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Bathroom - Interior design

How Long to Wait to Shower After a Bathroom Paint Project

Have you ever wondered how long after you paint a bathroom can you shower? Well, good news. That’s exactly what I’ll be talking about today!

There’s nothing quite like the excitement of having a freshly painted bathroom. However, it’s really easy to completely ruin your new paint job if you’re overly eager to start using the room.

Fortunately, with just a bit of know-how, you can prevent potential bathroom disasters.

The Different Drying Times

drying time how long after you paint a bathroom can you shower
Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash

How long after you paint a bathroom can you shower is largely dependent on the different types of paint you use. The drying process between types can vary quite a bit, making it extremely important that you know the differences.

Things can get even more complicated if you’re taking on multiple projects at once. For example, if you’re installing and painting your own floating shelves in addition to painting the rest of the room, you’ll need to factor in both types of paint.

I suggest just basing your wait times on the paint that will take the longest to complete the drying process.

Oil-based Paint

​oil-based paint
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​Oil-based paint blends used to be the most popular types of paint, and for good reason! Oil paint is durable, holds colors well, and offers the perfect smooth finish for your walls. Oil-based paints—particularly enamel paint—are great if you want that glossy finish.

Unfortunately, that perfect finish comes at the cost of time. Enamel paints can take up to three days to completely dry. Other oil-based plants generally take from six to twenty-four hours before being dry to the touch.

Of course, the actual drying time depends on a number of different factors such as temperature, humidity, paint thickness, and paint additives!

Water–based Paint What to Know for How Long After You Paint a Bathroom Can You Shower

water-based paints
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Although they often cost a tad more, water-based paints are becoming increasingly popular. People seem to love the eco-friendly blends, fume-free formulas, and short drying times!

Water-based paint can be split into two paint types: acrylic paint and latex paint. Thin layers of acrylic paints, sometimes called “enamal” by manufacturers, can dry in as little as 30 minutes. Thickers layers can take up to two hours before they’re dry to the touch.

Latex paints can dry in as little as four hours, but I’d recommend waiting at least a day before showering for the ​best results. It’s simply not worth the risk of ruining a fresh coat of paint!

Paint TypePaint BaseMinimum Drying TimeMinimum Cure Time
Oil-based6 to 24 hours7 days
Water-based1 hour14 to 30 days
EnamelOil3 days7 to 14 days
AcrylicWater30 minutes14 to 30 days
LatexWater4 hours14 to 30 days

Why You’ll Want to Wait

bathroom paint how long after you paint a bathroom can you shower
Photo by Jonny Caspari on Unsplash

Waiting for each layer of bathroom paint seems like it takes forever. If you’re anything like me, you’re probably feeling pretty antsy by the time you’re finished applying the last layer of new paint.

I know it can be really tempting to start using your refreshed room right away, but trust me. That’s the last thing you want to do.

At a bare minimum, you want the paint dry before you start using the room. Ideally though, you’ll want to wait until the paint cures. More on that down below.

bathroom walls
Photo by Cameron Smith on Unsplash

If you take a shower right after painting then you’ll immediately start having issues on your bathroom walls. Water drip marks, or “paint sweat”, tend to appear when the moisture seeps into the painted wall. This can happen on other surfaces as well, like cabinets, doors, or trim you’ve just painted.

That’s the last thing you want to happen, especially if you’ve taken the time to hand paint something!

Another common issue is surfactant leaching. This creates unsightly stains on your freshly-painted walls, but can be avoided easily enough. You just need to know how long after you paint a bathroom can you shower.

What You’ll Want to Avoid

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Avoid taking a shower right after painting, as these poor drying conditions can ruin the paint.

Ideally, you’ll want to provide low humidity, higher temperatures, and air flow for your new paint, especially if you’re not using the best paint. That said, the ideal conditions never change, even if the quality of the paint you’re using is high-end.

The best humidity level changes depending on the paint you’re using. Still, you should be golden if the level is between 40% to 70%. Above 80 to 85%, the paint won’t cure at all. Below 40%, you might start dealing with washed out coloring, speckled surfaces, or premature peeling.

Photo by Annelize De Waal on Unsplash

Try to keep the room temperature between 50 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit while drying paint. Some paints can dry outside of this range, but I find this range to be the general sweet spot for fast dry times.

The last factor to consider is airflow, which helps regulate the first two factors throughout your bathroom. Fortunately, this one is very easy to address, especially if your bathroom already has a ceiling fan!

If not, a circulating fan will do. Either way, make sure your fan is clean before turning it on to avoid ruining the paint with dust.

Drying Vs. Curing: What’s the Difference?

how long after you paint a bathroom can you shower
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Alright y’all, so this part is important if you’re trying to figure out how long after you paint a bathroom can you shower. Did you know there’s a difference between dry paint and cured paint? 

Well, there is, and you’ll want to focus on the cure time instead if you’re trying to be extra cautious about things. I’ve already told you about the general paint drying time you can expect, so let’s go over the drying and curing process.

Freshly applied wet paint quickly arrives at the first stage, called “surface dry”. This paint appears dry but you’ll quickly realize it’s still wet if you make the mistake of touching it.

wet paint brush
Photo by Theme Photos on Unsplash

The next stage is “touch dry”. At this point, you can lightly touch the paint without messing it up, but still, you don’t want to shower at this stage. “Hard dry” is the final stage of the drying process. At this point, you could shower in your bathroom or do other basic activities.

However, you can also wait until the paint is completely cured if you want to be as safe as possible. Being “cured” simply means that the paint is completely dried inside and out. Sadly, this can take quite a while. Think weeks, rather than hours.

On the plus side, you’ll have plenty of time to introduce other bathroom designs if you decide to wait. When it’s finally cured, you’ll truly be able to shower without worry!

Paint Drying Tips & Tricks for How Long After You paint a Bathroom Can You Shower

wet paint
Photo by David Pisnoy on Unsplash

By now, you know that how long after you paint a bathroom can you shower takes quite a long time. That said, there’s no reason why you can’t speed up the process a little bit!

To start, place a dehumidifier in your bathroom. Not only will this prevent high humidity, but it should increase the evaporation rate as well, meaning less drying time overall. This is practically essential if you’re using a lighter paint, as any surfactant leaching from high humidity levels will show quite badly.

high humidity how long after you paint a bathroom can you shower
Photo by Claus Grünstäudl on Unsplash

Consider placing a heater in your bathroom to adjust sub-par temperatures. A temperature-adjustable model is best, as this makes sure you can stay within the recommended temperature range.

For airflow, either a ceiling fan or a standalone fan can work wonders. Just make sure it’s free of dust before turning it on. If you don’t have one, opening the windows and doors is also an option.

My last tip isn’t really related directly to drying, but I think it’s a good one to keep in mind. Pick up some storage baskets. These will help you organize and move your bathroom essentials, which could be handy if you need to find a temporary shower.

Temporary Shower Solutions for While You Wait

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If you’re only waiting for the paint to dry before showering then finding a temporary shower solution might not be an issue for you. However, if you want to play things extra safe then you’ll need to figure something out. After all, the curing time can take weeks!

Well, having done a full bathroom remodel before, I’ve come up with a few solutions to this issue. Depending on where you live, a few might not be practical, but I’m sure at least one will stick.

Grab your shower essentials, a clean towel, and give one of these temporary shower solutions a try.

outdoor shower
Photo by Laura Marques on Unsplash

If you live away from other people and don’t mind cold showers then the easiest option available is the garden hose. True, it’s not ideal, but it works if you only need to last for a couple of days. Pair it with a shower tent for some much-needed privacy.

For city dwellers, the best options are usually asking a friend to use their shower or heading to the gym. I’d say go for the second option if you’ll need a long-term solution, as you never want to overstay your welcome.

Of course, how long after you paint a bathroom can you shower really comes down to which paint you use and what your drying goals are, so just adjust your strategy as needed.

A Simple Summary

bathroom inspirations how long after you paint a bathroom can you shower
Photo by Andrea Davis on Unsplash

Now you know how long after you paint a bathroom can you shower. I hope this information was helpful, especially if you were worrying about messing up your brand-new paint job.

As long as you wait the recommended minimums before taking a shower, you shouldn’t run into any issues along the way. If you decide to play things safe, just take the time to install some upgrades like wall sconces or a beautiful mirror!

Let me know all about your bathroom painting projects in the comments below, and don’t forget to check out my other posts for bathroom inspirations. Love you all, xoxo

hot shower
Photo by kevin Baquerizo on Unsplash

How long does it take for paint to dry in a small bathroom?

The final type of paint depends less on the size of the space you’re painting, and more on the number of layers you’ve painted. While some types of paint are dry to the touch in under an hour, I would recommend waiting at least a day before taking a shower, regardless of the paint you’re using.

Can you shower while bathroom paint is drying?

No, it’s never a good idea to shower while the paint is still drying. The increased humidity level can completely wreck the fresh layer of paint! How long after you paint a bathroom can you shower depends on a few factors, but showering while the paint is still drying is definitely a no-go. 

Fortunately once everything’s dried, you’ll only need a shower curtain to protect your wall from the water. No other precautions required.

How many coats of paint does a bathroom need?

It varies, depending on the color you’re using, whether you’re using primer, the previous color, and a few other factors. Bare minimum? You’ll want to use at least two layers of paint.

Can you paint a bathroom in one day?

You certainly can, and many ​professional painters do it all the time. That said, you’ll want to wait until the next day at least before hanging wall art, taking a shower, or doing anything else that affects the paint.

Will 1 gallon of paint cover a bathroom?

Potentially! It really depends on the surface area you need to paint and the number of coats you’ll be applying. A gallon of paint will usually cover a painted surface of roughly 350 to 400 square feet.

What type of paint is best for a bathroom?

Although it really comes down to personal preference, most experts recommend glossy, semi-gloss, or satin finishes for the bathroom. Regardless, make sure you choose a paint with a mildew-resistant additive, as this will help it hold up to the humid air from a hot shower.

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