How Long Does Acrylic Paint Take to Dry?

  • By: Richard
  • Date: August 24, 2021
  • Time to read: 15 min.

Acrylic paint is a versatile and easy-to-use medium. It can be used on almost any surface, from canvas to ceramics. However, it does have some drawbacks, one of them being the drying time. How long does acrylic paint take to dry? In this article, I discuss how long this process takes to plan your art projects better accordingly!

Speeding Up Acrylic Paint Drying Time

The bottom line is, acrylic paint takes time to dry. That’s why it is recommended that you wait 24 hours before applying the next coat or exposing your work to water (i.e., washing out brushes). The following are some tips on how to speed up this process:

  • Use a hair drier
  • Buy an electric heater
  • Close windows and doors in cold weather
  • Put 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 drier on low: hold it at least six inches away from the painting
  • Don’t touch your paintings for at least 24 hours
  • Place newspapers on wet paintings to absorb the moisture
  • Keep a stack of clean, dry rags handy for quick cleanup. Wrap them in plastic or place them in resealable bags and store them with your other art supplies
  • Don’t open windows or doors when paintings are drying

When you are 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 else 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 kinds of 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.

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!
  • If you are working on a painting with other colors, the drying time will be longer. 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 paints drying is using solvents such as alcohol or water, which can actually help it last longer!
  • This post also discusses how long this process takes for artists who use mediums like gesso, oil paints, varnishes – just in case that was something else confusing you about when they should be applied!

Wet Palette

If you are painting in acrylics, a wet palette is your best friend! It will keep the paint moist and ready for use. The water should be lukewarm, so it doesn’t cool down like cold water can; 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.

A 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 keep my wet palette with me, but sometimes I need to switch it out for a dry one. Sometimes the paint on your brush is too thick and goopy or dried up in spots, making painting more difficult, so swapping out can help you work better!

To help you keep your acrylics wet for longer periods of time, reach for an acrylic gel or medium that extends the “open” time. These products are usually called “retarders,” and it’s best to mix these into your paint after applying them onto a palette – not before!

Paint can be an expensive commodity, but this technique will save you money and time. Just spray your palette before starting to paint- then, as needed, cover any dry spots with a few spritzes of the color on hand! With anything made using watercolors, it’s important not to have too much water for them to blend properly (if they are mixed). But if wetter paints need more drying out between layers, give ’em another layer or two until they’re ready!

A few times a day, it is important to agitate the paint, and if you are going to use an additive that will stir into the mix, such as retarder or defoamer, then be sure not only to have some mixing device but also something like a hand mixer.

For me, a spray is perfect for the amount of paint I use. It’s more affordable, and it doesn’t go to waste if there are any drips or mistakes along my way.

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

As a crafter, you need to know the drying time of your paint. Professional acrylic paints will sometimes take longer than other grades because they are made from higher quality ingredients and have better pigments. These professional-grade paints can be expensive but worth it if you want high-quality artwork that does not crack or peel when dry!

You can create a masterpiece with these paints in just one day, but you’ll need to be patient. The acrylic paint takes much longer than other painting materials and dries faster; this means that there is less waste on the palette for professional painters who usually leave their paint out overnight anyways because it dries quickly. However, when working on canvas instead, they have to wait much longer if any retarders are added, which slows down the process by adding more time before applying another layer or completing your work altogether.

Professional-level acrylic paint can dry in up to two hours if it’s a thick layer. Thinner layers will take about 30 minutes, though they depend on the atmosphere and temperature outside for drying time.

Does The Thickness Of Paint Effect Drying Time?

Winsor & Newton Artists’ Acrylics are for you for the artist who wants long-lasting paint because they don’t dry until six hours after application. If speedy painting is more your thing, then use their Professional Water Mixable Oil Colors which only require 10 minutes to be fully set!

Galeria: The colors of your life will never be the same. Galeria’s thin films are guaranteed to dry in 10-20 minutes, but thicker ones can take an hour or more.

Professional Acrylics: Professional acrylics have a quick drying time, and they are great for people who need to work quickly. A thin film will dry in 20-30 minutes, while thicker films can take an hour or two depending on the environmental conditions.

I absolutely love these acrylics. I’ve never had a paint stay workable for this long before, and without using a retarder, it stays perfect for 30 minutes! It doesn’t get dark as it dries either, which is awesome because you can keep adding more layers to your painting until you’re delighted with how it looks- and all in just one sitting too!

Factors That Affect Drying Time Of Acrylic Paint

Below is a list of all the variables you can control to create acrylics with different drying times, how they affect your work/ environment and which ones are best for what.

  • Humidity: Higher humidity in your environment will cause paint to dry more slowly.
  • Inversion: An acrylic painting that is not yet dry can be inverted and left for a few days, which will speed up the process of evaporation; this method works best when there is low airflow or high humidity levels.
  • Airflow: High airflow speeds drying time by helping evaporate water from wet surfaces.
  • Temperature (indoor): Paint dries faster in warmer temperatures because heat accelerates drying time through evaporation – many people find they cannot abide having their paintings near radiators due to how quickly it dries! Temperatures over 90 degrees Fahrenheit are least recommended unless you’re looking for a very quick-drying effect like encaustic.
  • Temperature (outdoor): Paint dries faster in warmer temperatures because heat accelerates drying time through evaporation – many people find they cannot abide having their paintings near radiators due to how quickly it dries! Temperatures over 90 degrees Fahrenheit are least recommended unless you’re looking for a very quick-drying effect like encaustic.
  • Painting surface: The smoother the painting surface, the less likely paint is to dry unevenly and without brush marks. For example, an acrylic artist who paints on canvas will need more time than one working on wood paneling or particleboard; likewise, if using oil-based primers, the drying process of your acrylics will depend largely on what type of primer you use.
  • Primer: Primers are a type of paint used as an adhesive layer between the surface to be painted. The acrylics applied over it act as a protective cover for your painting’s surface and decrease drying time by providing an even coat that can dry within seconds. There are many different types of primers – some good ones include Gesso (which is more like white glue) or rabbit skin glue which provide excellent adhesion properties but will take longer to dry than just about any other primer; these two also have very little odor which makes them great choices if you’re trying not to bother neighbors with smells!
  • Odor: Odorless paints allow painters to work in their homes without bothering anyone else with smells, but they also have a longer drying time than paints that emit an 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 kept 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.
  • To prepare a small amount of dish detergent and water to remove semi-dried paint that may remain on tools, mix the two and then dip your brush in.
  • To clean a single tool, use this mixture to get paint off of tools by dipping it into dish detergent/water mix or spraying 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.
  • Paint storage is one of those things that many artists struggle with, knowing how much time they should spend caring for their supplies, so they stay fresh over long periods of time. This article discusses what I found about oil.
  • There are many commercially available brush cleaners for hard-to-shift paints, but it is best to select one with minimal bearing in mind.
  • 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.

FAQs

How do you speed the drying of acrylic paint?

Use a hairdryer to shorten the drying time of acrylic paints. Most acrylics are pigments suspended in water which means 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 distribution of heat. 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?

It depends on what you’re trying to do. If you want to brush new paint onto canvas, hot pour your dried acrylic mixture into the new container. However, if you were looking for a technique that mimics the pigment qualities of oil painting more closely, use water-based mediums inks instead of acrylics because they are designed with an “extra-thick” consistency and will not dry out as quickly when applied with a brush. In addition, some pen nib techniques work well by adding large amounts of ink from a bottle into droplets on paper. Similar to how stained glass is created.

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 incurred 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 dry on paper, but that usually depends on the thickness of the paint layer. There are also materials designed specifically for acrylic paints, which have much better pigment coverage and provide a more matte finish.

As with oil painting, modern acrylics are water-based, so they dry through oxidation. Oils-based japan ink paintings will take a long time longer to dry since they’re fact-based. The basic rule of thumb is thinner layers = less time painting, and thicker coatings = more drying time required.

How long does acrylic paint take to dry on clay?

The acrylic paint is resin-based, meaning it consists of polymers that are easily wetted and will adhere quickly to moist clay. The polymer molecules in the paint absorb water from the wet surface, forming a thick gel-like mass that repels more liquid than before when applied to a dry surface. These longer drying times let the gelled coating protect against environmental humidity and transfers from other materials and colors.

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 the paint. The support or substrate surface, relative humidity, temperature, and paint type affect how long it takes for water-based paintings to dry. Typically, in a confined space with normal weather conditions, 1 to 2 hours is sufficient to allow water-based paints to dry enough for handling. However, in extreme humidity and/or cold temperatures, you may need to wait 24 hours or more for the paint to dry thoroughly.

The amount of time varies enormously depending on its environment, but 5 minutes is usually enough t put on some gloves and remove anything you don’t want painted black.

Will acrylic paint fade over time?

Acrylic paint will fade over time if it is in an outdoor environment and there are too many UV rays or sunlight present.

If the acrylic paint has zinc oxide, the color will stay when exposed to sunlight. But this type of paint is usually only used by contractors because it takes a couple of days to dry. Artists use latex house paints as thinners for their canvases because they are cheaper and faster than acrylics, but they have disadvantages too (like 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?

Any water-based paint should be able to wash off any surface. When it’s dry, use a wet cloth and rub the area gently with the damp cloth. If this doesn’t work, place some plastic wrap over it (clingfilm) for about 24 hours or until it can be vacuumed up easily, then try again with the wet cloth. If these techniques don’t work, use a non-toxic cleaner such as Mr. Clean (no bleach) and test an inconspicuous spot first.

Does acrylic colour 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!

Conclusion

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 brands of paint differ in terms of their 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!

Richard

Hi! I'm Richard Baker, a miniature painter who has been painting for about ten years. My website is packed with great advice that I've learned from both books and personal experience on building and painting miniatures.

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