It’s essential to give your new bathroom paint enough time to dry and cure before showering.
Otherwise, you could mess up the paint, and your beautiful bathroom walls might end up with unpleasant water streaks and drip marks.
But how long should you wait before you can shower in a freshly painted bathroom?
At the very least, you should wait overnight before showering after painting your bathroom.
However, there are other considerations like paint drying time and drying conditions.
This guide will give you an answer on how long to wait before you can take a shower after painting the walls or ceiling in your bathroom.
What Happens If You Shower in a Newly Painted Bathroom?
The biggest problem with bathrooms is they tend to be damp, with most surfaces constantly exposed to water and moisture.
Here are the issues you might spot after showering in a freshly painted bathroom:
- Water Drip Marks
If you’ve seen water streaks and drips on freshly painted bathroom walls or what looks like paint sweating, it may be because moisture has seeped into the new paint. It happens when you shower in your newly painted bathroom before the paint dried fully.
- Surfactant Leaching
Surfactants, ingredients in water-based paints, are responsible for the soapy, oily, and sticky spots you may notice on freshly painted bathroom walls. This so-called surfactant leaching happens in poor drying conditions. Leached material varies in appearance and color, from almost transparent, glossy patches to translucent shades of brown, tan, and orange.
Conditions that cause surfactant leaching include cool air temperatures, a lack of air circulation, and high humidity. Showering in a freshly painted bathroom facilitates all three.
Dry Time vs. Cure Time: How Soon Can You Shower in a Freshly Painted Bathroom?
In general, you should wait for the paint to fully dry before using the bathroom. The drying process happens once the bulk of the water and the solvents on your paint evaporated.
But how about the cure time?
Cured paint is hardened paint that is less susceptible to damages and scratches. However, you don’t need to wait for the paint to cure before using your bathroom because the process can take some weeks to months.
Waiting for the paint to completely dry before showering is often enough to not mess up the new paint.
Some paints will dry faster than others, depending on the type of paint you use.
How Long to Wait When Using Latex Paint?
Waiting Time: at least 4 hours
Latex paint, like acrylic, is a water-based paint. Water evaporates faster, so latex paint dries and cures faster than other paint types and bases. Most often, you can shower after a few hours of painting your bathroom with latex paints.
It’s best recommended to leave the paint to dry for at least four hours before using the shower. But ideally, waiting overnight before you use the freshly painted shower is the safest option.
Keep the window open during and after the shower to get rid of excess humidity.
Although latex paint dries within a few hours, it still takes at least seven days for the paint to cure. Until that the paint settles into the wall, any excess moisture can ruin your paint.
How Long to Wait When Using Enamel Paint?
Waiting Time: at least three days
Most enamel paints are oil-based, although you can now find them with a water base. This type of paint has a thick and glossy finish and had a higher pigment percentage than other types. As a result, enamel paints have a much longer drying and curing time.
Waiting at least three days before showering ensures that you can get the glossy finish of the enamel paint.
How to Make Paint Dry and Cure Faster
The 4-hour drying time for latex paints and the 3-day waiting time for enamel paints are based on ideal drying conditions. What that means is it’s not too cold nor too hot while letting the bathroom paint dry. Ideal drying conditions for paints also include ample ventilation in the room to help humidity escape.
If you’re itching to take a shower in your freshly painted bathroom, here are a couple of tips that can help speed up the paint drying time.
- Keep the bathroom windows and doors open
With your bathroom doors and windows open, you increase the airflow inside the room so the paint particles can evaporate much quicker. However, make sure no dust and dirt find their way in, as they can also ruin your otherwise flawless paint job.
- Turn on the fan
If you have a ceiling fan, turning it on is another option to help the paint dry faster. It will increase the airflow inside the bathroom, accelerating the paint’s drying and curing process.
But make sure to use a clean fan as dust from the circulating air can also ruin your new bathroom paint.
- Use a bathroom dehumidifier
High humidity levels can cause your paint to dry longer than it should, especially include cold weather. In some cases, you might find your oil-based paint still relatively wet the next day when the bathroom remains cool and moist.
In this case, you can speed up the drying and curing process using a dehumidifier. It boosts the evaporation rate inside the room so your paint can dry and cure faster.
- Turn on the heat
If you have a heater, you can also bring that to your bathroom to speed up the paint’s drying time. Increasing the heat inside can also boost the oxidative rate, which ultimately accelerates the cure time.
How to Check If You Can Shower in Your Newly Painted Bathroom?
In general, you should wait for your bathroom paint to dry before showering to avoid messing up the paint job.
You can check if the paint is dry enough by touching an inconspicuous wall area with your finger. If it feels dry to your touch and there are no finger marks on the surface where you touched it, it is dry.
Ideally, you want to wait for your paint to fully cure or harden before using the bathroom to avoid doing any damages to the surface. However, if it is not feasible, waiting for your bathroom paint to dry before showering should be enough.