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How To Make Paint Dry Faster: It Can Be Done!

In this post, I am going to be addressing how to make paint dry faster. I am not going to be giving any absurd ideas here, just real-world examples and ideas that I have actually used myself in my 20 years of painting.

I decided to write this post on making paint dry faster for two reasons. First, I have actually been asked this very question quite often over the years from my clients. Second, when I looked at the posts online I found when searching the topic, their answers were simply absurd, impractical and they added useless information.

Wet Paint Sign

So I am here to tell you exactly how to make paint dry faster during your DIY painting projects.

A Quick Word on Water and Oil Based Finishes

Oil based finishes are becoming less and less popular over the years as water based finishes get better and better and we become smarter with our health and how VOCs can hurt our bodies.

So I will mention briefly at the end of the post how to make oil based finishes dry faster, but I am mostly going to address water based finishes that DIY Painters would actually be using.

How To Make Paint Dry Faster

I am going to start with how to make water based paint dry faster and then briefly touch on how to make oil-based paint dry faster.

How To Make Water Based Paint Dry Faster

When you want to get your water based finishes to dry faster, you essentially want the water in the finish to evaporate. So humidity is your number one enemy as it will slow down the evaporation process.

Most Obvious Solutions: Use Your Furnace / AC Unit

If you are in a warm but humid environment, then turning on your ca unit will actually help speed up the drying process dramatically. Air Conditioners actually suck heat and humidity from a room and replace it with cool dry air. Cold air may not seem like it would help dry paint, it is better to have a cool dry room than a humid warm room when trying to get paint to dry quickly.

I live in Minnesota and our winters are cold and dry. So turning up the furnace in winter doesn’t add any humidity to a room and increases the heat and airflow. Turning up your furnace will actually help remove more humid air from the room you painted and replace it with warm dry air, thus helping the paint to dry faster.

How To Make Paint Dry Faster: Turn On A Dehumidifier

How to make paint dry faster

To make paint dry faster, turning on a dehumidifier is one of the absolute best things you can do.

Dehumidifiers pull moisture out of the air and to an extent, help circulate air in a room.

This is easily one of the best things you can do to make latex paint dry faster.

How To Make Paint Dry Faster: Turn On A Fan

Fans definitely help to make paint dry faster, but not as much as you would think.

If you are just painting one room, the humidity in that room can rise quite high. By placing a fan in the doorway (pointing in either direction) you will suck in dryer air from other rooms and help to remove the moist air from the room you are painting.

Fans also help by circulating dry and moist air within the same room.

How To Make Paint Dry Faster: Open Windows

I paint really fast. I’ve been painting for nearly 20 years and I have learned to paint fast while keeping my quality excellent.

If I am applying roughly 1-2 gallons of paint per hour, over the course of a day, that releases a lot of moisture into the air. Just rolling walls, I can easily go through 10-20 gallons of paint in a day. That 10+ gallons of water that is trying to dry out on the walls and turning into moisture in the air.

Usually, the outside humidity is lower than the inside humidity if you are painting fast or have a lot of people helping you paint. So cracking windows in every room can usually help speed up the drying process.

If the humidity outside is high, this will not help and may even hurt the drying process.

A Perfection Combination To Make Paint Dry Faster

If you can, turn on your dehumidifier somewhere near where you are painting. Then also turn on a fan near the dehumidifier to help circulate the dry air back into the areas you are painting.

On top of that, turning on your furnace or AC unit will help as well.

Using these together will create an environment where paint dries extremely fast and allows you to paint a second coat quicker or put a room back together sooner.

How To Make Paint Dry Faster: Oil Based Paints

Getting oil based finishes to dry faster is a bit different than water based paint. Humidity doesn’t affect how oil based (or lacquers/other finishes) dry.

Inherently, oil dries much slower than water based finishes. Most oil based finishes can take 2 – 24 hours to dry while water based finishes typically take 30 minutes to 2 hours (depending on humidity levels).

The level of solvents vs solids in oil based paints directly affect dry times as well. Solvents (like mineral spirits) must evaporate, then the oil must oxidize with oxygen and harden. So the more solvents, the faster the dry time because there is less oil to oxidize.

For example, Kilz Original oil based primer dries exceptionally fast because it has a high volume of solvents and low amount of solids.

Benjamin Moore’s Impervo on the other hand has a high amount of solids and dries very slow. When I used to spray oils more often like BM Impervo, I would spray a coat and when I was done I would leave for the day. I knew it always needed to dry overnight.

The only practical way for a DIY Painter to speed up the drying time on oil based finishes is to increase the heat in the room. Heat helps speed up the oxidation process which is what is actually happening when oil paints harden.

After I would spray kitchen cabinet doors with oil based finishes in my shop, I would turn the heat up to 90 degrees and basically bake my shop. This was the only practical thing I could do to speed up the drying process.

Personally, I think that is all the further we need to go into how to make oil paint dry faster.

Conclusion

That’s about it for How To Make Paint Dry Faster. While there may be other ways that you read about online, these are the only practical solutions that I believe a dIY painter could expect to use. Don’t bother with trying to paint thinner coats, or warming up the walls, or anything like that. You’ll spend more time that you’ll gain.

Resources

Scientific American: The Chemistry of Oil Painting

Painting Over Oil Based Paint: Can It Be Done?
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