How Long Does It Take for Exterior Paint to Dry?

Image of exterior paints but How Long Does It Take for Exterior Paint to Dry?Drying time in painting is as crucial as using the correct application technique. It determines when you will apply the next coat or start using the painted object. Thus, you cannot afford to get it wrong. Also, various paint formulas feature different curing times, and it would help get all the facts from the user’s guide. But, really, how long does it take for exterior paint to dry?

Most paint formulas require at least 24 hours to dry properly. But, this duration depends on weather elements such as humidity and temperature levels. In harsh conditions, the curing time may take a whole 30 days to give a dry coat. Hence, monitor the weather keenly to determine the best painting time.

When the temperature levels drop below the ideal during the night, they will affect the curing time, even if the daytime weather was perfect. However, accurate information on how drying times work will help you get a perfect paint job.

How Long Does it Take For Exterior Paint to Dry on Wood?

A dry surface does not always mean that the paint has finished drying. Exterior paint needs time to cure properly. For example, most latex paints will require four to six hours to dry, but 24 hours is a much better duration to get better results. On the other hand, oil-based formulas will take approximately six to eight hours.

Also, an ideal rule of thumb is doing your painting job when you expect that there will be no rain for at least four hours. Even so, rain after six hours will be much better than being in a high humid area as the moisture slows or prevents proper curing. Therefore, ensure that you pick a day with low humidity for the paint job.

On top of that, paint cans have labels that specify the recoat and dry times for the formula. So, do not rush to get the brushes before you read the manufacturer’s directions.

How Long Does Exterior Paint Need to Dry Before Rain?

It would be best to expose the painted surface to direct sunlight at least two hours before the rain. The finish may feel dry after one hour, but the rain will still wash it away. Two hours ensure that the coat is stable, and thus light rain will not ruin it. However, you will have to repaint the surface after drying.

Even so, an ideal scenario would be four hours of drying time under direct sunlight and temperatures not below 72 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, it would be best to consider five days of ideal weather for superior durability.

Besides that, rain does not mean the end of the project if the surface is not too wet. Use acrylic paint if the finish is still dry to the touch as it allows moisture to evaporate easily through the coating. 

Also, ensure that you use oil paints on a dry surface. Therefore, you may wait even for a few days before you can resume the paint job. In addition, they also require more drying time, and so impatience is not an option.

Will Paint Dry Outside Overnight?

Most paint formulas will dry properly after at least 24 hours. However, the temperatures need to be ideal throughout because they will affect the drying process. Therefore, nighttime temperatures are as crucial as daytime ones. For example, lower temperature levels during the night will slow the process even if you experienced perfect daytime temperatures.

Also, dew forms on the surface when the nighttime temperature levels go low. The paint stops coalescing and allows moisture into the undried finish. Therefore, it causes adhesion issues.

In addition, it would be best to paint when you are sure of ideal temperatures for at least 72 hours. The paint will dry properly, and also, you will have time for second coats, touch-ups, and unexpected delays.

How Long Should Exterior Paint Dry Before Second Coat?

Generally, it is okay to paint the paint after four or six hours. However, three hours are okay if the paint or primer is a water-based formula. On the other hand, oil-based paints and primers require at least 24 hours before you can recoat the surface. So, ensure that you do not go too soon, or you’ll create a big mess.

Below are some general drying time rules for different paint formulas.

  • Chalk paint. It dries within one hour, and you can recoat in two or four hours.
  • Water-based paint. It has a 30 to 45 minutes drying time, and you can recoat in one hour.
  • Kilz primer. Please give it a 30 minutes dry time and recoat in one hour.
  • Ceiling paint. It dries in one hour, and a recoat is perfect after two hours.
  • Interior paint. It has a one-hour dry time, and you can recoat in two hours.
  • Exterior paint. It also dries in one hour, and you need to wait for two hours before recoating. Also, it would be best to allow 12 to 16 hours if you have heavy stains.
  • General-purpose spray paint. It dries within 20 minutes and allows you to recoat in one hour.

How Can You Make Exterior Paint Dry Faster?

Although there is a set drying time for painted surfaces, you can make the coat dry faster. Therefore, you do not have to push your celebrations because of a paint job delay. Also, the options range from boosting airflow to using power tools. So, you are spoilt for choice.

Here’s how to go about it:

  • Apply a Thin Paint Coat

The thinner the paint coat, the faster it will dry. Thankfully, spray painting is a perfect technique to deliver such coats. Also, you can add a thinner or some solvent to control the spray paint thickness.

  • Keep a Fan On

Ventilation is also crucial in shortening the drying time. Therefore, before you begin the painting process, open the windows to allow more airflow. Also, you can use a box fan and position it at the window.

  • Run a Heater Near the Object

The hotter the environment, the faster the paint dries. Thus, running a heater near the painted surface will save you a couple of waiting hours.

However, remember that the heater will not significantly cut down the curing period. So, do not expect the surface to dry instantly. 

  • Increase Humidity

Humidity slows the drying process and results in dust contamination and paint drips. Fortunately, you can reduce air moisture through a dehumidifier and create a more conducive environment for fast drying.

That said, you can get fast-drying paint for your project. For instance, acrylic paints are popular for their fast-drying attributes. Also, you can use a hairdryer to speed up the drying time for small surfaces like a canvas for wall art. Set it at a lower level and move it around the surface to apply heat evenly.

In addition, you can position acrylic paintings under a heat lamp. However, ensure that the lamp is not too close to the surface as it may cause the paint to crack or bubble. Besides that, you focus on painting flat surfaces first, especially if you have oil-based paints. The flat surface dries much faster than a curved one.

Lastly, putty paint is easy to dry with a heat gun. Also, you can heat set with an iron after it cures. Simply position a pressing cloth on the surface and press with an iron.

What Is the Best Temperature to Paint the Exterior of a House?

Perfect painting conditions are not reliant on just wind and rain. A day that is very hot or very cold will easily lead to a failed project. For instance, paint that dries too fast cracks easily and ultimately chips away. On the other hand, if the paint takes longer than usual to dry, it will blister and peel.

Also, although most paint labels recommend temperatures ranging from 50 to 90 F, it is safe to keep away from the extremes of this range. Surface temperatures are always 10 to 20 degrees higher than the surrounding air temperature. Therefore, it would be best to give some allowance.

More specifically, it would be best to consider a temperature of at least 40 F when working with oil-based paints. Conversely, water-based formulas or latex require a minimum of 50 F to dry properly.

On top of that, cold temperatures also leave the painted surface vulnerable to insects, dust, and debris. In addition, they reduce the paint’s life expectancy and water absorption. Thus, you might spoon be dealing with mildew.

Also, it would be best not to avoid temperatures of over 90 F because the paint will not hold up for long.

What Is the Best Time of Day to Paint Outside?

An outdoor painting job is a big risk and a big investment. The last thing you want to witness is sun or rain damage squandering your hard work. Also, you do not want to have a vulnerable surface to bubbles, flakes, and drips.

Therefore, it is crucial to choose the best time to do the job. Ensure that the work time coincides with the most favorable weather conditions.

In most cases, many people prefer to paint their house exteriors in the spring or fall when the temperature levels are moderate. Say around 50 to 80 F. In addition, it would be best to paint outside when the humidity levels are also tolerable.

On top of that, you can begin the project early in the morning. The paint the exterior portion opposite the sun as it moves throughout the day. Thus, you will benefit from the mild temperatures, and the sun will not beat down the paint finish and dry it out faster than normal.

Does Paint Dry Better In Heat or Cold?

Normally, the paint dries better in a generally hot environment. The heat evaporates moisture inside the paint, and thus it dries faster. Even so, the paint dries better in moderate temperatures. Therefore, the environment should not be too cold or too hot.

Cold temperatures slow the drying process, and the paint has a hard time bonding with the surface. Thus the paint job will look sloppy, and you may need to redo it. Conversely, too much heat is also disastrous to the surface. The paint dries too fast and creates a hazy film or crack. Therefore, you end up with an ugly finish.

What Happens If You Paint Second Coat Too Soon?

Sometimes the painted surface may feel dry shortly after applying the first coat. But, it would help to wait until the finish cures completely. Also, applying the second coat too early causes peeling paint, streaks, and uneven color. Thus, impatience will cost additional painting expenses to get more paint or ruin the entire project altogether.

Fortunately, you do not have to stare at the painted surface as it dries. You can go ahead and get a head start if you have other surfaces to paint.

In addition, you can also attend to other matters or watch a Netflix episode. It is entirely up to you. But, whatever you do, it would be best to give the surface enough time to dry.

How Long Should I Wait Between Coats of Exterior Paint?

Experts recommend that you wait for a minimum of two to four hours before applying another coat. Paint that does not dry properly is likely to streak, peel, flake, or clump. Thus, it would be best to adhere to the waiting time.

Also, check out the following drying times for various formulas.

  • Matte paint. Thirty minutes to one hour is sufficient drying time. Also, wait for about one to two hours before recoating.
  • Glossy paint. You need to give approximately one to one and a half hours drying time and two hours before applying another coat.
  • Semi-gloss. One hour of drying time and two hours before applying the second layer will give better results.
  • Primer. It would be best to allocate one hour as drying time and one to two hours before adding another layer.
  • Eggshell paint. Allow the formula one hour as drying time and wait for around two hours before adding another coat.

How Do You Prep a House for Exterior Painting?

There is always the temptation to start painting as soon as you get the necessary supplies. But excellent prep work is a prerequisite to delivering a professional finish. Also, Dan Lawson of Medallion Paint observes that 95% of good painting depends on having a good surface.

For instance, repainting an existing house requires a thorough examination. You need to check out for chipping, mildew, peeling, and other imperfections. Therefore, you’ll find yourself having to use a chlorine bleach solution for mildew and a pressure cleaner to eliminate loose old paint and dirt.

Check out the following summary of what you need to be mindful of during the preparation period.

  • Use a pressure washer to get the best coverage as you remove dust and dirt build-up. Also, work from top to bottom in a controlled manner and overlap the strokes by 8 inches.
  • Repair damaged surfaces such as metal, masonry, stucco, and metal. You can walk around the entire house perimeter and assess the surfaces. Then, apply some epoxy filler to the holes or cracks and sand lightly why it dries.
  • Also, examine the house for chipped or loose paint. Then, position drop cloths on the ground and use medium-grit sandpaper or paint scraper to remove the damaged paint.
  • Get exterior caulk and a caulk gun to fill gaps between the house and trim around windows and doors. You can also add caulk where different materials meet, especially if the house has mixed materials such as brick and siding. In addition, replace fascia boards and wood siding that show rotting signs. Then, gently sand wood trim and doors.
  • Assess the surface for visible wood knots and stains. Then, apply a coat of stain-blocking primer using a paintbrush.
  • Finally, protect the windows, doors, and lights. Cover them with painter’s tape and plastic sheeting.

How Soon Can You Paint After Pressure Washing?

It would be best to allow the surface to dry for at least 48 hours before applying paint. However, dust settles on the surface easily after cleaning. Thus, you can safely add a freshwater spray-down if some weeks pass before you paint.

Also, although you will achieve the best results if you opt for hand-washing the surface, it is time-consuming for an entire house. Therefore, a pressure washer will be a perfect solution to do the job more efficiently and faster.

Even so, always remember that the purpose of pressure washing is to wash it, not to remove the paint. Pressure washers are powerful but will not take off the paint. So, it would help to have stripping as a separate process after washing.

In addition, pressure washing is not the best strategy to strip paint. The process requires you to inundate the surface with lots of water, which is not ideal for wood siding. Also, pressure washing poses two dangers to your work.

  • Etching

Pressure washers negatively affect vinyl, cedar, and fiber-cement siding if they can cut into concrete and brick. However, you can avoid this scenario by standing well back and aiming the sprayer at the siding. Also, it would help to get a fan-spray nozzle, which gives needle-sharp sprays that rip into the siding.

  • Injecting

Spraying at low angles, especially under the siding, is not ideal. The high pressure drives the water between the siding boards and can soak the insulation or sheathing of the wall interior. Thus, only use slightly downward or perpendicular angles during spraying.

How Many Coats of Exterior Paint Are Needed?

Two coats are perfect to deliver a perfect exterior paint finish. However, it would be best to consider the paint color and quality, the type of surface you are painting, and whether or not you have primed the surface.

Also, you can have more than two coats. Although it will be more costly, you will have a top layer that will last three to five times longer. In addition, multiple coats help to achieve a gloss or semi-gloss finish. Therefore, the more the coats, the better the gloss.

On top of that, having a second coat will deliver numerous benefits. For example, the paint finish will be more attractive as it will not be uneven or peel sooner. Also, the paint coats will be more durable and serve you for an extended period.

Do I Need to Prime Over Old Exterior Paint?

Yes. It would be best to prim over old exterior paint. The process seals the wood, improves paint adhesion, and prevents tannins from bleeding through the surface. It seems like more work, but you will save paint and time.

In addition, a primer fills pores and evens out rough surfaces like rough-sawn lumber and brick. Therefore, you deliver better coverage.

Is there a moment where you can skip priming? Well, yes, there is. You can omit the primer if you are freshening up a painted surface or changing its color. But, generally, ensure that you prim a new project.

Also, scrape the surface and thoroughly clean it before you apply the primer. Also, prim before applying latex on existing oil-based alkyd paint.

Do You Need to Sand Between Coats of Exterior Paint?

Not at all. It is not mandatory to sand between coats of exterior paint unless you are recoating months after the initial application. The primary reason for sanding is to clean off accumulated dirt and ensure that the surface is ready and fully hardened to bond with the next coat. Also, you coat to eliminate brush strokes or other textures to deliver a smooth finish.

Besides that, you can sand in between coats if the overcoat and the substrate are incompatible. The process provides a physical bond even though a chemical bond does not exist!

So, if you are not adding a glossy finish or waiting a year between the coats, you do not need to sand.

How Do You Paint Over Cracked Exterior Paint?

You can opt to spackle over cracked exterior paint instead of painting it again. It is likely that if some paint cracks on the surface, you should be ready for other areas to crack too. Therefore, these underlying layers may crack and damage the newly painted areas.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some of the questions most people ask about the drying time of exterior paints:

  • Will the Second Coat Use Less Paint?

The second coat does not require as much formula as the first one. It consumes less paint for the same coverage as long as you do the first coat correctly. In addition, it is much better to have multiple thinner coats than one thick coat. Therefore, a second coat should not consume much paint.

  • Does Paint Dry Faster in the Sun?

One may think that leaving the painted surface to bake in the sun will reduce the drying time. But, alas! Contrary to the idea, sunlight prevents the formula from drying smoothly. It may also require you to give more drying time between coats.

Also, the finish dries too soon when the temperatures are too high. Therefore, it will crack sooner and compromise the paint job. On top of that, various paint types have different dry times.

  • What Happens If I Put Too Many Coats of Paint?

Although having too many paint coats will extend the dry time, the paint flows out better and delivers a superior finish. Also, many coats are a perfect way to hide surface blemishes from previous coats.

  • What Grit Sandpaper Can I Use Between Paint Coats?

Very fine-grit sandpaper, usually 320 to 400 grit sandpaper, is suitable for sanding between coats. Also, it would be best to sand the surface to avoid leaving scratches lightly. 

  • Can I Leave Painter’s Tape on Between Coats?

It is okay to leave painter’s tape between coats, especially if you do a second coat the next day. The tape makes work easier as you’ll just need to peel it off when you are ready to continue painting.

However, ensure that you exercise care when peeling the tape. Also, pull the tape off when you finish the second coat. This exercise helps to soften up the first coat, and thus you can remove the tape easily.


You cannot ignore drying if you want to have a successful paint job. In addition, how the paint cures will determine its longevity and general appearance. So, you may engage with the formulas user’s guide to get the correct drying duration. Also, you can improve your use of exterior paint by asking queries like:

How Long Does It Take for Exterior Paint to Dry?

It would be best to allow 24 hours of drying time to exterior paint. However, temperature and humidity levels will shorten or lengthen this duration. For example, you may have to wait for around 30 days to get a dry coat during low temperatures and high humidity.

Additionally, the paint type also determines the curing time. Some paints are generally fast drying and thus will dry faster than others.