Acrylic Painting Tip – How Long do Acrylic Paints Take to Dry?

We receive a great deal of questions each month from our visitors and subscribers.  One of the more frequently asked questions is “How long does acrylic paint take to dry?”.  It is impossible to give an exact time as drying time depends on several factors:  brand of paint being used, the support it is applied to, humidity levels, thickness of the paint application, just to name a few.

It is important to note that acrylic paint has a two stage drying process.  The first stage happens relatively fast.  This is when a skin forms on the surface of the paint layer and it becomes “dry to the touch”.  This is a result of the water within the paint evaporating or being absorbed by the substrate.  With a thin layer, the paint can dry to the touch within seconds. Thicker applications can take a day or more to dry.

The second stage is when the entire thickness of the paint is fully dry.  This is when all of the water and solvent within the paint are gone.  This is also known as “curing”.  This second stage is very important because this is when the various characteristics of acrylic paint really shine,  like adhesion and hardness for instance.  For thin applications it could take several days. Thicker applications may take months or even years to dry completely.

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