How Long Does It Take for Car Paint to Dry?

Learn everything you need about how to paint a car and how long does auto paint take to cure.

When in the factory, car parts are painted in special chambers that do not get dust, using expensive special equipment.

When painting car elements, paints with different compositions can be used, dried using special equipment.

Are you thinking about painting your car or its individual parts?

Then you will definitely have some questions that many newbies ask, and in this article, we will try to answer them all.

Types of car enamel

For painting a car, the following types of enamels are used:

Alkyd

Some time ago, such compounds were used only in factory painting and were not used in repairs. For high-quality drying of such enamels, a temperature of +130 C is required. It is impossible to create such a regime in a car service.

Still, today such enamels are also used during repair work by adding special catalysts that help turn the paint into a polymer coating.

Of all automotive paints, alkyd enamels are considered the cheapest.

Acrylic

The basis of such enamels is acrylic resins, which are obtained by processing oil industry products.

At the same time, two types of such auto enamels are distinguished: drying within 3-4 hours at ambient temperature and hardening within 30 minutes at high temperature.

The first type of enamels is used in the repair, and the second in the factory. There is also an acrylic varnish used to protect nitro paints.

How Long Does Acrylic Paint Take To Dry? | The Factors That Affect the Way Acrylic Paint DriesHow Long Does Acrylic Paint Take To Dry? | The Factors That Affect the Way Acrylic Paint Dries

Nitro enamels

Due to the small thickness of the layer, these paints do not provide the proper level of protection. Therefore, nitro enamels are covered with two layers of varnish on top.

Water-based paint 

The most environmentally friendly composition, for the use of which ordinary water is used as a solvent. With the low cost of such paint, it dries for a very long time, which was the reason for its low popularity.

How to choose an enamel?

As a rule, craftsmen from specialized workshops prefer to use formulations from one manufacturer. Each of the options for painting the car has its own nuances that must be considered:

    1. the use of specific solvents;
    2. the use of certain additives and hardeners;
    3. different modes of applying paints and varnishes;
  1. different drying methods

The use of the same compositions allows the master to better know the features of their use, including the mode and drying time.

Before using a specific staining system, the specialist must undergo special training.

This will eliminate unforeseen financial losses and poor-quality final results.

Such enamels provide better and more predictable results.

How to choose an enamel
via crello: IgorVetushko

How long does painting a car takes DIY

Painting a car yourself, but subject to a number of conditions.

It is almost impossible to provide perfect conditions for painting a car in a small garage. The air supply to the room should be from above, and the exhaust from below. The dust will not rise up and settle on the freshly applied paint with these conditions.

It is necessary to use a compressor with sufficient pressure and high capacity. For example, with equipment productivity below 240 liters per minute, the air will only be enough to paint one part.

To minimize the cost of an expensive compressor, you can install a receiver to accumulate additional air. The receiver can be made independently from a piece of pipe, an old gas cylinder, and so on.

There is no point in using an expensive spray gun. A simple, inexpensive pistol will be quite enough, but it should come with a special principle of spraying the composition called HVLP.

This will make it possible to use a compressor with low productivity.

It is better to dry the surface with PKN spotlights, which are able to create good lighting and sufficient temperature conditions.

The drying time of paint in garage conditions depends on the power of the spotlights used.

How long does painting a car takes DIY
via crello: Deklofenak

How long does car paint take to dry?

As you understand, this time interval directly depends on many factors.

Firstly, this is the temperature regime, which should be maintained at +64.4 – +71.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Secondly, it is the type of paint itself.

Acrylic enamel and nitro enamel dry quickly enough, and after a few days, you can operate the car. Other types of paints and varnishes require a longer drying period.

Thirdly, this is the use of additional equipment in the form of air-heated convectors or infrared heaters, which can significantly speed up the process of paint polymerization, and you will win in terms of how long such a coating should dry.

Let’s look at the approximate time intervals that you will need to carry out the work.

If you paint in the garage, then the varnish and paint are set already in 6-7 hours when using a spray booth or IR panels, and about 1-2 days simply by maintaining the temperature in a ventilated garage.

But it is quite difficult to determine exactly how much paint dries on a car, even for an experienced craftsman. Usually, they choose a time with a margin so that the car settles and the paintwork gains the required strength level, which is about a week.

How long to wait before you can drive a painted car?

It all depends not only on the type of material but also on the operating conditions.

If you drive carefully, do not get caught in the rain, do not drive into the mud, then after 2-3 days, you can use your car.

The best option would be to let the car stand for about 14 – 20 days, but not every car owner is ready to leave their vehicle for such a period of time. Such a long term is obtained due to the fact that in addition to the paint itself (base), the car body is also varnished, which also dries for a long time.

First of all, the varnish dries, and then there is a gradual crystallization and drying of the base itself.

How long to wait before you can drive a painted car
via crello: welcomia

How soon can I wash my car after painting?

Experienced craftsmen advise not to wash the car for a month, especially high-pressure washing is excluded.

This is due to the slow polymerization of the paint under the varnish, and by applying mechanical stress, you can damage the coating. The minimum period of time after which you can start the car is 15 days.

After this period, auto chemistry can already be used.
Here are some tips for washing your car after painting.

  1. For the first 15 to 30 days, do not use chemical cleaners to wash your car.
  2. Do not use a high-pressure washer.
  3. It is better to wash with soft rags or washcloths and use hard brushes in no case.

Of course, there are cases when motorists wash their vehicle at a car wash after a few days. But the question is, are you willing to risk your money? If not, it’s better to wait.

How soon can I wash my car after painting
via crello:orgallery

Acrylic coatings for cars

When using acrylic coatings, you need to know how long does it take for car paint to dry since it will need to be applied in several layers. Body painting technology involves the application of three layers:

  1. binder;
  2. main;
  3. finish

Acrylic automotive paints used to paint the car body can be of two types:

  • thermal hardening;
  • thermoplastic

The first type is used in the factory when the paint dries in special chambers.

The second type of acrylic composition can be used for self-painting body elements, using special solvents that accelerate hardening the paint.

It is necessary to pay attention to the composition of the paint, which depends on whether the created coating will be hard or soft.

This will affect the polishing of the body surface.

A soft finish is easier to polish, but it is easier to damage.

A hard coating is difficult to polish without a special tool and skill, but it cannot be damaged or scratched.

As a thinner for acrylic paint, you can use:

  • water;
  • alcohol;

When diluting new acrylic paint, you should select a thinner for its chemical composition.

It depends on how long the acrylic paint will dry on the machine.

It is better to choose thinners and solvents of the same brand with acrylic paint.

In this case, a homogeneous and durable coating is obtained, which will harden in 6 hours if convection drying of the painted body elements is not used.

Complete drying of acrylic paint occurs in 24 hours. In general, you should focus on the drying time of the applied layer indicated on the label of the can.

In general, acrylic paint dries quickly and without drying the applied layers.

If you follow all the recommendations of experts, then you can paint your car yourself. Suppose the car owner is not confident in his abilities.

In that case, it is better to contact a car service, where professionals will carry out the painting of the car.

How long does enamel paint take to dry?

It is unlikely that any of the car masters will be able to name the exact time for how long does automotive paint takes to dry. How can we, ordinary drivers, determine how long the paint dries?

There is no clear figure due to the fact that enamel and paints are from different manufacturers and dry differently. Drying time can increase or decrease. To understand how this works, you need to understand drying a car.

Evaporation of paintwork materials, which occurs during painting, forms a film on the surface of a body part or plastic. To make drying faster, it is recommended to open the windows and doors in the garage or box, and then the circulating air will noticeably speed up the drying.

Stagnant air, on the contrary, will slow down the process, which we do not need at all.

Optimal drying after painting takes place at a temperature of +64.4 – +71.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

Suppose the drying of the enamel is carried out without additional drying devices.

In that case, the drying of the main top layer lasts approximately 5-6 hours.

All layers completely harden after a day.

You can find out about these data by reading the instructions that come with the paint.

How long does car paint take to dry
via crello: Y-Boychenko

Car paint drying methods

Car paint drying time also depends on the drying method.

This process is often performed using special devices called “paint booths.” These car dryers directly affect the quality and speed of enamel drying.

Almost every salon has spray booths for painting cars. The following devices are distinguished, which act as spray booths, on which the drying time depends:

Convection chambers

It allows you to dry the fastest. Work is faster due to the large amount of heat that goes to the car through the heated air. This process is comparable to using a conventional fireplace with a fan.

Here, the difference lies in the fact that the air masses are evenly distributed over the surface and do not pass further.

Even though the drying of the enamel of the car body after painting occurs as quickly as possible, the paint does not suffer from this and is securely fixed.

Infrared drying 

Infrared drying  of a car is certainly good, but how does paint or enamel behave, and how long does it dry in a mixed chamber?

Due to the rapid exchange of energy, the enamel dries 2-3 times faster than if the drying was passive (the car would be standing in a ventilated room).

This is a simple and safe way, but there is one important feature here: you are unlikely to dry the parts fenced off by another plane with high quality. That is, the internal parts may not dry to the desired level, so when drying such elements, infrared drying is most suitable.

Thermal drying chambers

It will also be an excellent solution. Here, infrared drying does all the work.

Air, respectively, is heated by infrared radiation. Infrared drying of enamel does not require an active medium because it is carried out due to a large number of panels heated by gas, with the help of incandescent lamps and various other reflectors, in which the infrared base lies.

Infrared wave

Infrared waves and its length directly depend on the source’s temperature. Probably the most effective device of this action will be a flameless gas burner equipped with ceramic nozzles.

Gas-air

The Gas- Air mixture creates a reaction similar to a small explosion.

In this case, the nozzle is heated to 900 degrees, and then an infrared wave 2 microns long comes from it.

When an infrared wave hits the enamel of a car, it causes the molecules to vibrate, and metal gets very hot.

How to use catalysts?

You can also dry the car body with the help of special rejection catalysts.

You can find a huge number of species in stores with paints and varnishes. You need to choose the catalyst that suits your paint. This is usually indicated on the label.

If there is no indication, you can always ask the seller.

The solution helps to reduce the temperature to 167 degrees.

The catalyst for the car is prepared in a glass container. It must be used immediately.

Almost every manufacturer sets a monthly expiration date for this solution, but check the packaging for how long your product dries.

Anhydride must be applied before painting.

The anhydride quickly hardens after applying the layers, forming a reliable fastening for the first layer. Also, applying such a solution will help make the car’s appearance more shiny, even a little glossy.

Frequently Asked Questions

⭐How long does car paint take to cure?

At most, it takes 24 hours for the fresh paint to cure.

⭐How long does it take for lacquer to dry?

It will take around half an hour to dry completely, but it is advised that you wait at least a week or two for it to fully set and harden.

⭐How long does it take paint to fully dry?

It usually takes a day

⭐How long does it take for a car clear coat to dry?

You’ll have to wait from 24 to 48 hours depending on conditions.

Written by Melinda Sherween
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Melinda worked as an art consultant and Home Designer for eight years in total. As an art consultant, she was first employed in a local art gallery in San Francisco where she was responsible for picking the most suitable artwork for her clients depending on their goals and budget. At this job, Melinda showed herself as a confident specialist and a true art lover with exceptional taste and artistic sense. Melinda is a passionate author of Housekeeping Bay and we are really happy that she is our Expert.
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