How Long Does Acrylic Paint Take to Dry?

One of the reasons acrylic is so popular among painters is that it dries very quickly. But sometimes, an advantage can prove itself to be a problem, depending on the situation.

While painting, it’s important to know the exact drying time of each paint type to estimate the timings of mixing and layering correctly.

Knowing how long does acrylic paint takes to dry can be useful information if you’re a newbie and want to learn more about the nitty-gritty of this popular paint.

In this guide, we’ll try to cover the basics of acrylic and discuss the drying time of its chemical ingredients.

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Acrylic’s Usual Drying Time

You can expect acrylic paint to dry within 20 to 30 minutes. It’s a general guide. There are some factors that play a huge role in the overall drying time of acrylic paint.

Factors such as heat in the painting area, airflow, lighting, and humidity are some of the major ones that control the drying time.

Adjusting Acrylic Drying Time

You may need to speed up or slow down acrylic drying time. Let’s talk about each of the cases.

How to Speed up Acrylic Drying Time

There are a few easy ways you can accelerate acrylic paint drying time. They don’t require any special tools. All you need are some techniques and make a few adjustments to your painting system.

Chemically Formulated Acrylic

There are some acrylic paints that can work super fast. The drying time is cut down to the minimum to assist you in quick paint work.

Although this paint is fast in its normal state, there are times when a project needs to be done in a short time. In cases like these, acrylic that has a different chemical composition can help a lot.

These commercially mixed fast acrylic solutions may take as few as only ten minutes to be dry enough to touch safely.

However, thick coatings can take up to more than an hour. It all depends on the thickness of the layers. Dry enough to touch means it should be okay to touch, not handle it roughly simply.

Airflow and Temperature

Try to paint in a room where an ample amount of airflow is available. The more the airflow, the quicker the paint can evaporate its water content, drying the film up in the process.

It would help if you also worked on a sunny day. If possible, go outside to paint. The temperature and sunlight are helpful, speeding up the paint dry time.

Remember, the paint is mostly a mixture of chemicals and water. Your goal here is to let the water evaporate in the shortest amount of time possible to help set the paint’s film.

If you can’t work outdoors, then work indoors, in a room with a lot of windows. If possible, use a fan to increase overall airflow in the working area.

Also, avoid rainy or cold days. The temperature is low these days, which is suitable for slowing down acrylic’s water evaporation time.

Working on rainy or humid days also has another problem. Dry air attracts water molecules from wet objects, increasing the wetness in the air while lowering the water content from the objects.

When you’re painting in dry weather, air molecules easily attract water molecules from the paint and help them dry up quickly.

On the other hand, humid air can’t remove water from other objects as effectively as dry air could. This means your paint drying time will take longer than usual.

Also, since the temperature is another factor that controls the drying time, you can use some hacky ways. You can use a heat air blower on the paint after you’ve applied the coating.

Hold the air blower a few inches away from the paint and blow for a few minutes. This can speed up the drying process.

Heat lamps and heat guns also work well. Your goal is to increase the temperature and lighting around the paint to accelerate the water evaporation rate.

You don’t want to heat the paint at an extreme temperature. Doing that can break the paint’s consistency as well as mess with the layers. Always use mild heat on acrylic.

Outdoor Timing

If you can work outdoors, then one of the best times you can work is in the morning. Mornings on regular days are sunny and dry. This combination is quite suitable for speeding up acrylic drying time.

Try to start working early in the morning, right after sunrise. If you start working at this point, you’ll have enough time to complete a large project and dry it thoroughly.

Nevertheless, don’t place the paint under direct sunlight for a long time. Overheating the coating might break it apart from within hours of painting.

Also, don’t work on windy days. More wind means more dust falling on the freshly painted coats, making them dirty even before the coating gets enough time to harden.

You’ll damage your projects this way. Try to pick a day with an average amount of wind flow and less humidity to work outdoors.

Related: Can You Paint Over Clear Coat?

How to Slow Down Acrylic Drying Time

Sometimes it’s necessary to lengthen the acrylic drying process. There could be many reasons behind this. Whatever your reason is, here are some ways to slow the drying process.

Working in a Damp Area

Okay, this may sound like the opposite of what we mentioned in the acrylic speeding up the drying process. It actually is. But there’s a catch.

You can significantly accelerate acrylic painting time, but it doesn’t work as much in reverse. Let me explain what I meant.

In its natural composition, acrylic has a few properties that make it harden up in a short time. You can lengthen the time for a few extra minutes but not more than that. There are no hacks, no tricks.

You can tinker with the natural property of acrylic but changing its overall structure to lengthen the drying time isn’t possible.

Using a Painting Cover Palette

The painting cover palette is an enclosed box to keep your painted artwork in. It can lower the humidity of the painted layer for an extended period of time.

It achieves this by lowering the airflow and temperature inside the box, thereby keeping the acrylic’s water content intact for a few days.

Thick Coating

Suppose you have two same objects and decide to paint acrylic on them. On one, you make one thin layer and let it dry.

Then you make another and let that layer dry again. You keep repeating this a few times and check the overall drying time for all the steps combined.

Related: How Long Does Acrylic Paint Last?

Now, on the other object, make a layer as thick as the other object’s combined layers’ thickness. Let it dry completely. Check the drying time. The chances are high that the thicker single layer will take much longer to dry than the thin paint layers combined.

The reason behind it is that when the coating is thick, the air has a hard time entering inside it and taking all the water molecules out. The process takes an excessively long time, which might be what you need.

Using Gels

Some gels and gel-based sprays are available for acrylic. When applied on top of the paint coat, these gels can keep the water content intact and slow down the paint drying time.

Be careful here. Some gels can change the color’s texture permanently. So, a good idea is to always check the paint and the accessories before working on the actual project.

Please make a small test project and experiment with it. Let the colors dry and check the final texture to ensure whether that might work for you or not.

These are some of the ways you can slow the drying time. Always check what paint products you’re using and make sure to use the right combinations for them. This way, you can achieve the correct paint color.

Difference Between Dry to the Touch and Completely Dry

Acrylic paint can be safe to touch within less than an hour. This touch shouldn’t be confused with typical object handling. If your painted object has to be handled, especially, roughly, wait for a few days before you do so.

Depending on the type of acrylic, the painted layer might take about a month to harden completely.

You can use paint cure options if you like. These are chemicals that create a coating around the paint film to protect it from the outside.

Check the curing chemical manufacturer’s manual to know how much dry the paint film should be before using the curing coat.

Some people use acrylic varnishes to cure the paint. You should let the paint dry for a few days first before using a varnish.

Learn more about acrylic paints:

Final Words

It would be best if you had an idea of how long does acrylic paint takes to dry. You should experiment with some techniques before adjusting your style. What works best for another might be your worst idea. So, please spend some time and learn to master them all.

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