Acrylic paint is fast-drying and this is one of the reasons many artists adore it!
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 are realizing that this area is still moist after a week…
This is why I was trying to figure out effective ways on how to make acrylic paint dry faster.
To make acrylic paint dry faster, first of all, you need to set up the warm and dry workplace, apply only thin layers, and do not add any slow-drying mediums or even too much water – it slows down drying. The quality and paint brand can also affect how fast will your acrylics dry.
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.
Table of contents:
- How long does it take for acrylic paint to dry?
- Why does acrylic paint dry fast?
- Why does acrylic paint dry slowly?
- How to make acrylic paint dry faster
- Related questions:
- how to make spray paint dry faster?
- how to make fabric paint dry faster?
- how to make enamel paint dry faster?
- how to make puffy paint dry faster?
- how to make the paint dry faster on wood?
- how to make epoxy dry faster?
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.
In fact, 20-30 minutes is quite fast for any painting. But if you still have issues with your paint and its drying process, use one of the methods I suggest.
Related post: How Long Does Acrylic Paint Take to Dry?
Why does acrylic paint dry fast?
Acrylic paint is water-based. The process of acrylic paint drying is the process of water and some other agents’ evaporation.
Based on it, the hotter environment is the faster will acrylics dry.
Acrylic paint follows several stages of drying: wet paint while we’re painting, touch dry (20-30 minutes after applying thin layer), and fully cured, solid (up to 12-24 hours). After this, acrylic paint starts its aging process.
Just a basic understanding of why and how your paint works will make you feel confident and free to experiment.
Why does acrylic paint dry slow 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 slow, 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 slows down the evaporation process and damaged 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.
PRECAUTION: 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.
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How to make acrylic paint dry faster
- Apply thin layers
- Paint in a warm and dry environment
- Use a hairdryer or heater
- Use fast-drying paint
- Do not use these mediums
1 – Thin layers
The most simple and absolutely free method how to making acrylic paint dry faster is just by applying thinner layers. The basic rule of painting is that the thinner the layer is, the faster paint will dry.
Even if you apply thin layers and you are impatient to continue painting, make sure that you apply a new layer only when the last one is dry to 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.
2 – 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 air flows.
The best environment for painting:
Temperature: 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit (18 – 24 C). Humidity: 40-50% Well-aired
Well, in this environment your acrylic paint will dry for 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 prevent 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
3 – Using a hairdryer or heater
A hairdryer is probably something we all have at home. This could be an easy way to make your acrylic paint dry faster.
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.
The general rule with a hairdryer or any alternatives – DO NOT OVERHEAT!
4 – 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 examples: Golden and Liquitex Artist 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:
|Liquitex||10-20 minutes touch dry|
|Utrecht||10 -20 min for thin layers, up to 3 days for thicker application|
|Golden Heavy Body||stay wet for less than 5 min. Touch dry for 30 minutes.|
|Winsor & Newton Acrylic||up to 30 minutes|
|Pebeo||we assume 20-30 min but the brand doesn’t mention the exact time|
|Golden OPEN Acrylics||30-60 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.
5 – Don’t use these 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 which do not affect open time, work time, or evaporation (slow-drying mediums). It means do not use any retarders, extenders, slow-drying mediums, and 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.
How to make spray paint dry faster?
Spray paint dries to touch in 5-30 minutes depending on paint quality and environment (temperature etc).
The recommendations on How to make spray paint dry faster are quite the same as for acrylics: apply thin layers, use a fan or heater (or hairdryer), and paint in low humidity. If you paint furniture you can also use wax-based furniture polish which can dry paint almost instantly.
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:
- How to Paint Fabric with Acrylic Paint Permanently: Full Guide
- Painting Leather with Acrylics: How to Paint and Seal Leather
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 puffy paint dry faster?
Puffy paint is paint that allows the creation of dimensional paint. You can find dozens of homemade puffy paint recipes on google. Puffy paint is not acrylic paint.
To make puffy paint dry faster try this: paint outdoors in warm, dry weather, use a heat gun. Do not iron or freeze puffy fabric paint.
How to make the 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.
How to make epoxy dry faster?
The epoxy cures within 72 hours. The best way to make epoxy dry faster is to use a heat gun (or a hairdryer, a heater). If your piece is already cured you can also use the oven.
Masha Eretnova is a certified teacher. She started painting and drawing 20+ years ago and now is an international abstract artist and educator passionate about acrylic painting, gouache and crafts.
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