Speeding up the Drying Process of Paint

Updated May 24, 2024 | Posted Dec 1, 2020 | Professional insight, Miscellaneous | 0 comments

Ooh!! A blog about drying paint, how exciting!!! However, if you’re decorating and having trouble with paint not drying fast enough, then this is going to be very useful. So, skip to the section you need and soak up the information I provide.


Heat and Ventilation for Drying Emulsion.


Ventilation is something which is vital for the drying process of any paint. In the case of emulsion, evaporation of water takes place, causing the paint to dry. No ventilation means condensation may occur on your walls or ceiling and will completely stop paint from drying. You need to avoid humid conditions wherever possible. Funnily enough, a heater in one corner of a room may increase the amount of condensation in another.

Fan heaters are better than radiators or oil heaters because they move the air around as well as heating the room. Fans are great too. They don’t produce any heat, but they do the important thing which is to keep the air flowing. Opening a window will also help, again, it just gives the water vapor somewhere to escape. Better still, open windows on both sides of a room. This will ensure airflow through the whole room which removes water vapor even faster.


Ventilation for Oil-Based Paint and Varnish


Same sort of thing for oil-based paints. This time, it’s a different vapor which leaves the paint. If you use a large quantity of oil-based paint or varnish in a small room with no airflow, that vapor won’t escape, and your paint simply won’t dry. All you need to do is open a window, maybe pop a fan in the room, then let it dry naturally.


Drying Times of Water-Based Satinwood, Gloss and Eggshell


Water-based trim paint (gloss, satinwood or eggshell), like emulsion, dries as the water in the paint evaporates. However, there is also a curing process for the paint, which carries on after it is touch dry. While the paint is curing, it is also setting and tightening. You should never rush to apply a second coat of water-based trim paint. If the instructions say, “recoat in 5 hours”, wait at least 5 hours. Otherwise you can cause issues due to surface tension. All you can do is heat the room and make sure it has good ventilation if you want to speed up the drying process.


Using Liquid Dryers to Speed up Drying Times


Liquid dryers are a little cheat you can use when applying oil-based paints in adverse weather conditions. All you need to do is add a few drops to your paint before you apply it and mix well. Don’t mess around with your paint too much, just a few drops will be fine. If you add too much, your paint may actually take even longer to dry. Too much can also “dull” gloss paint. Click here to see current prices.




What can I add to paint to make it dry faster?

There are paint conditioners available to help speed up the drying process of oil-based paint. The most used is simply called ‘Liquid Dryers’. However, there’s nothing you can add to water-based paint to make it dry quicker.


Can you use a heat gun to speed up paint drying?

I wouldn’t use a heat gun, but I’ve used a hair dryer to dry paint more than once. It works well over small areas.


Does heat make paint dry faster?

Heat and ventilation together will make your paint dry faster.


How do you dry paint that won’t dry?

When paint won’t dry at all, it’s either because it is simply too cold, or there is no ventilation. I can remember painting the floor in a client’s bathroom with oil-based paint once, and she called me two days later to say the paint still wasn’t dry. I nipped round, opened the bathroom door, and asked her to keep it open. A couple of hours later, the floor was dry enough to walk on. It wasn’t drying because the fumes were trapped.


How long should paint dry before putting furniture back?

Woodwork paint does take a little while before it cures enough to become durable. If there’s a chance your furniture is going to press against your newly painted woodwork, then I’d wait a day or two before putting it back.


Final Thoughts


Speeding up the drying process of paint isn’t rocket science. No matter the product, the most important things are airflow and ventilation. I work with another decorator who carries industrial fans in his van, which are far more effective at drying paint than any heater.

If you have ventilation covered, try turning the heating on, or throwing a fan heater in the room. Warmer temperatures do help.

Blog written by Mike Gregory – Professional Painter, Decorator and Blogger

Updated May 24, 2024 | Posted Dec 1, 2020 | 0 comments

About the Author

About the Author

Mike Cupit has been in the decorating industry since 2002 and has mostly worked as a Trade Decorator in the domestic sector (peoples’ homes). Self-proclaimed “product geek”, Mike has a passion for paint and decorating tools. Mike now spends most of his time testing paint products and tools, comparing them to similar products on the market, and blogging about the industry in general.
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