Some people think of spray paint as the weapon of choice for rebellious teenagers, but it can serve many purposes in your everyday life. It’s commonly used to restore the appearance of old machines, appliances, or furniture that have lost their shine.

The reason why it’s great is because it’s a cost-effective way to fix something rather than replacing it entirely. Instead of refurbishing your home, or purchasing new windows once yours have gone out of style — simply paint over them.

However, if you touch a fresh coat of spray paint, you could ruin everything and have to start over. So, the question is how long does it take spray paint to dry, and how to speed up the process?

How Long Does It Take Spray Paint to Dry?

The drying time depends on the material you’re applying it on, as well as on the number of coats, colors, etc. Also, if you want to add more than one coat, you have to let the first one dry before applying another one. You should also give the paint more time to dry if you’re using more than one color, to avoid making streaks.

Drying Stages

If you don’t want to ruin the job you have already done (and have to start over), you must wait for the paint to dry. There are 4  stages that paint goes through before the drying process is completed.

  • Surface Dry — You’ll see a thin layer on the surface of the paint and it will be quite sticky to the touch.
  • Touch Dry — During the touch dry stage, the paint can come off when you apply light pressure, even though it doesn’t stick to your fingers.
  • Hard Dry — The coat of paint can still be damaged during this phase, but it won’t completely come off.
  • Thorough Dry — You’ve given the paint about 24 hours to dry, and the painted object is ready to use.

Drying Time Based on Material

Different materials may be more porous or prone to damage from the paint, and you need to treat them accordingly. The time it takes to dry off a fresh coat of paint can also depend on what you’re painting on. The most common ones, that I’ll talk more about, are cardboard, metal, glass, plastic, and rubber.


Cardboard has a soft texture that makes it prone to accidental damage and you will likely ruin it if you don’t know what you’re doing. However, the material has one of the fastest drying times. If you’re painting cardboard in a well-ventilated area, it shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes for a coat to dry.


Spray paint is commonly used to restore a variety of metal objects, such as doorknobs, refrigerators, cars, etc. If you’re in a warm room with no humidity, spray paint can dry in as little as 10 minutes.


Painting on glass can be tricky, and not giving the paint enough time to dry can lead to drip marks. You should try to apply each coat as gently as possible, and wait for at least 15 minutes before adding a new one. However, it typically takes a minimum of 24 hours for the paint to dry fully.


Plastic is one of the easiest materials to paint on and has an average drying time of 30 minutes. But, the paint coats likely won’t reach the thorough dry stage until you’ve let them sit for at least 3 hours.


Because rubber is so porous, you should wait for at least 30 minutes before applying a new coat. Also, keep in mind that it won’t get to the thorough dry stage in less than 24 hours. If you want to paint an object made out of rubber, you have to plan ahead.

How to Speed up the Process

If you’re in a rush and need to use the chair you’ve just spray painted ASAP, there are a couple of things you can do to get it to dry. Next, I’ll cover a few tips and tricks to help things move along quicker.

Work Outside

Besides being able to breathe in the fresh air, working outside will help your paint dry quicker. However, you should plan ahead a bit and paint on a warm day, when the humidity is low. You should also try starting early in the morning to take advantage of the weather and give yourself enough time to finish.

Turn on a Fan

If you can’t avoid working indoors, at least turn on a fan to ensure better airflow in the room. This way, you will help the individual coats dry quicker, and won’t give yourself a headache from the fumes.

Run a Hairdryer

A hairdryer will help your paint dry quickly by decreasing humidity levels and increasing the temperature. However, if you’re working with a thinner material, don’t stand too close to it because you could cause damage. You could also use the cooling mode If your hairdryer has one, but don’t expect the results as quickly.

Apply Thin Coats

Although it seems a bit arduous, applying thin coats of spray paint can help you speed up the drying process. Thinner layers will also ensure you get a more even finish, without any streaks and patches.

Use Furniture Polish

Using furniture polish (especially a wax-based one) will let the paint dry quicker and not leave any drip marks. Spray the polish a few inches away from the object after applying spray paint, and give it a couple of minutes to dry before applying the next coat.

Other Factors That Contribute to Drying Time

How Thick the Layer of Paint Is

If the layer of coating is too thick it will take more time for it to dry. So, applying the correct amount of paint is crucial if you want it to dry quickly. Luckily,  Spray paint gives you enough control when applying it, especially compared to a brush. Always add a thin layer of paint to ensure better results and quicker dry time. You can also mix a paint thinner or solvent to get a thinner level of paint before you start adding it.

Environmental factors

High levels of humidity can increase the drying time, no matter the material you’re painting on. On the other hand, cold temperatures can cause issues with the consistency of the paint. Always make sure you’re in a warm room with low humidity to ensure your paint takes less time to dry.

The Type of Spray Paint

The ingredients and formulas play a major role in shortening the time it takes coats of paint to dry. Currently, the best option on the market is polyurethane (epoxy) spray paint. The reason why is that it can dry a surface within 5 minutes, and give a hard dry in 1 hour. Lacquer paints are the second-best with a hard drying time of only 3 hours, and latex paints will take up to 8 hours to dry completely.

Final Thoughts

Spray paint is a portable, affordable, versatile, and quite effective at getting rid of any accidental scratches and signs of use. When it comes to how long it takes the spray paint to dry, there are certain factors you should consider. For example, temperature, weather conditions, and humidity levels are crucial when applying it. However, the kind of material and paint you’re using also needs to be taken into consideration.

You also need to track the drying stages to ensure you’re not just piling on new coats when the base layer hasn’t dried yet. Lastly, apply thin layers to ensure a quick dry time and an even result. Working with spray paint is incredibly simple, and I hope this article helps you get the results you want.

Write A Comment