How Long Does Spray Paint Take to Dry on Plastic


Last updated: June 14, 2023

Painters Experience in Spray Painting Plastic and How Long it Takes to Dry on Plastic Surfaces?

How long does spray paint take to dry on plastic.

There often are assumptions that spray painting plastics is as easy as picking a can of spray paint and getting it over with. On the contrary, it’s quite tasking because most, if not all, plastics have a protective coating that prevents the adhesion of the paint to the surface.  

I find that spray painting is an excellent way to jazz up plastic surfaces so their color scheme can match your décor. Spray paint makes plastics more vibrant, shiny, and lively.

You can spray paint projects ranging from large to small items like candle holders, toys, containers, and flower pots. 

Suppose you are looking for ways to spice up plastic surfaces with spray paint, how long spray paint takes to dry, and how to get the paint on plastic surfaces like a pro. Then keep reading. 

How long does spray paint take to dry on plastic?

Plastic surfaces are smooth and non-porous, meaning spray paint has difficulty adhering properly. It will take at least 30 minutes to dry to touch and approximately 24 hours to cure. Factors like the type of paint, surface texture, airflow, humidity, and temperatures influence how long spray paint takes to dry on plastics. 

How Long It Takes Different Types of Spray Paints to Dry on Plastic

When working with spray paint, you are concerned about the drying time before adding another coat and before the items are ready for use. There are four stages in the drying process:

  • Surface dry-the paint appears dry but sticky to the touch.
  • Touch dry-you can touch the paint without it sticking to your finger, and it’s dry enough to add your second coat.
  • Hard dry-when the paint is dry, you can leave fingerprints on it.
  • Thorough dry-the surface is ready for use.

Spray paint dries faster than other types of paint because it is in aerosol form. The duration spray paint takes to dry on plastics varies depending on the spray paint used. Below are some of the different types of spray paints and their drying time:

  • Epoxy Spray Paint: Epoxy spray paint dries within an hour, and it’s suitable for plastics prone to heavy traffic, scratches, moisture damage, and abrasions.

  • Oil-based Spray Paint: Oil-based spray paint has an average drying time of 8 hours. The first coat takes about 24 hours to dry so that you can add subsequent coats. Also, it is extra durable, moisture resistant, and immune to damage from harsh elements. 

  • Acrylic Spray Paint: Acrylic spray paint dries in 30 minutes and cures within 8 hours. The paint is moisture-resistant and leaves the plastic surface a matte finish. 

  • Lacquer Spray Paint: Lacquer spray paint is easy to apply and dries to the touch in 20-30 minutes and fully in 3 hours. 

  • Latex Spray Paint: Latex paint is water-based and dries in an hour. Wait for at least 4-8 hours before adding subsequent coats. 

  • Polyurethane Spray Paint: Water-based polyurethane paint dries in 2-3 hours, while oil-based paint takes 24-48 hours. Polyurethane paint is excellent, versatile, and durable. 

  • Enamel Paint: Enamel paint takes 30 minutes to dry to the touch and 8 hours to dry completely.

Factors That Affect How Long Spray Paint Takes To Dry on Plastic

Several factors influence the drying time of spray paint on plastics, which are:

1. Temperatures

Warm temperatures speed up the drying process of spray paint. However, the paint will dry unevenly, blister, or crack if it’s too hot. Cool and cold temperatures slow down the paint’s drying time and may even freeze. To avoid these events, plan your projects in early spring or late fall.

However, you can still spray paint in cold weather if you follow strict rules of spray painting in such low temperatures, as discussed in our comprehensive guide of spray painting in winter or cold weathers.

2. The paint formula

Different formulas of spray paints differ in drying time. For instance, acrylic, lacquer, epoxy, and water-based polyurethane spray paint have a shorter drying duration than latex, enamel, and oil-based spray paints.

If you are working on a tight schedule, use fast-drying spray paints, or apply various techniques of making spray paints dry faster.

3. Air circulation

If you have set up a spray paint booth outside or have a DIY version with boxes, the paint will dry much faster due to the free airflow. But it takes the paint a bit longer to dry in closed spaces.

To speed up the paint drying process, ensure the area is well-ventilated. Poor air circulation suffocates the paint, and it takes ages to dry. Crack a window open or start a fan to increase air circulation to facilitate drying.  

4. Humidity 

High humidity translates to increased moisture levels in the air. The more humid the workspace, the longer the paint takes to dry. Also, the excess moisture condenses and forms small water droplets on the paint, causing it to wrinkle or peel off.

Humid conditions also result in paint streaks. Place the painted plastic surface under low humidity or use a dehumidifier for perfect results and fast-drying time.  

Why Does Spray Paint Not Dry On Plastics?

Below are the reasons why spray paint might take longer to dry on plastics:

  • Applying thick coats of spray paint.
  • If you skip sanding, the spray paint won’t adhere to the plastic surface properly and will take longer to dry.
  • Spray paint dries faster on porous surfaces like wood and concrete but takes much longer on non-porous surfaces like plastics and metal.
  • Using a spray paint primer for plastic surfaces helps accelerate the drying time and increase paint bonding.
  • Spray painting under low temperatures, high humidity, and low air circulation. The listed factors must be at precise levels for faster drying.
  • If you skip sanding, the spray paint won’t adhere to the plastic surface properly and will take longer to dry. 

How Long Should Spray Paint Take To Dry Between Coats?

Before adding subsequent coats, give each layer at least 8-30 minutes, depending on the spray paint you are using. Also, it is best that you check the manufacturers’ instructions and recommendations for the drying time per coat. 

How Do You Make Spray Paint Dry Faster On Plastics?

If the paint job is taking longer to dry and you are growing impatient, here is how to speed up the drying process:  

1. Proper painting technique

You can use a spray gun to ensure the coats are thin to facilitate fast drying. Another alternative is loading the paint into an HVLP (high-velocity, low pressure) sprayer and spraying thin coats of the paint. If you don’t own the necessary equipment for the paint job, you can choose to rent from your local hardware store. 

2. Paint thin coats 

Thin coats of paint dry much faster than thicker coats. Applying thin coats of spray paint on plastics prevents drips and pooling. Thinner coats tend to dry smoothly and evenly. Give each layer sufficient drying time before adding subsequent coats. 

3. Reduce the air moisture 

In less moist air conditions, spray paint will dry faster. Use a dehumidifier if the humidity is relatively high and can potentially ruin your paint job. The dehumidifier reduces the moisture levels in the water hence reducing drying time.

The other cheaper alternatives are keeping the windows open and checking the weather forecast to avoid painting on humid days.  

4. Adjust the thermostat 

If the temperatures are too high or low, they will affect the drying time. If it’s freezing, keep the room warmer with an HVAC, and if it’s too hot lower the thermostat and start the fan.   

5. Increase air circulation

A room fan comes in handy for two purposes. First, it increases air circulation, and second, it helps remove warm air, making the room cooler. Cool temperatures enhance how quickly spray paint dries, and proper ventilation allows for faster evaporation. 

6. Cure spray paint 

You can cure paint much faster in a toaster oven, and small items like toys, spray-painted containers, or candle holders fit perfectly inside. Bake them for a while, and the paint cures in no time. Despite how effective baking helps with drying spray paint, you must not use the oven for any other purpose apart from curing painted items.  

7. Use wax-based furniture polish 

After getting your coats of spray paint on the plastic surface and a thin layer of aerosol wax-based furniture polish. The polish acts as a good sealer, preventing paint drips and allowing the paint to dry much faster. 

8. Use a hairdryer

You can use a hairdryer on small projects. Put the hair dryer on low heat and move it around the spray-painted items to dry faster. Don’t stand too close to the plastic item; don’t focus on one spot for too long, as you could damage the paint.    

How To Apply Spray Paint on Plastics for Faster Drying

Here is how to make your paint job appear professionally done:

What you’ll need

  • Sandpaper.
  • Spray paint booth.
  • Tack cloth or clean rag.
  • Protective gear.
  • Drop cloth.

STEP 1: Prep your workspace

For smaller projects, you can erect a spray paint booth outside. The spray paint booth doesn’t need to be fancy; you can DIY one. Use scissors to cut the flaps that form the lid of the box. Leave the bottom and sides intact and lay the box with the open side facing you. There you go; now you have a spray paint booth.  

When spraying outside, you must ensure the weather is perfect, meaning optimum temperatures and humidity with no forecast of rain or wind. If you are working indoors, keep the area well-ventilated. Remember to wear protective gear, as spray paint is bad for your health and the environment.  

If you are working on larger projects that won’t fit under the DIY spray paint booth, you’ll need to cover your workspace and tape down the areas you don’t want to get overspray. Spread a drop cloth to protect the work area from spillages and splashes.

STEP 2: Clean the plastic surface and let it dry

Clean the plastic surface with warm water and liquid dish soap to remove dust, dirt, and smudges. Any particles left on the plastic surface will interfere with spray paint adhesion. Rinse it with clean water to remove the soap residue. Wipe the plastic with a lint-free cloth and let it air dry for approximately 10 minutes.

STEP 3: Lightly sand surface 

The dry plastic is ready for sanding. If the surface was previously painted, scuff up the existing paint to remove as much of it as possible. The 120-grit sandpaper could do the trick. However, when sanding a non-painted surface, use fine-grit sandpaper to avoid scratching the plastic surface. The rough surface gives the spray paint something to stick to. 

STEP 4: Remove the sand dust

Wipe off the sand dust with a lint-free-rag or tack cloth. You can also blast air with a vacuum to remove the sanding dust. Be thorough with this step, as leftover dust affects the spray paint adhesion. 

STEP 5: Apply the first coat

Ensure the spray paint is formulated for plastics to prevent paint flakes, bubbles, blisters, and poor adhesion. Shake the spray can to mix the contents inside. Stand at least 12-18 inches away from the surface.

Apply the paint aiming the nozzle toward the object vertically or horizontally in sweeping motions. Keep the distance, pressure, and strokes constant. Don’t be afraid to overlap but keep the coats thin and even. 

Remember not to point the nozzle directly at a single point to prevent uneven painting, and don’t spray the last portion of the paint from the can as it creates spatters. Shake the can often during use and listen to the rattle of the mixing ball. If there is no rattle, don’t strike the can. 

STEP 6: Let it dry

Let the first coat dry for about 20-30 minutes before turning the plastic over or applying a second coat. Read the manufacturers’ instructions on the exact drying time.  

STEP 7: Apply a second coat

Two coats of spray paint will give the plastic surface the color pop you want. Apply a thin second coat and keep it even and smooth by following the same instructions you used spray painting the first coat.  

STEP 8: Let the paint dry and cure

After fully covering the surface with both layers, give it time to dry and cure. Most spray paints designed for plastics dry in 30 minutes to 3 hours and cure within 24-48 hours. The drying process might take longer if the conditions aren’t right, but you can speed up the drying using some of the methods discussed in the post.

How Long Does Rust-oleum Spray Paint Take To Dry On Plastic

Rust-oleum specialty spray paint for plastics dries to touch within 20-30 minutes, to handle in 1 hour, and completely within 24 hours. Let the first coat dry for an hour before going in with the second layer of spray paint.

What Are Some Of The Fastest Drying Spray Paints On Plastic?

Some of the spray paint in the market that are fast drying and designed for plastic surfaces include:

Krylon Fusion spray paint

  • APPLICATION: Krylon spray paint is easy to apply as it comes with a big button spray tip allowing you to spray in any way. The paint bonds well with minimal sanding and requires no plastic paint primer. Also, the paint cleans well with solvents.

  • ADHESION: The spray paint has a 5X stronger adhesion and high durability, making it suitable for indoor and outdoor projects.

  • DRYING TIME: If the temperatures are between 55-75 degrees Fahrenheit and the humidity is below 60%, the spray paint will dry to touch within 25 minutes and to handle in about 2 hours.

  • FINISH TYPE: Krylon spray paint is available in multiple finishes and sheens, depending on your preference. Its color palette also gives you several options to blend with your décor.

Valspar plastic spray paint 

  • APPLICATION:  Valspar plastic paint is known for its easy application. The paint adheres to PVC, casting resin, and polypropylene. The spray cans are available in a set of six, which is convenient.

  • ADHESION: The Pints have good adhesion, and it’s relatively durable. The paint won’t chip or peel despite outdoor exposure. It also decorates indoor-use household plastics.

  • DRYING TIME: Valspar spray-painted surfaces are ready for use after drying overnight.

  • FINISH TYPE: It is red spray paint.

Rust-oleum specialty paint for plastic 

  • APPLICATION: Rust-oleum spray paint works on PVC, fiberglass, polypropylene, polystyrene, resin, and vinyl plastics. Two coats of paint will leave the plastic surface looking even, smooth, and vibrant. 

  • ADHESION: The paint achieves maximum adhesion in 5-7 days after it cures.

  • DRYING TIME: In optimum conditions, the spray paint dries in 20-30 minutes to touch, an hour to handle, and takes a day to dry fully. The paint cleans easily with xylene or mineral spirits. 

  • FINISH TYPE: Rust-oleum is available in several colors and sheens, giving you options for your project.  

How Long Should Spray Paint Take To Dry Before Applying A Clear Coat?

Give the painted coats at least 30 minutes to dry to the touch before applying your clear coat. Ensure the paint is even before adding the clear coat, as it makes any imperfections on the paint job visible. Apply 4 thin layers of clear on the plastic surface and let each coat dry for 10 minutes before adding subsequent layers.  

FAQs: How Long Does It Take for Spray Paint To Dry On Plastic?

Below are answers to some of the commonly asked questions on how long spray paint takes to dry on plastics:

Will spray paint dry on plastics?

Spray paint may take longer to dry on plastic surfaces, but it eventually does. Spray paint can take 30 minutes to dry to the touch. It would be best to allow the spray-painted items to cure 24-48 hours before use. Drying time differs depending on the type of paint you are using. Read the instructions on the can for certainty.

How many coats of spray paint on plastic?

The number of coats to apply depends on the paint you use. Adding more coats to achieve a high gloss shine and nice color pop would be best. Two coats will do the trick, but adding one or two more won’t hurt. You must give each coat ample time to dry before adding subsequent coats.

How do you make spray paint dry faster on plastic?

In this article, we detail ways to help your spray paint dry faster on plastic, like; reducing the humidity, increasing air circulation, applying thin coats, using wax-based furniture polish, using a hairdryer, and moderating temperatures.   

Will spray paint dry in 2 hours?

Yes, depending on the spray paint you are applying; all in all, most spray paints for plastics dry to the touch within 30 minutes-3 hours. Read the manufacturer’s recommended drying time on the spray can to avoid making mistakes on your projects.

Can I spray paint plastic flower pots?

Yes, spray painting is an excellent way to make boring plastic flower pots look appealing. After the paint has dried and cured, it has no negative impact on the soil or the flowers.

Can You Dry Spray Paint With a Hair Dryer?

You can, when working on smaller items. Plug in the hairdryer, set it to low heat, and move it around the spray-painted item. Excess heat can cause the paint to crack or dry unevenly, and focusing on one spot for a long time affects the paint job’s overall outcome.   

Content Summary: How Long Does Spray Paint Take To Dry On Plastics

Plastics are durable but appear sad regarding style, so you may need to upgrade the plastic. Spray paint renews old plastic containers, furniture, or other plastic items that need a makeover.

Irrespective of whether you are spray painting your helmet, car’s plastic interior, or flower planters. First, you’ll need the ideal spray paint designed for plastic surfaces. Secondly, set up your work area; spray paint is quite messy and can damage floors, walls, and furniture with splashes and drips. Then, wear protective equipment as the paint is toxic and harmful to your health. Finally, employ the proper technique and give each coat sufficient drying time for perfect results.

I have covered most nitty-gritty on the time spray paint takes to dry on plastics, how to speed up the drying process, and how to do the actual paint job. Use this information to make your project a success.

Happy spray painting!   

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