How To Make Acrylic Paint Dry Slower? 100% Working Ways In 2024

Acrylic paint is a popular medium among artists due to its fast-drying nature. However, there are times when you may want to slow down the drying process to make your painting more manageable. 

This can be mainly useful if you want to blend colors or create intricated details without the paint drying too fast. So, what are the methods and how to make acrylic paint dry slower? 

Well, once you understand why acrylic paint dries fast, there are numerous techniques to slow down the process. You may use water or extending mediums to stop the paint from drying quickly.

Additionally, you can apply many other strategies to make the paint stay wet for longer. So be patient and read the post thoroughly to find out these ways. 

How Fast Does Acrylic Paint Dry?

Generally, acrylic paint dries fast, taking only 15-20 minutes to dry to the touch and 12 hours to a few days to completely cure.

However, it depends on several factors, including the brand, the paint’s thickness, the environment you’re painting in, and many other things.

Why Does Acrylic Paint Dry Fast? 5 Reasons

Acrylic paint dries fast due to several reasons, but the most important factors are the following: 

  • Water Content

Acrylic paint contains a higher percentage of water than oil paints, and water evaporates quickly, causing the paint to dry rapidly.

Acrylic paint is made up of a polymer emulsion, which is a mixture of tiny acrylic polymer particles suspended in water. 

When the paint is applied to a surface, the water evaporates, and the polymer particles fuse together, creating a solid film. 

  • Temperature and Humidity 

High temperatures and low humidity can cause acrylic paint to dry even faster, while cooler temperatures and higher humidity can slow down the drying process.

At higher temperatures, the water evaporates quickly. Moreover, if there is humidity in the air, the paint will remain wet for longer.

  • Surface Type

The surface that the acrylic paint is applied to plays a great role in its drying time. Porous surfaces, such as canvas or paper, absorb the water in the paint, causing it to dry faster.

On the other hand, non-porous surfaces, such as metal or plastic, slow down the drying process.

  • Coating Thickness 

Thicker layers of acrylic paint take longer to dry, while thin layers dry more quickly.

The reason is apparent: thick coats not only contain more water content but are less exposed to air or the external environment. 

  • Airflow

The presence of airflow, such as from a fan or open window, can speed up the drying process of acrylic paint. 

The reason is that fast-blowing air can take away water molecules from the surface, speeding up evaporation. 

How To Make Acrylic Dry Slower? (15 Methods)

There are numerous ways how to slow down acrylic paint drying, and I’m going to discuss some of the methods I have tried and found really effective. 

Using these methods, you can keep acrylic paint from drying on canvas, plastic, glass, metal, wood, etc. These ways will also help prevent paint from drying between the coats. 

  1. Paint with Open Acrylics

Open acrylic is a type of acrylic paint that is formulated to have a longer drying time than traditional acrylics. Using them can naturally slow down the drying time of the paint. 

So I recommend you buy at least a set of these slow drying acrylic paint to help you with your time-taking projects.

  1. Use a Stay-Wet Palette

A Stay-Wet Palette is a palette designed to keep acrylic paints moist and workable for longer periods. It works by placing a sponge underneath the paint wells and a layer of permeable paper over it, which you wet before use. 

This creates a humid environment that slows down the paint’s drying time. It is a good way if you don’t like preparations and formalities. 

  1. Use Retarder

Acrylic paint retarders are additives that extend the drying time of the paint. Here is how to dry acrylic paint quickly using them.

Mix a small amount of retarder into your paint. Make sure you begin with a 1:10 ratio of the retarder to paint and adjust as necessary. Extending the ratio beyond the limit can cause the paint to get runny. 

  1. Slow Drying Medium For Acrylic Paint

You can also use the slow-drying medium to make acrylic paint dry slower, which is specifically designed to extend the drying time of the paint. 

These mediums are my primary choice as they don’t manipulate the consistency or composition of the paint. 

So how to dry acrylic paint with them? Well, it is not rocket science. Just add a small amount of the medium into your paint to reduce the drying speed. The ratio of the compound to paint should be 1:5. 

  1. Wet The Surface

Wetting the surface you are painting on before applying the paint can also slow down the drying process. 

For this purpose, you can use a spray bottle or dampen the surface with a sponge before painting.

  1. Use a Humidifier

Humidifier is a device using electricity to add moisture to the air. Using a humidifier in your workspace can also help slow down the drying time of acrylic paint by increasing the humidity in the air.

I’ve tried this technique many times for my impasto paintings; believe me, it works perfectly. 

  1. Choose a Cool Environment

Acrylic paint dries faster in warm temperatures, so painting in a cool, shaded area can help decrease the drying time.

I usually paint at the back of my house, which has a protective sun shade, and it is really helpful for small projects. 

  1. Use Thick Layers 

Thicker layers of paint will take longer to dry than thin layers, so use a thick coating of paint if you want your paint to dry slowly. 

However, sometimes your requirements are different, and you don’t want to add thickness. In that case, I suggest you try other ways. 

  1. Mix in Glazing Medium

Glazing medium is a translucent medium that can extend the drying time of acrylic paint while also increasing the transparency and luminosity of the paint. 

You can mix a small amount of glazing medium into your acrylic paint for slow drying time. 

  1. Mix Glycerin

How to make paint dry slower with glycerin? The best way to keep acrylic paint moist overnight is to mix glycerin with it to retain its dampness and prevent it from drying too quickly. In fact, glycerin attracts water from the air, keeping your painting moist. 

  1. Mix With Oil

You may opt for mixing oil with the paint if you want an extended drying time for your project. Here is how to make acrylics dry slower with this method.

Add a small quantity of oil to the acrylic paint on your palette. Use a ratio of approximately 1 part oil to 10 parts paint, which can vary depending on the brand and type of paint you use.

  1. Mix Water

Adding water to acrylic paint can also slow down the drying time. However, adding too much water can affect the quality of the paint, so use this method sparingly.

  1. Use a Palette Knife

Using a palette knife to apply the paint can help slow the drying process by applying the paint in a way that the air is restricted to distribute into the paint layers.

  1. Non-Porous Surface

As I discussed earlier, the surface also contributes to the process or speed of drying. So choose a surface wisely before you go for painting.

Acrylic paint will take time to dry on non-porous surfaces like glass or plastic because the paint cannot absorb into the surface as easily.

  1. Add a Humectant

A humectant is an additive that can help regulate the moisture level in acrylic paint, which can help you control the drying speed. Add a small amount of humectant into your paint to slow down the drying duration.

Related: How to make acrylic paint dry faster?

How To Make Homemade Acrylic Paint Retarder?

While there are commercial products available on the market, you can make your own acrylic paint retarder at home using a few typical household ingredients. 

Materials Required 

  • Clean water
  • Glycerin
  • A container 
  • Measuring mug
  • Stirring tool


  1. Startup by preparing your container. It should be clean and dry, with a lid that fits tightly.
  1. Measure out 1 cup of distilled water using your measuring mug. Pour it into your container.
  1. Add one tablespoon of glycerin to the water. Stir well with your stirring stick or spoon until the glycerin is entirely dissolved.
  1. Your acrylic paint retarder is now ready to use.

Keep In Mind: This homemade acrylic paint retarder may not work as well as a commercial product, and the results may differ depending on the specific ingredients used. 


Can you make your own acrylic paint retarder?

Yes, you can make your own acrylic paint retarder at home by using simple and common materials. Just mix water and glycerine in an appropriate ratio to prepare a slow-drying medium. 

Is there any acrylic paint slow drying medium?

Yes, there are many brands that sell slow-drying acrylic paints that are formulated with special ingredients. These paints are also termed open acrylics. 

How to stop acrylic paint from drying too fast?

There are several ways to stop acrylic from drying too fast. Pick the method which suits your painting requirements and art style. 

How to keep paint from drying out while painting?

Keeping acrylic paint from drying while painting is simple. Just keep a spray bottle filled with water around you and sprinkle over the paint after specific intervals. 

What makes acrylic paint dry slower?

Acrylic paint dries slower due to many reasons, including moisture, thick layering, cool environment, brand type, and use of retarding mediums.


I hope you learned sufficiently how to make acrylic paint dry slower by reading the post. There are numerous ways, and each technique has its own unique benefits and limitations.

With a bit of patience and practice, you can achieve the perfect balance between control and creativity and create amazing acrylic paintings that you can be proud of.

Thank You For Reading! 

Jose Scott

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