How Do You Know When Acrylic Paint Has Dried Or Cured

How Long Does Acrylic Paint Take to Dry on Wood?

Considering there are other responsibilities to take care of, you may want to gauge how much time it will take you to finish that acrylic wood renovation so you can attend to other activities of the day. Or would you have to sacrifice the entire day for that single project?

Remember, time is VALUABLE.

But how long does acrylic paint take to dry on wood? To put succinctly, it takes about 20-30 minutes for most acrylics to dry to touch, but there are other things that could affect the drying time. This article will fill you in with the precise acrylic paint drying time.

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How Long Does Acrylic Paint Take to Dry on Wood?

How Long Does Acrylic Paint Take to Dry on Wood

Acrylic paint could be a fast-drying medium, but don’t get too anxious because things might not be as they seem.

Before you could fully understand how long acrylic paint takes to dry on wood, you MUST know the distinctive difference between when the medium has dried to the touch and when it has fully cured.

Just as the name “dry to touch” sounds, you touch the coat, and the paint doesn’t come off with your finger. But this is not a reliable indicator that it has completely dry.

For me, this stage is quite risky to use the piece because the layer is still susceptible to damage.

Any aggressive movement (even from the paintbrush) can lift or ruin the initial coat. And most painters fall short of this notice.

Fully cured acrylic, on the other hand, is when the layer dries into its solid-state. At this point, anything is possible.

It occurs when the vast majority of Evaporative such as water and retarders have fled off from the paint film, and the polymer chains have finally merged to create the binder network.

Any applied acrylic on any surface undergoes these two stages. Therefore they are noteworthy, so you don’t get confused.

Generally, it takes about 20-30 minutes for most acrylics to dry to touch – depending on the environmental conditions. But if the application is thick or has retarders added to them, it may require extra time to dry.

Meanwhile, the curing time (when the acrylic film is fully stable, close to its maximum durability) takes approximately three days for thin applications. And may take much longer, about two to three weeks for thick applications.

Read Also: Oil Vs Acrylic Vs Watercolor Vs Gouache Paint

How Do You Know When Acrylic Paint Has Dried Or Cured?

The ONLY way to know is to do the finger test–where gently place your thumb on a small area of the surface –preferably somewhere that isn’t much noticeable.

If it doesn’t feel sticky and seems dry, then it has dried to the touch.

Secondly, press your thumb and try to move it slightly on the painted surface, and then release it. If your finger leaves a dent on the paint, it signified it hasn’t fully cured yet.

However, if the surface feels sturdy and doesn’t leave a print, you are good to go.

Factors That Can Affect the Drying Time of Acrylic Paint

How Do You Know When Acrylic Paint Has Dried Or Cured

Yes, some factors accelerate the drying time of any acrylic paint, which means you can leverage the situation to your advantage. And here is how:

If you can control the environment condition, you have earned the remote control over the drying and curing time of any acrylic paint on wood.


The humid level in the air can affect how long it takes for the acrylic paint to dry or cure.

For instance, in an arid climate, acrylics are more susceptible to dry very rapidly, making it challenging to work outdoor without adding retarders to paint or using a wet palette to derive it from drying too quickly.

However, while working indoor, you stand a better chance of controlling the humidity level. You use the heating and air conditioning system to amplify the humidity in the air.

If it’s a detachable project, my workshop is always the basement where I can run a dehumidifier to reduce and maintain the level of humidity in the air.

Succinctly, increasing the humidity will help extend the drying times, whereas lowering it will make the paint dry much faster.

Read Also: What is the Difference Between Latex Paint Vs Acrylic Paint?


Temperature is another element that calls the shots as to how long the acrylic should dry.

In higher temperatures, you may find it quite a task to work outdoor because the water from the paint will evaporate swiftly, making them dry out faster than normal.

I urge you to use a wet spacious palette on every hot day, to prevent the paint from drying out.

The thickness of the Acrylic Paint

This one is a no-brainer: the thicker the layer; the longer it will take for it to dry. Contrarily, thin layers will dry to touch and cure within a twinkle of an eye.

Having said that, it’s advisable to apply the paint more liberally if you want more time for blending because it takes longer for the water to evaporate from thicker coats.


The airflow in that particular room or space has hand in the dry time as well.

If you’re working outdoors on a windy day, it can be quite annoying because your paint tends to dry much faster than you could imagine.

To prevent that from happening, you either go inside or set up the piece near any wind block to help reduce the flow of air.

However, if you are working indoors then you want to avoid setting up the project near an open window or heating/air conditioning vent.

The ceiling fan is another noteworthy culprit that accelerates the paint’s drying time.

Read Also: Can Acrylic Paint Be Used on a Metal Surface?

Can you paint acrylic directly on wood?

You can use any type of acrylic you like for painting on wood. Use a wide, flat paintbrush to apply the paint to the wood. Allow the paint to dry before applying a second coat, and then paint the back if you wish. Most acrylic paints will take roughly 20 minutes to dry.

Will acrylic paint dry on wood?

Acrylic paint generally dries on wood within an hour. But if you apply a very thick layer of paint, if you are doing acrylic pouring for example, then drying times can be upwards of 48 hours. Generally, if the paint is no longer wet and if the paint has no saturated spots on it anymore then it should be dry.

How can you make acrylic paint dry faster on wood?

Improve the natural drying time of acrylic paint by placing acrylic pieces in a warm room with low humidity to dry or by placing them near a fan. The air circulation near the painting draws the moisture from the painting’s surface.

How long should I let acrylic paint dry?

Thin paint films: 10 – 20 minutes. Thick paint films: 1 hour – 3 days.” “Galeria: Thin films of colour will dry in 10-20 minutes whereas thicker films can take an hour or more.” “Thin films of Professional Acrylic will dry in 20-30 minutes and thicker films can take an hour or two.

Do I need to seal acrylic paint on wood?

If you do not seal acrylic paint on your wooden items, the paint may eventually crack and then peel off. By following the entire process of painting a wooden surface, it helps to protect and make sure the wooden item keeps looking great for a long time.

Is acrylic paint waterproof when dry?

Although it might be slightly water-resistant, it does not provide a waterproof coat. To make it waterproof, add a sealer over the acrylic paint. When the paint has dried, it is slightly water-resistant but will eventually start to peel or flake off.

Does acrylic paint need water?

For acrylic the solvent is water. Acrylic without water (just pigment and polymer binder only) will produce a paint film layer that looks juicy, glossy and substantial when applied over any surface. It doesn’t matter, because once you apply the undiluted acrylic on top the paint film will all look the same.

Does acrylic paint dry fast?

Acrylics are mostly known for their ability to dry quickly, allowing artists to layer and over paint in rapid succession. Some artists even love to use fans or hairdryers to speed it along; however, there are many times when an effect is desired for which, frankly, acrylics dry too fast.

Why is my acrylic paint sticky?

When acrylic paints begin to dry, they quickly reach a phase known as the “Tacky Phase”. This is the phase in between the wet and dry to the touch phases, when the acrylic paint feels sticky to the touch. When acrylic paint reaches this phase you should no longer work on it as it will create unwanted effects.

Why does my acrylic take so long to dry?

Monomer is the liquid that causes it to harden. Acrylic isn’t my expertise. I learned mostly gels but sometimes if the temperature is too cold, it can cause it to dry more slowly. Also, if the monomer is a low-odor it evaporated slowly so it takes longer to dry.


How long does acrylic paint take to dry on wood? Hopefully, this article has given you a clear answer to this question.

Above all, you now know the basic factors that affect the drying time and how to allay them.

Remember to make acrylics dry faster you should increase the airflow, paint thin layers, increase temperature, decrease humidity, or use regular acrylics without retarders.

As to make acrylic dry slower, you have to do the reverse of what makes them dry faster.

Lastly, if you have any queries don’t hesitate to reach us via to comment section. We’ll be happy to reply and address your concerns.

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