How Long Does Car Paint Take to Dry? – Average Time

Written by

Bruce Sonnier


Marcus Dutton

how long does car paint take to dry

How long does car paint take to dry? There’s not one exact duration. It depends on the car touch up paint and other factors, which will be discussed in this article. So read on before sanding and applying colors to allow your vehicle to dry perfectly and damage-free.

Different Car Paints and Their Different Drying Times


As mentioned earlier, car paint drying time would depend on the paint type. There are five different paint types and you can learn about them below.

  • Acrylic Urethane

Acrylic urethane is a water based paint that dries the fastest among all the car paint options. The time it takes for it to completely dry is 60 minutes. This type of paint is also long-lasting without frequent retouching.

  • Urethane

Quick-drying, resistance to fading, and durability are some of urethane’s favorable characteristics. In terms of drying time, it would take about four to six hours, which is not very long. However, handling urethane paint requires protective gear like respirators.

  • Acrylic Lacquer

Acrylic Lacquer has a glossy finish favored by many. Apart from its aesthetic, it’s also popular for ease of application and quick drying. This easy-to-apply paint type only takes an hour to dry.

Applying an extra coat of it might be necessary to make your car as glossy as you wish, though, and the added coating would entail an increase in drying time.

However, while it has an admirable aesthetic finish, it falls short in resilience, as it’s not long-lasting and would easily chip.

  • Acrylic Enamel

Favored for its appealing look and long-lasting durability, acrylic enamel is a popular paint type among car owners. When applied to a car’s body, it would also form a tough coating over it.

There are two types of acrylic enamel, and they differ based on whether the base coat and clear coat are combined or separated. For the single-stage acrylic enamel, in which the two coats are mixed, drying requires one to six hours.

The two-stage type, however, requires about 48 hours after application to dry.

  • Spray Paint

Spray paint is the quickest and easiest to apply, which is another good option for the less patient car owners. The time it takes to dry is usually around 20 to 40 minutes, but it can also vary among paint brands and the number of layers applied.

Its inexpensiveness is also one of its advantages. But one disadvantage to it is that it’s not so durable.

Factors That Can Affect Car Paint Drying Time


There are a couple of other factors that can affect the drying time, which you can find below. Keep them in mind to use them to your advantage.

  • 2K Paint or 1K Paint

Apart from the car paint type, whether the paint is 2K or 1K is also another factor that can determine the drying time. A 2K paint is a two-component paint, meaning it needs the reinforcement of an activator.

This type is suited for exterior components and professional use. However, it has to be dried with the use of a chemical reaction, which makes drying more effortful and longer.

A 1K paint, on the other hand, is a one-component paint. Also, it can dry simply by air drying at room temperature, which makes it easier to dry.

  • Weather

The best weather to do the paint job would be fair, dry weather. This will allow you to finish and dry the car painting on time. Rainy weather, on the other hand, can delay it.

  • Environment

The environment should be well-protected and have good ventilation. Otherwise, the drying could take longer.

  • Temperature

The best temperature for a fast paint drying would be room temperature. Under a low temperature, the drying would take longer.

  • Humidity

Humidity is necessary as well. The right humidity for car painting is 40-60% of the surrounding air.

  • Thickness of Coating

This means the number of coatings applied to the car. The more coatings applied, the longer the paint would dry.

  • Materials Used

The use of the proper painting materials (like 1200 and 2000-grit sandpaper, safety glasses and masks, etc), especially those of good quality, would allow you to get the paint done and dry as soon as possible.

  • Car Size

For a smaller car, it can take faster to completely dry. While for a larger car, it would normally take longer.

Stay Away From the Rain

Rain can damage a new paint job. So as much as possible, avoid painting your car when it’s raining or it seems like it’s going to rain soon. For minimum damage, car paint need to dry before rain for about 50-60 minutes.

If by chance it rained and the paint hasn’t completely dried yet, a bit of paint would get washed off the surface. Moreover, it can leave water spots after rain if not wiped off immediately. And it would be worse if pollutants are present in the rainwater, which would do more damage to the paintwork.

The Difference Between Drying and Curing

For you to have a clear understanding of paint drying, this article will also delve into the difference between drying and curing, which is often confused for the same thing.

When automotive paint is dried, it feels soft to touch. That softness would diminish when residual moisture in the paint evaporates from the surface and the paint starts to harden, which is the process called curing.

Car paint cure time usually takes 24 hours. And only after a car is cured would it be safe to drive on the road.


Getting the best car paint results is not just about how to apply paint properly but also how long does car paint take to dry. Whether you’re just dealing with repairs on a car bumper or your entire car, it’s important to know the information above. Thank you for reading!

Related: Best time to wash car after a paint job

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