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How Long Does Varnish Take to Dry? (Answered)

The clear hard protective coating or film that is also transparent is known as Varnish.

In general, the varnish is used on wood for a finish that gives it a distinctive color tone and makes the grains of the wood visible to the eye. The varnish finish is glossy but also can be available in flat sheens too.

We know that varnish can provide a protective coating for surfaces of wood or metal but they can also protect other things too.

Such examples of materials would be paintings and decorative objects. Naturally, we would also want to provide our wooden floors or wooden furniture and other decorations with such a coat.

Therefore, to know the ins and outs of such material and the drying process as well as what surfaces they might work or not work on we can keep reading below.

How long does varnish take to dry?

To get a clear shiny surface on any particular material we use varnish. We need to allow at least 24 hours for it to become dry. The thicker the coating the longer it takes for it to dry completely. We also need to at least give 24 hours of downtime in between layers of coats.

Varnishes usually take the same amount of time to get cured and become available to be in working condition. However, the difference in varnish types results in different times for the varnish to become dry. Let’s have a look at the different varnishes and their drying times briefly below.

Floor varnish:

A minimum of 24 hours should be before we start walking around on a floor that has a fresh coat of varnish. Typically, it’s best to wait out 48 hours and use socks only and no shoes or bare feet.

Wood varnish:

Typically for a general natural varnish the drying process at least takes 24 hours. We need to wait 24 hours in between coats.

Spray varnish:

These spray varnishes are very fast to work and easy to apply. The usual time for a spray varnish to become dry to the touch and not be tacky is only 10 minutes.

Acrylic varnish:

Acrylic varnish can be stronger, clearer, and glossier than a normal varnish. Usually, the time it takes for an acrylic varnish to become dry to the touch in about 3-4 hours max.

Gloss varnish:

Usually it follows the same principles of the other varnishes. The usual time for it to become dry tack-free is about 18-24 hours.

Liquitex varnish:

Liquitex varnish dries permanent glossy sheen, it also dries quickly. Normally we have to wait 3 hours between coats for it to dry.

Retouch varnish:

This kind of varnish depends on the thickness and the type of pigment. It will be 24 hours before it can be touch dry and one to six weeks to get cured.

Plastic varnish:

Average time for the plastic varnish to get dry is just some minutes and it will be cured in 2 hours.

How long does varnish take to dry on these surfaces?

After we understand the differences between different varnishes, we picked some usual surfaces where we might want to varnish. This way we will have a rough idea of how long before they can be dry to the touch.

On canvas:

If we are working with acrylics, we need to at least allow 3 to 5 days to let the varnish dry. However, when working with oils we have to allow for at least 6-12 months to let it dry.

On wood floors:

On a usual day when the humidity is normal then the average time it would take the varnish applied on the floor to get tack-free dry is around 24 hours.

On clay:

While applying varnish on this surface, we need to use either a foam brush or paintbrush. Then after applying a coat, we need to wait five to six hours before applying another layer.

On the door:

Normally when we apply varnish on a door, we need to apply 2 or 3 coats of varnish at least. Thus, the drying process can take around 2 or more days depending on the number of coats we apply.

On acrylic painting:

After drying of our painting is complete, we can go ahead and apply varnish. We need to wait 3-6 hours to let the varnish dry and cure before carrying on with another coat of it.

Does weather affect varnish drying time? How long will it take to dry?

Yes, weather affects varnish drying time exponentially. Let us discuss some of the weather conditions and how they would affect the varnish drying process below.

Before rain:

Since rain will prolong the drying process of the varnish, we can ideally wait at least 2 hours before sunset or sunrise since it will take 24 hours to dry.

In the sun:

Normally it would take any usual varnish to dry in 24 hours in ideal conditions. However, under the sun the drying process will come down but it will not be more than 1 or 2 hours.

In cold weather:

Cold temperatures affect varnish completion. Since the varnish is going to be cool, we can give a long brushing session. During such weather, varnish might take a week to completely dry.

Why does varnish take so long to dry?

There could be a multitude of reasons why our varnish would take longer than expected. Here are some common issues that might hamper your varnish drying process.

Poor Ventilation:

A good ventilation system will help in removing the moisture, cooking odors, indoor pollutants, and smoke from inside the house. When we have poor ventilation, this will hamper the drying process of varnish.

Thick coating:

The thicker the coating the longer it will take for the varnish to become dry to the touch. So, if we apply multiple coating to a particular material, we would also need multiple days before it can finally dry off.

High Humidity:

During wet weather, there will be high humidity and that will add moisture to the air. This in turn can settle on surfaces we will varnish and dampen them. As a result, varnish drying takes longer than usual.

Surface matters:

Different surfaces react differently with varnish. If we were to apply varnish to surfaces like grease, silicone-based, or even wax material then the varnish will take longer than expected to dry off.

How long does varnish need to dry between coats? How long should you wait between coats of varnish?

After making all the preparations for applying varnish, we can go ahead and apply a varnish layer and wait at least 24 hours for it to dry. Ideally, we can apply two or more coats of varnish again for another coating and wait for another 24 hours.

Therefore, for every layer of coating, we need to wait 24 hours in between them before applying another coat. After applying the final coat, we should let the varnish finish curing for 48 hours.

Different varnishes finish curing at different times, some at 24 hours or some at 48 hours. Then some varnishes need at least a week to finish curing. Make sure to check the can for specific instructions and curing timings.

How can I dry varnish quickly?

Sometimes varnish can be stubborn and not dry when we want it to. However, there are a few ways on how we can reduce the waiting period for the varnish to dry up.

We can make use of the discussed ways below to help us dry varnish quickly and efficiently.

Remove dampness:

We can take a rag that has been moistened with turpentine or even mineral spirits.

Then we can apply that on the surface of the varnish lightly to only just remove the tackiness. We just need to make sure not to rub the varnish and then give it another day or two to dry off.

Reduce humidity:

Next, we reduce the environment’s humidity surrounding the product or surface we varnished will greatly help with the drying process.

A dehumidifier can be very helpful in this situation. We can also let the varnish settle under the breeze of a fan.

Apply heat:

Lastly, we can directly impact the drying process by taking matters into our own hands. If we bring a heater in the environment or even a hairdryer to dry paint on the surface or materials, we have varnish on. However, we need to be careful while handling a hairdryer, as holding it in one place for too long could burn the varnish.

Final Thoughts

The type of varnish depends on how long it would need to get dry. Also, the varnish drying time differs when we apply it to different surfaces. In general, the usual varnish would take us approximately to become dry to the touch. Furthermore, it would take another 24 to 48 hours to cure.