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How Long Does Drywall Joint Compound Take to Dry?

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Drywall joint compound is a necessary component in home construction and repair. If you want to hide cracks or screws in your wall, it’s drywall mud that takes care of the job. Using it correctly ensures a flat surface for a clean finish. But, how long will it take to dry?

How Long Does It Take for Drywall Joint Compound to Dry on Drywall?

In general, it will take about 24 hours for each layer of drywall joint compound to finish drying. Depending on the steps you take to speed up the process, the wait time can be reduced to 12 hours. Thinner coatings, warmer temperatures, dehumidified air, and increased air circulation are the safest ways to boost drying.

For smaller projects, hot mud is more efficient as it can dry from 5 to 90 minutes. But for most constructions and repairs, standard drywall joint compounds leave a stronger finish.

Drywall projects can be difficult, but following a set of guidelines and picking the right materials can make the process run smoothly and problem-free.

How Long Does It Take for Drywall Joint Compound to Dry on Drywall?

The amount of time this will take depends on a few factors, but each layer should normally take around 24 hours. Factors such as temperature and humidity can either increase or decrease the amount of time it takes, but this is usually the average. 

Cold temperatures make the drying process much slower, so make sure to avoid that. The same goes for humid conditions, as the drying process will take longer the more humid a room is. 

TIP: The ideal temperature should be around 21° Celsius/70° Fahrenheit, with a fair amount of humidity. If the room is on the colder side, make sure to warm it up beforehand.

Can You Speed Up the Drying Process at All?

If left alone, a layer dries in 24 hours. But a few things can be done to decrease the amount of time it takes for drywall mud to finish curing, such as:

  1. Applying thinner coatings, as they take less time to dry overall. Make sure to keep the first layer thicker than the rest to keep the coating strong.
  2. Increasing the temperature. Get a heater or even turn on a furnace to warm up the area. That way, the room can get warmer and dry the mud out sooner.
  3. Turning on a dehumidifier. Drywall mud is rather moist, so turning one on will suck out that moisture much faster than on its own.
  4. Increasing the airflow of the room by turning on fans or opening windows. Fans are much safer though, as sometimes the outdoors can bring in extra humidity or colder winds depending on the current season or weather.

What Type of Drywall Joint Compound Should You Use?

Looking at all the options available for drywall joint compounds can be a bit confusing. Each one has their use, and it’s important to know when it is best to use them.

All Purpose Drywall Joint Compound

By far the most common type you will find, all purpose does it all. Its best use is for holding drywall taping, as it is rather slick and strong. However, it can also work as a topper and corner bead setter.

The coating can end up on the thinner side, limiting it to smaller projects. Its strong composition also makes it hard to sand, but it’s certainly not impossible.

Even with its set of issues, however, this is very beginner-friendly drywall mud. After all, it’s useable in just about any sort of project. With a bit of effort, the sanding issue can be powered through. It’s best used as a taping mud though, and not much else.

Lightweight All Purpose Drywall Joint Compound

An alternative to standard all purpose, lightweight all purpose is perfect for any project you can think of.

It keeps the beginner-friendly nature of standard all purpose, but is much easier to use thanks to its easier spreading and sanding. While it does lose out to the standard in terms of taping quality, this is the ideal layering drywall compound for almost any project.

Topping Joint Compound  

As the name suggests, this compound is used for the top layer of a drywall project. This is also its only use, as it makes for a bad first and second layer since it is does not have a very strong bond.

Its only advantage over lightweight all purpose is the color, which can be better for brighter paint jobs.

NOTE: Sometimes this compound can be confusing to beginners, as its limited use can be overlooked or missed. Unless you have a specific reason to use this type of compound, either avoid it entirely or keep an eye on its few uses.

Powdered Drywall Mud

Also known as “hot mud”, powdered drywall mud is a very specific compound that sets in extremely quickly. You can buy bags with different times, ranging from 5 minutes to 90 minutes. If you need a project done quickly, this is the perfect mud to buy.

Powdered should be used for small patches or scratches that need a quick covering. It is made specifically for tiny projects that don’t need any more than ten minutes of layering. As such, it should be strictly used as a quick fix and nothing more.

Bigger jobs need to be done perfectly and If any mistake is made, it is impossible to change unless you create a whole new layer or remove the mud entirely.

What Type of Drywall Tape Should You Use?

When it comes to layering corners, drywall tape is the ideal tool. This is what lets you paint over corners hassle-free. But what tape should you buy, and what do they do best?

Mesh Tape

A very beginner-friendly tape, the mesh is by far the easiest to work with. Its only real downside is that it’s rather thick, so thinner paint jobs can leave it standing out. Even still, it’s a pretty reliable starting tape for any newcomer.

Paper Tape

Much like mesh tape, except that it’s much thinner. Paper tape allows any paint job to come out looking as smooth as possible, leaving drywall joints unrecognizable. It does take a bit of practice to use however, as improper placement can form bubbles.

Corner Drywall metal Tape

Corner drywall metal tape is specifically used for outside and inner corners and not much else. The corners of a wall can be difficult to properly tape, which is performed tape’s niche. But if you are confident you can tape an outside corner with paper or mesh tape, this one can be overlooked.

Extra Tools You Will Need?

Some extra tools will be needed to make the project easier and better-looking. Each one is just as important as the other, as they all play an important role in the process.

1. Drywall Mud Mixer or Beater

Some layers will require a softer coating, which is what either the drywall mud mixer or beater was made for. The only difference between the two is whether you choose to drill it or manually press it. For drilling use the mixer, and for pressing use the beater.

2. Water Hose

During the softening process, you will need water to make compounds easier to break down. This is also what you will need to clean your tools when the job is done, so it’s good to have a hose on standby for that reason alone.

3. Drywall Pan

The drywall pan is what’s used to hold the joint compound. Using a pan is much more convenient than carrying a heavy bucket around and gives you immediate access to your compound.

4. Drywall Knife

The drywall knife is the tool that spreads your compound across the drywall. Depending on the size of the job, you may have to change the size of your knife to save some hassle. If working corners for example, it would be much easier to use a 4-inch knife instead of a 12-inch knife.

Related Questions

What Happens if I Paint Over My Wet Drywall Joint Compound?

It may be tempting to just get the job done as soon as possible, but this is a terrible idea! At best the edges of the drywall panels will start showing. At worst your drywall mud will come peeling off, undoing a lot, or sometimes all the work that was done. It’s better to just play it safe and wait for the coats of mud to finish drying out before painting

Can I Use a Hair Dryer to Speed Up the Curing Process?

You can use a hair dryer, but they are not recommended. The amount of concentrated heat they blow can be too strong, cracking the walls they’re supposed to be curing. You’re better off using a heater and fans instead.

How do I Remove Drywall Mud?

You can use a putty knife to scrape off the undesired mud but be careful as to not damage other layers, or the drywall itself. After that, apply cleaning detergent and water to the drywall, wait for a few minutes and start scrubbing.

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