Reasons why Enamel Paint Does not Dry Correctly

Enamel paint is a favorite amongst crafters and for good reason. It can be used in airbrushes for a smooth application or you can just use a simple brush or roller to apply it, it is easy to come by and quite cheap, and enamel paint can give you an amazing looking satin or glossy finish, that I personally really love. Enamel paint can be applied to a wide range of materials including wood, plastic, and even metal if you prepare the surface correctly. But enamel paints can sometimes be a little hard to apply correctly resulting in an uneven finish or the paint not drying at all. So in this article, we will look at how to avoid these issues and we are going to have a look at all the possible reasons for your enamel paint not drying correctly.

In short, the main reasons why enamel paint does not dry correctly are low temperatures, high humidity, if the paint tin is newer, if the tin wasn´t mixed well before the application, or if the surface was not cleaned properly before applying the enamel paint. Some Enamel paints can take up to 3 days before they are completely dry.

So as you can see, there are quite a lot of different reasons for slow drying enamel paints. I will cover each problem more in-depth down below, so read on if you want to know more.

Low Temperatures or High Humidity Can Cause Enamel Paints to Not Dry

Depending on where you are living in the world, enamel paints may not be the best choice for your projects. If you live in a country with very high humidity or very cold temperatures then you may have a hard time using enamel paints to their fullest potential.

High humidity levels can cause problems for multiple different types of paints and enamel paints are no exception.

The high humidity can cause the paint to dry uneven or very slow at times. And even after the color has eventually dried the surface of the paint may still be tacky.

There are some things, that you can do but it requires quite a lot of effort so in most cases its easier to simply choose another type of paint, that works in areas with high humidity. There are even some special enamel paints, that can dry in high humidity or use a dehumidifier to ensure that the paint drys well.

Low temperatures can also be a reason for slow drying enamel paints. If you are living in a colder climate make sure, that you heat your workspace accordingly to give the enamel paint the best possible chance to dry properly.

So in short, make sure that you only use enamel paints in a warm environment with low humidity levels and use tools to lower the humidity or raise the temperature accordingly.

Paint From Newer Enamel Paint Tins Tend to Take Very Long to Dry

I personally made that observation and after checking some forums and after asking some friends and craftsmen, my suspicions were confirmed. If you use enamel paint from a new tin then the paint tends to dry slower than usual.

So I usually try to only use paint tins that have been in my workshop for at least two months but sometimes that just isn´t possible to do.

So if you have to use the paint right away, which is probably most of the time the case, then you either have to be a little more patient or you can try to speed up the drying time by heating up the surrounding area.

If you use the enamel paint right away from a new tin, then the drying time will be quite long. I would say it takes about 2 or 3 days until the paint is completely dry which is quite long when compared to the usual 24 hours drying time of enamel paint.

Enamel Paint May Not Dry Correctly if the Tin Was Not Mixed Well Enough

This is probably the most common beginner’s mistake when using enamel paints.

You have to mix the tin thoroughly before applying it to the paint. You can either shake the tin before opening it or you can mix the paint with a piece of wood or my personal favorite, disposable chopsticks.

When mixing the paint make sure to be very thorough. The paint has to be mixed well in order to properly and evenly harden later on.

Some paint shops will offer you to mix the paint tin when you buy it, which you should maybe do if you plan on using the paint right away.

Clean the Surface From Wax and Grease Before Applying the Enamel Paint

This is another very common mistake even amongst veteran crafters. I personally always underestimate the effect that a dirty surface can have on a paint application.

Either because I am in a hurry or because I don´t have any rubbing alcohol in my workshop I either forget or just simply don´t clean the surface before painting it. And that can lead to an uneven finish or a very long drying time.

This is especially true when painting metals or other very smooth surfaces.

So if you paint anything, then be better than I am and clean the surface beforehand.

You should clean the surface from any dust and dirt by using some soapy water. Then dry the surface with a piece of cloth and finally, clean the surface from any wax or grease by using some rubbing alcohol.

Let the alcohol evaporate for a couple of minutes before you apply the paint.

You will also avoid paint chipping by cleaning the surface before painting it.

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