How Long Does It Take for Car Paint to Dry: Complete Guide

If you don’t wait for the paint to dry up, you can mess up everything. Or you can just wait longer than needed for it dries up. But who has the time to spare?

What’s more troubling? Is it the time it takes to paint the car or the time it takes for the paint to dry? Anybody who has waited for their car to dry up knows the answer. Having to do nothing and just waiting there seems to make the clock run slowly.

How Long Does It Take for Car Paint to Dry

So, exactly how long does it take for car paint to dry? And why does it take so long?

The time is taken for curing and drying mostly depends on the type of paint you use on your car. The variance of composition and thickness are two of the main factors behind it. The paint quality and its durability will also fluctuate with the curing period.

We will talk about all of these issues and more in this article. Make sure to mark the details.

How Long Does It Take for Car Paint to Dry: Complete Guide

Why Is It Necessary to Know the Drying Time?

Well, the question is obvious but necessary for our discussion. Why can’t you just estimate the time and wing it? You’re going to possibly damage your car’s new paint job as well as the body if you wing it.

You can’t wash it before the paint dries. Even if it dries, you can’t use pressure wash before it passes its curing phase. Once it becomes hardened after curing, you are then allowed to take it to the road and wash it if you need to.

Read Next: Guide on how long does it take chalk paint to dry

How Do Different Types of Paint Affect the Curing and Drying Time?

Before we go into the hard facts, let’s understand a bit about the process of curing and drying.

If you used to think that drying and curing are the same things, you’ve been in the wrong. I also had the misconception that these are the same process.

The reality is that drying takes place before curing. Drying is the condition when the paint surface feels dry, but it’s quite soft on the touch. This happens immediately after you’re done painting. The solvent on the surface evaporates and leaves it dry on the touch.

On the other hand, paint curing is the automatic process of paint hardening. After you have painted your car using one or many coats of paint, it remains in a soft state for some time, even if it feels dry.

Curing happens when the paint is completely dry and free from any moisture. Once the paint is cured, you can now safely drive the car on the road. There will be no risk of rain damaging the paint job.

Read Next: How to paint a model car

Types of Paint and Drying/Curing Time

There are a few options when it comes to paints for decorating cars. Let’s have a look at those options and their drying times.


One of the more popular paint types for use on vehicles is urethane. It’s known for its durability. And also, it is highly resistant to fading makes it quite the favorite among customers.

However, it has a longer drying time than normal paints. The drying time can take up to 6 hours, with 4 hours being the minimum.

Acrylic Enamel

Acrylic enamel paints are another customer favorite, even though I do not favor them. This paint comes in two variants based on its coating mixture; one is single-stage, and another is two-stage enamel.

Drying time for them is different as well, as common sense would tell you. For the single-stage enamel, you will have to wait for 1 to 6 hours for it to dry, but the curing takes up to a day.

On the contrary, if your acrylic enamel is of the two-stage variant, it’ll take a minimum of 48 hours before it becomes cured.

Acrylic Lacquer

We know the paint medium as lacquer. This is a variant of it. Acrylic lacquer has a highly glossy texture. It’s one of the quicker paints in terms of drying time, making it a bit suitable for the less-patient crowd.

It takes only 1 hour to become dry. And it becomes fully cured i.e., loses all moisture after 24 hours or so.

The drying time will increase if you choose to apply an extra layer of coat.

Acrylic Urethane

Are urethane and acrylic urethane the same? If you have been around car paint and paint in general, you know that they are different. The difference in drying time is a testament to it.

Acrylic urethane takes only 1 hour to become dry, and a day of drying is needed to cure it.

Spray Painting

The method with the least amount of effort and cost to paint cars is spray paint. It’s easy to apply, and it can be done quickly.

However, these are not as durable as the other options. You do have the newer technology, but those are not a good fit as vehicle paint.

The hassle-free feature is what makes people choose it. Spray paint will take 20-40 minutes to become dry on the outer part. And up to 5 hours of drying is its curing time.

Read Next: Guide on how to remove paint from car rims

How Do Professionals Do It vs. DIY at Home?

To dry the painting you just finished, you can’t do anything besides leaving it out in the sun. But the professionals do it by baking the paint.

They have room for it where the temperature is increased to quicken the drying process. We don’t have such luxuries lying beside us. However, you can take some steps to help the paint dry quicker than usual.

How to Dry Car Paint Fast?

Here, I’ve mentioned a few techniques for you to follow if you want to reduce your waiting time. Let’s know how you can do that.

Applying a Thin Layer of Paint

When you’re applying paint on a bare body of a car, you can try to apply thin layers. You might be right if you’re worried about paint durability with such a thin layer.

To counter such a situation, you could use a solvent or a similar product so that your paint’s quality stays as it is. There won’t be any defect in quality, but it will quicken the process of drying big time.

Ensure Good Ventilation

After you’re done painting the car, the most important thing is to keep it somewhere with good ventilation. It will help the moisture to go out of the paint faster. Keeping it bare under the sun isn’t a good idea, but a shade will definitely be a good place.

If you can manage to keep a few large fans around it, it’ll help your case better.

Take Advantage of Hot Weather

Those who are living outside the cold region can take advantage of the hot weather, especially people from the tropical region or around the desert, such as the Middle East. The low ratio of humidity in the hot areas is a good natural oven to bake your car paint, although that isn’t possible in humid tropical regions.

Now, you can certainly do it by putting a heater next to your car if you can’t use or have the natural means.

Reduce Humidity

Get a dehumidifier. I’m serious; using a dehumidifier will certainly increase your chances. High humidity is an enemy to evaporation. The higher the humidity, the longer it will take to dry and cure.

A combination of a heater, a dehumidifier, and a fan will dry the paint quickly by increasing the rate of evaporation.

Frequently Asked Questions,

Will rain damage my freshly painted car?

Yes, it certainly can damage your car if you don’t let the paint properly cure first. That’s why it’s not safe to take it on the road until after a day or two passes.

How long should I wait before washing the car?

There’s no hard and fast rule for it. But generally, experts advise that you don’t use any soap and water on it for the first 30 days. So you know you have to be careful while driving.

If you need to wash, wash by hand.

Should I use waxing?

Waxing is a great way to protect your car paint from getting damaged by rain. But waxing also has a caution to maintain.

When should I wax the car?

The best time to wax your car is after the paint gets cured.

Wrapping Up

We are now at the end of our discussion. So exactly how long do you have to wait for car paint to dry? You now know it depends on the type of paint of your choosing as well as the ambient temperature and humidity. That is the hassle you have to endure when you’re redoing your car’s paint yourself.

The last piece of advice from me: if you’re still not sure about the drying process, give a visit to the local auto shop and see what they suggest.

If you read the whole thing attentively, you should be perfectly set for the next stage; Buying the paint & tools and get on it.

Leave a Comment