The two existing theories describing drying of latex films or coatings are reconsidered. Subsequently, a novel mathematical drying model is presented, the simulations of which can match and explain experimental drying rate data of two previous investigations with latex films. In contrast to previous model studies, but in agreement with observations, simulations suggest that during the falling rate period of the drying process of a latex film, a porous skin of partly coalesced latex particles is indeed formed, which limits transport of water vapour from the receding air-liquid interphase to the surface of the film. The value of the effective diffusion coefficient of water vapour in the dry and partly coalesced layer (7 x 10(-7) m(2)/s at 19-24 degrees C), the adjustable parameter of the model for the falling rate period, was found to be independent of initial wet film thickness (89-1322 mu m), latex particle size (500-600 nm), initial polymer volume concentration (19-47 vol.%), and molecular weight of latex polymer (not quantified). Simulations also demonstrate that the transition from a constant to a falling drying rate in all cases takes place when the polymer volume concentration of the latex film is equal to that of hexagonal closest packed monodisperse spheres (74 vol.%). Consequently, the model has predictive properties and model inputs are only needed on the specific experimental (or field) conditions of interest. The effects on drying time of variations in relative humidity, wet film thickness, initial polymer volume concentration, and air flow velocity are simulated and analysed using the new model. (c) 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.