How Long Oil Paint Takes To Dry (Proven Tips To Speed It Up)

Michael Daly
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Oxidation Rather Than Evaporation

What actually makes oil paint dry. Well, it is oxidation, not evaporation. And it takes time for oxidation to work. It is the chemical process in which two molecules react with each other at room temperature. Yes, oil paint reacts with oxygen.

For example, consider an egg. It can be fried, boiled, or roasted. Each cooking will change the taste of the egg. And all these changes are due to the chemical reaction of the protein in the egg with the heat before being consumed. Similarly, oil paint will react with oxygen to change its state.

That is why changing the technique you use to apply the paint matters a lot.

Another Large Factor On How Long It Takes To Dry Oil-Based Paint Is Your Environment

If you look at the “Binders” section of paint cans, you’ll notice that the quick drying paints contain “Air-Dry Binders”. These are paints that take a short time to dry compared to traditional paints that contain “Aerosol-Base Binders”.

However, if you use paints that contain Aerosol-Base Binders and you don’t like the time it takes to dry, you can try speeding up the process by using an Alternative Binder!

Because oil paint isn’t 100% paint, it lacks the ability to dry by evaporating the water in it. In fact, the water is retained by a smaller amount of “Binder” compounds.

When it comes to body painting, clay based texturizing paints such as Face & Body Paints can be used as a replacement for “Aerosol-Base Binders”. Face & Body Paints are made of different minerals than regular paints. Some of these minerals act as a binding agent in order to hold the pigments in powdered form together to create paint.

Pigment & Oil Ratios Will Vary Across Manufacturers And Tubes

If you are looking at oil paint, this is well beyond the artist stage. This paint takes long to dry, even up to several weeks! So you may not want to be on top of them while working on the masterpiece.

Here are some tips to make it dry sooner:

Texturing the Surface:

The texture of the surface can greatly affect the drying of oil paint. Smooth surfaces dry faster than rough ones. To create texture, use a variety of painting tools such as a palette knife, squeegee, bristle brush, sandpaper, and the like. If the surface will be spray painted or varnished, the drying time of the oil paint will even be quicker.

Thinning the Oil Paint:

Using oil paints straight out of the tube is less ideal compared to thinning the paint for better fill in strokes. The pigments in the paint are heavy and light, making them harder to stir than water. As such, you will definitely have problems applying pigment and oil paint in layers by using a pallet or even a brush. Thinning the paint will allow you to have a little leeway the next time you layer the pigment.

You can also experiment with the thinner to get the right consistency for your application.

Use Solvents To Accelerate Drying Time:

General Guidelines On How Long It Takes Oil Paint To Dry

After you apply acrylic or oil paint to your canvas, you should ask yourself the question: how long oil paint takes to dry?

In order to paint continuously and produce large quantities of art, you should have the right tools and techniques for the job. If you simply want to produce beautiful art you can hang on your wall, you can try several methods to speed up the drying time. How long does it take for oil paint to dry? The simple answer is to make sure that you are using quality paint which has all the essential properties for speeding up the drying process. Here is a guide on how long it takes for oil paint to dry:

{1}. It takes about 5 to 6 hours for oil paint to dry in normal conditions.
{2}. Oil paint takes proportionally longer to set if the room is hot.
{3}. Good quality oil paint takes longer to dry than the cheaper supermarket brands.
{4}. A more opaque paint takes longer to dry than a matte or more transparent paint.
{5}. Colored paint takes longer than a pure hue.
{6}. Water-soluble paints take longer to dry.
{7}. Linseed oil dissolves more quickly than
{8}. If you want to speed up the process, use

Underpainting = ~ 1 Day

Oil paint is often used as an underpainting to allow the artist to better control the final image. The underpainting not only allows the artist better control, but also helps the paint bond to the canvas.

An underpainting takes a long time to dry (3-5 days+). But adding heat and pressure to the canvas can speed up the process.

On the subject of putting oil paint on a hot, humid or windy day, I was surprised myself to discover that as long as the paint is thoroughly thinned, one can paint in the hot sun.

Heat from sun will help the paint to dry faster and the paint thin enough will not cause any problems. Just be sure to protect the exposed paint on your canvas from rain.

Although the painting appears totally dry when you stop painting. Do not pick it up and hang it until it’s truly dry.

If you are lucky to have a particular fast drying paints (like Gamblin’s NuClear, a water-miscible, oil paint), you will attribute their drying speed to the solvent used. But in reality, they’re created by mixing the oil paints with a fast drying oil medium. A solvent such as mineral spirits or petroleum spirits, will speed up the drying time significantly.

Overpainting =~ 3 to 12 days

This is what you have to do when you want to lay down some fresh paint on top of a partially “dry” canvas. This technique is called overpainting and is used to build up layers of paint with distinct results.

The completion of oil painting is the ideal result of the drying process, although there are some right ways to speed it up. The recommended time for oil paint to dry is 3 to 12 days. Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to wait 3 to 12 days to start your next painting project.

Overpainting is one surefire way to speed up the drying process. In fact, some artists have reported using this method successfully in as little as 3 to 6 hours. The fast drying of overpaint results in a more committed and committed painting.

Laying down a coat of paint on top of a partially dry painting allows the artist to work with more freedom and speed. Oil paint is not as affected by time as acrylic paint, although the thinner the paint application, the faster it will dry.

The duration an oil painting takes to dry, depends upon how you paint. If you work with thin layers of color and use a combination of wet and dry brushstrokes, then your painting will dry faster than if you paint thick impastos of color and make mostly smooth, soft brushstrokes.

The drying time also depends on the thickness or viscosity of your paint and if you use heat. The lower the viscosity and the larger the surface covered, the faster it will dry.

Various drying times are given by different experimenters. The following list is a compendium of the most popular timeline observations (often grouped in days and weeks).

If a particular artist doesn’t appear on the list, I suggest to look at the chapters Comparing Oil Paint Amounts and Why Does an Oil Painting Take So Long To Dry? to correct your painting style.

Fat Over Lean – Meet Slow Over Fast

If we look at chemistry in terms of physics, there is the concept of a phase change. This is when the composition of matter changes from one phase to another. For example, water ice “”s becoming liquid water and then becoming water vapor (steam) and becoming water steam.

So, with oil paint, we can say that we have oils with lighter and heavier pigments and binders. The lightest are in the top layers and thickest are last. The thicker oil binds the paints together and makes them drying resistant. This is called slow over fast.

Now, the secret to the long drying oil painting comes not from using a lot of slow oil but by being lean in oil.

Tips To Speed Up Drying Times Of Oil Paint And Improve Workflow

Oil paint dries in layers. Every layer is contained in the following layer, so that when you apply colours together over one another, they do not yield the effect you might want.

Therefore, you should never apply layers right on top of the dried layer. The right way is to apply the layer you want, and then wait for it to dry.

However, the drying times can be very long if you do not do anything about it.

Oil paint dries within 12-24h depending on the temperature (the hotter it is, the faster it dries) and the thickness of the layer. It can take up to over a week if coatings are very thick.

Increase the temperature

It is well known that temperature affects drying time. If the temperature is high, oils dry faster.

Increase the quantity of linseed oil

If linseed oil is the only oil in the mixture, it takes the longest to dry because it is more difficult to dry. If you are in a hurry, you can add a thinner oil to your paint.

Hold the lid

After mixing your paint, it is recommended to store it in a cupboard with a lid. The lid holds the trapped heat inside the cupboard and accelerates the drying.

Decrease the thickness of your oil paint layers

Thicker oil paint layers dry slower than thinner ones do.

Fast Drying Solutions

Whether you are an amateur or professional oil painter, attempts to speed drying time will be inevitable. No matter how carefully you apply the paint, it's always going to take a lot of time to dry to a level where you can stack it next to other paintings.

Let's face it, oil paint is just a pain to deal with in certain circumstances. You've got to be extra careful with the paint. For example, if you intend to paint on concrete or asphalt, you certainly need to coat the painting surface with a protective layer.

This extra precaution is not only for protecting the surface but also to avoid the paint from getting flaky or cracked while it dries. The main reason for paint flaking or cracking is due to the paint drying too fast or unevenly to its protective surface.

To prevent this from happening, the most common suggestions include:

Keep your painting in a room with very little airflow Keep your studio temperature cool

Doing the above will definitely help speed the drying process but often to your own convenience. But if you need to paint in a location where these suggestions don't make sense then, read on for some simple and proven solutions.

Liquin and Galkyd

It is always a challenge to try to paint on wet oil paints. So you can use two products to speed up the drying process. They are Liquin and Galkyd. You can use them both for oil painting. However, they serve different purposes. Liquin is used for wetting the paints while Galkyd is used for making the oil paint thin.

Liquin is an excellent product that speeds up the drying time of oil paints by thinning out the oils. It has solvents which speed up the drying time of oil paints. It helps prevent brush strokes and increases flow. It also improves the flow of oil paints. It prevents cracking of flat or shaped canvases. Liquin makes oil paints dry quicker. Liquin can also be used directly on the canvas as an under painting.

Galkyd, on the other hand, is a retardant. It is added to the pigment and oil and helps slow down the oil layer which made the oil paint surface dry. Galkyd is non-toxic. Its purpose is to slow the oils so that drainage can be prevented and the oil film can be thickened. Galkyd retards drying and increases the viscosity of the paint.

Acrylic Underpainting

Oil painting has come to our imagination from ages. Today, it is not only a hobby for many but also a serious passion.

The popularity of oil paints has not lessened in over the past 500 years. It's versatility and ease of use is still unmatched by other paints.

Modern art has evolved to several new styles with paints. Similarly, painting techniques and ways of application has evolved too. But the charm of oil painting is still intact.

So, if you are a beginner or even a professional artist, chances are that how to speed up oil paint drying up is something that has bothered you.

To help speed up the drying process, it is advisable to use a spray mist. This forms a thin layer that protects the oil paint from atmospheric conditions. Secondly, you can use a hair dryer to dry paint quickly.

For a beginner, there are several techniques that can help you speed up and make your own paintings. Acrylic underpainting for oil painting is one such simple technique. This is a painting technique that's been around for over a century, to speed-up and simplify the creation and painting of an oil portrait.

A thin 'underpainting' layer of impasto (thick) acrylic will quickly dry and seal your oil painting from atmospheric conditions. Doing that will save your work from any damage or spoilage while you work on it.

Warm Dry Air Is Best

If you have painted outside it should have dried by the evening. It can take a lot longer in a living room, but it will still dry. You should open a window or two to allow maximum ventilation.

Paint dries from the top down, so don't be tempted to just walk on it after a couple of hours. The paint is still wet below.

The drying time depends on several factors. If you paint in a cool room without proper ventilation, the paint could take days.

Look for natural light and keep the temperature at least above 55 °F/13 °C. But never paint in a warm room because the paint will become too soft and sticky.

You can speed up the drying time by using a fan that blows into the room. This will allow more paint to dry at the same time.

Add more thinner to the paint, because thinner supports drying.

Is One Painting Really Enough?

A lot of painters prefer to paint more than one coat of paint to cover well and to get a nice finish. The second coat gives a nice uniform look to the surface, and the paint dries evenly.

However, the first coat also dries really quickly and most painters tend to think that this coat is enough. After about 2 hours from the first coat, you can decide whether or not your surface is ready for the second coat.

If you want to speed up the process, try these techniques:

  • Keep the temperature controlled so that it’s somewhere around 65‗70° Fahrenheit
  • Get the humidity level down
  • Let it dry indoors.

If you take a look at the facts below, you can come to this simple conclusion that the time it takes to dry paint depends mostly on the temperature and the drying conditions. I am not changing here when I say that when paint is drying, it reaches a critical temperature, and you must keep this in mind.

Closing Thoughts On Drying Your Painting

Oil paints dry through evaporation of the solvent which is mixed with oil. The drying time of oil paint will be longer when the paint is applied thickly.

The oil paints, which are used for painting, may be linseed oil, walnut oil, poppy seed oil, safflower cake, etc.

As oil paints are prone to cracking, do not apply thicker coats of it. Applying thick coats will bring out the oil stains, which will disturb and spoil the look of your painting.

When you have finished applying the oil paint on your canvas, go through the following tips which will help you speed up the process of dehydration:

{1}. Keep the humidity and temperature levels in the room at normal settings. High temperature for a long time or heating the room for drying oil paint may cause shrinking and warping of your painting. Therefore, be careful.
{2}. Check whether the room has proper air circulation or not. The movement of air helps accelerate the drying process.
{3}. Intermittently dab your painting with a tissue to remove the greasy layer from the top as it results in extra film or layer of oil paint which affects the entire painting.
{4}. Trim the dry edges of the painting after a few days which remaining oil paint has dried and hard. You will find a uniform finish then.
{5}. Your painting will be dry in about 2 – 3 days.

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When you are painting with oil paints, you have probably wondered how long does oil paint take to dry? Well, the answer will depend on many factors including the type of paint, your environment, the weather, and the method you use to apply the paint. The good news is that you can extend the time it takes for the paint to dry to your liking.

Here are a few simple techniques you can use to speed up the process as you paint different artistic expressions with your oil paints.