Whether you are a furniture painter or a purchaser of painted furniture you always hear about paint curing time.  But… do you really know why paint has to cure and what that means?  Do you know what happens during that elusive cure time and why it’s so important?

We all know that once paint is applied, it is always best to be “gentle” with the piece for about 30 days.  I always knew this too, but never really knew why.  I didn’t really understand what actually occurs during that time… until recently.
a glass jar filled with paint and a paint brush

What Really Happens When Paint Cures

Most of the paints that we use today for walls, furniture and crafts are water based paints not oil based.  When water based paint is mixed, one of the main ingredients is… tada… water.

Take Milk Paint for example; a paint that you mix yourself.  The main ingredient in the mix is water.

After you apply paint to a piece of furniture or wall, the water in that mix will evaporate.  As it evaporates, the other ingredients will begin to harden.  The less water there is, the harder the paint will become.

Guess how long it takes for the water to evaporate for paint? Yep… 21 to 30 days.

If we used Milk Paint again as an example, as the water is evaporating, the Limestone in the mix is hardening.  As the Limestone hardens, it will become as tough as nails and able to resist scratches and wear.a wood stick dipped in a can of blue paint

Be Gentle

During that cure time, it truly is very important to be gentle.  With the water working to evaporate, and the other ingredients working to harden, the paint is not “ready” for extended use yet.  Once the water is gone, it will be hard and ready for everyday use.

If you are not gentle during the cure time, the paint is much more likely to be scratched or chipped off.  Because it is not fully hardened, it is not adhered completely to the surface.painting a vintage chadelier

Be Sure to Cure

The next time you paint a piece or buy a piece of painted furniture, remember how important it is to let the paint cure.  If you can wait the full 30 days to really use the piece, you will notice a huge difference.   The paint on your piece should be wonderful for you for years to come if it is allowed to cure properly.

And… if you are a furniture painter that sells your pieces, be sure to educate your clients.   Let them know how important paint curing is if they purchase the piece before it is fully cured.

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Do you know why paint has to cure


I have 10 lovely thoughts, I would love to hear yours.

  1. Lisa says:

    Should you wait until the paint is cured before you seal it?

    • You don’t need to wait for the paint to cure before applying the top coat. You can apply it when the paint it dry to the touch and then it will all cure together 😉

  2. Thank you for explaining this process so clearly. I will be sharing your post on my Facebook biz page.

  3. Thanks for explaining that Lisa. I love learning all about painting.

    • 🙂 My pleasure Mary! I am so glad you found it useful! Hope you are having a lovely weekend!

  4. Louise Skabar says:

    Thanks very informative!

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