How Long Does Paint Need To Dry Before It's Safe To Hang Pictures?

It can be tricky to tell how long it takes for paint to dry. This can make the renovating process feel like it takes forever, especially when you have just moved into a new place and are itching to start decorating properly. However, the time you need to wait before getting out the drill and nails is longer than you probably think. The minimum amount of time you should wait before hanging up a picture is 24 hours. 

This will give the paint a decent amount of time to dry, so you aren't faced with any bumps or lumps when you hang a photo. Paint needs time to properly dry, especially if you have done more than one coat on a wall, and going in too soon with other tools could cause you to have to repaint, adding time to your renovation journey. Still, waiting 24 hours doesn't apply to all situations, and getting it wrong could result in your newly painted wall being less with a less-than-professional look.

24 hours isn't enough time for all paint to dry

To be even more on the safe side, say if you've done more than one coat or live in an area with high humidity, it's best to leave your walls to dry for even longer. In cases like this, 72 hours is a good milestone to aim for. This is because the paint may feel dry to the touch, but pictures add another layer of pressure that's enough to cause damage down the line. 

Though it may feel like an eternity, waiting this amount of time will ensure your wall is given the chance to dry properly and look completely smooth. If you hang something on a wall that hasn't fully dried, you could cause issues like unwanted texture or even potential for dampness in areas where paint hasn't dried properly but is then covered by a picture. Waiting 72 hours may feel like an eternity when you're excited to decorate, but the perfect finished look will last a lot longer if you can hold out.

It's better to err on the side of caution and wait a bit longer

Of course, each home is different, as is each wall. The above times are good markers to abide by, but if you're on a time crunch, you may be in a hurry to try and figure out if a wall has dried. The easiest way to see is to press a fingernail or a thin knife onto the coating and see if it leaves a dent. This should be done with care, as putting too much pressure on the spot will cause an indent whether the paint is dry or not.

Additionally, paint drying and curing are two different things — paint can feel dry but may not be fully cured yet. If you want the paint to be cured before you hang pictures, you'll have to wait considerably longer. A dry, cool environment will help paint to cure faster — for example, paint in a living room will probably cure faster than paint in a bathroom, where moisture levels are naturally higher. Generally, the above method will help you work out if it's okay to go ahead and hang up your pictures, but if in doubt, wait a few more days.