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How Long Does Drywall Mud Take to Dry?

drywall mud and tape finish in a new home construction

Drywall is what modern walls are made of. The drywall mud seals the cracks in the drywall boards, making the wall’s surface smooth and uniform. If you’re hanging drywall or fixing cracks in the old wall before repainting, you’ll need to wait for the drywall mud, or joint compound as it’s commonly called, to dry before sanding, priming, and painting.

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How Long Does Drywall Mud Take to Dry?

The average drying time for joint compound is about 24 hours. However, there are factors that significantly contribute to a longer or shorter actual time. Here are some variables that determine how long to wait before moving onto the next step of your project:

1. Type of Drywall Mud

There are two types of drywall mud: pre-mixed mud that comes in a bucket, and a dry powder that you mix with water, which is called hot mud. The bucket variety takes about 24 hours to dry, or longer depending on the other factors. Hot mud is the better choice if you’re looking for a quick solution. It’ll be dry within 20-60 minutes, so you can finish several coats in a flash. However, the narrow time window isn’t very forgiving for mistakes, which may render hot mud not the best choice for beginners.

2. Temperature

Drywall mud dries best when the temperature is about 70℉. In fact, it’s not recommended to use drywall mud at all in areas that are 50°F or less because the cold weather significantly increases the dry time. Conversely, you don’t want to apply joint compound in areas that exceed 95°F or it also might not dry properly. It’s important to keep the inside temperature conducive for the first day or two after applying the drywall, too, to make sure it’s completely set.

Drywall Mud
Image Credit: Ja images, Shutterstock

3. Humidity

Lower humidity equals faster drying times. Running a dehumidifier in the room you’re working on can speed up the process.

4. Thickness

Just like paint and flattery, it’s best not to lay it on too thick. Thinner coats spread more evenly and dry faster, which is better for the project’s progress and long-term effects.

5. Air Circulation

Stale air isn’t good for quick drying times. Try running a fan on low to boost air circulation.


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How to Tell If Drywall Mud Is Dry?

Once you’ve waited the appropriate amount of time for your type of drywall, you can test to see if it’s dry by gently running your scraper tool up or down a seam. If the drywall is finished setting, it should be flaky and hard. If it’s not finished, it might look runny like the icing on a gingerbread house.

In some extreme cases with unfavorable weather and humidity, it can take up to 12 days for bucket joint compound to completely set.

drywall mud of partially completed interior of home
Image Credit: David Papazian, Shutterstock

What Happens If You Paint Over Wet Drywall Mud?

Unless you’re using the hot mud, you can expect to wait about a day in between drywall coats. After you’re done applying the joint compound, you still have to sand the wall, prime it, and paint it. All of these days can stack up to a week or more, so you might feel an impatient urge to continue on even if the drywall mud isn’t completely set. Please don’t do this. The end result will be splotchy, and you’ll likely be disgruntled with the final appearance.

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Building or renovating your walls can take a couple weekends to accomplish depending on the type of drywall and the drying conditions. You can try to speed things up a bit by choosing hot mud instead of the pre-mixed bucket and controlling the indoor temperature and humidity. However, it still might take more time than you expected, so remember, a little patience will pay off in the end.

Featured Image Credit: ja-images, Shutterstock


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