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When does a paint or coating reach it's full cure?

When does a paint or coating reach it's full cure?

Posted by Gary Alan Goel on Jul 9th 2024

Understanding the Stages of Paint Drying:

A Guide for the Bathtub Refinishing Industry In the paint industry, terms related to how paint and coatings dry are often misused and misunderstood. This confusion can lead to miscommunication and improper care of freshly refinished surfaces. 

Whether you are working with two-part catalyzed paints such as polyamide or amine epoxy, two-part polyurethane urethanes, or even latex paint, it’s crucial to understand that these are organic coatings with a specific drying process. This process is not simply a matter of being "dried" or "cured." Instead, it involves three distinct stages: dry to touch, back in service, and cured.

Common Misconceptions: Many in the paint industry mistakenly use "dry" and "cured" interchangeably, which can lead to problems, especially in the bathtub refinishing industry where surface durability and performance are critical. Here’s a closer look at the common terms and the reality of the paint drying process:

Dry to Touch: Often misunderstood as the paint being completely dry and ready for use. This stage merely indicates that the paint surface feels dry to the touch, but it is far from fully cured. 

Back in Service: Sometimes taken as the final stage of drying. However, while the surface might be suitable for light use, it has not yet achieved its full mechanical and chemical properties.


Cured: This is the point at which the paint has reached its maximum hardness and chemical resistance, but it is often confused with earlier stages of drying. 

The Three Stages of Drying

Stage 1 Dry to Touch 

Definition: The point at which the paint film feels dry when lightly touched.

Time Frame: This can range from a few minutes to several hours, depending on the type of paint and environmental conditions.

Significance: At this stage, the paint has lost most of its solvents, but the film is still relatively soft and vulnerable to damage. 

Stage Two of Drying

Back in Service

Definition: The stage where the paint or coated surface can be put back into light use without significant risk of damage. 

Time Frame: Typically, this occurs within 24 to 48 hours after application. 

Significance: The paint or coating film has hardened enough to withstand some wear and tear, but it has not yet achieved its full performance properties. Care must still be taken to avoid heavy use or cleaning. 

Stage Three of Drying


Definition: The final stage of the drying process where the paint has reached its optimal hardness, flexibility, chemical, and stain resistance. 

Time Frame: Full curing can take anywhere from a week to several weeks, depending on the paint formulation and environmental conditions. 

Significance: Only at this stage does the paint or coating film deliver its highest performance specifications, such as maximum pencil hardness, chemical and stain resistance, and flexibility. Importance for the Bathtub Refinishing Industry Understanding and communicating these stages is essential for professionals in the bathtub refinishing industry. Surfaces that are refinished need to be pampered until they are fully cured to ensure long-lasting durability and performance. This means educating customers on the importance of the curing process and providing them with a detailed care and maintenance sheet that outlines these stages. 

Care and Maintenance Tips: 

During Dry to Touch: Avoid touching or cleaning the surface. 

During Back in Service: Use the surface lightly and avoid harsh cleaning agents or heavy use. Until Fully Cured, Refrain from using abrasive cleaners or putting excessive weight on the refinished surface. By explaining these stages to customers and emphasizing the need for proper care during the drying process, refinishing professionals can help ensure that the refinished surfaces meet their highest performance specifications and maintain their appearance and functionality for years to come. 

In conclusion: The terms "dry" and "cured" are not interchangeable. Proper understanding and communication of the drying stages can make a significant difference in the longevity and quality of refinished surfaces in the bathtub refinishing industry. A well-informed customer is more likely to follow care instructions, leading to better outcomes and higher satisfaction with your services.