To dry properly, paint uses four components; Additives, Binder, Filler, Solvent.
The effectiveness of all four will depend on the temperature in which the wet paint is applied to the surface.
Understanding whether heat or cold causes paint to dry faster will help you make the best-informed decision about when to paint exteriors.
It will also help with painting interiors if you know where to set the thermostat along with bringing in fans to circulate the air.
Effects of Temperature on Paint
There are good reasons why you see few people painting outdoors during the winter months.
To properly dry, most paints will need the temperature to be at least 50 degrees F, although there are some exceptions.
This means that the temperatures will need to stay above 50 for the entire drying process, otherwise, the paint may not dry fast enough.
Too cold and the paint will have a difficult time bonding to the surface.
This means that the paint itself may have difficulty sticking which also means that the work will look sloppy or in some conditions need to be redone.
Too hot and the paint will dry so fast that it will tend to crack or create a hazy film on the top that makes the paint look unattractive.
You do not want to paint in temperatures above 90 degrees F.
That means you will have to do the job again by removing the layer and starting over when the temperatures have dropped.
You can look on the side of the can or check with the paint expert at the store where you made the purchase.
That will inform you of the right temperatures to paint both exteriors and interiors.
Keep in mind that if you do have to paint in cooler conditions, there are paints that can work in temperatures as low as 35 degrees F as long as the air is dry.
What Dries Paint Faster – Heat or Cold?
The hotter the temperature, the faster the paint will dry.
This is one reason why you see most people paint the exterior of their homes, offices, and buildings during the summer.
The heat evaporates the water or moisture inside the paint which causes it to dry.
In addition to the heat, the circulation of the air also helps paint to dry.
Air that is moving helps pull away from the moisture from the paint causing it to dry faster, especially in warmer conditions.
So, you’ll probably want to paint in the late spring or early fall if you are outdoors.
The temperatures may be more comfortable depending on where you live, and it helps the paint to dry at a proper rate.
If you decide to paint at another time of the year, you will need to keep your eye on the weather reports to ensure that you have enough time to complete the job before it becomes too hot or too cold.
Ideal Temperature and Humidity for Interior Painting
Keep in mind that high humidity and low temperatures can take longer to dry.
It can also cause paint to run when you are spray painting.
It’s important that you keep a note of an ideal humidity range and temperature before you plan to paint your interiors.
Basically it will more or less depend on the type of paint you are using.
|Paints||Temperature in Fahrenheit||Humidity Percent|
|Oil-based||40 to 90 degrees||40 to 70|
|Latex-based||50 to 85 degrees||40 to 70|
While keeping in mind the ideal temperature and humidity also make sure that you are painting at the right time of the day.
The best time of day to paint the interiors or exteriors of your house is by starting early in the morning.
At this time of day, the temperature is rising and the humidity is getting lowered by the warmth of the morning sun.
If you are staining or oiling your decking area, for example, you can start by painting the surfaces that have been already warmed by the morning sun and are now falling into the shade.
Make sure that you avoid painting your house late in the day or in the evening time.
Since this is the time when the temperature is falling and relative humidity is getting high it may take longer to dry.
7 Tips to Speed Up Paint Drying Process
It’s always challenging to dry the paint faster when you are spray painting in high humidity season.
These seven tips will help you speed up the evaporation of moisture inside the paint so that it dries faster in high humidity.
Remember that you do not want the paint to dry too fast or it will not bond to the surface.
The following seven tips will help you speed up the drying process while the paint forms a bond with surfaces so that it stays put.
1- Lower Humidity Levels
If you are outdoors, there is little you can do about the humidity.
But if you are indoors, you should lower the levels of humidity by running the air conditioner or better a dehumidifier in your room.
The cooler the temperature, the less moisture the air can hold. This means that the paint will evaporate faster.
However, you do not want the room to be cold because that might trap the moisture in the paint along with making it more difficult to paint.
2- One Area at a Time
In other words, paint the first wall and when the first coat is complete, move to the second wall.
By painting more than one wall at a time, you slow down the process of drying which means you are going to be waiting around for the paint to dry to add a second coat.
Instead, focus on one wall and when completed, move to the next.
By the time you have put a coat on the last wall, the first wall you painted may be ready for a second coat.
3- Thin Coats
The thinner the coat, the faster the paint will dry.
The reasoning is simple since there is less paint on the surface which means that it will dry faster compared to more paint.
It’s a good idea to paint in thin coats regardless because it speeds up the process of painting and will make the surface look more uniform as well.
So, avoid piling paint on the brush. Instead, apply a thin coat, let it dry, and repeat until you get the desired appearance.
4- Use Fans
The better you can circulate the air, the faster the paint will dry.
Using fans and opening windows is a good idea not only in speeding up the drying process but also in removing any toxic elements from the paint that otherwise might build up inside.
Plus, providing good ventilation for moving the air around will dissipate any unwanted odor from the wet paint to make it easier to work.
You do not need to direct the fans against the surface that is being painted.
Instead, you’ll want to circulate the air in the room by moving the air through from one side to another, such as a door to a window or the other way around.
However, if the gloss paint is taking longer to dry than you anticipated, then you might want to direct a fan or two at the surface to speed up the process of quickly drying the paint.
5- Use a Heat Source
Homeowners who need to paint their homes urgently during the cold winter months find this method of drying the paint highly useful.
No matter what surface you are painting (a wall, metal, wood, plastic, paper, or canvas), using a heat source like a space heater can work for you to make the paint dry faster.
As an alternative, if you want you can use your hair-dryer, a lamp, or a heat gun for drying purposes.
While painting you can point the heater at the wall (you are trying to dry quickly).
Or you can paint a small wall area and then dry the paint using a dryer or a heat gun before moving to the next wall.
Using a heat gun or a hairdryer may seem to be tedious, especially when you want to paint and dry a larger area.
But when it’s about drying the puffy craft paint or varnish on a piece of furniture, this method works the best.
Whichever heating technique you use for drying, make sure that you do not overheat the wet paint as it may cause cracks in the finish making the paint chip faster.
6- Water-Based, Non-VOC Paint
How fast can paint dry will generally also depend on the type of paint you are using.
Water-based paints tend to dry quickly because water evaporates faster than oil. This is, in fact, the fastest drying type of paint available on the market.
Not having any Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) will also allow the paint to dry faster since they tend to resist being dehydrated.
Plus, being non-VOC means that it lacks the volatile compounds that can be dangerous to your health when wet.
7- Oil Paint Drying Mediums
Well, if you cannot compromise with the paint material and want to use only the oil-based enamel paints for getting the work done, this is what can help you out.
Oil paints are known for their slow drying time.
However, adding linseed oil or other types of drying mediums (like cobalt medium) can speed up the paint drying process significantly.
This can be useful when you want to spray paint your drywall in cold weather conditions.
Make sure you thin the oil paint (using turpentine) before you spray it on walls to hasten the drying process.
Another good way to speed up the paint drying is to paint the surface (or your painting) with acrylic paint washes and then apply a thin layer of oil paint over it.
While providing you a nice glossy finish this will ensure that the oil paint dries out quickly within 2-3 hours, which may normally take about 24 hours.
Although there are many types of acrylic paints and chalk paints that can dry faster when at all possible, it’s good to wait for the preferable temperature and weather conditions that are most appropriate for house painting.
This will ensure that you get the best quality paint job that you desire to have.
The Bottom Line
Although most latex paints take an hour or less before they get dry to touch, it may take about two weeks to completely get cured (to the point you can wash the surface).
The drying time of latex, as well as oil-based paints, will also depend on the factors like humidity and temperature (heat or cold).
Hopefully, the above information will help you decide under what condition you can paint and what steps you can take to dry/cure the paint faster.
Jack Luis is a semi-retired painter who loved painting his clients’ ideas on their walls.
He had worked as a painter for more than a decade to serve the customers in areas such as Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Beaufort, Georgetown, SC (South Carolina). Today in his free time, he likes to read and write about the newer techniques that are being implemented in his profession. You may read more about him here or get in touch with him here.
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