Drying Time vs. Curing Time: The Difference Matters

December 31, 2013

Bedroom Ceiling Gloucester
Is it dry? Yes. But is it fully cured?

Latex paint has two things going for it over oil paint. One, it’s easy to clean up. And two, it dries extremely fast. With proper ventilation, latex paint can dry within minutes of its application – and that’s good and bad. Good because projects move fast. Bad because it gives homeowners a false sense of security. You see, even after latex paint has dried it’s still vulnerable to rigorous wear until it has fully cured. What’s the difference?

Drying: A thin coat of latex paint is dry to the touch after just a few minutes, which means the solvent (or carrier) has evaporated from the coating to form a film that can’t be wiped away with gentle pressure. But if you press a fingernail into the painted surface, a dent may be left behind, and washing, wiping, or exposure to water may damage the paint.

Curing: When you can wipe or wash the paint surface without damage and the paint stands up to minor scratches and bumps, it has fully cured. Curing can take weeks because it is chemical process during which pigments and binders fuse together into a continuous resilient film. Some paints take longer to cure than others.

The difference between drying and curing may not matter much in a bedroom where paint will see minimal wear, but in a kitchen or bathroom it pays to be careful for the first month after a new paint job is complete.

This story originally appeared in our monthly newsletter, Prime Time by Jerry Enos Painting company in Massachusettsto subscribe, contact us!

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