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How Long Does It Take Chalk Paint To Dry and Cure for Use?

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Chalk paint is a relatively recent substitute to standard latex paint, developed by Annie Sloan in 1990. Today, there are many brands of chalk paint in addition to Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. These water-based paints are used on walls, wooden furniture, or even objects made of glass or metal. When determining if this type of paint is the best option for a home project, we must consider the cure time for chalk paint. How long does chalk paint take to dry and cure?

Chalk paint takes only 5 to 15 minutes to dry to touch, but it needs at least a couple of hours to dry enough until applying a second coat. If waxing chalk paint, wait until it has cured, which can take from 24 hours to two weeks, depending on humidity, temperature, material, and other factors.

Fully cured wax over black chalk paint piano.

In this post, I will explain more about the drying time needed for chalk paint and cure time for your furniture piece. I will also cover additional questions about using chalk paint and give tips for the best results when using it.

Learn more: what is chalk paint for furniture.

How Long Does It Take Chalk Paint To Dry To Touch?

You may get several different answers if you ask how long it might take chalk paint to dry. This is because the answer depends on what you mean by dry.

If you’re asking when the paint is dry to the touch, you’ll have to wait between five and fifteen minutes. Afterward, you can safely touch the painted surface, and you won’t get any paint on your fingers.

However, if you’re wondering about the time it takes for the paint to dry enough for a second coat, you will get answers closer to an hour or two.

Of course, the dry time will depend on several different factors, including:

  • The material. For instance, the time it will take chalk paint to dry when painting your walls will differ from the dry time when painting wooden furniture. Drying takes more time on walls, but curing takes more time on wood. Glass, metal, and other materials have different dry times.
  • Temperature and humidity. As with other types of paint, moisture, and low temperatures are not your friends in this situation. The more humid and colder the environment around you is, the longer it will take the walls or the pieces of furniture to dry.
  • The number of coats. Depending on what look you want and how much paint you have, you can choose to use one or several coats of paint. Understandably, a single thin layer of paint can dry and cure faster than two.

Generally, some people recommend waiting between one and two hours for the paint to dry thoroughly, while some recommend waiting a whole day. 

To get a proper answer, you should determine what you’re waiting for: are you simply waiting for the paint to dry so you can touch it, or are you waiting to apply a second coat or a top coat?

Get more tips for painting and furniture makeovers here.

How Long Does Chalk Paint Take To Dry Between Coats?

Typically, chalk paint is applied in several layers. 

A single layer may make the object you’re painting look streaky and unfinished, so apply one or more layers on top of the first coat of paint for a clean and smooth look.

When applying additional coats, the paint needs to dry, meaning it should lose all its water content, but it doesn’t necessarily need to cure.

If you’re waiting for chalk paint to dry to add a second coat, you might have to wait between one and 24 hours.

Consider the factors mentioned above when determining how long to wait before applying a second coat, along with these signs of drying:

  • The paint doesn’t transfer when you touch it
  • The paint is not shiny
  • The surface feels chalky and completely dry
  • When you touch the surface firmly, you don’t leave a dent
Touching chalk paint furniture ensure it is fully dry.

Typically, if it’s not too humid, it may take the paint on a wall only a couple of hours to dry enough for you to apply a second coat. For wooden surfaces, it might take less.

How Long Does It Take Chalk Paint To Cure?

Although some may use drying and curing interchangeably, these are entirely different processes. 

Drying means losing water content, making it safe to apply additional paint coats but not to clean or mess with the surface in any way.

On the other hand, curing is the process of paint hardening significantly so that scratches or other forms of physical pressure don’t peel it off. To cure, the paint molecules must react with oxygen and bind together to create a stronger structure.

Markedly, this process takes much more time compared to drying.

Chalk paint can take one day to two weeks to completely cure. Like drying, curing also depends on humidity, temperature, the material you’re painting, and more. Generally, the chalk paint should take closer to a day to cure fully. 

While waiting for the paint to cure, try not to scratch or bump into the walls or furniture you have painted.

The best way to ensure your finished product is ready for heavy use is to allow two weeks for the paint job to cure.

The extra dry time may not be needed, but after spending your precious time applying two to three coats of chalk paint, you want it to last.

How Long Should I Wait Before Waxing?

Chalk paint has a matte look, which some people prefer once it dries completely. However, others may want a shinier look on their furniture, which is where the wax comes in.

Typically, a thin layer of wax is applied to chalk paint to give it a velvety sheen and protect it from scratches.

It is essential to work in small sections and wipe away any excess wax when applying wax. For more of a sheen, buff when the wax has thoroughly dried.

Most experts recommend waiting until the paint is nearly or fully cured before sealing it with a wax top coat – at least 24 hours. If you wax the surface before the paint is fully dry and cured, you risk sealing in some moisture, making the top coat layer sticky.

But as a general rule, chalk paint dry time is fast. It is typically safe to apply chalk paint® wax 24 hours after painting furniture with chalk paint.

Apply a clear wax with a wax brush to your chalk-painted furniture for increased durability. One to two coats of wax is recommended for a beautiful, protective finish.

You can still have a matte finish using soft wax to seal your chalk painting project; you must avoid excessive buffing.

Using a little bit of dark wax can provide a distressed finish with an aged look. Another option is to use fine to medium-grit sandpaper to achieve the distressed look.

How To Speed Up the Process of Drying Chalk Paint

When you consider that drying can take a whole day and curing can take two weeks in unfavorable conditions, the chances of the surface becoming damaged are very high. As a result, people look for ways of speeding up the drying process. 

Here are some different ways that can help you reduce the dry time of chalk paint:

  • Increase the temperature inside. If you’re using chalk paint indoors, use a heater to make the environment warmer so that the water inside the paint can evaporate more quickly. 
  • Apply thin layers of paint. Remember not to lay the paint too thick while applying it with a brush because it may considerably increase the dry time. Avoid placing brush strokes twice on the same area.
  • Thin out the paint mixture. Chalk paint tends to be thick, which increases the dry time. You can thin the paint out by adding a little water while mixing it. Be careful not to add too much; otherwise, you’ll need additional coats.
  • Use a dehumidifier. If you’re indoors, use a dehumidifier to reduce humidity in the room and help the drying process. Excess humidity increases the dry time significantly.
  • Increase air circulation. When painting with chalk paint indoors, ensure the air circulates inside the room. Open windows and doors and turn on a fan if you have one; this way, the water in the paint will evaporate faster.

Tips for Using Chalk Paint

If you’re new to chalk paint, you’re going to need a few extra tips on how to use chalk paint and ensure it fully dries and cures without a scratch:

  • The texture of chalk paint allows you to sand it easily before applying a second coat. Sanding the first coat with sandpaper can help you achieve a smoother finish after applying several other coats.
  • Apply primer to old wooden furniture. Priming is especially helpful when painting with light-colored chalk paint colors. While chalk paint companies do not suggest priming, it helps eliminate bleed-through from tannins.
  • Waxing the surface before curing is complete is not recommended, but waiting too long can also be harmful. Without the top coat, the surface is vulnerable to physical damage and may become grainy because of dust particles or other types of debris.
  • You may need to do some prep work. Chalk paint doesn’t usually require much prepping, which is a significant advantage. Still, you may need to use sandpaper or cleaning tools when dealing with a wooden or previously painted surface.
  • For a more rustic look, you can distress the painted surface. You can use sandpaper on the surface of a wooden piece of furniture to make it look aged, but for it to seem realistic, you should apply various levels of distress to different areas of the furniture.
  • Use a good quality paint brush. Cheap brushes will show brush strokes more easily and may shed bristles in the paint.


Decorative paint, such as chalk paint is an excellent alternative to standard paint or oil-based paints because it dries out quickly and works beautifully on various materials. 

If the conditions are favorable, it can only take an hour to dry enough for a second coat. However, curing time may take 24 hours to two weeks.

These dry times are only approximations, as the actual time will depend on the environment around the painted surface.

Temperature, humidity, material, and method of painting play a significant role in the amount of time it takes for the entire surface painted with chalk paint to dry and cure.

Get more in-depth tips: What is chalk paint for furniture.

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