How to Speed Up Drywall Dry Time

Increased temperature, decreased humidity will quicken the job

New Drywall Tape and Mud at a Residential Construction Site

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Properly installing drywall isn't a quick and easy process. It takes not just effort but also plenty of time, particularly when it comes to drying time for each coat of drywall mud. Drywall mud, also known as joint compound, needs to dry for 24 hours between each coat and before sanding, priming, and painting. However, if you need to speed things up, a few shortcuts can quicken the overall installation process without affecting the finished product.

Apply Thinner Coats

Just like when you're painting, applying thinner coats of drywall mud means it takes less time for each layer to dry. This is the single best way to decrease drywall dry time. The first coat that you apply will take the longest, as it needs to be the thickest to fill the joints between the drywall sheets to and cover the screw dimples. Once the initial coat is done, you can thin out the remaining coats quite a bit. Not only does this cut the drying time, but it also reduces the likelihood of indentations and future cracking.

Turn Up the Temperature

You can't control Mother Nature, but you can turn up the heat in the room that's being drywalled. To quicken drywall dry time, turn on the furnace, put space heaters in the room, or, if it's a small patch of wall, aim a hairdryer at the area. You can also set up a dehumidifier to suck the moisture out of the room's air.

Increase Air Circulation

The length of time it takes for mud to dry decreases when there's air moving around the room rather than staying still. If it's not incredibly humid outside, open up the windows to circulate the air. However, if there's humid air outside, you don't want to let that humidity in, as it can actually slow the drying time. Set up fans in the room to get the air moving, whether or not you're able to open the windows.

Use Hot Mud

If you're really in a time crunch, you can use a special type of compound known as "hot mud." It's a powder that you mix with water, and it's formulated to set like plaster, so it dries in just 20 to 60 minutes. However, it's easy to make mistakes using this type of mud, and that rapid dry time means there's not much time to fix them. The first time you use hot mud, apply it to only small areas to get used to how it works. If you need to mud a larger area, stick to standard compound until you feel that your skill level is up to par.

When using hot mud, mix only enough to fill the mud pan once. If you mix too much, you risk the mud drying before you use it all. In the same vein, wash your tools immediately after mudding, not only to avoid it drying on the tool but also because residual compound left in the pan can make the next batch set faster and possibly make it unusable.