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How Long Does Polycrylic Take to Dry? (Quick Answers)

There are many delicate items around our houses that lose their shininess and become dull if not cleaned everyday thoroughly.

For such antique items and furniture, people tend to coat them with a protective layering in order to keep their glossy surface durable. Polycrylic is one such protective coating that is used on furniture and other items around the house.

How long does polycrylic take to dry?

Polycrylic is a crystal-clear protective topcoat that forms a glossy layer on furniture, woodwork and other antiques. The polycrylic layer takes 2-3 hours to dry to the touch for reapplying but will require 24 hours to properly dry. The drying time also depends on the number of coats.

Minwax Polycrylic is a protective finish that is used as a topcoat on many structures, furniture and other woodwork.

The polycrylic is crystal clear and forms a glossy layer over the applied area which makes the structure look good as new and prevents their shininess from getting dull.

Although Minwax Polycrylic Protective Finish is used mainly to protect wooden surfaces from damages, they can be used on other materials as well to give similar results.

Not only does the topcoat protect the structures from scratches and dirt, they also add to the aesthetics of your room decorations.

Due to its adhesive and quick drying nature, polycrylic has been popularly used for purposes other than protecting wooden surfaces.

Many DIY artifact makers make use of the customizability of the polycrylic crystal clearness to add dyes and glitters and apply on different plastic ornaments.

On plastic ornaments:

Applying a polycrylic layer on plastic ornaments involves you pouring a bit of the polycrylic inside the plastic ornaments and then revolving it to let the layer spread out evenly.

Usually a thick layer of polycrylic is not used on these ornaments which is why they dry up faster. If the layer is shallow, the polycrylic layer would only take an hour or so to dry up but if it is thicker, you may need to leave it overnight.

On tumblers:

Another popular use of polycrylic is to decorate your custom tumblers with glitters and designs. People use polycrylic by brushing them on the cup exterior in an up and down swipe motion.

People typically apply at least 3-4 coats on the cup surface to make the layer smooth, which is why it requires as long as 24 hours to properly dry the coats.

How long for minwax polycrylic to cure?

Minwax polycrylic is a topcoat used to form a protective layer over wooden surfaces and other structures in a relatively short drying time.

However, the actual time needed to dry and cure depends on how thick each layer is and the number of coats that have been applied.

Curing is a chemical process that causes the polycrylic to harden from a semi-liquid state to a hard solid state.

When a coat has been cured, it can only then protect a surface against scratch and dirt. But for a polycrylic coat to dry, it takes around 24 to 72 hours to properly cure.

However, the structures with the coat applied can be maneuvered carefully after 24 hours. On average, it takes 48 hours for the polycrylic coat to fully cure, or even more time if you have applied multiple heavy coats.

Does polycrylic dry hard? Does Polycrylic dry fast?

Minwax Polycrylic is a water-based coat which dries to hardness very quickly. This type of coat does not smell or is toxic unlike other types of coats available in the market.

Polycrylic is a type of coat that dries to hardness by a process called curing after 48 hours. Drying to hardness gives the polycrylic coat layer a rigidity which prevents it from getting scratched or damaged easily.

Polycrylic is also known for its faster drying time, in fact compared to other coats, polycrylic has a very fast drying and curing time.

Polycrylic coats take 48 hours to completely cure and dry and at most 72 hours, whereas other coats need a lot more than 72 hours to properly dry.

3 reasons why polycrylic dries faster

Polycrylic coats are well known and used for its shorter drying and curing time while retaining a good quality of gloss and protection. The reasons behind their faster drying time is detailed below:

Base of the coat:

There are different variants of coats and sealants that are available such as polycrylic and polyurethane.

But one of the main differences that sets them apart is that polyurethane uses oil as its base whereas polycrylic uses water as its base. This simple difference of the coat results in a huge disparity of time required for both the coats to dry and cure.

The water-based polycrylic coat forms a thinner and lighter coat compared to the oil-based polyurethane coat. Having water as a base also has other perks such as evaporation which leads to the coat drying quicker and having a shorter cure time.

Reaction with humidity:

Humidity also plays a vital part along with temperature to determine the time required for a coat to dry.

If the humidity is too high, the moisture off the coat layer will evaporate slowly and therefore causing the drying and curing time to increase significantly.

But since polycrylic is water-based, the coat layer is already light and thin which allows it to lose water off its surface much faster compared to polyurethanes.

But if the humidity of your area is high, it will take significantly longer than the average time and the vice versa is true as well.

Reaction with temperature:

Temperature is yet another crucial factor that determines the drying and curing time of polycrylic coating. The hotter the temperature is, the better it can evaporate the water off the coat and cure faster.

Since the normal room temperature falls into the optimal drying and curing temperature of polycrylic coats, they dry and cure much faster than any other coats.

How long to let polycrylic dry between coats?

By convention, people apply multiple coats of polycrylic for better appearance and protection – but in order to do that, you need to wait some time before applying another coat but not after the coat has completely dried.

The previous coat must be dry to the touch but not completely hardened which would cause the new coat to not properly integrate with the old layer.

If you coat the new layer too soon, then the water would still be left in the old layer to evaporate out.

If that happens, the old layer will not cure properly and the moisture would be stuck underneath the new layer – which will cause the layer on top of it to get peeled off after it has dried out.

Since Polycrylic coats are water-based, you do not need to wait much longer before you apply the next layer on top of the old one.

Miniwax polycrylic can dry to the touch as early as 30 minutes but it is recommended that you give the coat 2 hours before applying the new layer.

How to speed up polycrylic drying time?

Polycrylic coats have a relatively shorter drying time, but if you need the coat to dry up even faster – there are several methods that you can implement to make the coat dry up faster:

Use a dehumidifier:

Using a dehumidifier can make use of the polycrylic water-based coat by increasing the rate of evaporation by means of reducing moisture in the atmosphere.

Polycrylic in a humid atmosphere would take days to cure but with a dehumidifier, then can be reduced to 24 hours.

Raise the temperature and air circulation:

Temperature and air circulation also heavily impacts the rate of drying and curing of the polycrylic coat.

If the temperature of the room can be increased along with increased air flow, not only will the rate of evaporation increase but also help the moisture get removed off the surface of the coat.

Curing requires a sufficient amount of oxygen as it undergoes an oxidation process, so having a fresh air flow would also benefit the coat by making it cure rapidly.

Simply keeping the window open or having a fan on can significantly improve the quality of air circulation.

Use a hair dryer:

Hair dryer uses the best of both of the above options with manual control. Putting the hair dryer on medium settings – you can effectively speed up the drying and curing rate of a polycrylic layer.

But remember to not overheat them to prevent the layer from cracking.

Final Thoughts

Polycrylic is a clear protective coating that creates a glossy sheen on furniture, woodwork, and other antiques. The polycrylic layer takes 2-3 hours to dry to the touch before reapplying, but 24 hours to fully dry. The drying time is also affected by the amount of coats applied.