How Long Does Exterior Latex Paint Need to Dry Before Rain?

woman painting house exterior siding
  • 1-200 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 0-3,000

Painting the exterior of your house or other structures is a fair weather event. But if it’s on your to-do list and there’s moisture in the forecast, you’re probably wondering how long exterior latex paint needs to dry before rain.

The short answer is that latex paint is typically dry to the touch in about an hour. However, you should wrap up any exterior painting projects four to six hours before the rain rolls in. Having said that, there are myriad factors that affect the quality of a paint job, and any of them can skew this timeline.

Whether the project is a small one in the garden or the entire exterior of the house, painting outside leaves you, and your paint, exposed to the elements.

Depending on the time of year and the climate, you may be battling impending rain as part of your project challenges.

Obviously you can’t paint while it’s raining, unless you’re eager to try out abstract painting on the side of your home or fence. But the amount of time your paint project is still in danger of being ravaged by the effects of rain after you complete painting depends on several factors.

Since it’s an expensive and labor-intensive endeavor, work through this list of considerations before opening the paint can.

1. Temperatures

When you read the directions on a paint can, you’ll find recommendations for the ideal temperature range in which to paint.

When it’s too hot, paint may have a difficult time adhering to the surface because it dries too quickly. It can also result in bubbling and flaking paint, which is a big mess to repair.

On the other end of the spectrum, cool temperatures result in paint taking a long time to dry.

The perfect range for most paints is between 50-85 degrees Fahrenheit, but read your product label for accuracy and avoid painting when the temperature is outside this range.

To estimate whether your paint will dry before the rain rolls in, expect paint to be fine within an hour if temperatures are near the top of the range. If at the lower end, use caution unless the rain isn’t expected to hit for another four hours or more.

2. Humidity

While temperature is a significant factor in how your paint will perform, humidity is an even bigger piece of the puzzle. Humidity refers to the amount of moisture in the air.

When humidity levels are high, the water content in the paint doesn’t transfer, or escape, to the air as easily. Therefore, any type of paint will take longer to dry in high humidity.

The humidity may also affect the finished look of the paint job, with dripping or streaking that will require sanding before reapplying more paint. Although you may be in a hurry to squeeze the painting task in before the weather hits, it may cost you more time in the long run if humidity ruins your coat.

Don’t plan to paint if humidity measures above 50%, and if you see fog on the horizon, you can bet humidity is in the air.

3. Wind

Another natural element to consider is wind. The good news is that your paint will dry faster if humidity is low, but there is a breeze.

However, high wind can cause dangerous situations on a ladder. There’s also the reality that wind can cause ripples in thick paint and will increase the amount of overspray headed down the street, especially when using a spray gun.

Wind can also bring moisture to the party, lengthening the time paint needs to dry properly.

4. Thickness

Thicker paint results in longer dry times, and the type of application can affect the thickness. For example, spray guns offer several spray settings. Sponging, rolling, ragging, and using a paintbrush all vary the thickness of the paint too.

Consider thickness when deciding whether you will have adequate dry time before the rain pours down.

5. Primer

If your project requires primer, you have two timelines to contemplate. Primer is somewhat less forgiving than paint when it comes to applying the next coat without curing. Primer is essential to the success of some projects, so don’t rush it.

Although it may dry within 30-60 minutes, allow at least three hours of reliable dry time in ideal conditions before applying another coat of primer or your first coat of latex paint.

6. Oil-Based Products

In contrast to latex primers and paints, oil-based products take longer to dry—much longer. Where latex may be dry to the touch and potentially ready to accept another coat in an hour, allow six to eight hours for oil-based paint.

7. Paint Brand and Quality

Paints are not created equal. Like all other products, there’s a wide range of qualities when it comes to any type of paint. Better quality paints will be more forgiving of all the considerations listed above.

Of course, if you spend more on a quality paint, it’s that much more important you protect the paint job by avoiding rain on the surface shortly after application.

8. Amount of Rain

Following the four to six hour window mentioned above, most paints will stand up to the rigors of a light rain. However, if pounding or extended rain rolls through, it can lead to poor adhesion, streaking, or other undesirable effects on the painted surface.

Exterior Latex Paint FAQ

There are many nuances when it comes to deciding how long exterior latex paint needs to dry before rain. Each question is slightly different, even though there is some overlap in information

Will rain ruin exterior paint?

In short, it can. If you’ve had dry weather and low humidity for at least 24 hours, it’s likely fine. If you are wrapping up the paint job as precipitation begins to fall, you could see damaging effects that will require repair.

Can I paint an exterior a day before it rains?

Considering the points above about temperature, humidity, and other factors, you’re probably fine to paint a shed, fence, or even your entire home one day before a rain.

How long does it take for latex paint to dry outside?

Many would consider latex paint dry after about an hour. However, dry and cured are two different things. To adequately protect your paint job and the surface it’s protecting, it’s best to provide at least 48 hours between painting and any further construction, movement, or exposure to rain.

Can you paint six hours before rain?

Of course. You can do as you choose. However, you’re probably pushing your luck a bit, so there’s no guarantee you won’t be redoing the job at some point.

What to do if fresh paint gets rained on?

Firstly, try to avoid it by painting smaller projects under cover or in an indoor space with good ventilation. If you see rain rolling in on a larger project, cover it with plastic sheeting to protect it from streaks and other damage.

Why is my exterior paint bubbling after rain?

The problem could be from the rain, but there are many other causes for bubbling paint.

If the surface was not properly prepared or primed before painting, moisture can get trapped underneath the paint film. When it rains, the moisture can penetrate through the paint, causing it to bubble or blister as it tries to escape.

This issue is more likely to occur if the surface was not adequately cleaned, sealed, or if there were pre-existing moisture issues.

Painting in high humidity can also contribute to bubbling or blistering of the paint. High humidity levels can slow down the drying process, resulting in the paint not fully curing or hardening before rain. As a result, when moisture comes in contact with the partially dried paint, it can cause bubbling or blistering.

Using low-quality or incompatible paint, or applying the paint too thickly, can lead to issues with adhesion and drying. Poor-quality paint may not have the necessary properties to resist moisture, leading to bubbling or blistering when exposed to rain.

If there are underlying moisture issues within the structure or wall, such as leaks, condensation, or water infiltration, it can affect the paint's adhesion and cause bubbling or blistering when rain occurs.

Inadequate surface preparation, such as painting over damp or wet surfaces, dirty or greasy surfaces, or failing to remove previous paint failures, can impact the paint's ability to adhere properly and result in bubbling or blistering after rain.

To prevent or address bubbling or blistering paint after rain, it's important to ensure proper surface preparation, including cleaning, repairing any underlying moisture issues, and priming as necessary.

Additionally, using high-quality paint that is appropriate for the specific surface and following proper application techniques can help minimize such issues. If the problem persists or if you're unsure of the cause, consulting a professional painter or contractor can provide valuable insights and guidance for your specific situation.

How long does it take for exterior paint to cure?

In general, most exterior paints will dry to the touch within a few hours to a day. However, the curing process, which involves the paint reaching its maximum hardness and durability, takes longer.

As a general guideline, it can take anywhere from one to four weeks for exterior paint to fully cure. During this time, the paint undergoes chemical changes and gradually becomes harder and more resilient.

However, it's important to note that the curing time can be influenced by factors such as temperature, humidity levels, and the specific paint product used.

In cooler temperatures or high humidity, the curing process may take longer. On the other hand, warmer temperatures and lower humidity can speed up the curing time. It's also worth noting that dark-colored paints tend to cure slower than lighter colors due to their higher heat absorption.

Can I paint if it rained last night?

Sometimes what happens before you start painting is just as important as whether weather is a concern. Going back to proper surface preparation, the boards need to be clean and dry. If it rained the night before, the surface may not be dry enough to paint.

Ensure that the surface you intend to paint is dry. If there are visible signs of moisture, such as dampness or water droplets, it is not suitable for painting. Moisture can affect the paint's adhesion and result in poor results.

Also consider the current weather conditions. Moisture in the air or on the surface can interfere with the drying and curing process, leading to issues such as poor adhesion, bubbling, or blistering.

It's important to note that even if the surface feels dry, the underlying layers of paint may still be damp. It's best to wait until the surface has had ample time to dry and any moisture has evaporated before applying a new coat of paint.

Will exterior paint dry overnight?

In ideal drying conditions, such as moderate temperatures and low humidity, some types of exterior paint may dry overnight. However, it's important to note that the paint may still be vulnerable to damage or smudging until it fully cures, which can take several days to a few weeks.

How long does exterior latex paint need to dry before rain?

We’ve outlined some guidelines to answer this question, but in reality, the very best resource is the label on the can of paint.

You may need to read between the lines if the paint claims to perform two jobs, such as saying it can be used without primer or stating it can be applied when it’s raining.

While these things may be true, the finished product you desire will not be guaranteed.

Read the label thoroughly and talk to salespeople in the paint store. Explain your specific situation for the best recommendations.

When deciding how long to allow your paint to dry, follow the recommendations on the can. If there is a range, allowing a higher amount of time will better ensure your paint job.

When it comes to obtaining a quality paint finish, it begins with a quality paint. Take a look at Choosing the Right Paint for Your Home's Exterior for more information on the topic. You can also cover the basics in our related article Acrylic Latex Paint Basics Explained.

What happens if it rains after you paint?

If it rains while your exterior paint is still fresh, you will notice flaws in the finished result. Rain can completely wash new paint away or create little rain tracks that result in noticeable streaks on the paint job.

The paint will not fully, evenly coat the exterior areas of your home if rain falls before the paint has fully dried. In other words, you definitely want to avoid this because if rain ruins your paint job, then you will have to paint again.

How long before paint can get wet?

Rain can ruin many things, including your exterior paint job. Most paint can withstand a very light rain about two hours after it has been applied, and after four hours, most paint jobs should be relatively safe from the ravages of rain.

However, this all depends on the humidity. High humidity will make the paint take longer to dry.

Low temperatures can also affect dry time, so if it is cold outside, your paint will take longer before it's ready to be exposed to rain.

How long does exterior latex paint take to cure?

While paint can dry within a matter of hours, it takes many days for the paint to fully cure. When paint cures, it becomes fully hardened.

It takes many days for paint to fully cure, and on home exteriors, it takes around 14 to 30 days for this process to be complete, depending on how much humidity there is in the environment.

How many hours after the rain I can paint?

You don't want your paint job to be ruined by rain, so you can't paint right before it's supposed to rain, but you also can't paint right after it has already rained. If your home exterior is wet, the paint won't stick properly, and your paint job won't have the finish you want.

You want to wait at least four hours after it rains to ensure that the home exterior is nice and dry before you start to apply paint.

What is the best temperature to paint the exterior of a house?

It's best to wait for the most ideal possible conditions before you paint your home exterior so that the paint job will look beautiful once it has dried and cured. If possible, paint your home when the temperature outside is between 60 to 85 degrees F.

Ideally, you also want very little wind and humidity between 40 to 70 percent.