What Happens If You Paint a Second Coat Too Soon?

What Happens If You Paint a Second Coat Too Soon?

There’s nothing worse and more boring than waiting for the paint to dry so you can apply the second coat.

But what actually happens if the paint is applied too soon?

As a professional painter, I’ve experienced first-hand what happens when painting a second coat too soon – it’s not good!

So, put down your paintbrush and find out how long you need to paint a second coat and what happens when you apply a second coat too quickly. Also, I will discuss the maximum time you can wait for one coat to dry before adding another coat of paint.

Paint cracking and peeling off wall because second coat of paint was applied too soon

What Happens If You Don’t Wait Long Enough Between Coats of Paint?

When you don’t wait long enough between paint coats, you don’t give the first coat enough time to dry.

Applying the second coat before the first coat is dry will result in a low-quality finish.

Here’s why:

  • Applying the second coat before the first coat is dry will result in the paint peeling and cracking over time. That’s because the second coat won’t adhere to the surface properly.
  • If you are painting with oil-based paint and apply the second coat too soon, it will result in bubbling paint. That’s because oil paints contain solvents that evaporate as the paint dries. So, if you paint the second coat too early, it could trap these solvents between the layers of paint, leading to bubbling over time.
  • Applying a paint coat too early is more likely to lead to roller or brush marks on your walls and ceilings.
  • When you paint your second coat too soon, the new coat of paint will mix with the wet parts of the first coat, leading to streaks on your surfaces.
  • Paint tends to get darker with the second coat, so if you apply the second coat too soon, the final colour won’t match what you see on your paint swatches.

So, even though painting a second coat as soon as possible will result in a faster paint job.

Painting a second coat too soon will result in a poor finish. And you’ll probably need to hire professional painters to fix and repaint your rooms.

In the next section, I will tell you how to work out how long you need to wait before rolling on the next coat.

Woman standing in front of painted wall with a paint roller in hand waiting for the first coat to dry so she can apply another coat of paint

How long To Wait Between Coats of Paint

Before adding another coat of paint, you must allow the first coat to dry.

The exact amount of time you need to wait between coats depends on various factors, including:

  • Paint type
  • Thickness of paint coat
  • Type of surface you are painting

Type of Paint

All types of paint are made of three key ingredients: pigments, solvents, and binders.

However, different types of paint contain different types of these three ingredients, so the drying times of these paints will vary.

The two main types of paints are water-based paint and oil-based paint.

Let’s take a look at how the paint recoat time varies between these paint types.

Water-based Paint

Water-based paints include acrylic and latex paints.

Water-based paints tend to be quick-drying types of paint. So, the time you must wait between paint coats won’t be long – typically only about four hours before your interior walls and ceiling can be recoated.

But you should always check the recoat times on the instructions on the back of your paint tin, as some water-based paints dry faster than others.

Oil-based Paint

Oil-based paints include traditional oil paints and alkyd paints.

Oil-based paints typically have a longer drying time than water-based paints. As a result, you should wait about 8-12 hours between coats before you add an additional coat of paint.

However, the dry time of your specific oil-based paint will vary from one paint to another. So, you should always check the manufacturer’s instructions on how long you need to wait before painting a second coat.

Paint Thickness

When you apply a thicker coat of paint to your surface, the longer it will take for the solvents to evaporate and the paint to dry.

Surface You Are Painting

When painting, the type of surface you are painting will affect how long you have to wait between paint coats. That’s because different surfaces have different properties, which affect the paint’s drying times.

For example, if you roll a wall, the paint cure time will be quicker, and you can recoat the surface in a shorter period.

On the other hand, woodwork, like skirting boards, tends to be a more porous surface and has a longer recoat time than walls. That’s because the wood will absorb some of the paint when painting, so it will take longer to dry.

Painter and decorator applying a second coat of paint to a white wall

What Is the Maximum Time Between Two Coats of Paint

The absolute maximum amount of time you can wait before recoating your surfaces is 7 days.

That’s because if you apply the next coat of paint after too much time has passed, you’ll run into various issues, including:

  • Uneven finish: when you wait too much time to recoat your surface, it can lead to an uneven finish. That’s because when the first coat cures, it creates a barrier that makes it harder for the second coat to adhere to the surface, which may lead to uneven coverage and streaks.
  • Inconsistent colour: If the first coat is exposed to the elements, it could become a slightly different colour to the next coat you apply, resulting in inconsistencies in the paint colour.