In this article, we will answer any questions you may have about how long it takes spray paint to dry on surfaces like wood, metal, or plastic.
If there is anything you can do to make spray paint dry faster. How long should you wait between paint coats & How long should you wait before sanding.
We will talk a little about automotive spray paint as well. So let’s get into it and I will try to make it as informative as possible and hopefully more exciting than watching paint dry.
How Long Does It Take Spray Paint to Dry?
Under optimal conditions, 65-85 degrees F and 70 percent Humidity, applied in light even coats spray paint should be dry enough in around 10minutes for purpose of spraying additional coats. Spray Paint will be dry to touch in 1 to 2 hours and be fully dry in 24 hours. Avoid excessive paint as this will increase dry time and lead to a bad finish. Each manufacturer formula will be slightly different and may have different recommendations – always read instructions if provided.
In general spray paint dries faster than brush-on paint on any surface but there are many factors in determining how long it takes spray paint to dry.
From what type of spray paint it is, latex spray paint and acrylic spray paint dry exceptionally fast, while spray-on lacquer or automotive paints dry slower.
Also how thick or thin the spray paint is applied, obviously thin layers will dry faster than thick ones.
Other things to consider are what type of material is being painted?
Raw wood and cement are very porous and tend to soak paint up quickly so it dries faster, plastic and metal are non-porous so they take longer to dry.
Then environmental factors have to be taken into consideration – humidity will slow the drying time, but the heat will speed up the drying time. Metal, in particular, reacts a great deal to changes in temperature, and temperature plays a major role as to whether or not you should even attempt to spray paint something.
For example, Rustoleum recommends that air and surface temperatures be between 50-90 degrees Fahrenheit and humidity below 85% for their enamel spray paint to be applied.
So you see there are no simple answers to what sounds like a very simple question but we will address all the different things we’ve mentioned here and it is always important to read the instructions on the can before beginning your project.
How Long to Let Spray Paint Dry on Wood
Assuming optimal paint conditions( check your cans instructions for what’s optimal) you can apply a second coat in about 10 minutes assuming you don’t want to sand between layers, if you want to dry sand between layers then you should wait at least 30 minutes then lightly sand with 400 grit sandpaper or steel wool then apply a second coat, repeat the sanding process apply the third coat.
If you plan to apply a lacquer coat sand lightly again let cure completely for 24 hours before applying your lacquer coat.
How Long to Let Spray Paint Dry on Metal
Metal takes longer to dry than wood and is highly affected by heat and humidity
Also metal should be cleaned, scuff sanded and primed before applying paint, primer coat will dry fairly quickly to the touch within 10 to 15 minutes but I would recommend waiting an hour before lightly sanding with 400 grit sandpaper and reapplying a second coat of primer and waiting again before sanding and applying paint.
Paint will take a little longer to dry than primer and depending on the finish your hoping to achieve you may or may not require additional coats. Paint can take as much as 36 to 48 hours to fully cure on metal even though it feels dry to the touch after 1 to 3 hours.
Always best to err on the side of caution and take your time when painting metal.
How Long to Let Spray Paint Dry on Plastic
First off let’s talk about the real problem, regular spray paint is awful for painting plastic, it simply doesn’t adhere well at all.
Even if it does manage to dry and not run everywhere it’s not going to stick it’s going to peel and crack and bubble – it just doesn’t work. Fortunately though the spray paint guys know this and they created spray paint specifically for painting plastic.
Read more: Why Does Spray Paint Crackle
One of the best ones is Krylon Fusion it actually fuses to the plastic with some kind of chemical interaction. It claims that no prep work is needed and dries to the touch in 15 minutes and able to handle in 1-2 hours and fully chip-resistant after 7 days.
Interestingly it is recommended if a second coat is needed, to reapply within 2 hours but outside of the 2-hour window you should wait 48 hours before reapplying.
I would be hesitant to try and sand this paint because of the adhesion problems with plastic but if you intend to try it anyway, I would suggest you test sand a plastic bottle or something similar after allowing to cure for at least 2 hours.
How Long For Spray Paint to Dry on Furniture
Spray paint on the furniture will be much the same as wood however in the case of furniture you may be painting over an old finish so ideally, you will want to sand your furniture piece down smooth and paint it with a primer first and let it dry about 30 minutes , then lightly sand with a fine sanding block with 400 grit sandpaper, you may or may not want a second coat of primer.
As for the paint, it will be dry to the touch in about 10 minutes but I’d advise at least 30 min before sanding and adding additional coats if desired.
How Long to Let Spray Paint Dry Between Coats
Typically if you spray light coats to avoid any nasty runs and you don’t intend to sand between coats you should be able to reapply paint after 10-15 minutes on most materials with the exception of metal which usually takes longer to dry up to as long as 1 hour before reapplying. As always you should read the instructions on the can before painting and consider your environmental factors, such as heat and humidity into your drying time, colder weather and high humidity will increase dry time on all your materials.
Time needed for various Tasks.
The time which it takes before you can do various tasks such as sanding the paint, applying the clear coat, or before you can tape the paint will greatly vary. In this section, we will see how long you usually need to wait before doing various spray paint related tasks.
How Long To Wait Before Sanding After Spray Painting
On most materials, you should wait about 30 minutes before lightly sanding in preparation for your next coat, with the exception of metal and plastic for metal I would recommend waiting an hour before sanding and a minimum of 2 hours for plastic – assuming you used a spray paint designed for plastic since regular spray paint does not adhere well to it.
I would not recommend sanding plastic between coats but if you feel the need to do so I’d say you should wait no less than 2 hours before very lightly sanding.
How Long to Let Spray Paint Dry Before Wet Sanding
Well in the case of wet sanding metal which is the most likely wet sanding scenario that I can imagine I would wait for 12- 24 hours before wet sanding with 2000-2500 grit wet sandpaper and continue to apply water with a spray bottle throughout the sanding process. A good tip is to put a drop or two of dish soap in your water as it will improve the lubrication even more.
Did you know you can wet sand wood as well? This is done to improve the finish and should be done after its fully cured the difference here is the wet sandpaper should be soaked overnight in water, (no dish soap), then use lightly on the finish without reapplying water, after that dry the wood with a soft rag.
Plastic can be wet sanded as well, I would recommend doing it the same as for the metal but waiting at least the full 24 hours before sanding.
Also Read: How To Sand Without Making Mess
Before Clear Coat
You should wait at least 30 minutes before starting your clear coat. Make sure your final paint coat is how you want it before beginning to applying the clearcoat since Clearcoat is a protectant coat and it is supposed to go on over your finished paint so your final paint coat should not be scuff sanded.
Before applying Polyurethane
Your paint should be completely dry before applying Polyurethane, so the drying time can vary greatly depending upon the painted material and the temperature and humidity the paint was applied in.
I would recommend at least 12 hours for wood or wood type materials like chipboard or MDF, 24 hours would be better, metal surfaces I would double that time 24 to 48 hours, and for plastic, I would recommend no less than 48 hours.
Since it is recommended your paint be fully cured it would be best to wait as long as you can before applying, these are estimated minimum times.
Also, it never hurts to look for recommendations on the can of the products you are using.
Read More: Can I Sand Stained Wood?
Before applying Lacquer
Lacquer is a solvent-based finish which means it can cause problems on any paint or finish you apply it over, so I would recommend your spray paint be completely dry before applying Lacquer check your can for full cure times.
In addition, it is recommended to spray Lacquer initially in very light dust coats on your material to build up a base before applying a heavier wet coat and allow your wet coat to dry tacky before adding another coat.
Spray paint dries faster on wood and other porous materials than it does on metal or plastic because it soaks into the pores of the material. Wood is usually dry to the handling stage between 1 and 2 hours, so I wouldn’t apply tape to the wood before then.
On Metal your paint should have been sprayed over a primer coat and I would wait for 6 to 12 hours before taping it, plastic should have been sprayed with a paint specifically made for plastic if it wasn’t I would not recommend taping it at all as it will likely pull off the coat of paint, if it was I would still wait 48 hours minimum before applying the tape.
Make sure you use quality tape,otherwise you risk messing up all your work!
Before Removing Tape
There are conflicting opinions on when to remove the tape. One painter will say to remove the tape as quickly as you can, another will say wait until the paint is dry enough to handle.
A good idea would be to test it, tape a small test area with a good quality painters tape and try a couple different drying times.
Do not use regular masking tape painters tape is designed not to let the paint bleed underneath it and to pull off clean.
Example wait 10 minutes and pull your first piece of test tape if the line is not satisfactory try waiting 30 minutes to an hour then pull your second test tape, if this isn’t to your liking either then I’d say wait until the paint is fully dry to the touch.
Also be aware, if you are using the cheapest tape there is – the paint can bleed under or worse when removing the tape actually lift the paint!
I Can Highly Recommend this Scotch Blue Tape
How Long to Let Primer Dry Before Spray Painting
Primer dries relatively quickly, I would wait 15 minutes between primer coats and apply at least 2 coats, if you intend to sand your primer I would wait 30 min before sanding if wet sanding then wait 30 minutes before applying your spray paint.
As always consider the material you are priming and painting, as well as the temperature and humidity.
There is no shame in reading the can for instructions.
How Can You Make Spray Paint Dry Faster
Spray paint is highly susceptible to heat and humidity when it comes to drying, increasing the temperature or decreasing the humidity can shorten the drying time.
This can be achieved by running a heater near your work or a dehumidifier or even both, keeping the air moving in the room will also speed up the drying process.
Keeping your temperature and humidity near-optimal will yield the best results.
Can You Dry Spray Paint With a Hair Dryer?
I would not recommend drying spray paint with a hairdryer, but if you intend to try it you should at least wait until the paint has reached the tacky stage to avoid causing waves in the surface of your paint.
The real issue though is that while a hair dryer may appear to dry the paint quicker it is just drying the surface of the paint, the paint underneath will still be wet and this may cause your paint to crack, bubble or just not adhere to the material you painted.
The better choice would be to raise the overall temperature of the room your painting in and setup a fan away from your work surface to help circulate air within the room allowing your paint to dry in a more uniform manner.
Why Is My Spray Paint Not Drying?
Well what is the temperature where you are painting? The temperature should be between 60 and 80 degrees for best results.
Is it extremely humid where you are painting? Most paints recommend humidity levels below 85 percent and this is maximum humidity.
I like to follow the 70/ 70 rule, 70 degrees Fahrenheit and 70 percent humidity as optimal conditions.
Are you applying your paint in too thick of a layer?
It is best to apply several thin layers as opposed to one or two thick ones this also keeps your paint from running.
Also what type of material are you painting? Metal and plastic will take longer to dry because they are non-porous and metal should be primed before painting, while plastic should use spray paint specifically made for plastic, in addition to following the temperature and humidity rules stated above.
Does Spray Paint Dry in the Cold ?
While spray paint may eventually dry in a cold environment it is not recommended to spray paint in temperatures below 50 degrees.
Metal and plastic will be especially hard to dry in colder areas, it is always best to spray paint in an area where you can control the temperature and humidity.
Best Temperature For Spray Paint to Dry
It is best to apply spray paint between 50 and 90 degrees so if you split the difference you get 70 degrees as optimal for applying, a little warmer will not greatly effect the drying process other than speeding it up some this may even be beneficial on metal and plastic which dry slower than wood products anyway.
I would recommend keeping the temperature below 85 to stay within the guidelines for most paints.
Does Spray Paint Dry Faster In The Sun?
While radiant heat from the sun may make your paint appear to dry faster the actual outdoor temperature plays more of a role in the drying process.
If it’s a bright sunny day but only 60 degrees outside your paint is going to dry slower.
The radiant heat from the sun may make the surface of your paint appear dry, but it may not be dry below the surface.
So while its not going to hurt anything to spray paint outside on a bright sunny day look to the actual temperature to determine how fast your paint will dry, also be aware that spray paint should not be applied above 90 degrees.
Related: How to Spray Paint Stucco
How Do You Know When Spray Paint Is Dry?
Spray Paint dries on the surface first, it will look dry before it actually is.
Read your cans label and resist the urge to touch the paint, it is always beneficial to test paint a piece of material if you have one, that way you can touch it instead of your project.
Spray paint will have a tacky feel when it is surface dry this is usually the time you want to recoat, once the project loses that tacky feel then it is considered touch dry it can be handled gently at this point. From this point it can take anywhere from 24-48 hours to be completely dry depending on the material.
Also read: How To Get Spray Paint Off Shoes
Why Is My Spray Paint Sticky After Drying?
This is a condition known as blocking, it is typically caused by spraying paint in very high humidity or applying a second coat before the first is dry, essentially trapping moisture between paint layers, sadly this condition may never completely go away short of sanding off and refinishing, although it may improve after a week or two.
There are a couple things you can try keep reading the next section where I’ll cover those.
How Do You Fix Sticky Spray Paint On Wood?
Time is probably the best way to fix sticky spray paint, sadly sticky paint can be caused several different ways, from not shaking the can enough, or not letting the primer dry before spraying your paint or just failing to apply primer to begin with.
All that being said you can apply a couple coats of good furniture wax this does two things It takes away that sticky feeling and protects the paint at least a little while you let time do it’s thing, so the trapped moisture can escape from the internal layers of paint.
Store the project in a warm room with good circulation and wait. If the situation doesn’t resolve itself in a couple of weeks you may seriously want to consider sanding everything back off and starting over again, Making sure to let every layer dry completely before applying the next.
Will Tacky Paint Eventually Dry?
Yes tacky paint will eventually dry but it may take weeks and even after it is dry it may still be damaged and not adhering to the original painted surface.
This will eventually lead to peeling, chipping, bubbling, or just a generally unsatisfying finish, this is where you have to decide is it good enough?
Is it worth a second try? Do I feel like there was something I did wrong, and
do I think I can do a better job the second time? Whenever I honestly evaluate a project I’ve done that didn’t turn out as good as I hoped there is almost always something I can look back on and say “yes I messed up on this part” or “I could have done that part better”
Don’t get discouraged, nobody is born an expert and mistakes are how we learn.
How Long Does It Take For Car Spray Paint To Dry?
Ok for the sake of clarity we are talking about rattle can spray paint there are so many different types of professional car paints that trying to give a general answer would almost surely be wrong and pointless.
But for rattle can paint jobs there is a general rule of thumb and that is read your can instructions and drying times and then double those numbers, use primer double those numbers, sand before painting, paint should be applied in thin layers allowed to dry tacky between coats, and make sure your final paint coat is exactly the way you want it before applying your clear coat.
When Can I Wash My Car After a Paint Job?
There are a lot of varying opinions on when it is safe to wash your car after painting.
Some painters say its safe to water sand after 4 hours then its safe to get wet, therefore it is safe to wash. Others say wait 1 or even 2 months before washing.
So who’s right? Well, probably both. For instance, if something potentially damaging to your cars paint gets on it then you should wash it off immediately like bird droppings or gasoline.
But it is best to minimally clean it with only water and a soft sponge if possible, chemicals and detergents are the most likely things to damage a fresh paint job, so avoid them as long as possible.
The other most damaging thing to your paint job is dirt so if its dirty wash it gently with water avoid using detergents for 2 to 4 weeks and even then only as necessary.
What Are Some Of The Fastest Drying Spray Paints?
Spray paint in general is fast drying, Because of this I would choose quality over drying time in which case Krylon, Rustoleum, and Hammerite are all good quality spray paints.
Krylon also has a reputation for spraying on easy and drying really fast.
While Rustoleum is perhaps the most recognized brand of spray paint on the market today.
Rustoleum Spray Paint drying time
There are different levels of dry and different formulas of Rustoleum that being said Rustoleum stop rust spray paint says it dries tack free in 2 to 4 hours. It can be handled without leaving prints or damage in 5 to 9 hours, and hard dry in 24 hours.
Crayola Spray Paint drying time
This is an interesting one because crayola is a water based non permanent paint its meant for kids to spray paint the sidewalk or the driveway and can be washed off with water. It will usually be dry to the touch in about 30 minutes.
Hammerite Spray Paint drying time
Hammerite claims to be tack dry in 2 hours, handling dry in 4 hours and fully dry in 24 hours.
Keep in mind temperature and humidity can play a serious role in drying times on all paint brands. The type material you are painting plays a major role as well always read instructions, paint in light coats an err on the side of caution to save yourself a lot of money, rework, and headaches.
Is Spray Paint Flammable After It Dries?
Spray paint is Flammable when it can give off fumes and should not be sprayed in high heat or near open flame, it should also be sprayed in a well ventilated area to dissipate fumes.
Essentially when the paint no longer gives off fumes it is no longer Flammable.
This does not mean dry paint or the material its on the cant burn, it simply means it will not ignite in the presence of an open flame.
Is Spray Paint Toxic After It Dries?
Well I wouldn’t advise eating it, but once it is dry it is for the most part safe to touch, and safe to set food on.
I wouldn’t breathe it if you decide to sand it off, because I wouldn’t want to inhale particulates into my lungs.
But apart from that I’d say its relatively safe. Some paints are labeled as non-toxic and you may want to consider a paint like that if you have major concerns about it toxicity.
What To Do If Spray Paint Won’t Dry On Plastic ?
You can try applying a wax based furniture polish, this may help it set and remove that sticky feel. Whether your paint will stay on is another matter, plastic is notoriously hard to spray paint, so much so that companies have designed plastic specific paint and plastic primers as well.
It is important to use primer, and paint made for plastic, use light coats and follow drying instructions on the can for best results.
Painting in a low humidity setting and optimal temperatures around 70 degrees is also important especially on plastic
You can expect plastic to take a week to fully cure to a point where it can be used or gotten wet.