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  • Carlton Clark

How Long Between Paint Coats?

Updated: Nov 8, 2020

Figuring out how long you should wait before you paint the next coat can be a little tricky at times. Luckily, we have the answers to this big question.

In general, it comes down to a few factors:

  • Type of paint

  • Temperature

  • Thickness

We’ll go over all of these and what exactly they mean.

Painting too early can destroy the entire project which will cost more time and money. Waiting too long will result in wasted time.

By the end of this article, you should be able to calculate exactly how much time you’ll need to wait in between each coat.

So whether you’re painting an entire house or just one wall, we have all the answers for you below.

Let’s get started.


In general, there are three key ways to dictate how much time you'll need between each coat. Those three scenarios are listed below where well deep dive into each one.

It’s important to always know what type of paint you’re using as well as how much you’re applying.

Different paints dry in different ways, without knowing this your project could turn into a nightmare. Luckily for you, we have the answers right here:

Dry Time

This is the period of time that it will take for your paint to dry. By applying your 2nnd coat too early it will completely destroy the first coat leaving a mess.

It’s vital that you wait until the first coat is done drying.

Although it can be hard to be patient, its best to wait longer than it is to go too early. By waiting longer you'll lose time but going to early you lose even more time as well as cost yourself some money.

So how do you know if the paint is done drying?

You’ll want to make sure the wall is dry to the touch of your finger. Be sure to check a variety of places on the wall or you could end up missing a spot.

Recoat Time

The recoat time is the period of time that it takes for the paint to be ready. This is very important because this dictates when you can start the next layer of paint.

By missing the recoat time, the entire wall can be messed up which in the end will cost money, time, and effort. But doing it properly will eliminate any of the stress.

Cure Time

This is the final product. The cure time is when the paint has fully hardened. At this point, the wall can be washed and touched.

Depending on your location, type of paint, and humidity this can take weeks to get to this point.

The truth is, although paint looks like its dry it will take some time to become fully dry. Even after a week, the paint can still be soft.

It’s important to go easy on the wall and try to avoid touching it for at least a week. Be sure to keep furniture away fro the wall to prevent any scratches.

Dry Times For Types Of Paint

The time it takes for paint to dry depends on a few factors. But the most obvious one is the type of paint. Here are the types of paints and how long they’ll take to dry:

Primer: 30 minutes to an hour to dry and 1-2 hours before the second coat

Glossy paint: 1-1 ½ hours and 2 hours before applying the second coat.

Semi-gloss: Takes roughly 1 hour to dry and 2 hours before applying the second coat.

Matte Paint: 30 minutes to an hour for drying and 1-2 hours before applying the second coat.

Eggshell paint: 1 hour to dry and 2 hours before applying the second coat.

It’s important to know what type of paint you have before applying. This way you know the proper wait times to get an amazing finished product.

Temperature Effects On Dry Times

Something that can have a major impact but not many people know about si the temperature. Whether you’re inside or outside the temperature will always have an impact on the paint job.

If possible, paint within the temperature guidelines that are labeled on the paint can. This will ensure high-quality results.

Both extreme cold and extreme heat will extend the drying time which is important to know before you apply the second coat.

We keep this in mind when we're painting in places like Rockford during the winter months.

If it’s hot in the room try using a fan, and if it’s very cold try using a heater. Or just letting fresh air into the room will make a large impact and save you some additional time.

What Happens If You Apply 2nd Coat Too Soon

Applying the second coat too early will result in lost time, money, and effort. Not only that but it’ll also create additional stress that’s not necessary.

Applying the second coat too early will result in streaks, peeling paint, and uneven color. Not only will this ruin the entire project but it’ll cost additional money to get more paint in some occasions.

It’s best to wait for the first coat to dry. It’s much easier to see the first layer when it’s dry than compared to when its wet. This will help you get even paint strokes.

What To Do While You Wait

This question can come up pretty often and for good reason. Fortunately, the answer is pretty simple.

If you have other walls to paint then get a head start on those, by the time your finish those it's likely you'll be able to start the second coat immediately.

If its just one wall, then it’ll be pretty easy for you. The answer is you get to do what you’d like. So whether its taking care of unused items or watching an episode of Netflix. It’s completely up to you.

Just be sure to cover all items so the paint doesn’t dry out your paintbrush.

Technique For The Second Coat

The second coat is typically the last, so at this point in the project, you’re likely tired and anxious to just get the project done.

One of the most important things is to keep your composure and end out on a great note.

It can be easy to stress out at this point.

Another technique is letting the first coat dry. This will let you see exactly where you need to apply additional paint. This strategy will allow for even coats of paint.

Final Thoughts

When painting a wall, room, or home its important that you know when and how to paint the second coat.

Doing this wrong will lead to stress, loss of money, and time.

It’s better to just take the time to do it properly and you'll end up with a much better end product.

Painting an entire room, wall, or home can be stressful and tiring but in the end, it’ll all be worth it when you take a step back and see all your hard work being displayed.

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