at least an hour. For wet sanding, 30 minutes work. Use 320-400 grit sandpaper. Don’t forget to test the newly primed surfaces for tackiness before you apply paint.  

FAQs – How Long Does Rustoleum Paint Take to Dry?

How long does rustoleum take to dry between coats?

This depends on the type of Rust-Oleum paint being used. In most cases, you will be able to apply a second coat within the first two hours or after 24-48 hours. It’s recommended to use light coats, as a heavy coat tends to prolong the drying time. 

How long does rustoleum paint need to dry before it gets wet?

We advise waiting at least 7 days before you get the paint wet. While we don’t recommend regular exposure to moisture, seldom contact with water shouldn’t do any harm to the paint job. 

What happens if you paint a second coat too soon?

Applying a second coat of Rust-Oleum before the first one completely dries can ruin the final result. It can cause streaks, crackles, or bubbles to appear on the surface, and the paint will look uneven. 

How many coats of Rustoleum do I need?

This depends on the paint types, material, and whether there’s existing paint on the substrate and the color. Generally, you will need at least two coats of Rust-Oleum paint for most projects. Make sure each coat dries completely before applying the next one. 

How long does Rustoleum paint last?

The shell life of Rust-Oleum is largely dependent on factors such as climate and how well it’s stored. When properly stored under ideal conditions, the paint can last 4-7 years before opening. But once it’s open, it can last up to a year or more. Ensure the container is tightly sealed to keep out contaminants and increase its lifespan. 

Summary: How long does rustoleum paint take to dry?

The drying time of Rust-Oleum depends on a number of factors, such as the paint being used, environmental conditions, and the thickness of the coatings.

In general, you can expect to wait at least 24 hours for the paint to fully cure. It’s important you wait long enough to use the object. Otherwise, if the surface gets wet before the paint has had the chance to cure, you may see streaks or spots on the finish.

Always check the product label for more information on the drying time and recoat window before you commence the project. 

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