How To Make Spray Paint Dry Faster?

By Mandy Moss

I’m going to show you how to make spray paint dry faster. I’ve tried different things before actually finding the solution.

The most common ways to make spray paint dry faster are:

  • Temperature
  • Humidity levels
  • Coat it with furniture polish
  • Higher Air circulation
  • Change The Brand Of Spray
  • Add paint thinner into the paint
How To Make Spray Paint Dry Faster?

How To Make Spray Paint Dry Faster?

The amount of time it takes for anything to dry depends on a number of things, which we’ll go over. There are various methods for speeding up the process, but you must be aware of the potential drawbacks.


Temperature plays a major role in spray paint drying time. Higher Temperature means faster evaporation speed. It is because of this reason that most people try to leave their spray paints outside on hot days.

But this method has its cons as well! If your home or garage gets exposed to direct sunlight or has natural sunlight pouring in, the paint will dry too fast and cure before you’ve finished your design.

I have seen this happen to most of my friends who are just about getting into graffiti. If they try to do their graffiti on a hot sunny day, then it’s almost impossible for them to finish since the paint tends to dry up before they can even finish one character! 

Temperature also matters when you spray the paint out of the can

A cold surface means that there is less evaporation rate so it takes longer for your layer to dry up properly. Whereas, spraying onto something with a higher temperature would accelerate evaporation speed hence making it dry faster which will give you clean lines between spots or characters or letters (    whichever you are doing).

Humidity levels

This is where you want to be at your lowest. The absolute lowest, like around 0-10% humidity level (depending on the brand) will definitely help out a lot!

It makes sense because the less water there is in the air, the less of it can evaporate from your paint. Simply by decreasing humidity levels reduces drying time for your vandalized projects so don’t ignore this part of How To Make Spray Paint Dry Faster.

How to decrease Humidity levels to help paint dry faster?

A dehumidifier will help you dry the humidity level down some more. You can also turn on some fans or AC to decrease water vapor in the air and get it back up to speed.

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Coat it with furniture polish

A well-known technique for speeding up the drying time of your paint is to add a thin coat of the spray paint’s “wax-based furniture polish”. After spray painting, you can apply a couple of layers of polish to speed up overall drying time. Make sure you wait a few minutes between each coat.

NOTE: Make sure you don't use too much otherwise your character might start more blurred than before.  

Higher Air circulation

It is no use having a high temperature and low humidity levels if there is no air circulation, so make sure your area has a fan(s) to help things dry up quickly.

Many types of paint, including most spray paint brands, contain hazardous volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can have serious health effects on you and your family when not used in a well-ventilated area.

Change the brand of spray paint

Spray cans manufactured by different companies all have different chemical makeup; for this reason, some brands take longer to dry than others.

Different companies use varying recipes for their cans, and they each affect drying time in unique ways. Becoming familiar with your product’s physical properties (i.e., viscosity, surface tension ) is necessary if you need to make changes to How To Make Spray Paint Dry Faster.  

If you’ve been using one brand for an extended period of time, you’ll know how it performs on most surfaces.

Add paint thinner into the paint mix

Paint thinners are probably the most well-known method to make spray paint dry faster.   I have seen this mentioned all over graffiti forums and websites worldwide, but many still wonder why this works.

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It’s a simple fact of chemistry: adding a proportionate amount of acetone or mineral spirits to your paint will thin out the mixture and reduce the retardants that slow down evaporation.  

NOTE: thinner paints will be much more difficult to control than regular paint, so you need to know what your limit is before attempting this.   

Your coats should be thinner

Typically, thinner paints will take less time to dry up.

However, it’s important not to apply coats too thin or you’ll still end up with blurred lines and uneven surfaces. Applying your paint in multiple light coats is ideal because it allows the outer coat to set faster than the one under it so you won’t have any mix problems.

Does Drying time depend on the surface You are Painting On?

Yes, it does. Different surfaces may need different drying times so be mindful of what you are painting on and how it will affect your Spray Paint Drying time.

If the surface is porous or absorbent, it can soak up a lot more paint than a hard flat surface. This might mean that you have to apply one coat, wait for it to dry, then apply another layer to cover it completely in desired color.   

Another factor is the material of the surface

For example, if you are painting on a metal surface, it will help to speed up dry time significantly. As opposed to painting on wood which might take longer.

How long does spray paint take to dry in the cold?

In cold weather, the paint may take longer to dry. Cold air has a lower water vapor pressure than warmer air so it can hold less moisture at once.  When the humidity level is low, evaporation slows down and takes more time to happen.   It can take anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours. It largely depends on the surface you are painting on.

NOTE: If you are painting in the winter, the cold air can have a significant impact on the drying duration of your paint. It's recommended not to utilize this technique if you know your region will be cold while you're spraying, otherwise, you'll have a hard time getting your paint to stay!

Can heat make spray paint dry faster?

Yes. In fact, heat increases the speed of evaporation for all liquids including water which is present in many coatings such as spray paints.  This means that if there’s a hot surface nearby (like from direct sunlight or standing next to a heater) the paint will dry up faster than usual.

KEEP IN MIND: Sometimes heat can vaporize some of your solvent which will change the consistency of your paint mixture. If you are dealing with this problem, it's suggested to cool off the area where you're painting, use less thinner, or completely remove what's left of your solvent.

What Is the Difference Between Dry Time and Cure Time?

Dry time is the measure of how long it takes for a product to become touch-dry. On the other hand, cure time includes dry time and additional necessary time for products to reach its optimal hardness, adhesion and flexibility.

Spray paint passes through four different stages of drying such as:

  • Dried on Surface: a thin film is formed on the surface of an object. This process doesn’t allow any re-coat at this time
  • The surface is Touch Dry: It is the stage when film becomes tack-free and product won’t transfer to a surface if you touch it with your finger
  • Hard dry surface: You can’t scratch or dent the dried surface with your fingernail
  • Surface is Cured: It is the stage at which film components react with each other to form a strong coating

Can I use Heat Gun to Help Spray Paint Dry Faster?

Many professional detailers and enthusiasts use heat guns on their projects. It is used to speed up the process of drying a product that has been applied on a surface.

However, you must be extra careful as the heat may cause the paint to dry too quickly and become cracked or peel off easily from surfaces.

What’s the best way to dry spray paint with a heatgun?

You must maintain a distance of about 6″ – 12″ (15cm – 30cm) between the gun’s nozzle and a surface when you’re using a heat gun. Also, keep it moving until the paint begins to melt and up which means that your product is ready to be coated.

Why should I apply a topcoat after spray paint?

A topcoat is used to protect your paint job from scratches, scuffs, and weathering. It also adds richness and depth to the colors in your project.

Why do I need to let my clear-coat dry before I topcoat it?

Although clear-coatings are designed to dry quickly, there is no harm in waiting until the previous coat fully cures. Topcoating before full cure can cause cloudiness and may reduce performance.

NOTE: Cloudy spots will become more noticeable over time as they age under exposure to sunlight and other environmental factors.

What are some common substances that I can use as a Topcoat?

There are a variety of products you can apply as a top coating including lacquer, enamel, urethane, acrylic, etc. You can even use clear wood polish as mentioned above.

What’s the Best Way to Protect Paint from Smearing?

When you apply a top coat and you realize that there are smears on the surface, wipe it with a clean cloth dampened in denatured alcohol. The trick is to make sure that the alcohol doesn’t contain any water as this may cause smearing as well.

What should I do if My spray paint still smears?

For difficult-to-spray products such as lacquers and enamels, you may want to reduce the amount of thinner used in a product mixture before spraying. You can apply a sealer before applying a topcoat if your project requires more time to set up.

Related Questions

If this is urgent and you only have a few hours, painting overnight will do the trick (assuming it’s dry enough then). You can also use a hairdryer set on low heat but be careful not to hold it too close as that might cause damage to your work.

If you want to apply multiple coats, wait at least a few minutes before recoating so that the paint has time to dry up.  The longer you wait, the better as it allows more of the solvent to evaporate and will help avoid mix problems and peeling.

On most metals such as steel or aluminum, paint can dry in just a few seconds which is why this technique works well on these surfaces.  

Most spray paint dries and cures at room temperature (71°F, 22°C). However, primers and basecoats that contain an acrylic binder may cure at lower temperatures.

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