How Long Does Oil Painting Take to Dry?

Randy Charles
Randy Charles
Professional Painter

Hi, I’m Randy Charles, the creator and chief editor of this site Paintcentric. I’m a businessman now by profession, but I used to work as...Read more

Oil painting is known for taking a long time to dry. Other paints like acrylic are much quicker leaving people to question, how long does oil painting take to dry?

The answer to this question depends on a few factors but it can take over 24hours until it is dry to the touch. This type of paint is far more durable than water colour which can dry in a matter of minutes. Don’t let this get you down. There are plenty of ways to get your oil painting to dry faster which will be covered in this article.

How Long Does Oil Painting Take to Dry?

Do Oil Paints Dry?
Do Oil Paints Dry?

The drying time of your oil painting can vary depending on a lot of different factors.

The brand of paint you are using can have a huge impact in your drying time and even your canvas can alter it! Some brands begin to set after just 8 hours (which is still a rather long time), whereas some others can take 24 hours until it is dry to the touch. It also depends on what type of oil is used in the paint and how thick the paint is applied.

How Long Does Oil Painting Take To Dry

If you are planning on producing an oil painting then be sure to leave yourself plenty of time to get it done. And consider these factors before you begin painting as they can have a huge impact on how long your product takes to dry.

Colour of Your Paint

Believe it or not the colour of your paint can impact how quick it dries. Some colours have a higher pigmentation that others which leads to a longer drying time. What colours dry the fastest? Earthy tonnes like browns, reds and oranges will dry quicker. As opposed to yellow shades and blacks which you will have to wait the longest for.

Brands of Paint

Every brand has a different type of quality. Professional painters tend to use higher end brands because they are more suited to their expertise and knowledge. Some brands are more directed to beginners, so the quality is a little worse to make it more durable and easier to work with. Check what type of brand you are using with your oil paint as this could impact your drying time. Do lots of research into different brands and read reviews left by other painters so you can get a feel for the product properly.

Technique of Application-

Painting is all about technique and everyone has a different style they paint with. Some people use heavy brushstrokes creating gorgeous textures. Some people even create loads of layers on top of each other to get an amazing finish and this can take weeks to dry completely! Depending on your technique of applying the paint you could be dealing with different waiting times allowing the layers to dry.

Environment

Oil paint is effected by your environment in a different way than your standard acrylic or water colours. The sunlight, temperature and humidity can all change the drying speed of your painting. Where paints like spray paint and acrylic dry better with heat, oil paint works better when it is cold and produces better results. Any dirt or dust that is the environment when painting can have a big impact on the drying time too as getting dust into your paint can clog it up, making it thicker so it takes longer to dry.

Oil painting can take a really long time to dry. The average time is around 24 hours. There are ways that you can make the oil paint dry faster from the comfort of your own home.

How to Dry Oil Paint Faster at Home?

You can have some control over the drying time of your painting at home. Helping the paint to speed up drying can be greatly beneficial to you. Here are some helpful tips for you to use in your future painting:

How To Dry Oil Paint Faster At Home

  • Add mediums: Depending on what type of oil you are using, adding a medium can help to slow down or speed up the process of drying your paint. Mediums are great when you are wanting to use techniques that were mentioned earlier, holding a thicker form. Before you start painting it is best to check what type of oil is being used in your paint and do some research into a perfect medium to go into it.
  • Make the paint thinner: Use a solvent or a paint thinner as this will shorten your drying time. With this process you can dilute the oil paint and also use it to wash out your pigmentation allowing you to have more freedom with your creative design.
  • Have the perfect environment: Oil paints work better in a cold environment, helping them to dry quicker. What a lot of artists like to do with their paint tubes is to store them in the freezer when they are not being used. Paint is really hard to freeze so you don’t have to worry about the paint coming out frozen. This is just a great way to help your drying time and provides you with an easy place to store all of your paints! Keep your environment cool when you are painting and when you are letting your project dry.

Make sure that there is good air flow too and plenty of natural lighting. Having a fan or a dehumidifier can help you get a much better drying time. Remember to avoid direct sunlight even though you can get the paint to dry in the warmth, it is better to have natural light flowing into the room and also having a fan on to keep it cool.

What Factors Affect Oil Paint’s Drying Time?

There are lots of factors that have an impact on your oil paint’s drying time.

What Factors Affect Oil Paint'S Drying Time

  • Paint thickness- When painting, you need to use thin layers to allow it to dry completely. Using a thin layer of paint will dry much quicker than a thick layer. Some painters use techniques where they purposely make the paint thick, if this is what you are trying to achieve then you will be waiting days and maybe even weeks for your paint to fully dry.
  • Type of oil- The type of oil that you have in your paint will change how it dries. Always check the label on your paint to see what type of oil is in the product and then add a medium accordingly. Adding a medium will help the oil paint to dry quicker, giving it a gorgeous, finished look.
  • Surface selection- The type of canvas that you use can have a huge impact on your oil drying time. When starting out with painting it is tempting to reach for cheaper canvases and paper until you have your technique mastered. However, your drying time can actually increase if you use these cheap materials. Splashing out a bit more money on higher end surfaces can really help speed things up when you are wanting to dry your oil paint.

How to Choose Oil Paints that Dry Faster?

Before you pick your oil paint that you want to use for your project, check on the label or in the description to what type of oil it is. Linseed oil is one of the fastest drying oils you can get. It is a genuine oil that hold great pigment for your paint. This oil paint will dry much quicker than others, but it will still take a longer time to dry than acrylic paint or water colour.

How To Choose Oil Paints That Dry Faster

Check to see if the label mentions anything about a drying time. Look into different brands because drying times to vary and pick one which has a great time frame for you.

See if your paint can be mixed with a thinner or a solvent. Do some research into your chosen paint and check to see if it can be mixed. If it can be then take advantage of this! A thinner or a solvent can help to speed up drying times because it makes the mixture thinner, so you don’t paint layers that are too thick.

Final Thoughts

Oil painting takes a long while to dry which can be really frustrating. You can be waiting a couple of hours to a couple of weeks depending on your technique of painting and what equipment you are using. If you are in no rush then let your oil paint dry without interfering, but there are some great natural ways to speed up the process of drying your paint which can be really helpful.

Randy Charles
Randy CharlesProfessional Painter

Hi, I’m Randy Charles, the creator and chief editor of this site Paintcentric. I’m a businessman now by profession, but I used to work as a painter earlier in my professional career. There is simply nothing about painting that I didn’t do as a painter. From painting a fridge to a multi-storied building, I left nothing. I retired from my painting job in the mid of 2018 due to back arthritis problems.

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