Humidity and temperature are the two main factors that make acrylic paint dry slower or faster. So, you should keep the paint in a dry and warm room where the humidity is low, as it will help the liquid base of the paint evaporate faster.
Another way is to increase the room temperature with a heater or direct a hair dryer toward the paint so that the hot air makes it dry faster.
While painting, you should choose fast-drying acrylics and add thinner layers of paint. Finally, mix a water-based medium with the paint instead of an oil-based one for faster drying.
Let’s get into the details and find out how to make acrylic paint dry faster on different surfaces.
How Long Does Acrylic Paint Take to Dry and Cure?
The drying and curing process of acrylic paint is simple: you select an area with sufficient airflow and maintain proper temperature and humidity. Place the wet paint in that area and give it sufficient time for drying and curing.
To dry and cure acrylic paint, you need to maintain-
- Temperature: From 68°F to 77°F (20°C to 25°C)
- Relative humidity: 50%
- Time to dry: 1 to 2 hours
- Time to cure: 21 to 30 days
In order to check if the acrylic paint is dried, touch the painted surface and see if it feels tacky or wet. If not, the paint has dried. As for the curing test, press your fingernail against the paint. If it feels hard and no indent can be seen, the paint has cured.
Things to Consider to Make Acrylic Paint Dry Faster
Thanks to their water-based formula, acrylic paints generally dry faster than oil paints. Some factors directly control the drying time of acrylic paint, making it dry slower or faster.
As you know, moisture and humidity are the indicators of the total amount of water in the air or a surface. When it comes to drying paint, the moisture or humidity of the environment and the paint are responsible for slow or fast drying.
Low moisture or humidity indicates less water in the environment and the paint. If you store the painted object in a highly humid area that is cold and wet, the drying process will slow down.
So, choose a well-ventilated area with sufficient air and sunlight to speed up drying. Also, while working outdoors, you should avoid shady areas.
You must maintain an optimal temperature range in your studio to maintain the quality of the paint and ensure quick drying. Due to its liquid base, acrylic paint dries faster in higher temperatures.
The minimum film formation temperature or MFFT of acrylic paint is 49 degrees Fahrenheit (9 degrees Celsius).
You must not keep the room temperature below 49°F to maintain its quality and dry it well. The optimal temperature range for acrylic paints is 70-90°F (21-32°C).
As long as you maintain this range, the paint will dry fast and preserve all its properties.
Acrylic paints are highly versatile, and numerous brands have come up with their formula to meet diverse needs. Hence, some paints are very high in quality, and some need improvement.
A low-quality paint won’t spread on the surface as it becomes lumpy in places. As a result, it takes forever to dry completely.
If you store the paint in high humidity, the paint might go bad. Also, temperatures below 49°F might ruin the paint properties.
So, avoid using old and defrosted paint without testing. Also, choose the right type of acrylic paint with a thin liquid base.
Base and Additives
Although some acrylic paints are alcohol-based, most of them are water-based. Therefore, the liquid base evaporates, allowing the paint to dry fast.
However, manufacturers often add various additives to improve the paint quality and make them last long.
Such additives might cause slow drying of the paint. So, you must check the drying time before you purchase from a particular brand.
Also, many of us use mediums to thin or thicken the consistency of the paint. If the medium is too thick, it will take longer to dry.
Hence, you must avoid using a slow-drying medium and thick wetting agents.
As you might know, thick paints take longer to dry. That’s because the amount of moisture and pigments is higher in thick acrylic paint. Artists’ grade acrylics are typically thick with a high viscosity.
On the other hand, students’ grade acrylics, acrylic inks, and fluid acrylics are way thinner with low viscosity. Hence, artists’ grade thick acrylic paint will dry slower than students’ grade acrylic paint and acrylic inks.
Type of Surface
Typically, acrylic paint dries faster on porous surfaces such as wood, canvas, foam, and fabric. Yes, porous surfaces absorb more paint than non-porous surfaces like plastic, glass, and resin. But, porous surfaces don’t retain moisture for a long time.
Besides, the paint sits better on such surfaces making the application process easier for you.
SummaryHigh heat, low humidity, and proper air circulation are essential to allow acrylic paints to dry faster. You must check the paint quality, its base, and additives, as these factors also impact the drying process.
Will UV Light Dry Acrylic Paint Faster?
Yes, UV light or UV radiation can dry and cure acrylic paint within minutes! UV light is often used in industries to cure paint coatings. However, we don’t recommend using UV light to make acrylic paint dry faster as it’s harmful to the human body.
If you have a UV lamp and UV eye goggles, you might give it a try.
As a general rule, you must place the UV light source about 2 feet away from the wet acrylic paint. Wearing UV goggles is a must as UV rays can lead to a loss of vision.
Apply UV light only for a few minutes and the acrylic paint won’t take any longer to dry.
How Long Should Acrylic Paint Dry Between Coats?
If you’re applying multiple layers of acrylic paint, you must let the first layer completely dry before applying a new one. Of course, the drying time for a layer of acrylic will vary depending on the paint thickness, temperature, moisture, and airflow of the area.
However, in general, acrylic paint takes 4 to 6 hours to dry between coats. It’s best if you let the paint dry for 8 hours to make sure it doesn’t flake off while applying a new layer.
How to Make Acrylic Paint Dry Faster on Metal
So, how long does acrylic paint take to dry on metal? If you use fluid acrylic paint and apply thin layers, it will take only half an hour for drying to touch.
At the same time, heavy-body acrylics can take up to 24 hours to dry off completely.
Since metal surfaces are non-absorbent, you should alter the external factors for quicker drying.
Here’s how to make acrylic paint dry faster on metal −
Paint in a Low Humid Area
If you want your paint to dry fast, you must put the metal surface in a warm and dry area where the airflow is sufficient. While working indoors, choose a well-ventilated room with a decent temperature.
As for outdoors, work on a bright sunny day instead of a rainy, gloomy, or cold one. The lower the moisture in the air, the faster results you’ll get.
Place in Sunlight
The sun provides sufficient heat to dry acrylic paint on metal surfaces quickly. So, once you’re done with the painting, place the metal outside to dry. However, you must be careful about overheating as it might crack the paint.
Avoid placing the metal directly under the sun. It can increase the temperature of the metal, and you might end up burning yourself as a result.
How to Make Acrylic Paint Dry Faster on Canvas and Paper
While metal surfaces are non-porous, canvas and paper are porous and highly absorbent. Hence, these surfaces absorb some paint and take longer to dry.
But how long does acrylic paint take to dry on canvas and paper?
Depending on the paint quality and thickness, it can take half an hour to two hours for drying to touch.
Apply the following methods to dry acrylic paint faster on canvas and paper.
Increase Air Circulation
Acrylic paints dry by evaporation; while the liquid base of the paint evaporates, and the binders, pigments, and additives remain on the surface. Proper flow of air can make the water evaporate faster.
So, you can place the canvas near a fan that’s running low. Don’t place it directly under a high-speed fan, as excessive air can ruin the patterns and colors.
Apply Thin Layers
If you want your art project to dry faster and don’t really care about the paint thickness, apply thinner layers of paint on the canvas.
The thinner the paint is, the lesser the amount of moisture. Therefore, it dries faster than thick layers of paint.
How to Make Acrylic Paint Dry Faster on Foam
Foam is a highly absorbent surface and it absorbs a huge amount of paint. So, applying thin layers to make acrylic paint dry faster on foam isn’t an option. What to do then? Let’s find out!
The best way of making acrylic paint dry faster on foam is to air dry the paint. Put the painted foam outside in a warm area where the air is sufficient. If the moisture in the air is low, the foam will dry quickly as the foam is a porous surface and it doesn’t retain water.
In this case, a heat lamp or hair dryer will do the trick. Foam doesn’t require too much heat to dry. Set the temperature setting to the lowest and maintain a safe distance of at least 6 inches to make acrylic paint dry faster on foam without damaging the surface.
How to Make Acrylic Paint Dry Faster on Wood
Like canvas, wood is also an absorbent surface and might take two to five hours to dry completely. Here’s how you can make acrylic paint dry faster on wood −
Apart from working outdoors and improving air circulation, providing heat is also a very good way to make acrylic paint dry faster on wooden objects. We recommend using a heat gun for this purpose as it’s cheap and produces high heat.
Be careful not to overheat the surface, as it can easily ruin the paint. Place the heat gun at a 6-12 inches distance and set the temperature to low or medium.
Use Proper Paint Brushes
While applying the paint, make sure you use a good-quality brush with soft and long bristles. It will help you spread the paint evenly on the canvas, which usually dries fast.
Also, clean the brush properly so that excess paint can’t create lumps on the wooden surface.
How to Make Acrylic Paint Dry Faster on Glass
When it comes to glass, it’s pretty difficult to paint the surface as it doesn’t absorb paint. Therefore, the paint takes a long time to dry.
Acrylic paints can take up to 24 hours to become fully cured on a glass surface.
Use a Primer
Typically, primer is used to increase adhesion and seal a non-porous surface. The primer will create a barrier between the paint and the glass surface in this case. It helps the paint to sit faster on the surface and makes it a bit more absorbing. This way, the paint can evaporate faster, reducing the drying time.
You can also add some water to thin the primer and the acrylic paint to make the evaporation faster. The water and primer ratio should be about 3:1. You can change the ratio according to the manufacturer’s suggestion.
Add an Accelerant
Thankfully, some good-quality accelerants are available on the marketplace that can make the paint dry fast without discounting its quality. Stand Oil and Liquitex Air Dry medium are suitable accelerants for acrylics.
You can use them for fast-drying and increasing the durability of the paint on glass.
How to Make Acrylic Paint Dry Faster on Fabric
Painted fabrics dry faster than other surfaces if you place them outdoors where the airflow and sunlight are sufficient. But what if you live in a colder area or it’s a rainy day?
Here’s how to make acrylic paint dry faster on fabric −
Use a Hair Dryer
The hot air coming from your hair dryer provides both heat and air. So, it can easily help the liquid base of the acrylic paint evaporate fast.
For this, you need to set the dryer set to low and place it about 12 inches far from the fabric.
Another way of providing heat is to turn on the room heater. In fact, a room heater is a better choice for larger surfaces, as a hair dryer can cover only a small area.
Be careful not to apply high heat as it might burn the fabric, and the paint will peel off when dried.
Apply Fast-drying Paint
If you want faster results, you must avoid slow-drying acrylics and mediums while painting. Go for acrylic paints from brands like Liquitex, Golden, Winsor & Newton, and Utrecht, which take only up to 30 minutes to dry to the touch.
Drying Acrylic Paint With a Heat Gun or Hair Dryer- Will It Damage The Paint?
Well, it depends on how much heat you’re applying. If you apply excessive heat on the paint, it might-
- Melt the paint and completely ruin it
- High temperature can denature acrylic paint
- The heat might burn the paint
- It can trap air and the paint might bubble
- Make the paint come off the surface
- Change the paint color
To avoid these, make sure you place the hair dryer or heat gun 6 to 12 inches away from the paint. Besides, set the machine to the lowest temperature setting to avoid any unwanted results.
Does Acrylic Paint Drying Time Vary From Different Brands?
Yes, the duration is different according to different brands. Here’s a quick example of that.
|Brands||Duration of ‘dry to the touch’||Duration of curing the paint|
|Liquitex||10-20 minutes||1-3 weeks|
|Golden||5-20 minutes||6 weeks|
|Winsor & Newton||10-20 minutes||2 weeks or more|
|Utrecht||Up to 20 minutes||1 week or|
Frequently Asked Questions
Hot air is more suitable for quickly drying acrylic paint. All acrylic paints are water-based and water dry by evaporation. Applying heat can make the liquid portion of the paint evaporate faster.
Providing sufficient heat and keeping the paint in a well-ventilated area is the fastest way of drying acrylic paint. A heat lamp, heat gun, or even your hair dryer can be used as a heating source. No matter what you use, make sure to keep the heat level low as excessive heat can crack the paint.
No, acrylic paint dries slower in the freezer. The cold preserves the moisture of the paint, keeping it wet for a long time. You can put acrylic paint in the freezer for slower drying or storage purposes.
Liquitex and Golden make the fastest-drying acrylics. Liquitex acrylics can take 10 to 20 minutes only to dry touch. On the other hand, Golden acrylics stay wet for up to 5 minutes only and take about 20 minutes to dry touch.
So, how to make acrylic paint dry faster? Now you know the answer. No matter what the surface is, ensure proper air circulation and keep the humidity level at 50-60% to make acrylic paints dry fast.
While normal room temperature is enough for fast-drying paint, you can turn on the room heater to make the process even faster.
However, make sure not to exceed the temperature at 150°F or higher. Otherwise, the paint will create bubbles and chip off after drying.