As a painter and lover of DIY projects, I find working with spray paint quite fun. If not spray painting my outdoor furniture, I’d be revamping a wall, a household item, or a precious artifact.
When starting, I used to wonder how long it takes for spray paint to dry on the different materials and surfaces I’d work on. Over time I learned which surfaces were porous and which were not, which surfaces supported faster drying time for spray paint, and which ones took longer to dry.
Now, as an avid DIYer with a lot of spray painting experience, I’d like to help you determine how to make spray paint dry faster, regardless of what substrate you’re working on.
From using a hair dryer, heat gun, or even a toaster oven, here is a comprehensive guide on how to shorten the drying time for spray paints.
How to Make Spray Paint Dry Faster
You can employ various techniques to make your spray paint dry faster. The best and most effective method is working in warm sunny weather or under low humidity. Otherwise, you can use an oven, a hair dryer, a heat gun, or a box fan.
How Long Does Spray Paint Take to Dry?
Several factors determine how long your spray paint will take to dry up on a given surface.
You could pick up bits of information on the spray can about the ideal drying time under different weather conditions, but on average, it takes about 10 minutes for the spray paint to harden or become dry to the touch.
This doesn’t imply the paint gets completely dry and cured in 10 minutes. Rather, it means after 10 minutes, the paint won’t stick on your finger if you touch it.
But for most surfaces, 24 hours is the standard time it takes for the paint to dry and cure. Note that this also depends on environmental conditions like weather and the type of paint used.
For example, water-based paints tend to dry faster under average temperatures, while oil-based paints can take longer, especially if the humidity levels are high.
The idea of having to wait for a day or more to have your item completely dry could discourage you from spray painting.
In that case, you may employ other unnatural means to get your spray paint to dry faster. And that’s the focus of this guide.
We will share all the practical tips and solutions to shorten the spray paint drying time so you don’t have to wait forever, regardless of the weather.
But first, let’s understand these terms: dry time and cure time, often used in spray painting.
Dry Time and Cure Time: What’s the Difference?
To understand what determines the drying time for spray paint and how to make spray paint dry faster, we need to understand what dry and cure time is.
Dry time for spray paint is the amount of time it takes for one coat to dry before you apply another coat. It’s the time taken between each layer or coat of paint.
Cure time, on the other hand, is how long it takes for the paint to dry completely before you can use the item or mark the project as complete. For spray paint to dry completely, it goes through four different stages known as:
Surface dry: This is when the paint’s solvents evaporate, and the strong smell subsides.
Touch dry: This is when the paint doesn’t get sticky when you touch it with your finger. It hardens on the surface, although it can still be wet inside.
Hard dry: At this point, the top layer of paint is hard enough that it cannot peel off easily.
Fully cured: The final step where the spray paint has gone through the entire drying process, and the object is ready for use. This process takes longer because the paint can only be cured after all the solvents have left the film and absorbed into the air to create a tough, smooth exterior.
How Can I Make Spray Paint Dry Faster: 15 Ways
As we already pointed out, waiting for spray paint to dry, especially under unfavorable weather conditions, can be frustrating.
If you need to complete the project sooner, you can try other ways to dry it faster. This way, the task becomes more practical since it cannot interfere with your routine.
Sand the Surface
So how do you make spray paint dry faster? One way is to shake the spray paint cans to ensure the liquified gas and paint mixed together. Let’s explore other 15 practical tricks and hacks to shorten the waiting time between coats.
Note that the easiest and hassle-free methods you can use include altering the conditions of your environment, like humidity or air circulation. Here’s how to go about each process.
It’s a known fact that spray paint is more likely to dry faster on a smooth surface than on a rough one. The reason is that, unlike a smooth surface, rough surfaces contain pores that naturally cause paint to accumulate, and thick paint takes a long time to dry.
Sanding helps smoothen the substrate allowing the paint to spread thinly over the surface as the solvents quickly evaporate.
Use 120 and 200-grit sandpaper to sand off the surface, then finish it with a 400-grit abrasive to create a beautiful smooth finish. After sanding, use a vacuum to remove the debris to facilitate direct interaction with the paint.
One of the best practices for spray paint is to apply a thin coat. Thin coats of paint naturally dry faster than thicker layers. You’ll need to employ a technique where you’ll naturally apply thin coats throughout.
Always use your whole hand, not just your wrist, as you move the can back and forth across the surface while spraying. This way, you’ll avoid overlapping too much paint on a single spot and instead maintain thin coats consistently.
Apply Thin Coats
If possible, use a paint thinner or solvent to make it less thick. If working with oil-based paints, add some turpentine or mineral spirits to lower the paint’s viscosity.
It would be best if you took care not to overdo the thinning or dilution of your paint; otherwise, the paint will change in texture and appearance, so do it in moderation.
Use Heat Gun
A heat gun is the first thing that comes to mind if you can’t wait for the paint to dry naturally. And why not? With a heat gun, you can maintain even the highest temperature levels and get the job done, even if you’re spray painting in cold weather.
This option is suitable for larger projects where a hair dryer may not be efficient.
And while a heat gun doesn’t instantly dry the paint, it accelerates the process. The first step to using a heat gun is to turn it on and adjust the temperatures accordingly.
From there, you can hold the gun a short distance from the paint (about two inches away) to ensure you don’t ruin it.
Hover over the surface with the heat gun continuously moving back and forth and directing the hot air on the surface you want to dry until you achieve the desired toughness.
Ensure Good Air Circulation
Good airflow is vital when working with spray paint. Most paints are made with toxic chemicals containing volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which may be dangerous if inhaled.
If working indoors, ensure that all the doors and windows are open to facilitate good ventilation.
You could also use a fan to support this. And even after you’re done working, the fan should continue running to speed up the drying time. Be sure the room is clean when using the fan; otherwise, it could collect debris that may end up ok with your painted object, thereby ruining your work.
Also, keep the fan away from the item you’re painting since the closer it is, the more likely it will move and smear the paint. If working in a garage, use a box fan to ensure good air circulation.
And if you’re doing your project outdoors, avoid working in windy weather for safety reasons.
Use Box Fan
A box fan is motor powered. It’s an effective way to speed up the drying time of your paint since it blows and circulates the air, causing a windy conditions.
A windy environment will naturally speed up the evaporation process of the liquid ingredients in the paint, making it dry faster.
To avoid the possibility of having the fan over-sprayed with paint, cover it with a large piece of cloth. Also, use at least three box fans for commercial projects and one or two for small DIY jobs.
Spray Paint Under Low Humidity
Low humidity is essential for spray paint to dry faster. The higher the humidity levels, the longer it will take for your spray paint project to complete. The recommended humidity levels for drying spray paint are between 40 and 70%, so avoid painting during humid days.
If you live in a place with high humidity levels, try using a dehumidifier to reduce the moisture in the air. Also, consider opening doors and windows if the room is excessively humid. But if it’s humid outside, close the windows to lock out moisture.
Work on Warm Days
Sometimes you don’t have to sweat to get the job done. You just need a little patience to allow mother nature to do the work for you.
And this is one approach where you don’t have to worry about the heat being too much, the humidity being too high, or the airflow being insufficient.
You only have to choose a bright sunny day and do your spray painting job outside. It’s not only safe but very convenient. Painting outdoors in summer is also fun; you can do it as a family.
The hot temperatures ensure the paint dries quickly below the average drying time.
And the best time to do it is in the morning so the paint can have all time to dry. Overall, 65 and 85 degrees F is perfect for spray painting outdoors.
Use a Hairdryer
A hairdryer can do more than blow dry and straighten your hair. This essential household item can also come in handy when you want to dry your paint faster. If this is an option you’d like to try, turn on the hair dryer, and hold it at arm’s length over the wet surface.
Don’t hold it too close, or you’ll blow away the paint. Instead, keep it a few inches away and gently blow over the entire surface, covering each corner until you achieve the desired toughness.
Cure Spray Paint in a Toaster Oven
Curing spray paint in a toaster oven may sound impractical, but it’s yet another effective method of ensuring that your spray paint dries faster.
Once the paint is past the first drying phase and dry to the touch, consider baking it in a toaster oven at 250 degrees F for around two hours.
One thing to note is that you can only bake enamel paint since most paints tend to crack or bubble when exposed to extreme heat.
So ensure the paint you use can be oven-cured, and avoid using traditional ovens since they tend to retain the VOCs released in the air.
This may cause health problems the next time you use food in your oven since these VOCs can be released back into the food. That’s why a toaster oven is recommended and only for drying paint on small items.
Coat with Wax-based Furniture Polish
Using wax-based furniture polish is a little-known trick that you can use to get your paint to dry faster. While finding the furniture polish is the most challenging part (it’s not sold in most local crafts stores), it’s effective and offers instant results.
It works the same way as a matte sealant, where you spray it over the final coat of spray paint. Add multiple thin layers of the furniture polish and let it dry for five minutes before you add another coat.
While using this product, avoid applying excess pressure to prevent the polish from coming off. Also, some projects, like those involving wood, require very few coats of furniture polish to dry paint.
Apply multiple coats, at least three, then confirm if the paint is dry by touching gently with the tip of your finger.
Using desiccant is another excellent option for drying spray paint faster. The desiccant absorbs air moisture and then binds it with a hydrophilic component.
We already mentioned that the lower the vapor content, the faster the paint would dry.
And the best part is that desiccants are available in different colors, including gold, powder, and hydrophilic cartridges, all of which are affordable and suitable for small-scale projects.
Work with Fast-drying Spray Paint
Different spray paint brands have different drying times, and if you want your spray paint to dry faster, consider those that dry quickly.
One good example is the Rustoleum 2x Coverage spray paint. This product is known to dry to the touch within 20 minutes, meaning it can be completely cured in less than 24 hours.
Run a Small Space Heater Nearby
Like the box fan, a space heater is another solution to the query, how to make spray paint dry faster as it can help reduce the time it takes for your paint to dry.
A space heater helps increase temperature levels and air circulation, which supports faster drying time for paint. This method is best used in chilly and humid conditions.
Once you finish your project, leave the heater running near the surface to speed up the drying time. You’ll be surprised that the paint is dry to the touch within minutes instead of hours.
And if you’re working indoors, you can turn up your home heater to speed up the drying time. Note I said to speed up the time it takes for the paint to dry from 24 hours to just a few hours, not necessarily make the paint dry instantly.
Factors That Affect How Long Spray Paint Takes To Dry
Your pray-painted project will dry eventually, no matter how long it takes. However, there are a few factors that impact the drying time.
It’s always good practice to paint in favorable weather conditions for the best results to avoid your work getting ruined. So what factors affect the time it takes for paint to dry?
Temperature affects the overall time your paint will take to dry. Hotter temperatures, while ideal, can cause the paint to bubble or crack. On the other hand, cold temperatures can cause the paint to freeze. Temperature ranges of 50-90 degrees Fahrenheit are ideal.
Similarly, high moisture or humidity levels make it difficult for paint to dry since it will remain moist much longer.
This condition is no different from condensation, where the cold and humidity causes water to drip on the painted surface and mix with the paint leaving unpleasant streaks.
2. Air Circulation
When you’re working outdoors, there’s an unlimited supply of air circulation, allowing the paint to dry faster naturally. However, when you’re indoors, the air circulation is limited, which prolongs the drying time.
A good approach is to work outdoors where the elements will support your work unrestricted or ensure sufficient air when working indoors.
The low the circulation of air, the more the paint will suffocate and take forever to cure. Even worse, low or zero circulation makes the room more humid, so turn the fan on and leave it running.
Does Spray Paint Dry Faster on Various Materials?
The dynamics of spray paint drying time changes from one material to another. This is due to varying situations, and there’s no specific stand-alone time.
This being the case, let’s examine situational differences involving substrates like wood, glass, plastic, metal, cardboard, and rubber.
Wood is the most frequently painted substrate compared to other materials. It’s also the type of material that takes the shortest time to dry since it’s porous and quickly absorbs the paint.
On average, spray paint takes 30-60 minutes to dry on timber, depending on porosity and density variations in lumber.
Processed metals are smooth-textured substrates, and gone are the days when they used to be painted using traditional methods like brushing and rolling.
Now you can use silky easy techniques like spray paint to coat them. And the best part is that it takes less than 30 minutes for spray paint to dry on metal surfaces.
The longest your spray-painted metal surface will take to dry is an hour, depending on the type of metal and paint used.
Therefore always determine if the paint you intend to use is compatible with the metal substrate if you want to cut on drying time.
The best way to do this is by reading the user manual and instructions from the manufacturer or seeking advice from your local paint dealer.
Plastic surfaces also dry faster thanks to their smooth texture. Plastic is the easiest material to spray paint and leaves a beautiful smooth finish once dry and cured. Give it about half an hour to dry after spraying before touching it.
Of all the materials on our list, glass is the most difficult to spray paint, even if you employ the most delicate techniques. This can be attributed to its smooth and non-porous surface that exacerbates the paint causing it to skid.
The chance of paint peeling off after drying is also high. Still, it can take around 15 to 20 minutes for the paint to dry to touch on glass.
This time is not consistent and may vary depending on the glass type. For instance, you should expect the drying time to be different on frosted glass than on plain glass panes because frosted glass has a more pitted texture.
Concrete works better with other painting techniques, like brushing with rollers instead of spray painting. Still, it’s possible to create a beautiful wall finish with spray paint.
If this is your preferred method to revamp your plastered concrete wall or similar surfaces, 20 to 30 minutes is the ideal drying time.
It takes that much time because concrete contains absorptive properties that soak up paint, ultimately prolonging the drying times. Finally, plastering agents like gypsum or cement plaster also contribute to the drying time.
Cardboard has the same porosity characteristics as timber. Painting cardboard helps enhance its aesthetics, and it takes about 40 minutes or an hour for spray paint to dry on it.
The best way to accelerate drying time for spray-painted cardboard is by painting outside in warm sunny weather.
Rubber painting is not common among DIYers unless it’s mundane, like spray painting crocs or similar tasks.
Rubber painting is often done commercially, and the average drying time is 40 minutes to one hour. That’s also the average time you should take between each coat, meaning it’s more time-consuming to spray paint rubber.
The time is determined by the type of rubber used since some are porous and others are not.
Does Spray Paint Dry Faster in Heat or Cold?
The temperatures must stay above 50 degrees F. Otherwise, freezing can prolong the paint drying time and damage your work.
In addition, cold temperatures affect adhesion, so the paint doesn’t bond well with the surface and instead becomes sticky or sloppy.
Hot or warmer temperatures are great since they help the paint dry faster. Still, care should be taken to ensure the paint doesn’t crack due to excessive temperatures.
As such, you should not paint anything if the temperatures are 90 degrees F or higher because the only way you can fix cracked paint is by removing it and starting all over again.
Can a Heat Gun Help Spray Paint Dry Faster?
A heat gun is an essential tool for spray painting. If you regulate the heat gun moderately, you can use it to dry paint much faster. Still, this tool is not an instant solution to paint that takes too long to dry.
To use it, you should ensure safety by following the usage instructions; otherwise, you could cause a fire.
Always set the temperatures at 450 degrees F, not more or less. It’s more advisable to use a heat gun on flexible surfaces like wood and metal and avoid sensitive materials like canvas paper.
Will Spray Paint Dry Faster in the Sun?
If you want a better experience, avoid using paint in direct sunlight since the excess heat can cause the paint to dry faster, resulting in cracks, peeling, and uneven marks.
Working on a sunny day is alright but don’t leave the spray-painted item under direct sunlight, especially during summer.
Best Fast Drying Spray Paint
Some paint brands are formulated to dry faster, and these can be a great option if you want your project to compete within a short time. Some of the most popular ones include:
Krylon 1602 Fast-Drying Spray Paint
Krylon is a popular spray paint brand whose products, such as the Krylon 1602 Fast-Drying Spray Paint, include an “acrylic-quick” formula suitable for wood and metal substrates.
The Krylon 1602 Fast-Drying Spray Paint has an enamel paint containing a high gloss and matte finish that is great for touch-ups. Its most significant advantage is fast-drying properties that don’t drip or run.
It also requires less drying time between coats, meaning you can apply multiple paint coats in short intervals, and it takes eight minutes to dry to the touch.
PintyPlus Evolution Solvent-Based Spray Paint
Pintyplus Evolution Spray Paint – 11oz, is a solvent-based, acrylic spray paint from PintyPlus. It can be used on metal, plastics, cardboard, stone, paper, and wood.
It is a fast-drying paint that can be used on both exterior and interior projects. The paint is a matte finish available in 12 different colors.
Krylon Glitter Blast Spray Paint
Krylon Glitter Blast Spray Paint is a glitter spray paint compatible with most surfaces, including plastic, glass, wood, pottery, wicker, metal, ceramic, pottery, and paper. It is acid-free, adheres perfectly, and the paint dries well within 20 minutes.
Rust-Oleum Matte Painter’s Touch
Rust-Oleum Matte Painter’s Touch is a product by Rust-Oleum that’s great for indoor and outdoor use. It’s applicable on various surfaces like metal, wood, plaster, plastic, masonry, and unglazed ceramic.
It’s a low-odor, oil-based formula that’s highly durable and resistant to chips and peels. Rust-Oleum Matte Painter’s Touch dries within 20 minutes, and each aerosol can can cover about 12 sq. ft. of surface area.
FAQs: How to Make Spray Paint Dry Faster
How long does it take for spray paint to dry?
Drying time for spray paint can be anywhere from 10 minutes to 24 hours. Factors influencing this process include paint type, climate/weather, and material surface. It’s always advisable to work with fast-drying paint for the best results.
Can you use a hair dryer to dry spray paint faster?
A hairdryer can come in handy if you want to speed up the drying process of spray paint. It works best on small DIY projects, especially with thin paint layers.
Can spray paint dry in three hours?
For most spray paints, 10-15 minutes is enough for the surface to be dry to the touch. However, for lacquer-based paints, drying time can be around three hours before wholly cured.
Can I dry spray paint with a heat gun?
Sometimes using a heat gun is necessary to speed up paint drying time. It involves painting a small area, drying it with a heat gun then moving on to the next spot until the entire surface is covered. This process, while tedious and time-consuming, can be effective.
On average, your project can take 24 hours to complete depending on factors like climate, environmental conditions, material being painted, and the type of spray paint used.
This drying time can also be short if all factors remain constant. At the same time, a paint project can take longer than average for several reasons.
We’ve covered all the factors that are likely to affect the drying time of your spray paint to help you determine the best time, materials, and paint to use on your next project.
Working in warm weather might be easier if you want to minimize the time it takes for paint to dry. Or you could work with fast-drying spray paints.
Alternatively, you can try some of the options covered in this guide, like using a toaster oven or furniture polish which offers instant solutions.