23 Tested Ways: How To Stop Acrylic Paint From Drying Too Fast?

Artists around the globe are fond of acrylic paint because it is versatile and has a reputation as a fast-drying paint. But sometimes, fast drying can trouble you and mess up your workflow. But relax because I have many solutions to slow down acrylic drying time.

How to Stop Acrylic Paint from Drying Too Fast? There are numerous methods for reducing acrylic paint’s drying time. These consist of tools, water, and paint. 

The following 23 techniques will help you delay the time that acrylic paint dries, giving you more time to finish your painting. Keep reading the entire article to unfold all the possible facts that will help you later. 

How To Stop Acrylic Paint From Drying Too Fast?

Which Factors Dry Acrylic Paint Faster?

Acrylic is a water-based paint made of acrylic polymer emulsion and pigment. When you apply it on any surface, the water evaporates, leaving the pigment behind. 

Now this evaporation can get faster or slower based on some environmental factors that I will discuss in detail.


  • Warmer temperatures can faster the evaporation rates
  • Cool temperatures can slow evaporation rates
  • Any extreme temperature can cause the polymer chains to not properly attach together and form a film.


  • In reality, humidity significantly impacts working and drying times more than temperature.
  • More water cannot simply enter air that is already saturated with water vapor thus acrylic drying time decreases. 
  • A noticeable change occurs at relative humidity levels over 70.

Air Flow

  • Rapid moisture removal from a paint film is possible with moving air.
  • Working in an enclosed studio can increase the drying time.

Surface Absorbency

  • An absorbent surface will readily suck up water leaving the artist with a fast dried acrylic paint.
  • The same paper, when you treat it with one or more coats of primer, produces a surface that doesn’t absorb moisture, allowing for a smoother, more laid-back blending.  

How Long Does It Take Different Acrylic Paint To Dry?          

Well, there are two grades of acrylic paint namely craft paint and professional acrylic paint. 

Both differ in their drying time. Because the craft paints are for kids that are fast drying. But the professional one dries a bit slowly, yet not slow enough for a day-long project.

Acrylic Craft PaintProfessional Acrylic Paint
The thin layer dries within 10-20 minutesThe thin layer dries within 20-30 minutes
The thick layer dries within an hourThe thick layer dries within 2-3 hours
Usually, after the paint dries on the palette, you cannot activate it for blending further.It remains usable on the palette for slightly longer than many other acrylics. 

23 Proven Ways to Make Acrylic Paint Dry Slower

When you are in trouble with the super-fast drying time of acrylic, I am at your desk with multiple solutions. You can try any of these ways to bring some changes in your drying time.

#1 Planning Before Drawing

Before you start painting, you should always plan for it. This includes the portrait you want to draw, the colors you need to use, and think about the amount of paint before squeezing it out of the tube.

This will help you to save your acrylic paint, and it will decrease color waste. Moreover, if you have plans, you can work without a break, which decreases the paint waste.

#2 Control Volume Of Paint

 Scooping different volumes of acrylic paint with a brush can be a bigger factor in drying time. The thicker paint you use, the more time it will take for the acrylic to dry. I bet this can be quite easy to try if you are not dealing with an almost empty color tube. 

#3 Using Primed Surface

If you are working on a canvas, then you can have dry acrylic paint in a very short time. But relax because you can extend the paint drying time by priming the surface. You can use a Gesso or an acrylic specific primer for this work. 

The primer forms a protective layer that allows acrylic to adhere to the surface, yet the absorption time will decrease.

Use Water Mist

#4 Use Of Water Mist

If you have an old spray bottle then fill it out with water and use it to mist the paint on the water palette. 

Do it when you see the paint is about to dry or you notice any film forming on it. But do not use excess water as it can dilute the paint and the pigments can lower. 

So while using this tip be a bit extra cautious. You can also spray water on the back of the canvas before painting. Even this can slow down the drying process. 

#5 Using Slow-Drying Mediums

If you cannot control the acrylic paint with water then try out some slow-drying mediums. This can change the drying time of your paint if you can use it right. 

It comes in various forms and some you can even make at home. The perfect amount of slow medium can slow down your paint drying up to 2 to 3 times.  

I have found eight affordable paint slow-dry or extender mediums for you.

Name Of MediumLinks 
Winsor & Newton Galeria ExtenderCheck Price Here
Golden Acrylic RetarderCheck Price Here
Liquitex Slow-Dry Medium [BEST]Check Price Here
Winsor & Newton Slow Drying MediumCheck Price Here
U.S. Art Supply Acrylic RetarderCheck Price Here
Grumbacher Artists’ Acrylic RetarderCheck Price Here
Impresa Acrylic Paint Thinner For Slow-Drying Acrylic PaintsCheck Price Here
Golden Glazing LiquidCheck Price Here

#6 Using Additives (Retarders)

Additives do not give any binding capabilities. Hence they generally have limitations to how much is recommended mixing in with your paints. If you add too much, the paint won’t fully cure or dry and will remain gooey.

Acrylic retarder can extend the working period of the paint by 10 to 15 minutes, but you can only combine 10 to 15% of it into your paint. You can try out Golden Paints Acrylic Retarder which will be handy for you.

#7 Using Slow-Drying Acrylic Mediums

If you are working with acrylic paint why don’t you give a try to the specific acrylic slow drying medium. It will work according to your paint’s properties and you will need not to worry about any sticky finishing.

I recommend the Slow Drying Medium, Winsor & Newton for your studio work. Though it is white in color, it dries clear like water. You can even finish your work using a minimum amount of this medium with acrylic.

#8 Using Acrylic Glazing Liquid

You can use Golden Acrylic Glazing Liquid at any percentage (today referred to as gloss glazing liquid) with acrylics. 

This works really well for applying thin paint coats because it gives you more working time and “holds” the paint film. It is demonstrated by professionals and they love this a lot.

#9 Work With Tear-Off Palette

If you have a paper palette that is made of non-absorbent sheen paper then it is suitable for acrylic paint. It will not dry out the paint and you can use it multiple times. This thin disposable is easy to use at a reasonable price.

But avoid using styrofoam or paper plates as they can soak up the moisture for paint and your paint will not dry slowly on them. 

Work With Stay-Wet Palettes

#10 Work With Stay-Wet Palettes

The Stay-wet palettes is one of the most convenient methods to slow down the drying time of acrylic paint. The palette is basically made of 2 simple layers:

Layer of water-soaked absorbent paper that serves as a water reservoir.

A grease-proof paper sheet serves as a membrane to prevent all the water from dripping into the paint at once.

As the acrylic paints dry, the water in the paint is replenished by the water that is held in the layer of absorbent paper that you have spread out on top of the grease-proof sheet.

Though this is an interesting process, sometimes this can be infected by mold if the paint is kept wet for more than a few weeks.

Best Wet PalettesLinks
Masterson Sta-Wet Premier Palette Check Price Here
Jucoci Wet PaletteCheck Price Here
WetNDri Paint Tray Palette for Acrylic PaintingCheck Price Here
SAA Acrylic Keep-Wet Palette Check Price Here

#11 Work With DIY Stay Wet Palette

If you do not know where to buy a stay-wet palette, then make one at your home. All you will need is a plastic container, a sponge or towel and wax paper.

  • Put a sponge or a pile of towels at the base of the plastic box.
  • Soak the sponge with water at a minimum level
  • Cut the wax paper and place it on the sponge.
  • Put a small amount of paint and start painting.
  • When you finish painting, close the container. You can keep more moisture inside by spraying the lid.

#12 Work With Airtight Palette

You can use an airtight palette as an alternative to a stay-wet or flat palette.

These are palettes or to store extra paint that comes in quite helpful. Without the use of a retarder, medium, or additional moisture, the acrylics in the box have remained usable for more than two months.

There is even a thumb holder on the back, as well as a tiny scraper that you can use to decant some of the paint.

#13 Using Non-Absorbent Palettes

Non-absorbent palettes include glass, tiles, and other materials besides just plastic. This will not soak up your paint the way that paper or wood do.

Some palettes, like the Mijello Peel-Off Palette or glass palette, are available particularly to keep your paint wet for long.

You can also reuse plain food containers to start. Before sealing the container, mist the paint with water to prevent drying for several days.

#14 Spraying The Palette With A Wetting Spray

Water isn’t the ideal way to thin paint or help it dry more slowly, as we all know. Replace it with some professional wetting acrylic media, like Liquitex Palette Wetting Spray, to avoid the harmful effects of the water.

The wetting spray doesn’t degrade the quality of the paint, promotes color blending, and contains delaying agents.

#15 Painting In The Right Environment

When you paint, the environment matters the most. Because based on that your acrylic paint drying time can increase or decrease. But if you want to slow down the drying time, then you need to follow the rules below:

  • Working in a cellar or room with closed curtains are good places to paint.
  • Higher humidity levels (over 50%) will also prolong the drying process because evaporation is prevented. Use a humidifier only.
  • You can also use an air conditioner or a fan to chill the space, but if the humidity in your office is high, the fan will simply hasten the drying of acrylic.

#16 Painting In The Outdoor

If you are fond of painting images in natural locations then you need to be very careful about your acrylic paints and other accessories.

Make sure that there is no airflow, high humidity, and temperature below 65 F/18C.

Besides, you need to keep the following points in mind to make acrylic paint dry slower outdoors:

  • Work in a shady area, protected from air flows and sun. If the day is hot, try to paint early in the morning or late in the evening.
  • Use a water mist or sprayer if the air is dry.

#17 Control Air Flow In Room

Airflow in your room helps to dry out your acrylic paints. Where you can, you should exert control over this. 

Make sure there are no fans pointed across your work area or overhead. As they will shorten the time it takes for paint to cure.

Avoid opening the doors to let in airflow during hot weather as this may have the same result.

#18 Maintain Temperature 

The length of time it takes for your acrylic paints to dry is also greatly influenced by temperature. They will dry much more slowly if it is too chilly. They will dry more quickly if it is too hot.

Some mention exact temperatures, but these are merely estimates. This is due to the fact that it is dependent on both the brand of paint you use and the humidity level where you work. It will therefore vary. 

Longer drying periods benefit from cooler temperatures (but not below 9C, 48F) with higher humidity.

#19 Maintain Humidity

Acrylics evaporate to become dry. Therefore, the longer the acrylics stay wet, the wetter the air around them is. You might not be aware of how much the workability of the paints is impacted by painting in a dry atmosphere.

The acrylics will dry more quickly as the air becomes dryer.

  • Acrylic paints stay wetter in the damp air.
  • Acrylic paints dry more quickly in the presence of dry air.

#20 Applying Open Slow-Drying Acrylics

Additionally, there are more specialized acrylics available that are made to dry much more slowly. Golden OPEN acrylics have a significantly longer working period.

I have found that OPEN paint behaves somewhat differently from conventional acrylic as it dries thick rather than forming an exterior skin.

Applications with wet film thicknesses more than 1/16 inch / 1.5 mm will lead to: 

  • Excessively long drying times
  • Continuous softness with a greater tack sensation
  • Persistently hazy, translucent layers
PaintWetWork TimeCan Still Be ReopenedTouch DryCured
OPEN Acrylics30-60 min.1-3 hrs.~12 hrs.24+ hrs.14+ days

#21 Using Artist-Grade Acrylic Paint

There are two types of paint: artist-grade and student-grade. The level of quality and the proportion of pigment to binder varied among them.

Typically, we presume that paint intended for kids dries more quickly and that the cheaper the paint, the quicker it dries. Although artist-grade paint has a slightly longer open time, it nevertheless dries quickly.

So, I recommend you use artist-grade acrylic if you are in need of slow drying time. Some of the best artist-grade paint I will mention below.

Artist-Grade Acrylic PaintLinks
Deco Art Traditions Acrylic PaintsCheck Price Here
Pebeo Artists’ AcrylicsCheck Price Here
Castle Artists’ Acrylic PaintCheck Price Here
Using Alternative Interactive Acrylic Paints

#22 Using Alternative Interactive Acrylic Paints

A longer-lasting acrylic paint is now available on the market. In order to keep painting with it, you re-wet it.

It means you can paint without the typical concern of it drying off. For them to function properly, you do need to use their add-on products. But other than that, simply mist with water.

These acrylic paints are from the Atelier Interactive Acrylic Paints. I will advise these if you are having trouble.

If you want to get the full effects, you can’t combine them with regular paint.

Using Plastic Wrap After Finishing

#23 Using Plastic Wrap After Finishing

This technique doesn’t use paint, media, or wet canvas. This relates to how we keep a finished painting session stored. Your painting will have a “Greenhouse effect” if you cover it with plastic wrap. You just need to follow the steps mentioned below:

  • Spray water on your painting over the canvas.
  • Wrap it in plastic wrap or some other non-absorbing material that doesn’t breathe.
  • 3–4 days should pass before it dries completely.

This technique works for acrylic paint on the palette as well. Moreover, the paint will stay wet for 1-2 days for most.

Over To You

In the end, you should be able to keep your acrylic paint wet for days or even weeks when you try many techniques. It will save both time and money. 

I believe all the tips I have mentioned above will help you to a great extent. However, if I have missed something, please let me know in the comment section below.

Further Readings

GOLDEN Retarder: Slow-Drying Additive For Acrylic Painting
How To Keep Your Acrylic Paint From Drying Too Fast
How To Stop Acrylic Paint Drying Too Fast
Homemade Acrylic Paint Retarder Recipe
Understanding Drying Times For Acrylic Paints
What Should I Do To Keep My Acrylic Paints From Drying Too Fast
10 Surefire Ways To Slow Down Drying Time Of Acrylic Paint
8 Tips On How To Prevent Acrylics From Drying On The Palette
7 Ways To Stop Acrylic Paint Drying Too Fast
How to Make Acrylic Paint Dry Slower
5 Easy Ways To Keep Acrylic Paint On Canvas Wet

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