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Spray Paint Drying Answered

I'm hoping someone here knows something about spray paint. Specifically why some spray paints seem to take forever and a day to dry.

In the attached picture the paint on the left (Metallic) dried quickly, within about 45 minutes whereas the paint on the right (Gloss Protective Enamel) is still so wet at 24 hours that I can scratch it with my thumb nail.

FYI, I used both paints, one right after the other, on the same kind of metal.

So if someone could let me know why some paints dry slower than others and which kind of paints to avoid if I'm in any sort or a rush I would be most appreciative.


6 Replies

ezarate (author)2012-04-14

your not using it right, extremely light coats every time you spray, each coat should dry in less than 5min.

the thicker coats should dry in 20min.

if you do a first thick coat it will never dray and may crack.

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Thrasym (author)ezarate2012-04-15

I'm surprised no one has said to simply read the instructions. They tell you how long it takes to dry/cure.

A note on thinner coats, if you need a thick coat of paint/clear protection, several thin coats tend to dry faster than a single thick coat would, and thin doesn't sag and drip. So going thicker doesn't save time when you're in a hurry.

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Goodhart (author)2009-11-14
Paints with solvents that evaporate quickly, tend to "cure" more quickly.  But the fumes are not so healthy.   Paints that are water soluble or oil based take longer (water takes longer to dry,  and oil based paints do NOT dry, but cure i.e. harden over time exposed to O2).   This is an oversimplification, but should be adequate unless you need more detail.  

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seandogue (author)2009-11-14

I've found that I can significantly reduce the drying rate by using a fan and/or heater to keep fresh warm air flowing over the painted surface, and also by using multiple coats using thinner layers of paint.. I routinely use a fan when I'm onion-skinning storm windows  (multiple thin layers of paint) and can often get 8 or ten layers done in a day that way.

Also, as I recall, enamel dries slower than other paints.


1. use thinner coats. thick coats impede drying, since once they skin, the material below has to diffuse the volatiles rather than simply disperse them using evaporation.

2. Use a fan and or heater to speed evaporation rate

3. remember that some paints take longer to dry.

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lemonie (author)2009-11-05

Make sure it's very thoroughly shaken before spraying.


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caitlinsdad (author)2009-11-04

I'm taking a guess from experience, you could really look this up but the metallic paint is probably fine metal dust that is in a clear laquer or carrier that just "glues" it down to the surface.  There is not much to evaporate or cure off.  With your gloss, the clear shell gloss needs to cure and harden to give you a wear layer.  Pigment is suspended in that making it take longer to cure.  Enamel does take a while to dry depending on the thickness of the coat and the relative humidy and temperature where you are letting things dry.  Nothing worse than trying to get a nice paint finish and you put your fingerprints in the gloss paint trying to see if it is dry.

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