How Long Does Acrylic Paint Take to Dry | Factors that Affect the Process

One of the most popular painting mediums among artists is acrylic paint. Painters love it for how flexible it is, how vibrant colors it can offer, and how quickly it dries. On the note of quick-drying, how long does acrylic paint take to dry?

The drying time for acrylic paints will depend on the thickness of the films. Thin films will take anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes to dry. And thick films can take between one to two hours.

But is that true for both the professional and Galeria acrylic? If not, how much of a difference is there between the drying time of both types?

Keep reading to get to the bottom of the topic.

Drying Time of Professional and Galeria Acrylic Paints

Let’s get to know about the two main types of acrylic paints. Professional acrylic paints are basically those that offer allows artists to work longer with the colors. In other words, its viscosity does not change quickly on the palate.

This longer working time enables the artists to get the most out of the paint on their palettes. And it offers flexibility in blending the color into the canvas. As hinted above, thinner films of professional acrylic will take 20 to 30 minutes to dry up.

On the other hand, Galeria acrylic dries up a bit quicker than professional acrylic paints. In general, a thin film will take 10 to 20 minutes to dry up. And for the thicker films, it can take about an hour or a little bit more.

Now, even though Galeria acrylic dries faster, they do not offer artists the flexibility that professional acrylic offers. In simpler words, you have less working time with the Galeria version.

What Affects the Drying Time of Acrylic Paints

There are some factors that can dictate how fast or how slow the acrylic paint dries up. Here’s a brief information about each of them –

The Humidity of the Environment

When your environment is humid, the acrylic paint will take longer to dry up. Wondering why? That is because the paint dries through evaporation. And high humidity levels will slow down the evaporation rate.


Like the humidity, the temperature directly impacts the drying time of the acrylic paints. In warmer temperatures, acrylic paint will take relatively less amount time to dry up.

On the other hand, when the environment is cool, the paint will take longer to settle on the canvas. Talking of which extreme temperature conditions can also affect the color and consistency of the paint.

The Thickness of the Paint

As discussed earlier, the thickness of the film will determine how fast or how slow the paint dries up. That is, the thicker layers of the paint will take longer to dry up than the thinner layers.

Paint Additives

Painters like to use different types of additives in their paint. Some of these additives can make the acrylic paint longer to dry up. For example, retarders extend drying time, while the accelerators will speed it up.

However, do not use any of these additives in excessive amounts. Too much of any additive will ruin the natural characteristics and properties of the paint.

The Porosity of the Surface

Canvases that are relatively more porous slow down the drying process. Wondering how? Well, they absorb all the moisture from the paint, which affects the evaporation process.

In comparison, acrylic paint on surfaces that are less porous, such as glass or plastic, will dry up faster.

Drying Stages of Acrylic Paints

Acrylic paint dries in three main stages. And each of them affects the properties and characteristics of the color. Let’s get to know the stages to have a better understanding of the drying nature of this paint.

Skin Formation Phase

This is the initial drying phase. And at this stage, the acrylic paint will start to form a film or skin on the surface. The paint inside will be soft, which means you can still play with the color if you want to.

Drying Stage

The paint has already started to dry from the inside at this stage. Wondering how can you tell? Well, the paint will not be tacky to the touch. Instead, it will be more stable and firmer. And in this phase, you can safely add a subsequent layer on top.

Curing Stage

At the curing stage, the paint is fully dried and hardened up. In other words, it has become permanent. And after this point, the paint will resist humidity, water, and other environmental factors.

How to Make Acrylic Paint Dry Up Faster? Methods to Speed Up Drying

There are a couple of things that you can do to make the acrylic paint settle and harden on the surface faster. Among all, these are the most effective:

Work With Thin Layers

The easiest way to dry the acrylic paints quickly would be by applying thin layers. Remember this general rule of thumb: the thicker the paint layer is, the slower it will harden or dry up.

Paint in Warm and Dry Environments

As discussed earlier, the environment’s temperature and humidity level impact the drying time of acrylic paints. And in general, the most optimal place to work on your art is where the humidity is at 40% to 50%.

When it comes to the temperature, it should be between 18C to 24C (65F to 75F). In other words, you should work with your art in relatively warmer and drying environments. That will enable the acrylic paint to dry up quickly.

Use a Heater or Hairdryer

Your hairdryer can come in handy for painting tasks. Using it, you can make the acrylic paint dry up relatively faster. However, no matter what, you should not direct the hairdryer directly into the painting at the maximum level.

Instead, wait for the paint to get into the drying stage (where it is not tacky to the touch) and set the air power level to low. Alternatively, you can use a heater to quicken up the drying process.

Regardless of what you are using, avoid overheating the paint. You will create bubbles if you do so.

Take Advantage of Quick-drying Paints or Additives

There are some acrylic paints that come with some additives inside. That is, they have accelerators. And even if you don’t have paint with additives in them, you can add it manually.

In that case, make sure to add the right amount, as too much of it will ruin the characteristics and color of the paint.

How to Make Acrylic Paint Dry Slowly? Methods to Slow Down Drying

You can also make the drying time slow. But why would you want to do that? It will let you work with the paint longer, allowing you to bring out the color you wanted on the art piece.

Nonetheless, to make the acrylic paint dry slower, you can follow either of these methods or combine them together.

Paint in Colder and High Humid Environments

Higher humidity levels and lower temperatures make the acrylic paints dry up slowly. But what would be the optimal environmental condition for this?

Well, a temperature below 18C (65F) and humidity of 50%+ would be great.

In such conditions, evaporation will not occur as quickly as usual. And if you want to, you can rely on an air conditioner to cool your workplace. But remember that air coolers will lower the humidity level of the room.

Use Primed Surfaces

Primed canvases are known for making acrylic paints dry up slowly. And you don’t even need to buy primed canvases. You can take a regular one and prime it up by yourself. But yes, pre-primed canvases will surely make things easier for you.

Moisturize the Canvas’s Back

The most effective way to dry the acrylic paint slowly is to wet the back of the canvas. When there is an additional amount of water in the canvas, the evaporation process will be slower, making the paint not want to dry up quickly.

So, how do you wet the back of the canvas? You really do not need to do much. Get yourself a spray bottle and fill it with water. And then use it to spray the back of the canvas with water.

Use a Wet Palette

A wet palette works like a charm in making the acrylic paint take time to dry up. Basically, this palette has a sponge beneath it. And on the top, there’s a moisturized paper where your paint will sit.

Now, as you can tell, the palette’s wetness will slow the evaporation process. And with these wet palettes, you can work with acrylic paint for hours and hours without worrying about it drying up.

Final Words

So, how long does acrylic paint take to dry again? In general, it will take anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes for acrylic paint to dry up. And if you are working with thicker films, it can take an hour or two.

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