How Long Does Car Paint Take To Dry? [4 Ways To Speed Up The Process]

It’s heartbreaking to find that the color of your precious Porsche or Sedan is slowly fading. In such cases, it’s not a bad idea to take some time off and give the car a makeover. But, how long does car paint take to dry completely?

Between the paint type and application process, it can take anywhere from 2-3 days to a week or two for car paint to dry. Again, if you’re looking to wax the car to preserve the paint, you’ll need to wait another 2-3 weeks to finish the project. Overall, it can take up to a month unless you’re force-drying the paint or spray painting the car.

Let’s go over the different stages of drying car paint and the essential factors behind the efficiency of the procedure. Additionally, we’ll also go over some impressive ways to speed up the process so you can get back to driving faster!

Painting A Car: Stage-Wise Drying Period

Here’s a brief overview of the different steps involved in car painting and the drying period afterward –

StageProcess OverviewTime Taken
Body WorkPower-washing the car and stripping off the current color.4-6 Hours
SandingFixing dents, scratches, etc. on the surface and polishing the car so that the new paint can sit on the surface properly.2-3 Hours
PrimingCovering the glasses, side windows, tires, etc., and priming the rest of the car to increase the adhesive properties of the surface.2-3 Hours 4-6 Hours [For 2 coats]
Color PaintingUsing desired paint type and color to paint the surface evenly via two or more coats.8-10 Hours [Acrylic Paint] 2-3 Hours [Lacquer Varnish] 6-8 Hours [Enamel Paint] 40-60 Minutes [Spray Paint]   [The time will multiply according to the number of coats. For instance – it can take up to 48 hours for two layers of enamel paint to dry]
Clear CoatingAfter the paint dries up, it’s best to add two layers of clear coating to laminate the color.24 Hours
CuringCuring is the process of applying a hardener to protect the paint underneath. You don’t need to repeat this step if you’re already applying a clear coating on the paint.24 Hours
WaxingWaxing is the process of further lamination of the surface to protect the paint from heat, rain, snow, etc. Consequently, waxing helps to prevent scratches and premature discoloration too.3-4 Weeks after initial drying [Natural application of Acrylic/Enamel Paint] 3-4 Days after initial drying [Force drying/Spray Paint]

However, the hours aren’t fixed as they heavily depend on the amount of manpower and the size of the vehicle. Especially during the bodywork and sanding stages, the more people you have working, the less time it’ll take to prepare the car.

Read More – How Long Does It Take To Paint A House?

How To Speed Up The Drying Process Of Car Paint?

While it’s best to avoid impatience while painting a car, here are a few ways how you can speed up the drying process –

1. Use 2K Paint

1K paint doesn’t require any activators during application and dries up naturally. 2K paint, on the other hand, requires the help of activators to set in properly.

The color is both long-lasting and the texture is more durable with 2K paint. Plus, the activators speed up the drying process significantly by soaking up the moisture faster.

2. Paint While It’s Sunny

While painting, make sure the weather is dry. If it’s rainy or too humid, then the paint will take longer to dry. If the sun’s not too scorching hot, you can leave the car outside to dry the paint to apply the next coat faster.

3. Increase The Temperature

If you have an enclosed workshop, you can drive up the temperature with the help of an IR dryer. Make sure the humidity is below the 60% mark and the temperature is over 130-140°F to reduce the time by hours.

4. Less Number Of Coatings

You don’t normally need more than two coats for a car as the paint texture is already pretty sturdy. Even with spray paint, it’s best to stick to 2-3 layers at most. Less number of coatings means it’ll take less time to dry up.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will car paint dry darker or lighter?

Car paint will harden over time and the polyurethane enamel will stay true to the original color of the finish. However, don’t attempt to dilute the paint to change the color as other additives will ruin the texture of the enamel.

Read More – Does Paint Dry Darker Or Lighter?

Is it a good idea to spray paint cars?

Spray painting is an affordable and time-saving option. Furthermore, since the paint dries up in less than an hour, you can apply multiple layers to intensify the color.

However, spray paint is not as durable as acrylic polyurethane or lacquer car paint. So, if the longevity of the paint is your topmost priority, it’s best to avoid spray paint.

What will happen if you drive a newly-painted car without curing it first?

Even if the car paint becomes dry to the touch, it can still have a soft texture. If you don’t allow the car to cure for at least 24 hours before driving it, the air pressure may forcefully push back the paint to an extent. As such, the surface may become considerably uneven and bumpy.

How long should you wait before cleaning a newly-painted car?

You should wait for at least a week if you’re looking to clean a newly-painted car. Even then, don’t power wash or use any hard cleaners as they can corrode the color. Lightly clean the car with household dish soap or detergent and warm water.

Before You Go

So, between all the different stages, it can take up to 2-3 weeks for car paint to dry up fully. And if you’re running short on time, increase the temperature in the room (not over 75°C) or use different activators to dry the paint quickly.

Again, if you’re attempting to DIY the entire procedure, it’s best to go down the spray painting route. To know more about the spray painting policies in different states, check out – How Old To Buy Spray Paint?

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