How Long Does it Take for the Smell of Spray Paint to Go Away?

How Long Does it Take for the Smell of Spray Paint to Go Away?

So, how long does it take for the smell of spray paint to go away? I was asked that recently on one of my YouTube videos.  A viewer  said they had spray painted a project several days ago and the projects was still stinking up his garage.

I’ve been there!

For the Love of Spray Paint

I love a good can of spray paint. Seriously I have completely sprayed a side table because it’s faster and it has the added benefit of not leaving brush marks. We all hate brush marks right.  They don’t bother me actually but customers seem to really dislike seeing brush strokes. They like their furniture to appear factory made even if it’s hand painted.

Go figure.

That’s why summers are precious to me. I can line up a row of projects and spray away. I have a massive collection of spray paint at this point. I’m not sure I’ll get through it in my lifetime.

One of the biggest draw backs to spray paint is of course the smell that lingers.

Off Gassing

Technically, that lingering smell is called off gassing. It’s what paints that are not water base do as they cure and dry.  Not that it helps to know that but in a way it does. It aptly describes what they chemicals in the paint are doing. They are emitting gasses (AKA smell) as they dry.  This is the same for oil based, and shellac based paints and clear coats.

Is the Smell of Spray Paint Harmful

Well, there’s a reason they say to use it in a well ventilated area.  You don’t want to breath in a significant amount of paint fumes. Not if you want to keep all your brain cells intact.

The reason people who “huff” spray paint feel euphoric when they breath in large amount of paint is their brain is being suffocated. Not good!

If you need to bring your project in the house because of weather concerns like I do here in Minnesota (you can’t leave paint out in 20 below weather to dry), you can safely do so. WAIT! That is provided you don’t have any allergies or underlying health issues, like asthma, that can be irritated by the fumes.

When I bring my projects in they are set in a room away from my main living spaces. Obviously you don’t want to let pieces off gas in your bedroom or other close quarters.

How Long Does It Take for the Smell of Spray Paint to Go Away?

I’ve heard some people say it only takes 3 days. Yeah, on a really good week of sunshine and fresh air. Must be someone in California saying that.

Those of us who live in areas with rain, snow, and cold weather experience a lot longer for the smell to dissipate. If you want to paint something and have the smell gone before your next party, plan on a week or longer. Again depending on your weather.

The good news is, once the smell is gone then your piece is cured. What does that mean?

Ladies your know how when you paint your fingernails and you try to do ANYTHING in the first hour afterward and the paint is soft.

Same thing with spray paint. When it’s dry to the touch the paint is not fully dry. You can easily gouge the paint and it will stick if you try to set something on top of a piece that is not fully cured.

When the smell goes away the paint should be fully dry.

How Do You Get Rid of the Smell of Spray Paint?

In short you don’t. You have to allow the paint of off gas for the smell to go away.

I saw a post that said to place baking soda or activated charcoal around your room. Um, really?  Hang on.

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That’s not going to work unless you have A LOT of baking soda or charcoal. You would also have to zip lock your project in a bag with these products to have any effect.

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It was also suggested to use essential oils. You can do that, but fair warning it will smell like orange paint or whatever scent your using.

None of these “tips” work so save your money. Crack a window and keep the piece in a separate room. It’s the best way I’ve found to mitigate the smell. I wish there were more you could do.

Be Patient

If you have some patience the smell will go away. I know it’s difficult especially if you want to use what you’ve painted right away. Good things take time.

If you’re looking for more painting tips and ticks check out my post on How to Spray Paint (Almost) Anything!

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2 thoughts on “How Long Does it Take for the Smell of Spray Paint to Go Away?

  1. And a note on off gas…..parrots are sensitive to this as are most cats. Even if people don’t smell it, people should let it cure. Thanks for putting the info out there!

    1. Absolutely! They can smell things we couldn’t if we were standing in. Everyone with animals needs to pay special attention.

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