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How Long Does it Take Car Paint to Dry?

A car painted in red being dried up in a car painting store.

Standard car paints take between half an hour and 90 minutes to dry under ideal climate conditions like wind speed, moisture, dryness, and other factors. The actual cure time for the paint is about a full day according to experts, especially acrylic lacquer.

After speaking with a few professionals, I was told that auto paint, after dried, has a velvety texture. Drying out, or curing is the process through which paint loses its residual moisture and begins to harden, reducing the paint’s pliability. Automotive paint needs at least 24 hours to fully cure.

Related: Why Does Car Paint Bubble?

How Long Does Car Paint Take To Dry?

There isn’t a hard and fast rule for how long. Let’s look at the typical drying time for auto paints.

Drying Times for a Variety of Auto Paints

Earlier, we discussed how the type of paint used would affect how long it would take for the paint on a car to cure. This article will educate you on the five distinct categories of paint available today.

Acrylic Urethane

A common reliable car paint for automobiles.

When compared to other water-based paints for automobiles, acrylic urethane cures the quickest. Full dry in 60 minutes. In addition to its durability, this paint does not require frequent touch-ups.


Some of the many benefits of urethane are its speedy drying time, resilience to fading, and long lifespan. Drying time is rather short at only four to six hours. Yet, when working with urethane paint, it’s important to wear safety equipment like respirators.

Acrylic Lacquer

A common reliable car paint for automobiles.

Many people like the shiny look of acrylic lacquer. Its aesthetic appeal is only one of the many reasons for its widespread adoption. This form of paint just takes an hour to dry after application and it is very user-friendly.

However, to achieve the desired level of glossiness, you may need to apply an additional layer, which will lengthen the drying time. While the surface is attractive, it is not durable and will chip easily despite its high quality.

Acrylic Enamel

Automobile owners tend to prefer acrylic enamel due to the paint’s aesthetically pleasing appearance and long-lasting sturdiness. It would also create a sturdy covering when coated on a vehicle’s exterior. We can divide acrylic enamel into two distinct categories, depending on if the foundation coat and transparent coat are applied together or separately. 

The drying time for the solitary acrylic enamel is between one and six hours because the two coats are combined in the same container. However, the two-stage variety needs to dry for around 48 hours after application.

Aerosol Paint

A close up photo of a man using a spray paint gun to paint a car.

The last paint automobile owners can opt for is spray paint because it goes on quickly and requires little effort to maintain the vehicle’s original appearance. Drying time is on the order of 20 to 40 minutes, give or take depending on the paint brand and the number of coats you put on.

It’s also a plus that it doesn’t break the bank. The problem is that it doesn’t hold up very well over time.

What Affects the Drying Time of Automobile Paint?

Here are the factors that affect car paint drying time:

The Type of Paint

A car painter painting a car using a spray painting gun.

The drying time of auto paint can get affected by several factors, including the paint’s kind, whether it’s 2K or 1K, and the weather. Two-component paint, or 2K paint, is strengthened by an activator.

This style is best suited for professional applications and outdoor hardware. Drying it, however, requires a chemical change, which adds extra work and time to the process. Instead, you can use a 1K paint, which only requires one component. Additionally, it is easy to dry because it may be air dried at ambient temperature.


Dry, fair weather is ideal for the painting project. This will give you enough time to paint the car and let it dry before the deadline. However, it may be postponed if rainy conditions persist.


A car painter painting a car inside a car painting ventilated and protected room.

In addition to adequate ventilation, the area should be adequately protected. If not, the drying process may be prolonged.


Fast drying paint can be achieved at room temperature. A slower drying time could be expected at lower temperatures.


In addition, there must be adequate humidity. Cars should be painted when the relative humidity is between 40 and 60 percent.

Varying Coating Thickness

A thick coated car paint being checked by the car owner.

In this context, “coatings” refers to the total number used on the vehicle. The longer it took for paint to dry after multiple coats were applied.

Constructed Elements

If you use high-quality tools and equipment (sandpaper with grits of 1200 and 2000, protective eyewear, and so on), you might finish the painting quickly and let it dry without damaging the surface.

Vehicle Dimensions

It may take less time for a smaller vehicle to dry entirely. As a rule, a longer time is needed for a larger vehicle.

Keep Away From Wetness

A fresh coat of paint is vulnerable to rain. You should try to keep from painting your automobile when it’s raining or looks like it might rain. It is recommended to wait 50-60 minutes after painting an automobile before it rains to minimize damage. 

If it were to rain before the paint was fully dry, some of it might be washed away. In addition, it can leave water streaks after it rains if not cleaned immediately. Additionally, if rainwater is contaminated with pollutants, it will do much more harm to the paintwork.

Distinguishing Drying from Curing

A car part being cured and dried up after given a thick coated paint.

This article will not only help you comprehend the drying process but will also explain the distinction between drying and curing, two processes that are sometimes mistaken for one another.

Automobile paint, once it has cured, has a smooth, velvety texture. Drying out, or curing is the process through which paint loses its residual moisture and begins to harden, reducing the paint’s pliability.

Automotive paint needs at least 24 hours to fully cure. Curing a car is necessary before it can be driven again.

Knowing how long automobile paint takes to dry is just as important as knowing how to apply paint correctly for the best results. Knowledge of the aforementioned is useful whether you need to just fix the car’s bumper or the whole car.

Is There Any Way to Reduce Paint Drying Time?

I know you all want to speed up the paint drying process, so here’s how:

Maintain a Steady Temperature in the Booth

A car being dried up using an infrared car dryer.

A common misconception is that raising the temperature will hasten the drying of any given liquid. Painting, however, might suffer from excessive heat. Dry coatings result from spraying in a too-hot booth, which can lead to flaws. The optimal spraying temperature is between 78 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

Drying durations might also be lengthened by chilly weather. Paint can also have trouble adhering to the car’s surface if it’s been exposed to this. Paints that use solvents degrade quickly in the cold.

Reduce Indoor Relative Humidity

Humidity, as is to be expected, might slow down the drying process. Dripping of water-based paints is a common problem associated with this phenomenon. As the paint dries, humidity might cause an increase in the contamination from dust.

Use a Hair Dryer

Running the full heating system for a tiny paint job, like a vehicle bumper or motorbike item, is common mistake shops do. If you’re using water-based paint and need to speed up the drying process for smaller areas, a handheld dryer is a great tool to have on hand. These can be utilized independently or in conjunction with the heating system to facilitate the completion of tasks more quickly.

However, a hand-held dryer is not advised when working with paints that include solvents. Solvents have a tendency to dry up and seep through the coatings when held at high temperatures, leading to paint flaws.

Put in the Xcelerator

Think about setting up the Xcelerator if you want to drastically reduce the drying time of your paint job. Water-based paints can be dried in a fraction of the time. Long drying times might allow the paint to peel, thus flash time is crucial. Taking off the tape as well as moving on to the next phase in the painting process is facilitated by the rapid drying time of waterborne paint. 

Painting More Cars Per Day

A new metallic painted automobile.

To increase the number of vehicles you can paint in a day, you should take a look at your current paint booth setup. An auto body shop can often finish four to six paint jobs per day using a single booth. If your business isn’t functioning up to par, installing an update to your paint booth, like the Xcelerator, could help. On the other hand, a total replacement may be required.

Additionally, if the booth is completing a respectable number of works daily, but your company has recently experienced a surge in demand, you may want to think about adding a second or perhaps a third booth.