How Long Does Acrylic Paint Take to Cure?

One of the crucial aspects to remember when completing any painting project is that it will take time. Acrylic paint dries very quickly in general. Nevertheless, you should wait one week before applying varnish, even if the paint seems dry to the touch. With this, you can ensure if the paint is completely dried or not. 

You can use it to paint a simple canvas or a more complicated acrylic pour when it comes to acrylic paint. A typical drying time for paint is between 15 and 30 minutes due to the chemical properties. However, it is even possible to dry the canvas in less than 10 minutes if you paint a simple one-layer canvas.

Compared to acrylic paint, oil paint has a different texture. There is no doubt that acrylic paint dries quickly, which some people may perceive as a plus or a disadvantage. The drying time for an oil painting varies between two and twelve days.

A week is a good amount of time to wait before varnishing acrylics. They dry quickly on the surface, but they must be thoroughly dried before varnishing. After hours of painting, an acrylic painting is still a bit wet underneath, even if it appears dry to the touch. Because of this trapped moisture, the varnish can appear cloudy if you varnish your painting too soon before the acrylic paint is completely dry.

Are Acrylic Paintings Dry When They Have These Signs?

It may take longer for some acrylics to dry, particularly those that dry slowly or contain retarders. Therefore, the common question arises is that whether the product is dry and fully cured to touch. Although you may mistakenly think your painting is dry, it could still be wet beneath its surface, especially if it was coated multiple times.

When applying multiple layers, it is good to wait for about 20 minutes between each one, then double-check to make sure that the paint does not have lumps or is wet in spots. Because acrylic paint evaporates, the outside or surface of the painting will always dry first. 

However, when your acrylic paint isn’t fully dry, varnishing, or glossing, it can cause condensation, which may cause a cloudy finish—the drying time for varnishing needs to get proper attention. 

When Acrylic Paint Dries, It Goes Through Several Steps

If applied directly to a surface or poured, acrylic paint tends to follow a predictable drying pattern. This pattern contains several steps that should be understood to prevent damaging your pouring projects without meaning to.

An essential component of the entire process is the considerable time each step takes for pour applications compared to straight painting applications. In addition, pouring acrylic paint extends the drying process considerably due to the fluidity of the mediums used to create it.

#Paint On Wet Surfaces

A container of paint in this format is ready to use. A painting surface can be easily moved around with the paint. The water and solvents present in paint begin to vaporize when the paint is exposed to air. Pour acrylics can be poured in this phase for a few hours up to a couple of days.

# Re-Skinned

Within minutes of completing their exit, the rapidly escaping strains start to form a skin outside the painting. The edges of acrylic pour typically show this after about four to eight hours of drying. It will take the skins to form faster at the points that have the most surfaces exposed, like corners. It will take them longer to form at the interiors.

#Upon Contact, The Touch Is Dry

When the painting reaches the Touch Dry stage, it has developed that touching the painting does not wrinkle or tear it. However, the paint beneath this layer maybe still not be completely dry. Paintings typically show this on their outer edges after the first 24 hours of exposure to light.

# A Dry, Solid State That Is Easy to Handle

Currently, it appears that the paint on the surface of the painting has dried. The skin thickens and becomes harder after completing steps 2 and 3. Most artists wait until the last step before final preparation before believing their paint is dry; in fact, this is the danger zone step.   

Neither the painting surface nor the paint has had enough time to dry through, and thus the bond between them has not been fully formed. The paint can come away from the painting surface if you handle it excessively, roll it, or add additional sealers (like varnish or resin).

# Curing/Coalescence

The cured stage is the last step in the drying process for acrylic paints. It is nearly impossible to see any water or solvent remaining that can be volatile. Essentially, every acrylic paint molecule is now close together (which is why dried acrylic paint appears like plastic). Increasing the number of layers and finishing the painting should be feasible now.

A painting created by pouring acrylics can “cure” for weeks after the five steps mentioned above. 

Drying Zones

There is no uniformity in paint drying, as was mentioned above. Those areas that are exposed the most to the air will dry the fastest. In the case of a canvas, for example, the paint dries fastest at the outside edges. 

During step 2, the center could still be in the painting, and during step 3, the outside of the painting would be. Zonal drying is what happens when this happens. The whole painting will be cured/coalesced when zonal drying is complete for acrylic paint pouring.

The Difference Between Fully Cured and Dry to Touch

The difference between a “dry to touch” and a fully cured paint is important. Evaporation is the process by which acrylic paint dries. A solid paint film forms when the water molecules in the acrylic emulsion evaporate.

Acrylic paint can still be wet even if it is dry to the touch. The paint is more vulnerable to damage during the “touch-dry” stage. It is possible to lift, for instance, a previous layer if you aggressively paint it over with a brush.

Further, applying varnish to a painting that is still damp could result in the varnish clouding over. The paint will normally cure within a few days if applied in relatively thin layers. The drying time for acrylics that dry slowly or that contain retarders may be prolonged. If you plan to varnish over Gold’s Open Acrylics, wait 30 days before applying the varnish.

Dry Times Are Slowing Down

Occasionally, your pour may dry too quickly, resulting in paint cracking or crazing. A variety of environmental variables may be adjusted, or additional materials may be added to the paint to reduce dry time.

  • If you keep the drying area at the recommended 65-75° F, you can slow the drying process.  
  • A humidifier or diffuser can help you dry your paintings by increasing the moisture in the air. You can increase humidity in a room where you hang dry clothing and your paintings. You need to check carefully that the humidity does not exceed 75%.
  • In the room, reduce the airflow. Keep air movements to a minimum by closing windows, vents, and doors.
  • You can also tent your painting by building a tent, usually out of plastic sheeting or painter’s plastic. Assure there is little or no ventilation into the tent and that the plastic cannot contact the painting. While the paint is drying, this reduces the airflow and keeps the humidity higher.
  • Pour your pouring mixture with a retarder. A retarder is a chemical additive that is used to slow down a paint’s drying time. Some of these additives contain glycerin as the main ingredient, causing the movement of water and solvents to be slowed, slowing evaporation.
  • For acrylic pours, let the paint stay a little thicker on the canvas. The painting will take longer to dry if this is done. Painting surfaces should not be left with a layer of more than 1/8″ and preferably closer to 1/16″. Since pour paints are applied thickly, they’re more likely to crack and craze.
  • Paint the surface by sealing it or using a hard painting surface that has been finished.


You can find several factors which can influence how quickly your painting dries. Humidity, temperature, additives, airflow, surfaces painted, and elevation are some of the most important variables to consider.

It takes time for a painted pairing to reach its final state. You can ensure the success of your artistic endeavors by understanding how the drying process works. So, the next time you start your art on the canvas with acrylic paints, make sure you know the amount of time they take to dry up. 

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