How Long Does It Take for Oil-Based Paint to Dry?


There’s a reason why the paint manufacturing industry is worth an estimated $25.3 billion. An attractive layer of paint is an affordable way to improve any interior or exterior space.

One of the first considerations you need to take into account is the type of paint. Oil-based paints are preferred by many people over latex paint due to its higher durability. But exactly how long does it take an oil-based paint to dry?

This is one of the first questions that new painters usually ask. It’s an important question regardless of whether you paint yourself or hire a professional. But, the answer is more complex than you might think.

In this guide, we’ll answer all your questions related to painting dry time. Let’s get started!

What Is Oil-Based Paint?

Before we begin it’s important to first understand what oil paint is and how it differs from other products. There are three popular types of paint. The first is known as latex paint.

This type of product is easy for newcomers to work with and it dries quickly. However, it’s not very tough and it peels easily. This is because it’s a water-based paint. Next is acrylic paint.

Instead of water, this type of paint uses chemical resin. These chemicals allow it to adapt to extreme temperatures well, which makes it ideal for exterior weather. The last type of paint is oil-based.

As its name suggests this product is mixed with oils. These types of oils can be either natural or synthetic. Typically companies will go with synthetic oil since it stays on longer and is cheaper.

However, it also takes a long time to dry when compared to the other two. Exactly how long? Let’s find out.

How Long Does Oil-Based Paint Take to Dry? The Quick Answer

As you will see in the next section, answering this question is no easy job. That’s because it relies on a lot of factors that can increase or decrease the time. If you’re in a hurry, then we’ll give you the quick version.

Oil-based paints usually take between six to eight hours to dry. After this period, you should be able to safely apply a second coat. However, it takes a lot longer for the paint to fully cure. This curing process can take up to a week.

The Factors That Affect How Paint Dries

Keep in mind that the dry time we gave you is only an estimate. In reality, there are a lot of different factors that can affect the time frame.

Some of these, like the paint type and application method, you can control. Others, like the weather and humidity, you can’t. In this section, we’ll go over all of them so you know what to keep in mind.

The Type of Paint Used

Different paint types have different dry times. So, if you go with oil-based paint, then you can expect a minimum of eight to six-hour dry time. Acrylic and latex paint dry much faster.

On the quicker side of the spectrum, these types can dry within thirty minutes. More typically it takes between two to three hours, especially if you’re using a thick layer of paint.

However, keep in mind that these types of paint take much longer to officially cure. This process can take up to thirty days.

The Method of Application

The way you paint also affects the dry time. Paintbrushes typically take the longest to dry. This is because it’s easy to paint thick globs of paint when using a brush. Rollers also have a longer dry time, though it’s usually easier to get an even surface.

If you want the most efficient way to paint, then get a spray gun. This type of method covers easily, and it dries fast. We also recommend multiple thin layers whenever you paint. A thick layer can build up and waste paint.

The Air Temperature

The air temperature outside is a big factor in determining oil-based dry time. It’s a lot harder for the paint to dry in colder weather than warm weather. If the temperature drops to sixty degrees Fahrenheit, or lower, then it will slow down.

The lower the temperature goes, the longer it will take to dry. If the temperature drops to below freezing, then it’s very likely that the paint won’t dry properly at all. As such, we recommend painting during the summer, or warm weather, if you can help it.

The Humidity

Humidity occurs when there is a lot of moisture in the air. An extremely humid day can occur after a rainstorm. It’s also commonplace for people living near large bodies of water in the summer.

Paint needs sunlight to dry quickly since this evaporates the liquid in the substance. So, on rainy or humid days you can expect a lot longer dry time. Oil-based paint can take twenty-four hours or longer to dry on a particularly wet day.

As such, you should check ahead before trying to paint, especially for exterior projects. You find the humidity levels in your area by checking the weather channel or calculating them yourself.

The Ventilation Found in the Room

A good breeze is the second most important factor in drying, besides light. The wind from drafts or open windows can help the liquid on the surface of paint evaporate. As such, you should always paint in a well-ventilated room.

However, quick-drying time isn’t the only reason you should look for ventilation. The fumes found in many types of paint can make people sick if they’re around them in an enclosed space.

So, open some windows if you’re painting indoors. Otherwise, you could hurt yourself.

The Pigment Found in the Color

Did you know that even the type of color you use can determine your paints dry time? The process can be explained by exploring color science. As Rochester Institute of Technology explains, the colors that absorb the most light are the ones that can dry faster.

When light enters paint it causes the liquid molecules to heat up. This causes the liquid to evaporate off the surface it was painted on. So what color pigments cause the liquid molecules to heat up quicker?

Black or dark colors typically absorb more light than white, pale shades. Think about when you wear a black shirt on a sunny day.

The shirt absorbs heat which can cause you to overheat. However, it’s important to remember that light is the main variable here. If you remove a light source and let your paint dry in a dark room, then all colors will dry at the same speed.

The Type of Oil Used in the Paint

As we mentioned before, there are both synthetic and natural oils found in oil-based paints. The type you get depends on the brand, so make sure you look it up if you want a specific type.

The most popular type of chemical used in oil paint is an alkyd resin. When this chemical interacts with the oil, it greatly speeds up the drying process. It’s also affordable and durable, which makes it a bestseller.

However, there are also plenty of natural routes to go down too. The most popular types of oil used in the painting are poppy seed oil, safflower oil, and linseed oil. Of these natural oils, poppy seed is the slowest drying one. The fastest one is linseed oil.

Other Oil-Based Paints FAQs

Painting with oil-based paints can be intimidating when doing it for the first time. If you’re new to painting, then you may have a lot more questions about issues surrounding drying and painting.

In this section, we’ll go over some of the popular ones. If knowing the answers to all these questions seems intimidating, then go with a pro instead. Here are a couple of things to expect if you go this route.

Is It Possible to Speed up the Drying Process of Oil-Based Paints?

Let’s say you’re in a hurry to get a lot of different coats down in a short amount of time. Is there anything you can do to make the paint dry more quickly. The best method is to thin out your oil-paint.

These are typically odorless solvents that significantly speed up your paint drying time. Some people will put down the first layer of oil-based paint that’s been mixed down to a water-like consistency with thinner.

This first layer dries incredibly quickly. Then, the second layer will be untouched oil paint. They then let this second layer dry naturally.

What’s the Difference Between Set Time and Dry Time?

Many new painters confuse a paint’s dry time with its set, or cure, time. After six to eight hours, you may notice that your painted wall is dry to the touch. However, this doesn’t mean that it’s completely set.

This can take a week or longer, depending on how many coats you put on to it. During the paint’s set time, it’s more vulnerable to damage. As such, you should keep furniture from pressing against the wall.

Otherwise, you might end up with unattractive scuffs or scratches in the paint. Also, keep in mind that cure times vary depending on the type of paint you use. Oil paint sets fairly fast, while water-based ones take a good deal longer.

How Many Coats of Paint Do the Walls Need?

Two coats of paint are usually agreed upon as the correct amount. However, this number can depend on the type of paint you use and your method of application. If it looks like it needs a third coat, then you may want to go over it again.

We recommend going over the interior or exterior with two coats. However, once it’s dried you should plan on going back over it for some touch-ups. Look for thin areas that aren’t completely covered and refill them in.

What’s the Best Season for Painting?

Generally, late spring or early fall are the best times to rain. Dry days during the Summer are also good, but some areas can have a lot of humidity when the weather gets warmer. Ultimately, it comes down to the climate you live in.

For example, if you live in California, then you can probably even paint during a warm day in Winter. If you live in an area that has humidity throughout the entire year, then wait for one or two dry days before attempting it.

Can I Paint Over Wallpaper?

Many newcomers think that they can paint directly over their home’s old wallpaper. However, this is a big mistake that can cause lots of problems later on down the road. The biggest reason you should paint over wallpaper is it can damage the walls.

It also leaves behind noticeable bumps and seems that you may find them unsightly. If you want to find out more about the dangers of painting over wallpaper (and how to remove it), then check out our in-depth guide.

Want the Pros to Handle Painting Your Property? Get in Touch With Harman Custom Painting

We hope this guide helped you find out how long it takes oil-based paint to dry. As you can see, there are a lot of considerations to take into account. If all the work and decisions stress you out, then considering hiring a professional.

A pro painting team can often do a more attractive job in a quicker amount of time. But, they need to be credible. So, how do you find a company that you can trust? If you live in the Venice, Florida area, then look no further than Harman Custom Painting.

We’ve been in this industry for nearly three decades. This gives our company a level of expertise that you won’t find anywhere else. If you need any part of your property painted, then contact us today.