How Long Does Car Paint Take To Dry? Can You Manage It In Your Busy Life?

Thinking of getting your car painted with a new coat of auto paint? That’s some excellent idea for remodeling, but aren’t you worried if anything goes wrong or if the paint takes too long to dry? You might even start riding it before it’s all dry, and you know the rest. Well, no wonder why you’re here.

Applying new paint on the car is an excellent way to make it look all new and dashing, and of course, to hide the flaws.

How Long Does Car Paint Take To Dry?

But there are so many things that might not go your way if you calculate the paint drying time. Well, you already know the worst things that could happen. So, before you panic even more, why don’t we answer ‘How long does car paint take to dry?’

While some paints dry in less than 3 hours, some even take more than 12 hours to dry. However, if you are asking for the total cure time, then it’s wise to give it 24 hours to dry it thoroughly before you hop on it and take it for a ride. Also, if you are thinking about how long till you can wash it, then wait at least 2 weeks before the car washing sessions. Well, I know there’s a lot more you want to know about it. So, reading this little article will let you know the following –

  • How long does it take to paint a car?
  • Car paint drying time (for different paints)
  • How long does car paint last?
  • How long does it take for the clear coat to dry?

You seem like you’re in a hurry. So, let’s not delay anymore and get to business!

Useful Car Paint Table:

1. Dupli-Color Car PaintCheck Here
2. Custom Coat Car Paint KitCheck Here
3. Rust Bullet Car PaintCheck Here

How Long Does It Take to Paint a Car?

Before we get to know the time length required for painting a car, let’s see what steps you need to go through for painting a car.

Prep work:

The first and foremost step to complete is the fine prep work. Let’s see-

  • First, you need to apply the primer. It is advisable to use a light-colored primer for light colors to paint and a dark primer for dark paint colors. You will need about 2-3 qt. of primer for that.
  • Remove the auto trims, like- trunk, hood, rubber gasket, reflectors, gas tank lid, lights, and of course, the license plate.
  • You don’t want the paint to smear everywhere, so you use tape to cover side windows, rear windows, windshields, mirrors, engine bay, door handles, etc.
  • Then, apply some grease remover and good grade soap to the car for removing the dirt, oil, and grease, following the priming.
  • Next, sand the automobile with 300-400 grit paper.
  • If there are any dents or holes, apply some Bondo to cover it up.
  • Don’t forget to smoothen the primer finish and make sure no bubbles are there.


  • Now, to begin the painting, mix your paint with acetone of about 1 qt. to bring it into the consistency of water.
  • Mix the solution well with stirring and shaking.
  • Then, apply the mixture made using a 4-inch wide foam paint roller to the car.
  • For better adhesion and better looks, do not forget to sand in between the layers.
  • The car painting will need a lot of coats, up to 10, for optimum results.

Time length:

Now that you are aware of the steps. You must be thinking about how long it will take. Well, the full cure time, along with the painting and preparing time, will take a whole day or even more.

  • After applying one coat of primer, you will need to wait for 15 minutes to apply the second coat.

After you apply the paint, you will need to wait 30-90 minutes before the second coat application.

Car Paint Drying Time

There are different kinds of paints you can use for painting your cars. Let me introduce you to them, along with the time required for paint drying.

Car Paint Drying Time

Acrylic Enamel

Acrylic enamel is a popular choice by car owners to paint their cars, considering the looks and the durability. There are two acrylic enamels based on the coating mixture- single-stage and two-stage paint.

For the one coat paint or single-stage paint, you only need 1-6 hours for curing. Now, for the latter, you need to apply a second coat over the first coat, which in total takes 2 days or 48 hours, no question!

Acrylic Lacquer

Acrylic lacquer gives off a shiny feel that many users love. For one coat to dry-to-touch, it will not take less than an hour or so, but for the full-cure, it’ll take a whole day.


If you want to find a durable paint option for applying on your car, then urethane should be your pick. Another specialty of this paint is that it is resistant to fading, which means it stays for long. And the total drying time is only 4-6 hours.

Acrylic Urethane

You must be thinking this one is almost like the basic urethane paint. No sir! It’s a lot different than that with a different drying process. The drying process includes baking the paint for 40 minutes and then cooling it for half an hour for full-cure.

Spray Painting

Now, if you don’t have much time or patience to paint your car. Then the fastest and easiest process is spray painting. Although I’m not a big fan of this process, it takes less time and minimum effort, which many favors.

Now, once you paint your car with the car paint gun, a popular method nowadays, you’ll need to give half an hour or so for curing and another 5 hours for drying completely. However, the drying time will vary due to applied layers and paint brands.

How Long Does Car Paint Last?

If you need to know how long the car paint lasts, on average, it would be anywhere from around 10-15 years. But the 5 years gap is a lot, to be honest, I know! So, what are the factors you need to check that impact how long the car paint will last?

How Long Does Car Paint Last?

Type of paint:

Yes, if you are wondering if the quality of the paint depends on the cost of the paint job, then you’re correct to a great extend. However, that’s not all you need to think about.

There are different paints in the stores I’ve mentioned already, and they have a different life span. The lifespan of the paint is very much dependent on the paint job cost. So, what you need to do as a wise car owner is to ask the paint labor or the company who is getting your car painted, ‘how long the paint job will last?’


The way you maintain or secure the painted car will ensure a longer lifespan of the car paint. There are a few things you should do-

  • There are particular elements that harm the paint, like, chemicals, direct sunlight, rain, snow, or high humidity. Remember to protect your car from these factors as much as possible.
  • Keep the vehicle inside your garage whenever you’re not using it.

-If you travel a lot in your car, keep a car cover or a carport with you.

  • Don’t forget to keep your car clean with regular wash and essential waxing.
  • During a car wash, refrain from using commercial car washes, powdered detergents, or abrasive materials.
  • Keep in mind that you need to be gentle while cleaning the four-wheeled baby.

And then you’ll see how a good paint job combined with significant maintenance improves the lifespan and durability of your car paint.

Related Topic: How Much Does It Cost to Paint a Car Yourself?

How Long Does It Take for The Clear Coat To Dry?

Now, that is a controversial question when there are many different opinions about it. When some people or experts say it takes about a day or two to dry the clear coat, some even debate on extending the period up to one or even a few months.

Well, if you ask me, then I would give you a list of the factors you need to consider when thinking of the time required to dry the clear coat-

  • Environment (Well protected and ventilated)
  • Sunny weather (not too much)
  • Temperature (Normal room temperature)
  • Used materials (Standard clear coat and paintbrushes or rollers)
  • The skills of the painting labor or painting professional or even yourself

Now, as I mentioned, if all the factors are in their standard condition and the clear coat application process runs smoothly, then you’ll just have to wait a day or two for it to dry up. Yes, this is the ideal time, but the time will vary with changes in the factors.

So, it brings us down to the verdict of the long-desired question ‘how long does car paint take to dry?’. Yes, by now, you’re an expert on this, and I hope this article has given you more information than you expected. You even know the basic rules of painting your car. Hence, enough of the wait, stop worrying if the paint drying will be a hassle, and get to work!

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