How Long Should Paint Dry?

Posted by Sam Sundeleaf on Wednesday, August 14, 2013

This is a good question—one that residential and commercial customers alike should ask contractors in the process of finding the right painter. A number of factors come in to play, which I will discuss below. 

Type of Paint

The first thing to consider is the type of paint that will be used for interior or exterior. Different paints will have different drying times. The manufacturer labels will include the paint's drying time. Oil-based paints generally take about 12 hours to dry. Latex paints take about 3 hours to dry to the touch.


Climate is key. Since we live and work here in the Pacific Northwest, we know all about it. You will want to watch the weather, and make sure a set of warm and dry days is coming for your exterior paint project. Too much moisture will trigger paint failure. Ideally, the best time for exterior painting in the Portland Area is late spring to early fall. This will ensure proper paint adhesion. Any time after that and the potential for paint failure is too great. Interiors, however, can be painted year round. Just keep the windows shut so moist air doesn't interact with the drying paint. 

If the weather conditions are right, again, oil-based paints should take about 12 hours to dry to the touch, whereas latex paints will dry in as little as three hours.

Number of Coats

It goes without saying that one coat will dry faster than two coats. Some spaces will only require a single coat, but others will require two coats. It really depends on the substrate. We generally recommend 24 hours between the first and second coats. So, you're looking at about 36 hours for two coats of oil-based paint, and 27 hours for two coats of latex paint, give or take.

If you have any other questions on paint drying times, give us a call. 

Sundeleaf Painting, Inc.
2037 SE Ochoco Street
Portland, Oregon 97222
(503) 236-9797

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