Posted by on Jan 4, 2014 in Blog, Painting Furniture | 124 comments

My first blog post of 2014… Happy New Year!!! … I hope you and yours had a wonderful Holiday Season!

Have you ever spent time painting a piece of furniture, painting your walls, cabinets, or anything at all; then somehow mucked up your paint job because it hadn’t dried or cured properly? Beyond frustrating right?

Before I went on holidays last year (love saying “last year” even though it was only a few weeks ago… weird, I know) I repaired a table with edge-banding and gave it a flawless sprayed black finish.


Painted Black Table repaired w Edge Banding


Because I was in a rush with my packing, holiday preparation yada-yada-yada (do people still say yada-yada 😉 ), I rushed to get this table staged, photographed, and posted to this blog.  Take a look what happened. If you look closely, you’ll see exactly where the plate left its mark!

Scratched Table | How Long For Paint To Dry?


I’ve been painting furniture long enough to know that paint can feel DRY to the touch in as little as 1 or 2 hours, however CURE time usually takes 3-4 weeks. This is because PAINT DRY and PAINT CURE are two different things.

Paint “DRY” happens when the solvents evaporate from your paint coating leaving the paint feeling dry to the touch even though it is not 100% dry.

Paint “CURE” happens when your paint coating has reached it’s maximum hardness and is completely 100% dry.

When reading the label on your paint can, it will tell you the DRY time, not the CURE time. Through many mistakes just like my table above, I’ve learned it’s best to wait until furniture has CURED before staging and selling. Sometimes this isn’t possible. For instance, if a client wants their furniture asap, I always explain the repercussions of using the furniture before it has had time to cure.


How long does it take paint to dry and cure? 


Water Based/Latex Paint ~ Dry Time 1-2 hours – Cure Time 21-30 days

Oil Based Paint ~ Dry Time 6-8 hours – Cure Time 3-7 days

Chalk Brand Paints ~ Dry Time 30-60 minutes – Cure time 30 days

Homemade Chalky Paint ~ Dry Time 30-60 minutes – Cure Time 21-30 days

Milk Paint ~ Dry Time 30 minutes – Cure time 30 days


Some factors which effect dry/cure time.


The thickness of your paint

The surface it’s painted on eg. wood/melamine/dry wall/concrete/canvas etc.

The sheen of the paint eg. flat/eggshell/satin/semi-gloss/high-gloss

The brand and type of paint eg. oil/latex/chalk/acrylic/milk paint

The color of the paint and tints used eg. longer drying time with dark colors

The overall condition of where it is left to dry eg. air flow/humidity/temperature

The number of coats applied


How to check if your paint is dry?

To check if your paint is dry, touch an inconspicuous area with your finger. If the paint is not tacky and feels dry to the touch, it is dry.


How to check if your paint is cured?

To check if your paint is cured, do the fingernail test. In an inconspicuous area, press your fingernail into the paint. If it leaves an indent (like my plate did…grrrr!!!) your paint is not fully cured. If no indent is visible and the surface is hard, your paint has cured.

Paint-Dry&Cure-Times Chart


So do you think I should add P-A-T-I-E-N-C-E to my list of New Years Resolutions? {rolling my eyes and smiling}

I’d love to hear how long you wait for your paint to dry before using or selling your furniture.  Don’t be shy… If you’ve had a similar experience, leave a comment! It will make me feel a whole lot better knowing I’m not the only one!

Enjoy your day!