Dry time vs. Cure time - Explained

Dry time vs. Cure time - Explained

We often hear dry time and cure time used interchangeably when referring to the finishing products we use, but do we truly understand what that means?
No worries! CrystaLac is here to help.
First, we will go over what it means for OUR products.


Dry time:

Dry time is the time that it takes your product to be well….dry. Dry to touch doesn’t always mean that the product is fully dry. But beyond that, it is the time that is needed before your coating can be re-coated or lightly used.

CrystaLac makes waterborne products, so when we refer to dry time we are referencing the time needed for the water to evaporate out of the product , leaving solids behind.

The dry time for our products is 2-4 hours before they are ready to be re-coated, depending on the product. This ensures you don’t trap the evaporating water between the coats.

Cure Time:

Cure time is the amount of time is takes for the coating to reach MAXIMUM hardness and protection. This again occurs by the evaporation of water out our products. Throughout this time the coating is solidifying to reach total protection. Meaning it’s resistance to chemicals, scratches, water, heat etc.

The cure time for CrystaLac products is 30 days. Within a week you can use your project no problem, but you want to take care to avoid deep scratches, allowing water to sit, use of chemicals etc. until the 30 days are up. It is very possible it can cure faster, but we take the approach of using caution so that you always have long lasting results and protection.

Thin layers will cure faster, and the number of coats you use can effect the cure time as well. Remember the more coats the longer lasting the protection. 3-5 coats is typical for most applications.

What about other products?

Keep in mind that every brand is different, and to always refer to the information on the label/company for specific and correct information.

Solvent/Oil-Based: Oil based coatings do not use water evaporation, but they dry when the oils oxidize, meaning they are reacting with the oxygen in the air to harden. The dry time is typically 6-8 hours, with re-coating between 8-10 hours. The cure time is from 10 days to 3 months.

Latex: Latex is typically dry enough to recoat in 2-4 hours and the cure time can be 2-4 weeks.

Spray paint: The dry time is typically 15 minutes to an hour, and the cure time is 24-48 hours. (keep in mind this is not a protective coating)

Nitrocellulose Lacquer (solvent based): Nitro dries by the evaporation of the solvents. It dries very quickly at 15 minutes, and you can add coats before it fully dries, but the cure time can be anywhere from 2 weeks- 6 months. Yikes!

Acrylics: Acrylics dry in from about 30 minutes to 2 hours, with the cure time about 2-6 weeks.*

Epoxy: Epoxy dries in 24-48 hours. It cures through exothermic reactions, which simply put, means as the molecules react they generate heat. This is one of the many reasons it is so toxic. The curing process can be sped up through administering heat however. It typically takes 72hrs-30 days to fully cure.

Again, all of this is dependent on the brand you are using and your application process. These times can be affected by temperature, humidity and more.

*Also remember that additives will greatly affect the dry and cure times.

General Guide for CrystaLac products:

Dry time/ Re-coating: 2-4 hours between coats

Before use: 1 week

Cure time: Approx. 30 days


Back to blog