How Long Does It Take For Car Paint To Dry

You may not be thinking of getting your car painted all over with a new coat of auto paint, yet there are still times you may want to paint some areas. Perhaps you’ve had a new gas tank lid, and you want it to match, or you have repaired a scratch or rust patch on a body panel, and you need it to blend with the rest of your paintwork.

Or, you are going all in and giving your car a new paint job to hide all the scratches car washes put on the paint surface. Giving your car a new coat of paint can be a fun task when everything goes right.

However, there are some things to consider when you decide to use automotive paint, and that is how long for car paint to dry? It isn’t a one-shot answer, as different paints have different drying times. One example is Acrylic urethane, water-based paint that is among the quickest drying of all car paints you can find. (Learn How Long Does Behr Paint Take To Dry)

car paint

In our guide, you can get a better understanding of how long does it take to paint a car? You’ll also see what things can affect drying time, such as high humidity in rainy weather or applying thin layers that speed up the drying process.

To top this, you’ll also see how good ventilation affects the time paint takes to dry, and also your car paint cure time, so you’ll know when you can start using your car again.

How Long After A Car Is Painted Can You Drive It?

Car paints are completely dry at different times. However, normal environmental circumstances, including humidity, dryness, wind speed, etc., mean it can take 30-90 minutes for standard car paint to dry.

The actual drying time depends on the type of car paints you’ll use and also the car size you have covered in one go.


Urethane is the car paint that successfully replaced acrylic paint as the top choice.

It resists fading for at least 10-years under normal conditions and is highly resistant to chipping.

Urethane paints offer a quick drying time, typically between 4-6 hours.

Urethane is a top choice, yet, it can be one of the most complex car paints to paint by hand.

You’d often have professionals spray paint your car with this paint. In addition, you can find aliphatic polyurethane, a type of urethane paint, which they have prohibited in some states. So, you’ll need to check before using this type of urethane paint.

Acrylic Lacquer

Acrylic lacquer was the original car paint and a car owner’s only option.

Classic automobiles have this glossy paint, yet these glossy surfaces fade quickly and are prone to chips.

Other drawbacks of acrylic lacquer include its drying time, which is 1 hour for partial drying and 24 hours for complete drying.

However, when using this paint, it is the most accessible paint to handle manually, so it could be the best option for touch-up jobs you can do at home.

Acrylic Enamel

Acrylic enamel, like urethane, is a long-lasting car paint that forms a solid and hard layer over the car’s body, regardless of the material.

It is divided into two types: single-stage and two-stage.

The base coat and clear coat are combined in a single-stage application. As a result, a single coat of paint would suffice.

Two-stage painting needs two coats of paint, one for the base coat and the other for the clear coat.

The drying time for single-stage acrylic enamel is between 1-6 hours for partial drying and takes 24 hours for full drying.

After applying a second clear coat, however, the drying time of the spray paint is 48 hours. (Learn How To Get Paint Off Of Concrete)

Acrylic Urethane

To cover the shortfalls of the above paints, manufacturers developed acrylic urethane. But, how long does this paint take to dry? As with other car paints, there are things to know.

  • It’s not only simple to apply by hand but will completely dry fast without a fan.
  • It has a catalyst that enables it to bond to the car’s body.
  • It takes around 60 minutes to dry completely, including the baking time.

Other things that can affect the drying process are:

  • The thickness of the paint and the number of coats applied mean you have a longer curing time.
  • Lowering the temperature reduces the speed of paint curing and vice versa.
  • Humidity, or moisture in the air acceptable for car paints, is around 40 and 60 percent.

rain on car paint

Will Rain Hurt A Freshly Painted Car?

Rain can be one thing that ruins your new car paint job. Chances of overall rain damage are slim, yet if you have paint you have done outside, the addition of water can make it dry slower, and you have the potential of paint runs or paint spots you can’t get rid of.

According to research, standard car paint should be left to dry for at least 45-60 minutes before being exposed to rain to ensure minimum damage.

To put it another way, if you’ve applied two coatings, ensure the first coating has completely dried and the second coating is partially dry.

How Do I Make My Car Paint Dry Faster?

If you want to dry a newly painted car quickly, follow a few techniques to accomplish this.

Apply a thin layer of paint to your car. If you are doing a touch-up only, apply a thin layer of paint rather than a thick coat. Thin paints dry and cure faster.

You can’t find many car paints in a thin consistency unless you are using spray paint cans. You’ll need to add an appropriate solvent to thin the paint in a spray gun.

You Need Good ventilation

Make sure your freshly painted car has adequate airflow. Make sure the location where you’ve parked your car has enough windows or fans to speed up the drying process.

Increase temperature

Increasing the temperature surrounding the car is also a quick way to dry car paint quickly.

As the temperature rises, the drying process shortens without altering the product’s properties.

If you can’t do this naturally, you can use a heater around your car and leave it like this for 30-50 minutes.

Lower humidity

When the air is humid, it is difficult to dry your fresh coat of car paint.

Humidity slows the reaction rate and prevents solvents from evaporating from the paint.

You can use a dehumidifier to counteract this, although you’ll need an enclosed area where you are painting. (Read Can You Spray Paint Cardboard)

spray painting

Spray painting

If you need paint to dry quickly, spray painting is the fastest and takes the least effort. You’ll find paint quickly dries, and the extent of your effort is taping around the rear windows, windshield, and door handles and masking these off, so there is no overspray.

If you settle for spraying, here are the basic steps to accomplish this task.

Prep Your Car:

  1. To begin, apply the primer. A light primer is recommended for light paint colors, while a dark primer is recommended for dark paint colors.
  2. For that, you’ll need roughly 2-3 quarts of primer.
  3. Remove the vehicle’s trunk, hood, rubber gasket, reflectors, gas tank lid, lights, and license plate.
  4. Cover side windows, rear windows, windshields, mirrors, engine bay, door handles, and other areas with tape, paper, or plastic sheets.
  5. Following the priming, use a grease remover and soap to remove the dirt, oil, and grease to get your car clean.
  6. After that, sand using 300-400 grit paper.
  7. Use a suitable filler to fix any dents or holes.


  1. To begin painting, dilute your car’s paint with around 1 quart of acetone to achieve a water-like consistency.
  2. Stir and shake the solution thoroughly.
  3. Apply the mixture to the car using a 4-inch broad foam paint roller.
  4. Remember to sand in between the layers for improved adhesion and appearance.
  5. The car painting will require several coats for best results, possibly up to ten.

Note that it is much easier spray painting than using any other methods. However, not everyone has a spray gun or has the skills to use one.


The entire cure and painting and preparation time will take a full day or longer.

After applying the first coat of primer, you must wait 15 minutes before applying the second coat.

After applying the paint, you’ll need to wait 30-90 minutes before applying the second coat.

Car owners may think paint brands offer quicker drying time; however, this isn’t the case. Instead, much of the car paint drying time comes from coating mixture and layer thickness.

How Long Does Car Paint Last?

If you need to know how long car paint takes to dry and last, it’s 10-15 years on average for a few hours of work.

How Long Does It Take for The Clear Coat To Dry?

That is a common question, even if there are so many answers. For example, when some people or experts say it takes about a day or two to dry the clear coat, some even debate extending the period up to one or even a few months compared to car paint drying time.

If all the factors are in a normal condition, your clear coat application will dry up in a day or two.

How Long Does It Take For Car Paint To Dry (1)

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