If you’ve ever done any painting, you’ve probably checked the paint can for drying times so you’d know how long to wait between applying coats. However, most people have never checked curing times despite curing being an important part of the painting process. A surface that is dry to the touch is not necessarily cured. Do you know why paint has to be cured? Do you understand what happens during curing time? Do you know the difference between drying and curing? Let’s see if we can sort through the information.


Drying refers to the amount of time it takes for paint to feel dry to the touch. Essentially, the solvents and water evaporate from the paint forming a solid film and leaving it feeling dry to your fingers. 

How long does it take paint to dry? 

Drying time depends upon the type of paint used as well as local weather conditions. The following are estimated drying times for different types of paint. 

  • Water-Based/Latex Paint ~ Dry Time 1-2 hours
  • Oil-Based Paint ~ Dry Time 6-8 hours 
  • Chalk Brand Paints ~ Dry Time 30-60 minutes
  • Homemade Chalky Paint ~ Dry Time 30-60 minutes 
  • Milk Paint ~ Dry Time 30 minutes 

Curing continues well after the surface of the paint is dry to the touch. It’s a chemical process during which pigments and binders fuse together into a continuous resilient film. A coat of paint is cured when all of the solvent has dissipated from the pigment, it has reached maximum hardness and is completely dry. Once cured, paint is less vulnerable to damage by water or chemicals and can be wiped or washed without fear of harm. Cured paint is also resistant to the scratches and dings of daily life. 

How long does it take paint to cure? 

Curing time is different for every type of paint and is affected by the type of surface the paint is applied to and your environment. If you can smell the paint, it isn’t cured yet!

  • Water-Based/Latex Paint ~ Cure Time 21-30 days
  • Oil-Based Paint ~ Cure Time 3-7 days
  • Chalk Brand Paints ~ Cure Time 30 days
  • Homemade Chalky Paint ~ Cure Time 21-30 days
  • Milk Paint ~ Cure Time 30 days

Factors that affect cure time:

There are many factors that can affect how long your paint project takes to cure. 

  • The thickness of your paint
  • The surface it’s painted on (wood, melamine, drywall, concrete, canvas, etc.)
  • The sheen of the paint (flat, eggshell, satin, semi-gloss, high-gloss)
  • The brand and type of paint (oil, latex, chalk, acrylic, milk paint)
  • The colour of the paint and tints used (longer drying time with dark colours)
  • The overall condition of where the surface is situated (airflow, humidity, temperature)
  • The number of coats applied

The next time you pick up a paintbrush or hire a residential painting contractor, remember how important it is to let your paint cure. Wait the full recommended cure time before washing or exposing the surface to heavy use. Paint will endure for years if allowed to cure properly.


Looking for a painting company that understands drying and curing times? Call the Calgary painting experts, Cal Res Coatings at (403) 835-4817. We’re a residential painting contractor that strives for quality, has an eye for detail and colour, and will not rest until your job is done to your satisfaction. Request a free quote today.

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