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Exterior Painting: How Long Between Coats?

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Are you painting the exterior of your house for the first time and are wondering how long you need to wait for the paint to dry before doing the next coat? In this article, you will learn how long you should wait between coats and what else you need to consider when painting the exterior of your home.

When doing exterior painting, in general, you want to wait at the very least between 1 to 3 hours before applying another coat depending on the type of paint used, the surface material, and weather conditions. Doing another coat the following day is perfectly fine to do to avoid painting too soon if the conditions aren’t the best for exterior painting.

There are many factors to consider when doing exterior painting, and the wait time between coats can vary. Learn the best conditions for painting and how long to wait until you apply another coat depending on the paint you are using.

Time Between Each Coat Of Exterior Paint

You don’t need the paint to fully cure before repainting it and doing the next coat; you just need it to fully dry. Drying can take at least 30 minutes while some paints fully cure after many days.

Exterior paint takes a lot less time to dry than interior paint because it is exposed to the air, so this is great news for you if you want to start painting the exterior of your home. When the first coat of paint is completely dry, you can then add more coats.

Generally, it will take around 1 to 2 hours for exterior paint to dry completely, but this can vary due to the type of paint used, the surface it is being applied to and the weather conditions, so know it is not a one-size-fits-all thing.

Water-based paint will only take around 30 minutes of drying time, so another coat could be applied after an hour. While an oil-based paint with a glossy finish applied to brick may take up to 3 hours to fully dry and then have another coat of paint applied to it.

It is key not to rush your exterior painting and instead be patient and even do the next coat the following day instead of trying to get it all done at once but risking a poor result.

The table below compares the different types of paint and their general drying time and recoating time (the time advised to wait before applying another coat).

This gives us a good timeframe on how long to allow the drying time and how long we should wait to add another coat to be safe.. However, please note that you can wait longer to apply the next coat, don’t rush into it.

Paint TypeDrying TimeRe-Coating Time
Flat / Matte Paint30 minutes to 1 hour1 to 2 hours
Eggshell Paint1 hour2 hours
Semi-Gloss Paint1 hour2 hours
Glossy Paint1 hour to 1 ½ hours2 hours to 2 ½ hours
Primer30 minutes1 hour



If you don’t give the paint enough time to fully dry before adding the next coat of paint, you can end up with streaks on the surface and pits or bubbles can appear. If wet and dry paint mix, you will ruin the perfect finish. This, of course, is not ideal, when you want a smooth, even paint finish on your exterior.

5 Factors That Can Impact Drying Time

The Weather The ideal temperature to paint and allow it to dry well is around 72° F with a humidity of 40% – 50%. However, when you are painting outside, you can be at the mercy of the weather and elements. If it is a sunny day, the paint will dry a lot quicker than if it is cold and rainy, but saying that, you don’t want it to be extremely hot with intense sunlight hitting your paint job.

Summer is the best time to do your exterior painting on your home as it is not likely to rain, but that depends on the area you live in, as some places do experience rain or hurricanes during the summer season. Therefore, ultimately go with the weather conditions in your area and ensure there are at least a few days of decent weather before starting this big project.

The Type Of Paint Used
The table above clearly shows how the different kinds of paints can affect the drying time and the recoating time. If you need to do the job quicker, then be sure to consider what type of paint you are using and how you apply it. However, use the correct paint for the right surface over needing to get it done as soon as possible.

The Application Method
How the paint was applied can affect the drying time. You may use a roller, brush, or spray paint on the exterior of your home. Sprayed paint often comes out nice and thinly which can reduce the drying time between coats, whereas generally, rolling on the paint tends to be a bit thicker, which would cause a longer wait time.

It is great that there are a few different options to choose from. Just make sure the application method suits the surface you are painting on.

The Surface
There are many different surfaces you may have on the exterior of your home. Some surfaces like brick take a lot longer to dry compared to other materials that easily accept the paint.

You also want to ensure you are not painting on a surface without dust and debris. Make sure the surface is clean and ready for paint to be applied so the overall finish will look smooth and the paint can easily dry and cure and have a smooth finish at the end of the work.

Ultimately do not skip the preparation work and ensure your painting surface works well with the paint you have chosen and the application method being used.

The Paint Quality
Using good quality paint for exterior painting is so important. A quality exterior paint should last for years or even decades and be able to withstand the elements. Don’t buy a low-quality paint unless you are happy with a low-quality finish and poor durability.

External painting is something you don’t want to touch up constantly or redo again as it can be very time-consuming, so do it right the first time.

These five points show us how much variability there is in the paint drying and re-coating process. The timeframes can fluctuate so much and impact the final results of your exterior painting project. Ensure that you consider all these factors before you start painting the exterior.

painting a fence gray

Key Tips For Painting Three Popular Exterior Surfaces

Let’s explore three common exterior surfaces you may need to paint and some important tips to help you do it successfully.

Cedar Siding
Cedar siding is a beautiful material and an environmentally friendly option to have on the exterior of your home.

  • Use a stain-blocking primer on all six sides of the cedar siding.
  • Use a good quality, 100% exterior acrylic latex paint for the top coat.
  • Never use oil-based paints on cedar siding.
  • Hand brush to get the best results, rather than rolling or spraying.
  • Avoid painting the cedar within two weeks of installing it, but definitely do it within 12 weeks’ time.
  • Vertical grain cedar absorbs the stain-blocking primer better than flat grain cedar does.
  • If you are painting old cedar, the preparation work is so important.
  • You will need to repaint the cedar siding every 5 to 7 years.

Stucco
Stucco is like a textured plaster and it gives a home an artistic yet traditional feel. It is a great external option for your home, but it does require you to upkeep the paintwork.

  • Cleaning the stucco is very important to do before starting to paint it.
  • If the stucco is in poor condition, use primer for all of it.
  • If you want to spray the stucco, immediately follow it up with a paint roller so it doesn’t appear patchy and helps it stick (also known as back rolling).
  • The best paint to use on stucco is an exterior flat or satin paint.

Weatherboards
Weatherboards are used on the outside of many homes, and they can be easy to paint.

  • Use water-thinned acrylic paint on your exterior weatherboards.
  • You can use any color and sheen level on weatherboards.
  • Start painting from the top and work your way down.
  • Back in the day, they used to use oil-based paint, but this was not long-lasting, which is why the recommended paint to use has changed to water-thinned acrylic paint.

These are just a few of the common materials used on homes today that homeowners try to paint to maintain the appearance and durability of their homes. Ensure the paint you use is suitable for the surface of your exterior and how you apply the paint will give the best results.

Don’t forget to do the proper preparation work, do the masking so you can get clean, straight lines if needed, and protect other surrounding areas from the paint.

Additionally, ensure you get enough paint before you start as you don’t want to run out during the job and don’t let the paint dry out. Take good care of your brushes and rollers and have good lighting so you can see what you are doing.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Happens If You Apply A Second Coat Of Exterior Paint Too Soon?

If you do not wait for the first coat of paint to fully dry before applying a second coat, the end result will be very poor. You may notice inconsistency in the paintwork, there may be streaks, lines, or bits of paint peeling off. Ultimately, do not risk doing another coat too soon; if you do, you may have to start again from scratch.

How Long Is Too Long Waiting Between Coats?

Some manufacturers recommend doing your next coat within 7 days while some do not have a limit on how soon the next coat must be applied, so check your paint and go by the manufacturers’ recommendations. If you are going to paint your home, then don’t drag it out for too long. Commit to the project and get it done.

How Many Coats Of Paint Do You Need On Your Exterior?

After priming, two coats of paint will be sufficient to ensure it is long-lasting and looks great for years to come. Take a look at the coats you have done and decide whether you are happy with them or if another coat is required. Some people may only do one coat, but it is less likely to be as durable as two coats would be.

Final Words

Overall, exterior painting waiting time before the next coat can vary from the paint used, how it is applied, to the weather, and more, but a good timeframe is between 1 to 3 hours. Do your exterior painting when the weather is optimal for at least a few days to take your time with it and have a great result. Happy painting!

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