How long does oil paint take to dry

Due to the longer drying time of oil paint compared to other media types, painters are afforded more flexibility. Oil paints are a great medium to turn your daily routine into a creative endeavour. Painters choose oil colours because they can be easily mixed and blended and because the colours have depth, clarity, and brightness.

To get the best results and avoid cracking and other problems, it is essential to become familiar with the properties of various oil colours and their drying speeds. Generally, oil colours dry to the touch in thin sheets in two to twelve days, depending on the pigment. However, when mixed with oil, different pigments have different drying times, which will affect your final product.

oil painting still life canvas

Each of our primary oil colour families is described in detail, along with information on how quickly certain hues dry. Before you start oil painting, read this and print off the colour charts for reference.

Drying Times of Oil Paint

Many artists find the time it takes for oil paint to dry annoying. The people who have decided to keep using the medium because of its attractive and rich features are the ones who have put in the effort to learn about and understand it. In other cases, they have learned to embrace setbacks as inevitable steps along the way.

some people who like to work with oil pastels can read some oil pastel tips to know more its drying time after painting it on paper for various drawing and painting by kids and adults.

Why Does Oil Paint Take Long to Dry?

Knowledge of the medium in question is frequently helpful. The purpose of this article is twofold: first, to address the question stated at the outset; second, to help you make the most of oil paint by using its many strengths.

different colors of oil paint


On the other hand, oil paint is oil-based as opposed to water-based watercolour and acrylic medium that dries more rapidly. It’s made with all-natural ingredients, including oil and dyes (usually non-toxic). Pigments may be created from synthetic materials, naturally occurring minerals, or other organic substances. Because of this, this medium’s drying process would be somewhat different.

Procedures for Drying

Acrylic and watercolour paint can both dry by evaporation, you can know more about acrylic drying time in this post. Since the water in this medium drains away from the canvas, the drying time is relatively quick. However, oil paint dries via a chemical process called oxidation due to its properties. As a result of the interaction between the paint and oxygen, the paint dries and becomes rigid.

How Long Does Oil Paint take to Dry & Factors Affecting the Drying Time

There isn’t a simple answer to this question. Oil paint can take anywhere from a day to many weeks, months, or even years to dry. Time to dry depends on a lot of things. Some factors can’t be changed, but others can be altered to change the drying time. The most important parts are:

  • Climate: Humidity and cold temperatures make it hard for things to dry out. This procedure works best in a place that is warm and dry.
  • Surface: A surface that absorbs water instead of one that doesn’t make drying go faster.
  • Brand: Different oil paint companies use different kinds of oils. Some of these oils dry slower than others, which changes how long it takes to dry.
  • Age: A paint tube may have been stored for a long time, maybe with the seal broken, before it was sold. Oxidation may have started, causing the paint on the canvas to dry faster than if it had just been painted.
  • Wind: Wind also helps the drying process along.
  • Colour: Some coloured pigments dry faster than others. you can read more about paint drying color being darker or lighter in this article
  • Thickness: How long paint takes to dry depends on how many coats you put on and how thick they are.

How to Check if an Oil Paint Layer is Completely Dry

Adding a new coat of paint or varnish before the old one has dried might cause many problems down the road for your painting. The problem is that it might be hard to tell whether the paint is dry. Even though the paint seems dry to the touch, it doesn’t mean it’s dry.

It is OK to use a razor blade to check whether the paint is dry. Push down flat with the edge leaning toward you on the canvas, and you’re good to go. Get started by gently scraping the paint. It is not essential to remove all the paint; instead, it is the study of paint peeling gently from sides and if you are looking for oil paint removal methods from your carpet which might have got some paint dropped on it then this article you need to see for detailed ways.

When the paint is dry, it has a powdery texture and may be easily scraped off. It is still wet if the paint can be unravelled with a string or thread. This simple test will tell you whether your canvas is dry and ready for its second covering or if you need to wait another week. A thumbnail may be used for the same test, but care must be taken to apply just the slightest pressure.

How to Make Oil Paint Dry Faster

While factors are beyond your control, you can influence many of the abovementioned ones. Your oil paintings’ drying time will significantly lengthen due to these adjustments. The following is a description and summary of a few techniques for speeding up the drying process.

  • You should paint in a well-lit, well-ventilated space, away from any moisture
  • Favour mild warmth above extreme cold or heat.
  • For the base coat, especially, choose a colour that dries quickly.
  • Paints containing linseed oil should be used exclusively.
  • Acrylic paint may be used for the foundational coats.
  • The only difference between alkyd paint and oil paint is that alkyd paint dries overnight.
  • Prime the surface properly so that the paint can soak it up.
  • The first layers may benefit from a chemical drying agent to hasten the process.
  • Use procedures or solvents to apply paint in thinner layers.

Keep the paint job in a well-lit, ventilated area.

You may do it in the shade outdoors or the comfort of your home with the windows open. If the air outside is humid, close the windows and turn on the fan (or dehumidifier) to keep the inside comfortable. Ventilation helps the paint dry faster by encouraging the oxidation process. This is aided by daylight, too.

Go for the warmer weather.

As was previously mentioned, oil paint has trouble drying in the cold. On the other hand, the heat might speed up drying by a large margin. Unaccounted-for heat, though, may cause paint to crack or yellow. The artwork should be placed in a window in a well-lit room to get the ideal drying temperatures.

Choose colours that dry quickly.

Since this may have a significant effect on the drying process, it has also been addressed. Since different substances are used to produce various colours, each hue has its chemical makeup, affecting the oxidation process and drying time.

To speed up the drying time of successive coats, it is best to use faster-drying colours for the initial layer(s). For the base layers, you should never choose colours that take a long time to dry. Also, layering a paint that dries quickly over one that takes longer to dry might cause cracking.

When applying thicker layers of paint, you may want to choose colours with a faster drying time for the majority of your painting. You may use slower-drying colours in thinner coats and fewer amounts, or you can completely do without them.


Linseed oil is the only kind of oil paint to use.

Oil paint is made using a wide variety of oils. Oil paints usually include one of many oils, including walnut oil, linseed oil, poppy oil, and safflower oil. Compared to the other oils used in oil painting, poppy oil takes the longest to dry. When you need more time for your painting to cure, use oil paints made with linseed oil.

Layers of acrylic paint for the base

Since acrylic paint is water-based, it dries considerably more quickly than oil paint. Although acrylic paint does not hasten the drying time of oil paint, using it for the first applications might speed up the whole painting process. Unlike oil paint, which needs two days to cure before the next layer can be applied, an acrylic base coat needs a few minutes to dry before the next layer can be used.

However, many artists avoid using acrylic since it dries darker and has a plastic-like sheen. You’re free to choose whichever method you choose. However, we advise beginners to start here.

Utilize Alkyd Paint

Oil paint, known as alkyd, is made from a fast-drying oil and may be used the next day. Since it is as malleable as oils and shares its buttery, working character with artists, this paint may be found in several studios. Alkyds may stand in for regular oils, or you can mix them in with ordinary oils. A painting done entirely with alkyds will dry the next day. However, this is not as fast as with acrylics.

One effective strategy for speeding up the drying process is to use oil paint in fast-drying colours and alkyd paint in slower-drying ones. Alternately, you may replace your most frequently used colours with alkyds, which would significantly speed up the drying period of your oils.

Chemical Desiccant Drying Agent Use

Another technique for speeding up the drying time of oil paint. Before you apply your oil paint mixture to the canvas, add a little quantity of drying agent. However, drying agents should not be utilized in the base coat but rather in subsequent layers due to their oily nature. After applying a drying medium, failure to clean brushes might lead to the media hardening on the brush.

Use fewer, lighter coats of paint.

Paint has a higher thickness when it takes longer to dry. This is because the paint’s oxidation process is slowed or stopped since it does not get enough oxygen. The drying time of paint may be shortened by applying thinner coats.

Oil paint may be thinned in a variety of ways. Applying paint straight from the tube (without any additions) and “scrubbing” it thinly into the canvas with a brush with coarse bristles is a simple technique.

Oil paint may be thinned using artist-grade thinners or solvents. The most common ingredients are turpentine or mineral spirit. To speed up the drying process, using a solvent to dilute paint may cause the paint to dry too quickly and fracture. Because of this, solvents shouldn’t be utilized in any layers beyond the first. Paint drying times may be shortened by using oil-based thinners.

oil painting on canvas closeup

How to make oil paint dry slower

Use an oiled media in your paint recipes to extend the drying time.

Adding linseed oil, poppy oil, or walnut oil to paint in small amounts may extend its available working time by about a day.

Oil mediums delay the curing time of oil paint, but they also improve its flow, gloss, and film strength.

Quick Ideas

  • Paint pools in crevices and wrinkles on a canvas take longer to dry. Be sure the surface has been adequately primed and prepped.
  • This will hasten oxidation and reduce the time spent waiting for layers to dry.
  • It’s not uncommon for one brand’s version of a given colour to dry more quickly than another brand’s version of the same colour. Try out a different brand or do some trials to find out what works best for you.
  • Recognize that there is logic to the extended drying times when using oils. The simple joy you receive from working with this flexible medium, and the promising results you anticipate, are good things to keep in mind when your patience wanes, and you feel disheartened.

checkout how to get dried acrylic paint out of brushes in this guide


  • Is there a drying time for oil paint?

And, yes, oil paint does dry off with time in about 12 hours minimum and goes to countless more hours depending on many other factors. The medium will inevitably harden due to the oxidation process when air exposure. It may seem like oil paint would never dry since the drying time depends on many variables.

  • Does Using a Hair Dryer Speed Up the Drying Time for Oil Paint?

In contrast to water-based paints, oil paint “dries” due to oxidation rather than evaporation. Water on the canvas will evaporate under the heat of a hair dryer, but the oil paints won’t dry any faster, and the picture might crack under pressure.

  • What about oil-based paint? Does hairspray help it dry?

Hairspray is an excellent substitute for fixing spray when working with pencil or charcoal. There is no way to speed up the drying process for oil paints in this way. The paint on your car is more likely to split if you use hairspray, which prevents oxidation.

  • For what reasons do artists value oil paint’s extended drying time?

Oil paint’s extended drying period is a perk for many artists. For one thing, they’ll have more time to craft each layer of their masterpiece carefully.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *