If you’ve ever needed to patch up your wall with joint compound, chances are you’ve pondered “how long does joint compound take to dry?” and came to no avail. However, knowing how long your drywall mud takes to dry completely is vital to prevent further damage that could reverse the coat work. Thus, we’ve put together an informative piece to steer you in the right direction.
How long does joint compound take to dry?
Joint compound typically takes around 24 hours to dry under normal circumstances. That is, when it’s not too hot or cold. However, humidity, air circulation, and room temperature can affect drying. Additionally, depending on the type of wall and the size of the hole or dent being filled, the time taken for the drywall joints to dry up completely may increase or decrease.
Related: What Is The Temperature In My House
What is joint compound?
Joint compound, commonly known as drywall compound or drywall mud across the U.S, is a type of paste used for sealing up holes or to even out a dent in a wall, ceiling, or related surface. Drywall mud is made by mixing gypsum dust with water until it becomes a pasty texture comparable to cake frosting.
There are several different types of joint compounds and countless uses for them in both a home environment and in the construction industry.
Types of joint compound
All-purpose drywall mud compound
This type of drywall joint compound is the most commonly used for its versatility of use in a wide range of applications. All-purpose mud compound is a lightweight solution that is great for texturing and skim-coating. Due to its thinner coats, all-purpose mud compound is great for the first coat. After that, sanding it into shape can be quite easy too.
On the downside, all-purpose mud compound is slow to dry, meaning you must wait longer before applying subsequent coats. Not only is the mudding process time increased, but this type of joint compound also has a weaker binding agent, making it less effective for coating over mesh tape (1).
With that said, all-purpose mud compound is vital for the first coat and thus should be used in conjunction with other thicker muds.
Topping drywall mud compound
For the final coat, topping mud is the best option for its specialized features that deliver the perfect level of thickness to finish the job. Ideally, you will want to apply this type of joint compound after two coats of all-purpose lightweight mud have been applied to the affected targeted area.
When applied correctly, topping mud can be even easier to sand than all-purpose mud, making it the best option for your final layer.
Topping mud compound typically comes in a powder form. Unfortunately, this means you must apply water to create the mixture yourself. While this could be a hassle compared to pre-mixed solutions, the benefit is that you can control the thickness of your joint compound and save some for later use.
If you mix it well, the topping compound can provide a smooth coating for your final layer with an extremely durable bond to deliver lifelong results.
Taping drywall mud compound
While the all-purpose mud is sufficient for coating mesh tape, it does not do as well as taping mud, a joint compound specializing in tape coating. This drywall mud is great for embedding joint tapes as it dries harder than other layers.
Furthermore, taping mud is a solid option if you need to cover plaster cracks, as it has a superior bonding agent that is also crack-resistant for lasting protection.
The downside of taping drywall mud is its inflexibility of use and restricted application towards tape, plaster cracks, and bedding. In addition, due to its hardness and fast-drying properties, taping mud can prove to be a challenge when it comes to sanding.
Thus, it is important to remember that taping drywall mud should primarily be used with mesh tape rather than a single solution.
Quick-setting drywall mud compound
This type of joint compound is ideal for specific situations, particularly when drying time is a factor. Known as hot mud across the U.S, you can use this solution in places of high humidity or warm temperature as it’s made to set quickly.
Unlike other drywall muds, quick-setting drywall mud relies on chemical reactions to set. This is opposed to waiting for water evaporation to occur, which increases drying times.
Many drywall professionals use quick-setting mud for the first layer of coating instead of all-purpose mud. This gives the wall a stronger interior before thin coats are applied. This compound is great for humid conditions, high temperatures, and areas of high moisture content.
As such, it’s an ideal coating for bathrooms, showers, or laundry areas where it may be exposed to water.
Different uses of joint compound
There are many different uses of joint compound, all of which can help you realize a better home and living environment. You don’t need to spend absurd amounts of money replacing walls and ceilings. You can apply some drywall panels or mud for an equally lasting result. Below is a list of some of the main uses of joint compound for the everyday homeowner:
Wall and ceiling repair
The most common use of drywall mud is related to wall repair. This includes filling up holes and cracks in the wall or even straightening a dent in the surface. For plastered homes, this can be extremely useful for repairing ceilings affected by leaks caused by heavy rain.
Joint compound, mesh tape, and drywall installation go hand-in-hand. That is, one cannot thrive without the other. When installing new walls or ceilings in your home, you will need joint compound or drywall mud to coat over the mesh taping and to connect adjacent drywalls together.
Tape is also essential as joint compound seams between sheets of drywall. It can revert back to its powdery form and crack and shrink over time if not stationed with drywall tape.
Related: Can You Burn Drywall?
Covering screw holes
Filling up tiny nail holes and screw holes are common for joint compound use. As you can imagine, it does not require much time or resources. Screw holes are a common issue when refurbishing a room, as it often means taking down posters, clocks, or other objects pinned to the wall.
At times like this, drywall mud is the perfect solution for filling up those gaps and essentially hitting the refresh button on your walls.
Starting a paint job
Before painting your drywalls or ceiling, they must be free from holes, cracks, and dents. This is because applying drywall mud over the paint will reverse the effects of the paint. It can make you start the job over again, wasting time and resources.
In this scenario, drywall mud drying time must be seriously considered. You should typically wait 24 hours before applying paint over your drywall mud.
How to tell when the joint compound is dry
The most prominent indicator that will tell you when your drywall mud is dry is the appearance and the texture. Upon first glance, the mud should appear white in color, and upon touch, it should feel hard and resistant to warping in response to applied pressure.
As a guide, you can expect about 24 hours of waiting for time for a standard coating. It’s about 12 hours for a thin layer. Finally, it’s as short as 1-2 hours for coating over tiny nail and screw holes.
Factors that affect drying time
Many factors could increase or decrease drywall mud drying times and are typically associated with environmental conditions that may or may not be alterable. An example of an alterable factor would be the room temperature which can be raised with space heaters or decreased with an AC system.
An unalterable factor would be the depth of the hole or the severity of the crack being coated. This will have an immediate impact of significance on the drying time.
How to make your joint compound dry faster
While we can’t alter the issue related to the drywall (e.g., the crack or hole). We can focus on external factors that could help dry the joint compound faster. Below are a few of the most impactful methods you can try that will undoubtedly reduce the drying time needed for your drywall mud:
Warm up the room
Just like a dryer uses high temperature to dry clothes, you can improve the drying time of your joint compound by increasing the temperature of the room where the drywall is situated. This could mean turning on a heater during cold weather or turning on the AC cooling system if the weather is hot.
You could also speed up the process by using a hair dryer to blow hot air into the targeted area.
Buy a dehumidifier
A dehumidifier can be a great investment for a more pleasant breathing atmosphere in your room. It can also be useful for increasing the drying time of your drywall mud. The purpose of a dehumidifier is to suck out the moisture from the room, resulting in clearer air with reduced humidity.
Given the joint compound’s water content, removing the air’s moisture can assist in drying. It does this by accelerating the evaporation of water particles in the drywall mud coating.
Related: Is A Diffuser A Humidifier?
Use quick-setting hot mud
Hot mud is a great alternative for a faster, quick-setting drywall mud solution that can reduce waiting time by about 50%. Unlike the standard wet joint compound mixtures, hot mud dries up via chemical reactions instead of water evaporation.
Thus, hot mud significantly reduces drying time and eliminates the need to raise room temperature or dehumidify the room.
Let some air in
Temperature and humidity aside, letting in some oxygen by opening windows can greatly reduce working time with your drywall mud (2). This is because air circulation promotes faster drying due to the constant movement of air particles that absorb the coating’s moisture.
You can take advantage of an open window by using a fan to accelerate the air circulation around the room for even faster results.
How long does joint compound take to dry FAQ
How long does joint compound have to dry before you can paint it?
Depending on the joint compound you use and the drywall task, it can take anywhere between a couple of hours to an entire 24-hour day for drywall mud to dry. You can accelerate this process by changing the type of drywall mud you use. You can also try increasing the temperature and air circulation in the vicinity, or reducing the surrounding moisture and humidity.
How can you tell if joint compound is dry?
You can use your sight and touch to determine whether the joint compound is dry. Do this by observing that the color has become pale white and by feeling the rock-solid texture of the drywall’s surface.
How long does drywall mud take to dry?
Drywall mud typically takes around 24 hours to completely dry, which applies to all-purpose coatings and topping mud coatings. Hot mud coating can take as little as 12 hours to dry due to its fast-drying properties that rely on chemical reactions rather than water evaporation.