How Long Does Latex Paint Take To Dry?


There are a lot of good reasons to apply a fresh coat of paint to your home's interior and exterior. Maybe it's time to reapply paint to cover up nicks and scratches, or maybe you're ready to change the look of one of your rooms. Painting can also be one of the best ways to spruce your home up before listing it on the market for sale.

If you're planning on taking on a DIY project and painting your home this season, you're likely thinking about using latex paint because of its numerous advantages.

While latex paint is known for drying a lot faster than oil-based paint, it's important to understand that there are a number of different factors that can impact latex paint drying time. In order to have your paint job look its best, you'll want to learn about latex paint drying time before beginning your project.

Let's dive in and take a look at everything you need to know about painting with latex paint.

Latex Paint Drying Time

Latex paint dries extremely fast compared to oil-based paints. This is one of the advantages of using latex paint rather than oil-based paints.

If you are painting in a well-ventilated room, you will notice that latex paint appears to dry within only a few minutes of application. However, it is actually only superficially dry at this point. The paint will still be fragile until it cures, meaning that it won't be able to withstand rigorous wear for a number of weeks.

You will be able to apply additional coats of paint within only a few hours after the surface it superficially dry. However, at this point, the paint will still be vulnerable to damage from washing, wiping, or exposure to chemicals or water.

Latex Paint Curing Time

In addition to drying, there is also a process known as curing. This is one of the solid components of latex paint that make contact and adhere to one another. When your painted surface has fully cured, you will be able to wash or wipe the surface without worrying that you will cause damage.

At this time, the paint will also be much less vulnerable to damage from chemicals or water.

The curing process takes a relatively long time. Your paint will still be curing for a while after the painted surface feels dry to the touch.

In the most ideal of conditions, it will take roughly 2 weeks for your latex paint to cure enough that you can safely wash it. In conditions that are less than ideal, it might take up to a month for your painted surface to fully cure.

As a quick note, you will want to be aware of the risks associated with homes that have lead paint. You will want to take extra precautions if you are repainting a home that has lead paint and might want to consider hiring a professional to deal with the task. Take a look at this lead paint safety field guide from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to learn more.

Factors That Can Affect Latex Paint Drying Time

There are a number of different factors that impact the drying and curing time of latex paint. These include ventilation, humidity, and temperature.

If you are painting in an environment that is poorly ventilated, humid, or cool, the drying time will be slower. This is because the rate at which water evaporates from the paint decreases.


The general rule of thumb is that you will have to wait roughly 6 hours before applying a second coat of paint when it is 50°F. If the temperature is too low, it can also prevent the paint from properly curing. In general, you should refrain from applying latex paint if it is less than 50°, though some paints are able to cure when the temperature is as low as 40°.

If you are painting an interior space that has air conditioning, it is a good idea to set the thermostat to maintain a desirable temperature. If the painting job is outdoors, you will want to find a window of time where the temperature will be stable between 50 and 85°F.


The more humid that a room is the longer it will take for your paint to dry. This is because the drying process involves water evaporating from the paint. The water content of your latex paint will not be able to evaporate as easily if the humidity is high.

It would be most ideal for the room you are painting to have 50% humidity or lower. This will lend itself to the fastest drying time. If you are painting a humid space, you might want to use a dehumidifier to help the paint dry efficiently.

If you are going to be painting an exterior surface, it is a good idea to try and time this project for when there will be several days of dry weather in a row.

(Are you wondering how to find the best exterior home painting company? If so, check out this article.)


It will also take longer for your paint to dry if you are unable to provide proper ventilation. It is best to keep windows open if possible when you are painting, as this encourages evaporation and curing. Using window-mounted box fans can also help keep the space ventilated and help to exhaust vapors from the area that you are working.

The Type of Surface You Are Painting

The drying time can also be impacted by the type of surface you are painting. For example, it will likely take a shorter amount of time to dry if you are painting a raw wood surface than a previously painted surface. If you choose to cover an oil-based paint with latex (or vice versa) then it might take even longer for the paint to dry.

The Application Method You Are Using

Another factor that impacts drying and curing time is the application method you are using. As you might imagine, thick, heavy coats of paint will take longer to dry than thin coats.

For this reason, it is best to use a paint roller to apply the paint rather than a brush in order to keep your drying times as short as possible. It is worth it to take care to evenly apply each coat in order to avoid runny streaks or inconsistent edges.

When you use a brush to apply paint, it usually results in thicker coats of paint. This means it can take quite a bit longer for your paint to dry.

(Are you hiring an interior painting service to spruce up the inside of your home? If so, there are a number of things you can do in order to prepare for their arrival. Take a look at this handy guide so you can be all set when the painters show up.)

Advantages of Using Latex Paint

There are a number of reasons why using latex paint is superior to using oil-based paint. For example, latex paint:

  • Is easy to use and apply
  • Is easy to clean up due to the fact that it is water-based
  • Is non-flammable
  • Dries faster than oil-based paints
  • Has less volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
  • Leads to less peeling and cracking

Latex paint is a great choice if you're looking for a paint that had better long-haul adaptability. This means that you have greater protection from chipping and breaking. Latex paint is also typically quite a bit less expensive than oil-based paint and is also considered an environmentally friendly option.

(When it comes to paint options, there can be so many different choices it can get overwhelming. One thing you might not think about right away is which sheen you are going to choose for your project. Check out this guide to help you pick the perfect sheen for the room you are painting.)

Painting With Latex Paint: Tips and Tricks

Painting with latex paint can be much more convenient than using oil-based paints. However, there are still a number of things you'll want to do to ensure that your paint job ends up looking pro when it's all said and done.

1. Don't Leave Painters Tape on Too Long

When you have finished your final coat, you'll want to remove your painter's tape about two to three hours later. Removing the tape too early or too late can leave you with some of your freshly applied paint removed.

2. You'll Need to Prime the Surface if You're Covering Oil-Based Paint With Latex Paint

It's important to be considerate of the surface that you are painting and whether or not you need to prepare the surface in order to get the best result. For example, you can't cover a high-gloss finish with a flat finish unless you use a de-glosser or sand the wall lightly first. Similarly, you will need to correctly prime your surface first if you are using latex paint to cover oil-based paint.

3. Don't Skimp on Paint

The general rule of thumb is that a gallon of paint will cover 350 to 400 square feet. It can be tempting to try and save money by skimping on paint, but it's worth it to make sure you have plenty to go around.

4. Don't Oversaturate

If you are using a roller to apply paint and paint is dripping off of it, then you have too much paint. If you are using a brush, you will want to only dip the first third of the bristles into the paint before lightly tapping the brush side-to-side in order to get rid of excess paint.

5. Don't Clean Latex Brushes in a Sink That Drains Into a Septic Tank

When it's time to clean up after a hard day's work, you might not think twice about cleaning your brushes in your household sink. However, if your sink drains into a septic tank, you'll want to find another method for cleaning your tools. THis is because the residue from latex can lead to issues with your septic system, which is likely the last thing you want.

6. Keep Your Brushes From Drying Out When You Take a Break

It's great that latex paint dries fast, but this can actually cause issues for your brushes. When you're taking a break, put your brushes in a plastic zippered bag. This will help keep them from drying out.

Are You Looking to Hire Professional Painters?

As you can see, there are a number of different factors to take into account when determining the drying time of latex paint. Ensuring that you wait long enough in between coats will help make sure that your paint job looks as professional as possible when you are finished.

While painting can be a fun DIY project, it can also be a big hassle. If you aren't interested in dealing with the time and the learning curve when it comes to painting your own home, consider hiring professionals for the job. You'll find that professional painters are able to provide a professional outcome in a much shorter span of time because of the accumulated experience they have.

At Harman Custom Painting, we specialize in residential painting jobs. We have 30 years of experience in this industry and are dedicated to providing our customers with professional services to help your home look crisp and clean.

Whether you are looking to have the interior of your home painted or the exterior, we are here to provide you with best-in-class service.

If it's time for you to find the best house painters in the Venice, Florida area, you've come to the right place. You can contact us today to discuss your project and receive a free quote.