Enamel Paint Not Drying. What Have You Done Wrong?

Enamel paint is not the most beautiful and flexible material for painting, but it is one of the most affordable and simple options for a lot of materials. You can use enamel paint on metals, wood, glass, plastic, and sometimes on walls if you prepare them correctly. But the thing is that this paint is very demanding in terms of drying conditions and surface preparations.

That’s why sometimes you can get into trouble when trying to paint something with enamel paint. For example, one of the popular problems is when the paint doesn’t dry for hours and even days. This can cause some other problems like a bad surface, drops, or even dust on the surface of the paint. Want to avoid this? We will give you some tips.

Here’s what we are going to tell you:

  1. Enamel paint doesn’t dry – what are some possible reasons?
  2. What can you do to make the enamel paint dry faster?
  3. Why are enamel paints bad in some cases?
  4. Can you still hope your enamel paint will be OK if it doesn’t dry for a long time?

Let’s get started!

What are possible reasons why your enamel paint doesn’t dry?

First of all, let’s presume what drying time can be considered long. There are two types of enamel paint on the market: water-based and oil-based options. Water-based enamel paint will dry for 2 to 6 hours. Oil-based enamel paint will dry for 12 hours or less depending on the additional components it has.

You should be careful with doing anything with your project before the paint actually dries, so you need to know its potential drying time. Wait for a while and check if the paint is already dry. Is it still sticky? Then something went wrong. Let’s try to guess what.

1. High humidity

One of the possible reasons is actually very high humidity in the room where you keep your project after painting. Or it can be high humidity outside if you paint your project in the open air.

The process of paint curing is actually the evaporation of some components like spirits and other elements. They evaporate and let the hard parts of the paint rest on the surface. If humidity is too high, you will not get proper drying time. The spirits will evaporate much slower or they will not evaporate at all.

What you can do? Just place your project in a room with proper humidity. Also, if you paint outside, you should check the weather. Never paint anything under rain or just in cloudy weather.

2. Low temperature

Evaporation of the spirits will not be fast and will not be proper if the temperature is low. You should avoid painting anything with enamel paint unless the temperature is at least +68 degrees Fahrenheit (about +20 degrees Celsius).

Temperature plays an important part in the proper curing of any paint. Actually, paint producers often set some temperature range of best curing and it’s important to follow these rules. Once you don’t follow them, you get problems with curing.

Unfortunately, the long drying time under low temperatures will also affect the quality of paint. The quality of the final coat will not be high and it will not look as good as you expect it.

3. Paint type

It’s not about type but about quality. We know that the quality of the paint will affect the way your project will look in the end. But it will also affect the drying time. Some types of paint will dry no matter what while some other types will take days to cure completely.

This affects the eventual results much. Also, this makes it much harder to create a smooth and beautiful surface. The paint may just lose its smoothness or get some dust on it while it dries and remains sticky and tacky.

4. You didn’t mix paint before application

Enamel paint needs proper mixing. It should be mixed because when it’s stored, it separates into different components and they rest at different levels in the can. When you mix it, it gets back its qualities and can be applied.

By the way, this is one of the most popular reasons why your enamel paint doesn’t dry fast. You should stir the paint with something for a minute or two before you start applying it to any surface. Make sure that the paint is homogeneous and has a single color.

5. You thinned your paint with bad materials

You should read the instructions carefully and use only those materials that are listed in the instruction. Some enamel paints should not be thinned by popular materials because they lose their qualities and will never dry.

This is very important and a lot of newbies make this mistake. Thinning your paint is the art you should learn. Because if you don’t do that, you may get into trouble.

6. Surface preparation

A lot of problems may be with the surface. One of the most popular is a dirty surface. For example, your project had been resting in your workshop for one month before you decided to paint it. It has a lot of dust in it and maybe grease because you touched it with your hands. You should remove all those contaminants before painting.

The best way to clean the surface before you paint it with enamel paint is to degrease it using some spirits or paint thinners. You will clean the surface from dust, dirt, grease, and any other contaminants. Then, the spirit will evaporate quickly and you should start painting right then.

If you don’t degrease the surface, your paint will not stick properly and it will not cure then at all. This is a big problem and you will probably need to repaint your project after cleaning off all paint.

7. Other problems

It’s not the ultimate list of problems that can lead to bad curing of your paint. For example. You can put thick coats of paint that can’t cure properly and stay tacky for days. Or you can use bad instruments to paint your project and this will lead to bad results.

We can think of dozens of other situations that can happen but they are not as common as those listed above. You can add in comments if you have some other experience with enamel paint.

Can you do something to make your paint dry faster?

You should always find the reason why your paint doesn’t dry as fast as it should. Once you’ve found the reason, you can decide what you can do. And sometimes it’s not that hard to fix the problem. But, in most cases, fixing it will be very hard and you will need to repaint the project.

Usually, it’s about such cases:

  • bad paint was chosen;
  • the paint was expired;
  • bad thinners were used;
  • the surface was dirty and greasy;
  • bad instruments were used;
  • a lot of dust is now on the paint surface.

In other situations, you can change the temperature, humidity, or any other important factors and let your project dry. After that, just look at the surface and try to understand if it needs to be repainted.

Remember that even if your paint cures for one week but it still looks OK, you don’t need to repaint the project. Just let it cure under optimal temperature and humidity.

What are some bad ways to use enamel paint?

First of all, enamel paints are flammable and they shouldn’t be used anywhere if there is a fire possibility. Once cured, they aren’t flammable anymore. Also, using enamel paints is dangerous if you don’t have any special protection because the paint is toxic and has a strong odor. You should carefully use it and always protect your nose and mouth from inhaling the fumes.

Actually, enamel paint is not a very good decision because it pollutes the environment. We don’t recommend using enamel paint for any interior things in your house. We don’t recommend using this paint on your walls because the room will stink for a long time.

If you have a good alternative for enamel paint, go for it because this paint is a little old-fashioned and it’s not always good to work with. So, we don’t recommend enamel paint not just because of its strange drying time, but also because of its other disadvantages.

Final words

If you want to use enamel paint, you should be careful. Read attentively the instructions before you apply paint. Once you notice that something is wrong with your paint (for example, it doesn’t dry well), you should just stop painting and deal with the problem. Find the reason why it happens and decide whether you may do something with this or not.

If you decide to repaint the project, be careful, you should always check what went wrong the previous time to not make the same mistakes. Be very careful and try your new painting attempt on a small piece of your project or maybe on some test surface. This will help you see if the problem is still there or not.