How Long Does Oil Based Paint Take to Dry?


How Long Does Oil Based Paint Take to Dry

Painting is one of the easiest and cheapest way to instantly spruce up a room, and it’s the most common home improvement project. There are many different types of paint that you can use for that type of job. The type you choose will have a big effect on the way it looks. One of them is oil based paint. It is a lot more durable than other types, but how long does oil based paint take to dry?

The short answer is: Oil-based paint takes a long time to dry. While water-based paint dries to the touch in 4 hours, you can double that drying time for oil-based paint. Drying between coats takes even longer for oil based paint – find the details below. However, there are ways of how you can accelerate the drying which we will show you below.

In this article we will be looking at the benefits of using oil-based paint, and how long you should expect to set it aside before it is ready. Read our article “How long does it paint to dry” if you are also interested in other types of paint.

Why Oil Based Paint? 

When decorating your house, you have many different types of paint you can choose. While you need to choose a finish within the range of flat to high gloss, the base of the paint is also crucial. The main two types are oil based paint and water-based (or latex) paint. Each has their own pros and cons as detailed below:

Water based paint

This is the most common type of paint on sale, and contains a low level of toxic chemicals, is quick drying, very easy to clean up with water, doesn’t smell as strong, gives a consistent colour over time, and gives an elastic finish that doesn’t crack.

Compare water-based paint and prices on Amazon.

Oil based paint (Enamel)

Find oil-based paint on Amazon.

This is slightly trickier to work with, but can produce better results. You can’t clean it up as easily, for example, because water cannot be used. However, you will get a better-looking gloss, a better leveled and durable finish.Read our post about the characteristics of oil-based paint for more details. 

It’s important to note that the two types of paint cannot be mixed. Never try to simply apply water based paint on top of oil based paint because it will chip off very easily. When painting any unfinished surface you should put down a layer of primer first, and it’s crucial that the primer has the same base to it as the paint you will be applying. Read more in our dedicated article on how to paint over oil-based paint.

How Long Does Oil Based Paint Take to Dry?

There are a number of factors that determine how long your paint will take to dry. These include the amount of paint you have applied to the area, its thickness, the material that has been painted on, the temperature of the room, ventilation, and the humidity.

Water based paint will usually be dry to the touch within one or two hours of applying it. In about four hours, you’ll be ready to add another layer over it. Of course, if the room is particularly cold or if you’ve applied a thick coat, this may take a little longer. Read more about drying time of water-based and other types of paint.

Oil paint, on the other hand, can take much longer to dry. In normal conditions, the same area covered will take between six and eight hours to dry to the touch, and about sixteen hours until it is ready to have a second coat applied. Again, these times will vary based on the temperature, humidity, and thickness of the coat.

If you are finding the water based or oil based paint not drying, then you will need to give it a lot more time, try to warm the room up a bit and increase the airflow within the room.

How to Make Oil Based Paint Dry Faster

If it takes up to eight hours to dry and sixteen hours before another coat can be applied, oil based paint can significantly extend the length of your project. There are some things you can do to speed up this process, though. The main techniques involve environmental conditions, but there are some additives you can use to speed up the process as well:

  • Increase the Temperature – Oil based paint dries quicker in warmer temperatures, so try using a heater in the room. It’s important when doing this, you must ensure it is not blowing directly onto the wet paint, as you may get dust particles on it
  • Increase Air Flow – When air is stagnant, paint dries slower. If you have a window that you can open, this will help.
  • Thinner Coat – Are you putting too much paint on the wall? If you use a thinner coat, it will dry quicker
  • Drying Mediums – You can mix an oil drying agent with the paint before applying it, and this will significantly reduce the drying time
  • Type of Paint – If the time taking to dry is important, you can purchase quicker drying oil based paints that already have drying mediums mixed into them

Learn more about this in the following video:


Oil-based vs. Water-based Paint – What You Should Consider

By using oil based paint for your DIY projects, you will get a glossier, smoother finish than if you were to use water-based paint. It will also be more durable, but it takes a lot longer to complete.

When looking at how long does oil based paint take to dry, it becomes clear why most people tend to choose water based paint, but if you persevere and have the extra time available, you’ll find that oil paint produces the best results. Read more about the pros and cons of oil-based paint in our blog.

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