How Long to Wait Between Coats of Paint: A Comprehensive Guide

Bob Thomas


As a qualified painter and decorator, I've seen my fair share of painting projects go wrong simply because people didn't wait long enough between coats of paint.

When you're in a rush to finish a project, it's tempting to cut corners, but patience is key to achieving a professional-looking paint job.

In this article, I'll break down the factors that determine how long you should wait between coats of paint and share some of my experiences to help you avoid common pitfalls.

Quick Summary

To determine how long to wait between coats of paint, consider these factors: 1) Type of paint, 2) Humidity and temperature, 3) Surface material, 4) Paint manufacturer's recommendations, and 5) Desired finish. By taking all of these factors into account, you can ensure proper drying and adhesion for a flawless, long-lasting paint job.

Surface Type Drying Time

Here's a table with average drying times based on the surface type for latex and oil-based paints:

Surface Type
Latex Paint Touch Dry
Latex Paint Recoat Time
Oil-Based Paint Touch Dry
Oil-Based Paint Recoat Time


1-2 hours

4-6 hours

6-8 hours

16-24 hours


1-2 hours

4-6 hours

6-8 hours

16-24 hours


2-3 hours

6-8 hours

8-10 hours

24-48 hours


2-3 hours

6-8 hours

8-10 hours

24-48 hours


2-4 hours

6-8 hours

8-12 hours

24-48 hours


2-4 hours

6-8 hours

8-12 hours

24-48 hours

Please note that these drying times are approximate and can vary depending on factors like humidity, temperature, paint brand, and paint formulation.

Always check the manufacturer's recommendations for specific drying times.

Approximate Drying Times for Common Types of Paint

Type of Paint
Touch Dry
Recoat Time

Latex paint

1-2 hours

4 hours

Oil-based paint

6-8 hours

16-24 hours

Factors Affecting Drying Time

  1. Type of Paint

Different types of paint have different drying times.

Here are the most common types of paint and their approximate drying times:

  • Latex paint: 1 to 2 hours (touch dry), 4 hours (recoat)
  • Oil-based paint: 6 to 8 hours (touch dry), 16 to 24 hours (recoat)

Important: Always read the paint can's label for specific drying times, as these can vary between brands and formulations.

  1. Humidity and Temperature

Humidity and temperature play a significant role in paint drying time.

High humidity slows down the drying process, while low humidity speeds it up.

The same applies to temperature: cooler temperatures slow drying, while warmer temperatures speed it up.

The ideal painting conditions are around 50% humidity and a temperature of about 70°F (21°C).

  1. Surface Material

The material you're painting on also affects drying time.

Porous surfaces like wood and drywall absorb paint more quickly than non-porous surfaces like metal and plastic.

  1. Paint Manufacturer's Recommendations

Always follow the manufacturer's recommendations for drying time between coats.

This information can usually be found on the paint can's label.

When in doubt, err on the side of caution and wait a little longer.

  1. Desired Finish

If you're going for a smooth, even finish, waiting the proper amount of time between coats is essential.

Rushing the process can lead to visible brush strokes, roller marks, or an uneven sheen.

My Personal Experience

I was working on a project where I had to repaint a client's living room.

I had chosen a high-quality latex paint and was confident in my ability to complete the job quickly.

However, the weather was unusually humid, and I realized that I needed to adjust my timeline accordingly.

Instead of applying the second coat after the recommended 4 hours, I decided to wait an extra couple of hours to ensure the paint was fully dry.

The result was a beautiful, even finish that exceeded my client's expectations.

Frequently Asked Questions Section (FAQs)

Q. Can I apply a second coat of paint if the first coat is still tacky?

  A: It is best to wait until the first coat is completely dry before applying a second coat.

Painting over a tacky coat can lead to uneven coverage and poor adhesion, which may result in the paint peeling or chipping in the future.

Q. How can I speed up the drying time between coats of paint?

  A: To speed up drying time, ensure good ventilation in the room by opening windows and using fans.

You can also use a dehumidifier to reduce humidity levels or consider using a paint additive designed to accelerate drying time.

Q. Can I apply the second coat of paint after the recommended recoat time has passed?

  A: Yes, you can apply a second coat after the recommended recoat time has passed.

However, it's essential to make sure that the surface is clean and free from dust and debris before painting the second coat.

Q. Does the type of paint roller or brush I use affect the drying time between coats?

  A: The type of roller or brush used can impact the thickness of the paint layer, which may influence drying time. For faster drying, use a roller or brush that provides a thinner, more even coat.

Q. How can I tell if the paint is dry enough for a second coat?

  A: To test if the paint is dry enough, gently press a finger onto the painted surface. If it leaves no fingerprint or indentation, the paint is likely dry and ready for a second coat.

Q. Can I apply a different type of paint for the second coat (e.g., oil-based over latex)?

A: It is generally not recommended to apply an oil-based paint over a latex paint or vice versa, as it can lead to adhesion problems or other issues.

If you need to switch paint types, be sure to follow proper surface preparation guidelines and use a compatible primer.

Q. Can I apply a second coat of paint in high humidity or low temperatures?

  A: High humidity and low temperatures can significantly increase paint drying times.

It is best to avoid painting in these conditions or follow the manufacturer's guidelines for painting under specific environmental circumstances.


In conclusion, determining how long to wait between coats of paint depends on several factors, including the type of paint, humidity and temperature, surface material, manufacturer's recommendations, and desired finish.

By taking all of these factors into account and being patient, you can ensure a flawless, long-lasting paint job that you can be proud of.

Suggested Products:

  1. Fast-Drying Interior Paint: This paint is formulated with quick-drying agents that reduce the waiting time between coats, allowing you to complete your painting project faster.
  2. Paint Additive Accelerator: A paint additive that, when mixed with your regular paint, speeds up the drying process between coats, reducing the time you need to wait before applying the next layer.
  3. Low VOC Paint: This type of paint has lower volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can help decrease drying time and improve indoor air quality during your painting project.
  4. Dehumidifier: A device that removes excess moisture from the air, speeding up paint drying times in humid environments and ensuring a smoother finish.
  5. High-Capacity Box Fan: By increasing air circulation and promoting evaporation, this fan can help accelerate the drying process between coats of paint.
  6. Microfiber Roller: This type of paint roller allows for a thinner, more even application of paint, which can help reduce drying time between coats.
  7. Latex-Based Primer: A primer specifically designed for use under latex paints, helping to ensure proper adhesion and reducing the need for multiple coats, ultimately speeding up your painting project.

About the author 

Bob Thomas

A fully certified interior decorator and house painter , Bob Thomas brings immense expertise and knowledge amassed from many years of hands-on experience with residential, commercial and specialty painting and decorating projects of all sizes and scopes.

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