7 Ways How to Make Acrylic Paint Dry Faster

Last Updated on March 15, 2024 by Masha Eretnova

Acrylic paint is fast-drying already but what is it is not fast enough for you?

Sometimes we really need more open time, but there are some cases we need our painting to dry faster because probably you are as impatient as I am ;). More often we need to speed up drying time when we realize that this area is still moist after an hour, or worse – a week…

This is why I was trying to figure out effective ways how to make acrylic paint dry faster.

To make acrylic paint dry faster simply dry it with a hair-dryer. Youcan also apply only thin layers, do not add any slow-drying mediums or too much water, and turn your AC on dry.

How to make acrylic paint dry faster

To understand how to make the drying process faster, first of all, I will remind you why is acrylic paint fast-drying by its nature and what can slow down the drying process, but also I’ll share my 4 easy and almost free methods to make acrylic paint dry faster.

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How long does it take for acrylic paint to dry?

On average, artist-quality acrylic takes 20-30 minutes to touch dry if used in a thin layer. Thicker layers will take 1-2 hours depending on the environment you’re painting in.

Acrylic paint is fully cured in 6 – 12 hours in a well-aired, cool room.

So Why does acrylic paint dry slowly or stop drying?

Environment, choice of surface and mediums, and the paint you use will influence the drying time of the acrylics.

If you think that your paint is drying too slowly, check if there were any of these factors involved and try to avoid them later:

  • you applied thick layers (more than 1 mm)
  • your surface is glossy or non-absorbent at all
  • you use stay-wet palettes
  • you use paints with a longer open time, as Golden Open
  • you use any of these mediums: extenders, retarders, slow-drying mediums, wetting spray
  • you are used to spraying the back of your canvas or paint while working
  • you added too much water to the paint slowing down the evaporation process and damaging paint quality
  • you paint in high humidity,
  • the temperature in your room is below 65F (18C).
  • you used to cover your painting with plastic. It will keep moisture and slow down the drying process.

If you recognize one or a couple of factors, your paint is likely to dry slower than it could normally. If it was your idea – fine. If you still want to make acrylic paint dry faster, go on reading.

Please, remember that cracking also happens when different layers dry at different rate. Make sure your experiments with drying time will not affect paint quality and overall painting longevity.

My 7 Ways to Make Acrylic Paint Dry Faster

  1. Apply thin layers
  2. Paint in a warm and dry environment
  3. Use a hairdryer or heater
  4. Use fast-drying paint
  5. Do not use these mediums
  6. Do not add water
  7. Do not cover it with plastic

Use Thin layers

The most simple and absolutely free method to make acrylic paint dry faster is just by applying thinner layers. The basic rule of painting is that the thinner the layer is, the faster the paint will dry.

Even if you apply thin layers and are impatient to continue painting, make sure that you apply a new layer only when the last one is dry to the touch.

Thin layers are vital no matter what surface you paint on. You can make acrylics stick to glass, plastic, or metal but always keep layers thin.

Paint in a Warm and Dry environment

Environment affects the drying process a lot. It is one of the most important factors for paint, storing, and transporting paintings. By environment, I mean temperature, humidity, and airflow.

By warm and dry I mean temperature above 18-24 C or 65-75 F. To make a room dry, turn off humidifier and turn on Dry setting on your AC.

You can also open windows if it is summertime to make acrylic paint dry faster.

In temperatures under 75 F your acrylic paint will dry in 20-30 minutes. If you still want to make it dry faster, try this:

  • Work in low humidity warm room. Higher temperatures will speed up the drying time.
  • Place your painting under moderate airflow, or use a fan. The air circulation dries the area and prevents paint from being wet.


  • don’t overheat the workplace, it can cause bubbles
  • don’t use powerful fans: a strong cold airflow directly on the painting can damage it and lead to cracking.
  • direct your fan away from painting

Speed acrylic paint drying with a hairdryer or heater

A hairdryer is probably the easiest way to make your acrylic paint dry faster. I use it and it makes acrylic dry in seconds.

Please follow these precautions if you choose this method:

  • use only the lowest heat
  • don’t blow air too close to the painting and don’t stay in one area for a long time. Otherwise, the heat can cause bubbles or cracks, and affect paint quality and even colors.
  • using a hairdryer, make sure the room is well-aired.
  • you can use a heat lamp, a heater, or a heat gun as alternatives to the hairdryer. Keep in mind that a heat gun is far hotter than a simple hairdryer, so please be careful.
  • if you are scared of ruining the painting, blow at the back of the canvas.

The general rule with a hairdryer or any alternatives – DO NOT OVERHEAT!

Using fast-drying paint

There are fast-drying (almost any acrylic paint) and slow-drying acrylic paint. Drying fast is normal for acrylics.

If you want to make acrylics dry faster, just do not choose slow-drying paint as Golden Open Acrylics or Atelier Interactive.

It is assumed that artist-grade paint can dry a bit slower than student-grade acrylics.

Artists grade paint examplesGolden and Liquitex Artists paints, Deco Art Traditions Acrylic paints, Chroma Atelier Interactive Artists’ Acrylic Paints, Pebeo Artists’ acrylics, Utrecht Artists’ Acrylic Paint, etc.

Here is a simple reminder for you about how fast acrylic paint dries based on what their brands say:

BrandDry time
Liquitex10-20 minutes touch dry
Utrecht10 -20 min for thin layers, up to 3 days for thicker application
Golden Heavy Bodystay wet for less than 5 min. Touch dry for 30 minutes.
Winsor & Newton Acrylicup to 30 minutes
Pebeowe assume 20-30 min but the brand doesn’t mention the exact time
Golden OPEN Acrylics30-60 min. still wet, 24+ h to touch dry, up to 14 days for fully cured

The full overview of 20 acrylic paint brands dry time I published in a separate article, feel free to read it! If you are using any specific paint, go to the brand’s website and look for the product information sheet. These pdf contain all and more information you may be interested in.

Don’t use mediums

Sometimes we mix paint with different mediums to improve the flow, thin it or extend the work time.

In order to make acrylic paint dry faster, there are no specific fast-drying mediums we can use.

It is ok to use flow improvers or mediums that do not affect open time, work time, or evaporation (slow-drying mediums). It means do not use any retarders, extenders, slow-drying mediums, or wetting sprays if you still want your paint to dry as quickly as possible.

Examples: Golden Acrylic Retarder, Liquitex Wetting Spray, Impresa Acrylic Paint Thinner for Slow Drying Acrylic Paints, Winsor & Newton Galeria Extender, and many others.

Read the label carefully to make sure you don’t accidentally slow down drying.

Do not add water

Water works like thinner to acrylic paint and makes it dry slower. So if you want to speed up acrylics drying time, simply do not add any water while painting: not to the paint, not on the canvas.

It means that if your paint is too thick for you but you want it to also dry fast, it is better to use fluid acrylic paint. You don’t need to add water to it.

Do not cover the finished painting

If you want to make sure the acrylic dries as fast as possible try not to cover it with anything.

Sometimes I cover my finished pouring with a plastic container because I want to protect it from cats’ hair etc, but it slows down the drying significantly.


How to make fabric paint dry faster?

In general, fabric paint dries in 12-36 hours. Fast-drying fabric paint can dry in 6-18 hours. To choose good paint for painting on fabric or leather check out my guides:

To make fabric paint dry faster, try this: use fast-drying fabric paint, dry a finished piece outside in a warm and dry weather, and use a hair dryer (low heat). You can also use acrylic paint mixed with an acrylic medium to make your clothing dry faster.

How to make enamel paint dry faster?

Enamel paint is not water-based, it is solvent-based paint. When it dries, it becomes a hard, glass-like shell.

To make enamel paint dry faster, try this: dry a finished piece outside in warm and dry weather or paint outdoor, use a hairdryer (low heat), a fan, or a heater and dehumidifier. You can also use Japan Drier if you work with oil-based paint.

How to make the acrylic paint dry faster on wood?

First of all, make sure you primed your wooden piece before painting.

To make the paint dry faster on wood, apply thinner layers, turn on a fan but direct it away from the wooden piece, and use a dehumidifier. You can also use a hairdryer or a heater.

FInal Thoughts

Although acrylics are really fast-drying, and I mean fast – my Golden dries in under 5 minutes, sometimes I still need to work faster or to correct a mistake faster.

Then I always just use a hair-dryer – it is the simplest way and it doesn’t matter if I used water, mediums or anything, it will just do the job.

As I also do pours, I have an additional little hair dryer in my studio. Handy and simple.

Have you ever had to speed up drying time? How did you do it?