Here's How Long It Takes For Car Paint To Dry

Here’s How Long It Takes For Car Paint To Dry

Thinking about painting your Jeep and wondering how long it’ll be before the paint dries so you can hit the road or your favorite dirt trail? Well, we’ve got you covered.

How long the paint takes to dry will be dependent on the type of paint that you are using. It could be anywhere from a few hours to a few days. However, bear in mind that just because the paint is dry to the touch, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is completely dry. The paint may continue to remain soft for days after it feels dry, which means that washing or polishing should be done with care.

Let’s explain this in a little bit more depth. We also want to give you a few ideas on how you can speed up the drying time for car paint.

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How Long Does It Take For Car Paint To Dry

As we said, this is going to be highly dependent on the type of paint that you use. The drying conditions will also play a major role, but more on that in the next section. For now, we will give you an overview of the most common paints used to paint vehicles.

Remember, there are two definitions of dry:

  • Dry to the touch. This means that if you touch the paint, you won’t get paint on your hands. This is the fastest part of the drying process.
  • Cured. This is when the paint is fully dry. Until the paint has cured, it may be a bit soft, which can make it easy to damage, or dust may get stuck to it.

It is important to note that the following drying and curing times are only a guideline. The thicker the paint is, the longer it will take to cure. Always read the information that came with your paint to get a rough estimate of drying time. Add a few hours to that, just to be sure.

Touch-Up Spray Paint

If you have a touch-up spray paint, then it probably wouldn’t take too long to dry at all. This is assuming that you are just spraying on the lightest coat of spray paint.

Most touch-up paints will probably be dry to the touch within an hour and completely cured in 3-4 hours.

Acrylic Urethane

Acrylic Urethane car paint takes about 1-2 hours to dry. It should be cured in around 24 hours, assuming there isn’t too much moisture in the air. 

Acrylic Enamel

This is one of the slower drying paints, although it doesn’t tend to be used that often for car paints anymore.

If you need acrylic enamel paint, then you will know that there are two options on the market.

If you opt for a single-stage acrylic enamel, then it will take 2-3 hours to dry, with the full cure wrapping up in around 24 hours.

If you are using a two-stage acrylic enamel, then it can take 6-8 hours to dry, with the curing process complete in around 48 hours.

You can use some methods to speed this up, but we recommend that you wait the full 24-48 hours anyway, just to be on the safe side. 

Acrylic Lacquer

Acrylic Lacquer should take about 1 hour to be dry to the touch. The full curing process should take between 20 and 24 hours.

In theory, if your paint is Acrylic Lacquer, then you can take your car out on the road within a few hours. However, we wouldn’t really recommend it. While the risk of the paintwork getting damaged is minimal, there is still that risk.


Urethane is likely to take around 4 to 6 hours to be dry to the touch, with full curing complete in 36-48 hours.

Sadly, this is one of the slower drying paints, but it is also one of the most common.

How Do You Speed Up Paint Drying Time?

In our opinion, you should still wait 24-48 hours before you take a freshly-painted vehicle out on the road. It helps to keep the risk of the paint being damaged to a minimum. However, if you are really in a hurry, then you can do a few things to speed up paint drying time.

Baking Lights

Proper bodywork shops will likely use baking lights to speed up the curing process. These are essentially just high-powered lightbulbs that get exceedingly hot. Nothing better for drawing the moisture out of the paint.

Low Humidity Room

Paint drys because the moisture inside it slowly evaporates. So, it stands to reason that the more moisture there is in the air, the slower the paint will take to dry.

Try to keep the humidity in the drying room to an absolute minimum. If the vehicle is drying outside, then try and aim to paint your vehicle when humidity is predicted to be low.

Smaller Amounts of Paint

If you don’t need to slap thick coats of paint on your vehicle, then don’t do it. Keep the layers of paint as thin as possible. They will dry quicker.

Remember, nothing is stopping you from layering the paint. If you need a quick paint job, then lightly paint your vehicle. Later on, you can always spruce the paintwork up a little. 

Well Ventilated Room

If your vehicle is indoors, then make sure that the room is properly ventilated. You need a good amount of air cycling through the room. It will help to lift moisture from the paint, speeding up the drying process. 

Final Thoughts

The paint on a vehicle can take anywhere from a few hours to several days to dry. It will all be dependent on the type of paint that you are using.

In our opinion, no matter what type of paint you use, we do not recommend that you take your vehicle on the road for a good 24-48 hours after. This way, you can be sure that the paint has completely cured. It lowers the risk of the paintwork being damaged which, of course, would necessitate a new paint job. 

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