How to Make Spray Paint Dry Faster

Do you agree that knowing how to make spray paint dry faster helps make your paint tasks a lot easier? Let’s see how …

The main target of project managers, professional painters, and DIY painting fanatics is to produce stellar results in the shortest time possible.

But spray painting, and other painting methods, by extension, requires multiple paint coats, and you have to wait for each coat to dry before applying another one.

The above wait could feel agonizingly long at times and frustrating.

To avoid the dreadful situation, I’ll show you how to make spray paint dry faster.

You can speed up spray paint drying times by using top-grade paints, applying thin coats, exposing the painted surface to conducive weather, using water-based paint, changing your painting technique, etc.

I’ll get to the details of the above strategies as we proceed with the discussion.

First, I’ll make formal introductions by defining spray paint, its uses, advantages, and disadvantages.

I’ll follow that by highlighting the differences between dry and cure time.

The article also contains various aspects of spray paint drying time, including:

  • The drying time variations among different substrates
  • How to speed up spray paint drying rate
  • The effect of a hair dryer on drying time speed
  • Whether a spray paint coat should dry completely before recoating
  • Comparison of paint dry time in heat and cold

Lastly, I’ve thrown in a few spray paint products that dry conveniently fast to aid in timely project completion.

I urge you to read the entire article and follow the instructions, recommendations, and pieces of advice for maximum benefit. Let’s begin!

What Is Spray Paint?

Airless Paint SprayerBefore getting to the nitty-gritty, it’s crucial to understand all aspects of the title. I’ll start with the definitions; what is spray paint?

It is a coating material applied by atomization and spreading of paint through the air to the targeted substrate.

The paint is usually contained in pressurized containers, known as rattle cans.

Using a spray gun, you can also convert ordinary paint contained in gallon containers into spray paint.

Spray painting began in the 1880s on the Southern Pacific Railway.

Then in the late 1880s, an American named Joseph Binks introduced a hand-pumped paint sprayer which he used to apply whitewash on walls.

In subsequent years, the tool got improved in minor increments.

In 1949, there was a major breakthrough after Edward Seymour pioneered aerosol spray painting!

It allowed painters to apply paint and related substances using pressurized cans.

Since then, spray paint has progressed in leaps and bounds to become an efficient and dependable paint application technique.

It’s almost getting to the level of conventional painting methods, i.e., brushing and rolling.

The cascading effect of this progressive march is the development of various spray paints, their application tools, and other paraphernalia.

Uses of Spray Paint

Due to its faster drying times, ease of use, and comfortable user experience, spray paint is rapidly replacing older techniques. Some of its uses include:

  • Painting car bodyworks and other automobiles
  • Large-scale painting for faster project completion
  • They are notoriously difficult to paint metallic substrates, wood, ceramics, plastic, and glass using conventional methods.
  • Used in graffiti projects and painting of murals
  • It’s used to economize paint when due to minimal wastage.
  • For painting rough/uneven surfaces
  • It is used to apply thin paint coats.
  • It’s used in mechanized/machine-driven painting.

What Is the Difference Between Dry Time and Cure Time?

When you spray paint a given surface, several reactions occur; the main ones are drying and curing.

The two mentioned reactions take different durations to mature.

Understanding the above aspects is essential to avoid wrong timing and misinterpretation of paint layering procedures.

So, what is the difference between dry time and cure time?

Spray paint dry time is divided into 3 phases: surface dry, touch dry, and recoat-dry.

Surface dry is when only the paint layer’s outer film is dry.

It occurs in less than 5 minutes, and the paint portion underneath remains fresh and wet. 

Touch dry takes place in around 15 minutes, and it describes paint that can handle light touching without sticking to fingers or forming impressions.

Here, more of the paint coat becomes dry and holds firm to the substrate.

Recoat dry is when the paint layer is dry enough to receive a second paint coat. It takes an average of 40 minutes.

There are many variables in the timing based on paint type, prevailing environmental conditions, the spraying equipment, etc.

In some situations, the duration could be as long as 24 hours.

The last category is cure time. It’s when the spray paint is completely dry by ordinary estimates. It takes weeks to months to materialize.

Here, the paint is fully integrated with the substrate grain and has total water and stain resistance. 

I don’t advise recoating at this stage as it’ll be more of painting anew.

The new coat won’t adhere well unless you sand and prime the surface. Plus, you can’t wait weeks or months to apply second and third spray paint layers; you’ll waste a lot of time.

How Long Does Spray Paint Take to Dry?

Whether by rattle cans or spray guns, spray painting results in significantly different drying times from other painting techniques.

The time taken is critical as it influences paint-substrate adhesion, the interaction between coats, water resistance, strength, and durability.

In that respect, how long does spray paint take to dry?

Spray paint takes different durations to dry depending on the substrate type, temperature, type of paint, and thickness of the paint layer.

It takes 20 to 40 minutes to dry and be ready for recoating.

It’s important to note that paint drying has many interpretations; it could mean touch-dry, dry for recoating, or cure-dry/complete dryness.

Recoat dry time is especially important as it has a more significant impact on the outcome of the above project.

How to Make Spray Paint Dry Faster

As I mentioned earlier, it’s frustrating to wait for slow-drying spray paint to dry; it’ll seem like an eternity.

The wait is even worse if you need to apply multiple coats.

Faster drying times make the spray painting project more practical as you can accommodate it into your routine.

In this segment, I’ll briefly explain how to make spray paint dry faster.

I’d already listed the interventions you need to make in the introductory segment, so I’ll discuss them straight away.


Spray paint dries faster on a smooth surface than on a rough surface.

It’s because rough surfaces have pores that accumulate paint, so it’ll naturally take longer to dry.

Sanding the substrate makes it smoother. 

The paint spreads thinly on a smooth surface, and the solvents evaporate faster.

Begin sanding your workpiece using low-grit abrasives (120-grit), then move to medium-grit sandpapers (200-grit), and finish off with a fine-grit abrasive (400-grit and above).

Remember to vacuum away the accumulated debris after sanding; this paves the way for direct paint-substrate interaction.

Reducing Paint Viscosity

The above intervention is only applicable for spray painting using spray guns.

Because spray gun paints are bought separately from the machine, there’s room for paint mixing.

The intervention is impractical for spray paints in rattle cans because they come in a ready-to-use form.

Thick/viscous paints dry slower than thin/less viscous paints.

You can lower the viscosity by adding turpentine or mineral spirits to oil-based paints or water to water-based paints. 

Caution!: It’s essential that you don’t go overboard with the thinning/dilution of your paint. Otherwise, the following will happen:

  • The paint will change its appearance to a lighter shade
  • There will be excessive paint flow and drops on your substrate
  • There will be too much paint atomization and overspray from the paint gun
  • Your paint coats will have a low paint to thinner ratio; this will be evident when the coats dry

So even as you target to hasten the drying times, be mindful that the above consequences will befall you when you overdo stuff.

Strive to find the right balance between your working convenience and a well-done painting job.

Applying Thin Paint Coats

Thin paint coats will dry faster than thick layers. The former has a larger surface area to volume ratio exposed to drying elements.

In contrast, the latter has a small surface area to volume ratio in contact with environmental drying elements.

Do the following to attain thinner paint coats:

  • Use an air spray gun instead of an airless spraying machine
  • Hold your paint can or spray gun a little further from the surface when spraying
  • Adjust the paint volume control on your spray gun to release less paint
  • Use smaller tip sizes for spray guns and aerosol sprayers to increase paint disintegration
  • Adjust your air compressor or hydraulic system pressure settings to discharge less paint

Improving Ventilation

Improve the ventilation of your working area/station by keeping its windows and doors open.

It leads to increased air circulation to aid in paint drying. 

The air carries away volatile components of spray paint, leaving the solid adhesives on your substrate.

Poor ventilation undermines evaporation, so the wet components of the spray paint will linger on the surface.

Poor ventilation also indirectly slows the drying times as it’s pretty uncomfortable for the user to work in such conditions for long.

You’ll therefore keep leaving your working area to recover from the nauseating effect of paint overspray.

Lowering the Humidity

Humidity is the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere. Low humidity translates to drier air conditions, which are conducive to evaporation.

It accelerates drying by facilitating solvent movement from the painted surface into the atmosphere.

It’s impossible to lower atmospheric humidity on a grand scheme because this is an environmental phenomenon; it’s part of the weather system.

However, you can micromanage by using a device known as a dehumidifier! This air conditioning machine lowers and maintains air humidity in a room.

The humidifiers come in varying sizes, and with different capabilities, so you can use them on commercial or small-scale spray painting operations.

Other advantages that come with a dehumidifier are:

  • It eliminates the uncomfortable and sometimes nauseating paint odor
  • It prevents mildew and mold growth on surfaces by removing water vapor, which is a crucial requirement for fungal growth


It involves using motor-driven fans in your working space after spray painting. The fans blow and circulate air, simulating a windy weather condition. 

Wind, as we all know, is air in motion, so it will hasten the evaporation of the paint’s liquid content for faster drying.

I advise you to cover the fans when spraying to prevent their staining from the oversprays.

If you are operating on a commercial scale, use multiple fans (3 and above); a single fan or two are just enough if it’s a small-scale affair.

By Running a Heater

A heater has a triple action effect on speeding up spray paint drying time. The effects revolve around:


The machine raises the room temperature to facilitate solvent evaporation. It also heats your substrate for a more direct paint drying.

Air circulation

The heater promotes air circulation through the formation of convection currents. Here, heated air on the lower sections of the room rises as cool descends to fill the void.

The cycle continues, creating a somewhat breezy condition necessary for quick drying.

Furthermore, the rising hot air carries away the volatile constituents of paint, and the incoming cold air is filled with more solvent.


Heaters alleviate humid conditions by dissipating the excess water vapor. It’s a miniature analogy to how the sun thaws snow away.

Be cautious not to station the heater too close to the surface as it could cause charring or melt the paint.

Some substrates could get damaged permanently.

Using Desiccants

A desiccant absorbs moisture from the air and binds it with its hydrophilic component.

As discussed in the preceding segments, reduced vapor content enhances faster spray paint drying.

You can purchase cheaper domestic units that are available in gels, hydrophilic cartridges, or powder; these are ideal for small-scale projects.

Large industrial desiccants regenerate the moisture absorbents; they use hot air to isolate and expel water vapor outside the operating room.

Therefore, you can use them continuously when spray painting commercially.

Exposure to Sunny Weather

If it’s feasible, you can take your project outside and spray paint on a sunny day, or you can work indoors and then move the substrate under the sun to dry. 

Spray painting in sunny weather speeds up drying in two phases.

The first occurs when the paint mist leaves the nozzle and spreads out in the air, and the second is when the paint has landed on the targeted surface.

The UV rays from the sun cause evaporation of the paint’s moisture content.

Using sunlight is an effective means for the above undertaking as the energy source is free. 

Using Furniture Polish

Wax-based furniture polish improves drying properties by sealing off the spray paint underneath; needless to say, you should apply it after laying down the paint coat. 

The waxy component of the polish gives it far better water resistance than spray paint.

It, therefore, guards against environmental factors that may delay paint drying; such factors include foggy and drizzly weather conditions.

Water from the said sources skids off the wax instead of accumulating.

When applying wood polish, be keen on wiping off the excesses using a lintless rag.

Otherwise, the spray-painted surface will appear darker than you intend.

Prolonged drying time has far-reaching adverse effects. It can interfere with your day-to-day activities and undermine your productivity.

For instance, if you spray your car and it takes 3 or 4 days to complete due to the long paint drying times, you’ll suffer the inconvenience of using other transport means to work.

Even for kitchen cabinets, and furniture, you’ll have to wait for long durations before resuming use.

Therefore, I advise you to take some of the approaches I’ve shared above to save yourself avoidable frustrations and get the best spray painting experience.

You don’t have to follow all of them; just find the one that fits your situation and go with it.

How Long Does It Take For Spray Paint to Dry On Different Surfaces?

The drying time dynamics keep changing because there are lots of varying situations.

Even for a given painting technique, there is no definite stand-alone time. This time around, let’s look at situational differences involving substrates.

How long does it take for spray paint to dry on different surfaces?

The surfaces include wood, glass, rubber, cardboard, metal, canvas, and concrete. I’ve discussed them individually as below:


Wood is currently the most painted material in the world, so it’s only essential to put it on top of the list.

Wood is on the upper end of the average range compared to other materials.

It takes 30 minutes to 1 hour to dry when spray-painted; timber usually is porous, so it accumulates the paint on the pitted surface.

The durations also vary within the lumber due to differences in porosity and density.

I recommend you employ the methods I’ve highlighted to speed up the drying time when working with timber.


Glass is notoriously difficult to paint using most techniques and certainly by spraying.

It’s because its smooth surface exacerbates the paint flow/running and skidding problem.

Even when the paint dries, it peels off of the surface. However, there are paints specially made to go on glass, and surface prepping also gets around the above hitch.

Regarding drying time, spray paint takes 15 to 20 minutes.

It’s on the lower end of the average times because glass surfaces are always non-porous.

As you’d expect, the time varies among different glass types; for example, the paint takes longer to dry on frosted glass than on plain glass panes.

It’s because the latter has a pitted texture.


Metals are also smooth-textured materials, especially after undergoing processing.

Nowadays, it’s rare to paint metals using conventional methods (brushing or rolling); instead, we spray, dip-coat, or flow-coat them.

Spray paint takes 15 to 20 minutes to dry on metallic substrates.

Sometimes, it takes up to 1 hour, depending mainly on the metal element and paint type.

It is vital to establish paint-metal compatibility before spray painting.

It’s because metals are more reactive compared to other materials like wood and glass.

For instance, acidic components of paint will corrode some metals. You can check the compatibility issue by testing or consulting your paint and metal dealer.


From experience, rubber painting is mainly done commercially! It’s uncommon to find a homeowner or a DIYer painting on rubber.

It takes 40 to 60 minutes for spray paint to dry on the rubber for recoating.

It’s because rubber materials are porous, and as we’ve discussed above, porous materials accumulate paint on their surface.

The different times among rubbers are mainly due to their quality; some are more porous than others.


Concrete is a valued component in the building and construction industry.

It’s usually plastered and painted afterward. On personal terms, brush-painting or using paint rollers is better than spray painting plastered walls.

But, I’ve come across lots of spray-painted walls that look exquisite; I’ll give spraying the dues on this.

On drying time, spray paint takes 20 to 30 minutes to dry on plastered concrete.

You realize it takes longer on the above substrate than on metal and glass.

It’s because concrete has some absorptive properties; this soaks up paint delaying the drying times.

Different drying times among concrete surfaces are due to the plastering agent; it could be gypsum plaster or cement plaster.


Cardboard has a similar porosity profile to timber. It’s often painted to improve its visual appeal. 

There has been a steady surge in the use of cardboards for construction because they are light, strong, affordable, and easy to transport.

Spray paint dries on cardboard after 40 minutes to 1 hour.

The most effective way to speed up the drying time on cardboard is by spraying them outside or airing them to dry in the sunlight.

It’s because they are easy to carry and move around.

Does Spray Paint Dry Faster in Heat or Cold?

Temperature is yet another variable that considerably affects spray paint drying time.

It’s best to consider it as well for better outcomes. However, environmental determinants of temperature are beyond our control.

For example, you cannot change the hot conditions that come with sunny weather or the chilly conditions that accompany snowy/wintry weather.

Here, the change has to be artificially contrived. But first things first, does spray paint dry faster in heat or cold?

Spray paint will dry faster when exposed to heat compared to cold conditions.

Heat increases evaporation, lowers humidity, and makes the surrounding air lighter.

The cumulative impact of the above effects results in a faster drying time.

Cold, on the other hand, is antagonistic to drying. It does so in the following ways:

  • It condenses the liquid portion of the paint and freezes it in extreme circumstances.
  • It makes the surrounding air dense, hindering the transfer of volatile substances away from the paint surface
  • Cold conditions lead to condensation of atmospheric moisture to form water droplets on the painted substrate

The adverse effects of cold/chilly conditions go beyond the drying times, as it undermines paint-substrate adhesion.

So the writing is on the wall: never leave any freshly spray-painted material in cold environments.

Best Fast Drying Spray Paint

Thus far, I’ve discussed matters relating to techniques, definitions, drying durations, procedures, etc.

I’ll now drop a few names and product brands to complete the circle. Without further ado, these are the best fast-drying spray paint products:

Krylon Glitter Blast Spray Paint

The paint named above is made by Sherwin Williams Company, based in Cleveland, Ohio.

The company debuted in the painting field in the 19th century, so it has a rich experience in the said art.

Krylon, alongside other brands, belongs to the consumer brands group arm of Sherwin Williams.

The glitter blast paint subtype is ideal for internal/external projects and goes well on metal, wood, ceramic, glass, masonry, and plastic surfaces.

This spray paint is durable; you can use it to recolor, repaint, or restore worn-out surfaces.

More beneficial features and advantages include:

  • It dries to touch within 20 minutes
  • This spray paint is acid-free and, therefore, noncorrosive to surfaces
  • The product is available in many colors
  • Krylon glitter blast comes at a pocket-friendly price
  • The paint gives a glitter finish which looks attractive
  • It comes at an affordable price

Rust-Oleum Matte Painter’s Touch

RPM International Inc. owns the above product through its subsidiary Rust-Oleum®. It is located in Vernon Hills, Illinois.

Rust-Oleum is reputed for manufacturing paints for commercial and small-scale use.

The matte painter’s touch paint is one of the best in the company’s repository.

The above paint comes in rattle cans and larger containers that you can apply using a spray gun.

It’s an oil-based formula for enhanced durability and surface protection.

You can use the paint on the interior and exterior surfaces, including metal, wood, masonry, plastic, ceramic, plaster, and cardboard.

Other selling features and advantages are:

  • It dries faster than other oil-based paints
  • This paint gives a matte finish that appears toned-down but classy
  • The aerosol can has an ergonomic design to make your painting experience comfortable
  • Its low-sheen finish hides surface defects and stains
  • Painter’s Touch paint has wide surface coverage of about 12 ft per can
  • This paint is available in numerous colors from which you can choose
  • The paint forms an impervious, smooth layer that confers water resistance, stain-blocking, and mold/mildew resistance

CRC All-Purpose Enamel Spray Paint

CRC Industries manufacture the paint named above.

On a broader scheme, the company makes and distributes industrial chemicals for the repair and maintenance of automotive, marine, industrial, electrical, and aviation equipment. 

The company was founded in 1958, but the CRC enamel paint came later after reformulation and diversification to make specialized products.

The enamel spray paint is formulated with catalysts that speed up the drying process; this is convenient for recoating.

Other desirable features and advantages are:

  • It is resistant to fading, peeling, and yellowing
  • The paint is VOC compliant
  • It’s packaged in 10 oz spray cans that are easy to hold and transport
  • This product works best on wood and metallic surfaces but can also go on plastic, masonry, and glass
  • It’s a resin system, to wit; alkyd-based
  • CRC enamel paint dries faster than its congeners
  • The product comes at a budget-friendly price
  • It is designed for both indoor and outdoor use

Will a Hair Dryer Speed Up Spray Paint Drying?

We’ve seen the various techniques you can employ to dry spray paint faster. What about a hair dryer? Will it speed up spray paint drying?

It will! Even though a hair dryer is most relevant for hairdressing and things relating to beauty parlors, its working mechanism makes the cut for the title in question.

As its name suggests, the machine is used to dry wet hair; it will work similarly on a freshly-painted surface. 

The above machine blows air at high speeds to cause a windy environment, and some are fitted with heating implements to generate heated air as well.

The hot and windy states perfectly combine to shorten spray-paint drying times.

Some hair dryers use corded electrical energy while others run on rechargeable batteries. 

The drawback of the device mentioned above are:

  • It concentrates the hot air stream on small areas. It means you can only dry smaller surface sections at a time.
  • The machine cannot work unguided. You must direct it to different parts of your substrate until you’re done. On the other hand, you can power on fans, heaters, and electric desiccants and leave them standing.

From the above intel, you cannot use the hair dryer on a regular basis or on a large scale to speed up paint drying times.

It can only work as an emergency alternative when the other methods aren’t immediately available.

Does Spray Paint Need to Dry Completely Before Adding Another Coat?

Conventional painting methods like brushing and rolling require a certain degree of drying between paint coats.

Where do you draw the line regarding spray painting? Or, to rephrase, does spray paint need to dry completely before adding another coat?

The answer is no! Dry is a relative term in this case.

From a scientific viewpoint, it’s impossible to achieve total/complete dryness for paint; water or oil are essential components of all paint systems at the molecular level.

In an ordinary sense, we consider paint completely dry when we can’t see or feel its wetness to touch. Even this takes an awfully long time to wait for recoating.

The dry times are categorized into surface dry, touch dry, dry for recoating, and cure-dry. 

Surface dry is when only the thin top film of paint is dry; in this state, the paint feels sticky, and if you touch the surface, you’ll leave prominent fingerprints, and some of the paint will come off.

You shouldn’t add another coat at this stage.

Touch-dry is when the spray paint is dry enough to handle light touching.

At this stage, the paint does not stick to fingers when touched, and no fingerprints or impressions are left.

It’s still not advisable to recoat at this stage as the paint hasn’t interacted sufficiently with the substrate, and leveling is still ongoing.

Dry for a recoat, from the description, is the most appropriate time to add another paint coat.

At this stage, the existing coat has adhered to the substrate sufficiently, leveled, and is ready to receive the next one.

Cure-dry is also the ordinary complete dryness. It takes weeks to months, and nobody has all that time to wait for simple recoating.

It even becomes ridiculously long if you plan to apply three or more paint coats.


In conclusion, spray painting is a noble art that will serve us in the present and the future.

We have to improve and refine it by the day to make our painting experience better and effortless.

One of the aspects that call for redress is the paint drying times; we’d all like to eliminate the delays—in that respect, based on the above content on…

How to Make Spray Paint Dry Faster.

I’ve given all the necessary definitions to make your navigation easier and better throughout the above content.

I’ve then proceeded to explain the techniques and tricks you can employ for the above cause without undermining the quality of your finish.

The spray paint drying times can also vary based on the type of substrate, e.g., wood, cardboard, rubber, canvas, or metal; the paint type also dictates the drying times.

All of the above facets are covered in the article.

Other drying time-related matters for spray paint that I’ve touched on are:

  • The effect of temperature on spray paint drying
  • The influence of a hair drying machine on drying times
  • The need to allow each coat of spray paint to dry completely before laying down another
  • The best quick-drying spray paint products on the market

It’s been a wonderful experience writing about the above topic, and I hope you’ve enjoyed it and found it helpful.

Apply what you’ve learned to your painting projects, always come back for more, and share the links to this content widely.