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How Long Does Acrylic Paint Take to Dry?




How Long Does Acrylic Paint Take to Dry

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Acrylic paint is a real jack of all trades, ain’t it? I love using it because it’s so easy to work with and you can pretty much paint anything with it. From canvas to ceramics, acrylic can handle it all. But, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. One thing that can be a pain is the drying time. It’s like waiting for a pot to boil, except you have to stand there for hours just looking at it. But, let’s be real here, how long does it actually take for acrylic paint to dry? You know, just so we can plan out our painting sessions accordingly. Maybe we can make a coffee break out of it or something, you know? But seriously, someone needs to figure out how long this stuff takes to dry.

Speeding Up My Acrylic Paint Drying Time

As a scale modeler, I know that acrylic paint takes time to dry. That’s why I always wait 24 hours before applying the next coat or exposing my work to water (i.e., washing out brushes). However, I have learned a few tricks to speed up this process.

Here are some tips I use:

  • Use a hair dryer
  • Buy an electric heater
  • Close windows and doors in cold weather
  • Place wet paintings in front of heating vents
  • Store paintings in a warm, dry place
  • Put wet paintings in a dark, dry place
  • Use a dehumidifier
  • Place a box fan in front of the wet painting
  • Use a hair dryer on low: hold it at least six inches from the painting
  • Avoid touching the paintings for at least 24 hours
  • Place newspapers on wet paintings to absorb the moisture
  • Always keep a stack of clean, dry rags handy for quick cleanup. I wrap them in plastic or place them in resealable bags and store them with my other art supplies
  • Avoid opening windows or doors when the paintings are drying.

When using any of those items, there are a few important things to be aware of. Keep the following in mind to avoid making a mess of your masterpiece:

  • Remember to allow the paint time to dry before you add a second layer. If your work needs more than one coat, don’t wait too long in between layers, or it will start peeling off.
  • Don’t get your painting too close to a heat source. This can result in the acrylic paints melting and dripping, which will ruin an otherwise perfect work of art!
  • It is important to keep your acrylic paints away from all elements, such as the stove.
  • Painting is fun, but you need to keep a close eye on it, or else the acrylic paints will dry too much and start cracking.
  • Even paper meant for acrylic paints absorbs moisture from the first layer of paint.
  • Waiting for a layer of acrylic to dry before moving to the next step helps ensure your painting lasts. This way, you won’t have to worry about the paint coming off.
  • Golden Heavy Body Acrylics will dry in less than 5 minutes and be workable for 10 minutes.

Slowing Down Acrylic Paint Drying Time

  • If the painting has been in an air-conditioned room, bring it into a hotter area to dry.
  • If the painting has been in a humid area, place it on a surface that will allow air to circulate. If possible, use an electric fan nearby or near one window of your home with the other windows open so there is cross ventilation.
  • If the painting has been in a dry area, place it on a surface that will allow air to circulate. Again, use an electric fan or open windows for cross ventilation if possible.
  • If your painting is too large to air out, place it in the bathtub. Fill with lukewarm water and close the door.
  • You can also use an acrylic retarder developed for this purpose; however, only try these products as a last resort because they are more toxic than other options!
  • The drying time will be longer if you are working on a painting with other colors. Some colors dry faster than others, so avoid dark and saturated hues while your paint is still wet to save yourself some waiting time.
  • Another way to slow down acrylic paint drying is using solvents such as alcohol or water, which can help it last longer!
  • This post also discusses how long this process takes for artists who use mediums like Gesso, oil paints, and varnishes – just in case something else confused you about when they should be applied!
  • The brand of acrylic paint you use will also affect the drying time.
  • Acrylic paint needs 24 to 72 hours to dry on the glass.
  • It usually takes 10 to 20 minutes for thin coats of acrylic paint to dry. Thicker coats of acrylic paint dry between coats in about an hour or two. You can paint the next layer on the layer that feels dry.

Wet Palette

A wet palette is your best friend if you paint in acrylics! It will keep the paint moist and ready for use. The water should be lukewarm, so it doesn’t cool down like cold water; if that’s not an option, then regularly re-wet with clean and warm water.

Many factors contribute to drying time, but knowing these few tricks can help lessen some of the stress of waiting on art projects to dry before moving them or working more on them.

You can also make your own wet palette. All you need is the following:

  • Shallow, airtight, and resealable container.
  • Sponge.
  • Baking/parchment paper or store-bought watercolor paper.
  • Scissors.
  • Water.

wet palette is a perfect tool for any artist who wants to spend less time in front of a paint-splattered canvas.

A wet palette will allow you to use much more expensive paints because it prevents them from drying out, saving your hard-earned money on those pricey pigments!

Retarders And Agitators

I always carry my wet palette with me, but sometimes it’s necessary to switch to a dry one. When the paint on your brush becomes too thick or goopy, or if it dries in spots, it can make the painting process much more challenging. In these instances, swapping out the palette for a fresh one can help improve your results.

To keep your acrylics wet for longer periods of time, it’s wise to utilize an acrylic gel or medium that extends the “open” time of the paint. These products are commonly referred to as “retarders,” and it’s recommended to mix them into your paint on the palette after application, rather than before. Not only will this technique save you money in the long run, but it will also save you time and frustration in the painting process.

In addition, using a spray to wet your palette before starting to paint can be a cost-effective solution. This way, you can cover any dry spots as needed with a few spritzes of the color on hand, without worrying about waste from drips or mistakes. However, when working with watercolor paints, it’s important to be mindful of the amount of water used in the mixing process, as too much water can make blending difficult. If the paint needs more drying time between layers, it’s best to add another layer or two until it’s ready.

A few times a day, it’s important to agitate the paint to keep it from settling and drying out. For this reason, having a mixing device, such as a hand mixer, is essential, especially if you plan to use an additive like a retarder or defoamer. These tools will ensure that the paint stays consistent and workable, helping you achieve the desired results with ease.

The Drying Times Of Different Brands Of Acrylic Paint

Slow drying acrylics may require a long dry time, but Golden Acrylic recommends waiting at least 30 days before varnishing to avoid potential problems.

Brand of Acrylic Manufacturers have mixed opinions on the duration of an acrylic drying time.
Amsterdam “Acrylic paint dries quickly.”
Atelier Interactive “To slow-dry paint, apply Unlocking Formula with a brush or atomizer.”
Daler Rowney “Cryla Artists’ Acrylics on average dry in 5 – 10 minutes.”
Golden Heavy Body “Wet: allow 5 minutes to air dry. Workable: allow 10 minutes for drying. Locked down: 3+ days”
Golden Open Acrylics “Wet: 30-60 minutes Workable: 1-3 hours. It can still be reopened after 12 hours. Touch dry, fully cured in 24+ hours. Locked down, fully cured in 14+ days.”
Lascaux NA
Liquitex “Thin paint films will dry in 10-20 minutes, while thick paint films could take an hour or more to dry.”
M Graham “This type of air purifier allows you up to an hour of uninterrupted work time in one session, depending on temperature and humidity.”
Pebeo ..” these dry quickly and are resistant to aging.”
Sennelier NA
Tri-Art “Thick paint may take time to dry, while thinner paints will usually dry within minutes.”
Utrecht “To air-dry a paint film, wait 10–20 minutes for thin layers and 1 hour-3 day for thick ones before re-coating.”
Winsor & Newton Galeria “Film of color will dry in 10-20 minutes, while thicker films may take an hour or more.”
Winsor & Newton Professional “Professional Acrylics will usually dry in 20-30 minutes, but it might take an hour or more depending on where you are and your room temperature.”

Professional Acrylic Paint Drying Time

I understand the importance of knowing the drying time of my paint. Professional-grade acrylic paints can take longer to dry than other types because they contain higher quality ingredients and superior pigments. Though these paints can be pricier, they produce long-lasting, high-quality artwork that won’t crack or peel after drying.

While acrylic paint can take longer to dry than other materials, the patience pays off. A thick layer of professional acrylic paint can take up to two hours to dry, while thinner layers typically dry in around 30 minutes. However, the drying time can vary based on environmental factors like temperature and humidity.

For professional painters, this longer drying time can be an advantage because it means less waste on the palette, as the paint can be left out overnight without drying too quickly. However, when working on canvas, the addition of retarders can slow down the drying process, requiring more time between layers or before completing the work.

Does The Thickness Of Paint Effect Drying Time?

I having the right type of paint can make all the difference in your projects. Different types of paints have varying drying times, and the thickness of the paint film can also play a role in how quickly it dries. In this article, we’ll explore the drying times of three different brands of paint: Winsor & Newton Artists’ Acrylics, Galeria, and Professional Acrylics.

  • Winsor & Newton Artists’ Acrylics: Ideal for artists who want long-lasting paint, these acrylics take six hours to dry after application. If you’re in a hurry, their Professional Water Mixable Oil Colors are a great option, as they only take 10 minutes to set.
  • Galeria: This brand of paint promises quick drying times of 10-20 minutes for thin films, but thicker films can take an hour or more.
  • Professional Acrylics: These acrylics are perfect for those who need to work quickly. A thin film will dry in 20-30 minutes, while thicker films may take an hour or two, depending on environmental conditions.

I am absolutely in love with these acrylics. I have never used paint that stays workable for so long, even without using a retarder. It stays perfect for 30 minutes and does not darken as it dries, which is fantastic! You can keep adding layers to your painting until you are satisfied with the result, all in just one sitting.

Factors That Affect Drying Time Of Acrylic Paint

As a modeler, you know the importance of having complete control over the drying time of your acrylic paint. There are a number of variables that you can manipulate to create acrylics with different drying speeds, and understanding how each of these factors affects your work and environment can help you choose the right approach for each project.

One key factor is humidity. High humidity levels in your workspace will slow down the drying process, making it more difficult to achieve the desired results. Conversely, low humidity will allow your paint to dry faster, making it easier to work with.

Another factor to consider is inversion. If your acrylic painting is not yet dry, you can invert it and allow it to sit for a few days, speeding up the evaporation process. This method works best in environments with low airflow or high humidity levels. On the other hand, high airflow can speed up drying time by helping to evaporate water from wet surfaces.

Temperature is also a crucial factor to keep in mind. Paint dries faster in warmer temperatures, as heat accelerates the drying process by promoting evaporation. However, temperatures over 90 degrees Fahrenheit are not recommended for most applications, as they can cause your paint to dry too quickly, leaving you with a less-than-ideal finished product. If you’re looking for a very quick-drying effect, such as you might achieve with encaustic, then higher temperatures may be appropriate.

The surface you’re painting on can also play a role in the drying time of your acrylics. Smoother surfaces are less likely to cause paint to dry unevenly or with visible brush marks, whereas more porous or textured surfaces may require more time to dry. Additionally, if you’re using oil-based primers, the drying process of your acrylics will depend largely on the type of primer you use.

Finally, it’s worth considering the odor of your paint. Odorless paints are convenient for painters who want to work in their homes without disturbing others, but they also have a longer drying time than paints with a strong odor. Primers, on the other hand, are a type of paint used as an adhesive layer between the surface and the acrylics, and can help to speed up drying time by providing an even coat that dries quickly. Some good primers include Gesso and rabbit skin glue, which offer good adhesion and minimal odor.

Paint Storage

To prevent paint from drying out in storage, be sure not to place it near blowers or heaters. All plastic containers are slightly porous and allow a small amount of water vapor to escape. Also, clean the threads on lids/jars, so they seal properly, and don’t let paints dry too much by spraying them with distilled or de-ionized water when necessary before closing the container tightly again for long-term storage!

Cleaning Art Tools

The paint should be wet to prevent it from drying on tools (I wrote about modeling tools here).

  • Even a small amount of paint can have an impact on your brush.
  • You’ll want to keep your brushes in good condition to reduce how much acrylic gets deposited on the bristles.
  • Mix the two and then dip your brush to prepare a small amount of dish detergent and water to remove semi-dried paint that may remain on the tools.
  • To clean a single tool, use this mixture to get paint off of tools by dipping it into dish detergent/water mix or spraying it with distilled water before running under warm water!
  • It’s also important to rinse brushes after using acrylic. These substances can leave an undesirable taste on them that won’t be washed out easily later on when you’re trying to create new painting pieces.
  • Many artists struggle with paint storage, knowing how much time they should spend caring for their supplies to stay fresh over long periods. This article discusses what I found about oil.
  • There are many commercially available brush cleaners for hard-to-shift paints, but selecting one with minimal bearing is best.
  • Applying conditioner to your brushes will quicken the cleanup process. After cleaning one, apply a small amount of conditioner and brush the excess onto a hand until you can’t see it.


While this article was not meant to be a comprehensive guide on drying times, I hope you now have some insight into your next painting project. I also hope that the information provided has helped answer any questions you may have had about how different paint brands differ in terms of drying time and which type is best for what application. If you know anyone who would like to learn more about acrylic paints or knows someone who loves to paint but constantly struggles with speeding up or slowing down the dry time, please share this post with them!


How do you speed up the drying of acrylic paint?

Use a hairdryer to shorten the drying time of acrylic paints. Most acrylics are pigments suspended in water, meaning it takes about 5 minutes for the liquid water particles to evaporate and evaporate through the surface due to reduced viscosity. A fan or hairdryer accelerates this process by blowing hot air over your work and helps remove moisture and create turbulence, providing even heat distribution. This will cause any extra paint on the outside to dry faster. With higher temperatures, more water molecules will evaporate per minute since more energy is available for interaction (as described by GNC). The hotter you get it, the faster your acrylic paint dries!

How do I reuse dried acrylic paint?

Reusing dried acrylic paint depends on the desired outcome. To use the paint for brushing on canvas, reconstitute it by heating it and pour it into a new container. For a painting technique similar to oil paintings, consider using water-based inks instead of acrylics. They have a thicker consistency that does not dry as quickly when applied with a brush. Additionally, certain pen nib techniques, such as droplet application, work well by adding large amounts of ink from a bottle directly onto paper, similar to the process of creating stained glass.

How long does acrylic paint take to dry on wood?

Your paint should be dry to the touch in approximately 3 hours, but an hour or so more may be needed if you live in a humid climate or incur wet, colder temperatures. We recommend waiting at least 24 hours before painting on any previously painted areas to avoid delamination. Let us know if you need additional assistance!

How long does acrylic paint take to dry on plastic?

Acrylic paint can dry just as quickly on plastic as it would on paper, but this usually depends on the thickness of the paint layer. There are also special materials designed specifically for acrylic paints, offering better pigment coverage and a more matte finish.

As with oil painting, modern acrylic paints are water-based and dry through oxidation. Oil-based japan inks, on the other hand, take longer to dry because they are fat-based. A general rule of thumb is that thinner layers will take less time to dry, while thicker coatings will require more time to dry completely.

How long does acrylic paint take to dry on clay?

Acrylic paint dries quickly on clay. This is because it is resin-based, which means that it consists of polymers that easily stick to moist clay. As the paint dries, the polymer molecules absorb water from the clay and form a thick, gel-like coating. This coating helps protect the paint against environmental humidity and prevents color transfers from other materials. However, it may take longer for the paint to dry completely on a dry surface.

How long after acrylic paint is dry before applying varnish?

It is advised to wait a few hours before applying varnish, or you risk smudging the paint. However, if you have sensitive skin (or need to handle small items), it’s possible to apply varnish before the acrylic paint is dry and not ruin your project. This risk can also be avoided by using a matte finish acrylic coating on the artwork before painting with regular acrylics. It should only take about an hour for that coat of coating to dry properly.

How long does water-based paint take to dry?

Many factors can impact the drying time of paint, such as the surface or substrate, relative humidity, temperature, and type of paint used. In normal conditions, water-based paint typically takes 1 to 2 hours to dry enough for handling in a confined space. However, extreme humidity and/or cold temperatures may require a drying time of 24 hours or more.

Keep in mind that the exact drying time can vary greatly depending on the environment. While it may be possible to put on gloves and remove items after 5 minutes in some conditions, it’s always best to wait a sufficient amount of time before handling the painted surface to ensure it is fully dry.

Will acrylic paint fade over time?

Acrylic paint can fade over time if it is exposed to excessive UV rays or sunlight, particularly in outdoor environments. On the other hand, if the acrylic paint contains zinc oxide, it will be more resistant to fading when exposed to sunlight. However, this type of paint is typically only used by contractors, as it takes several days to dry. Artists often use latex house paint as a thinner for their canvases, as it is more cost-effective and dries faster than acrylics. However, it also has drawbacks, such as being toxic.

Do acrylic paints really break down under UV light over the years?

There will be some breakdown, but it will take a while; acrylic paints are very durable but not indestructible. You can make them more durable by adding some varnish or clear paint in the mix, and this will likely give you years of use before any breakdown issues show up. The formation of acrylic polymer chains in the paints helps keep them resilient to UV degradation, so use thinner coats on high-wear areas like floors and stairs as needed to help increase durability and longevity.

Does acrylic paint wash off the glass?

Acrylic paint can be removed from glass. Water-based paint is generally easier to remove compared to other types of paint. To remove the paint, try the following steps:

  1. Wet a cloth and gently rub the painted area until the paint starts to come off.
  2. If the paint doesn’t come off with a damp cloth, cover it with plastic wrap for about 24 hours or until it can be easily vacuumed up.
  3. After removing the plastic wrap, try wiping the painted area with a damp cloth again.
  4. If the above steps don’t work, use a non-toxic cleaner without bleach and test a small, inconspicuous area first.

Does acrylic color wash off walls?

In general, the lower-quality acrylic paint will wash off walls easily. However, wetting the surface and scrubbing is also required, which can negatively affect your drywall or plaster walls. The better solution is always to use high-quality paint so that there is no problem with washing or removing it in the future. Luckily you won’t often find one manufacturer’s cheaper grade of paint sold as a different brand’s higher-quality product, but beware of cheap brushes! You get what you pay for!

What's the difference between dry time and cure time?

Drying time is the amount of time it takes for the paint to become touch-dry, meaning that you can gently touch the surface without leaving a fingerprint. Cure time is the amount of time it takes for the paint to harden completely and reach its full durability. For water-based paints, these two times are typically close together, while for oil-based paints, cure time can take several days or even weeks. It’s important to note that even though the paint may feel dry to the touch, it may not be fully cured and may still be vulnerable to scratches and other damage during the cure time. It’s important to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for both dry and cure times to ensure the best results for your project.

Hey there! I’m Richard Baker, a miniature painter who’s been in the game for a solid decade now. I’ve been painting miniatures for ten years and I’ve got a ton of tips and tricks to share with you all. My website is a treasure trove of knowledge that I’ve gathered from both my own personal experiences and from reading all sorts of books.

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