Drywall Mud Not Drying (A Detailed Guide)

Also known as joint compound, drywall mud is expected to dry within 12 to 24 hours. Some quick-setting formulas have a shorter drying duration of 5 to 90 minutes.

If you have applied drywall mud and it’s still wet after 24 hours, then there is something wrong that needs to be addressed asap.

In today’s article, I will be explaining the reasons why drywall mud may not be drying and a few tips on how to speed up this process.

Joint Compound

Why is Drywall Mud Not Drying?

Here are common reasons why drywall mud may still be wet after 24 hours;

• Too Much Humidity

This is mostly experienced in newly constructed buildings or certain areas like the kitchen and bathroom.

When there is too much water vapor in the air, the moisture in the drywall mud dries at a much slower rate. Therefore, it may take days for the joint compound in such an environment to dry.

• Moisture/Water Leaks

Let alone mud, drywall itself shouldn’t be installed in an area that is vulnerable to water leaks. It doesn’t matter whether the leaks are coming from plumbing or rain, any type of moisture will increase the drying period of drywall mud and it may degrade it with time.

When moisture is constantly being re-introduced into the drywall mud mixture, it becomes impossible to dry in the expected time.

• Using Expired Drywall Mud

I know most of you DIY enthusiasts enjoy storing materials for future use. However, like other products, drywall mud goes bad with time.

Some of its ingredients begin to decompose after some time and it becomes no longer usable.

If you are using drywall mud that’s more than a year old, it may not dry on time. And even if it does, it may crack or wear out prematurely.

• Applying Thicker Coats of Mud

Most newbies usually assume that applying thicker coats of drywall mud is better because it speeds up the installation process.

However, this shortcut also comes with some risks. Thicker coats of mud will take way longer to dry, especially if the environment is humid.

• Using Too Much Water in the Mixture

If you add a lot of water to your drywall mud mixture, it could also take too long to dry. Always follow the mixing ratios recommended by the manufacturer.

How to Speed Up the Drying Time of Drywall Mud?

So far, you should have a rough picture of why your drywall mud isn’t drying as per the expected time. The good news is that there are a few methods on how to speed up this process. They include;

• Go with Thinner Coats – Unlike thicker coats, thinner coats of mud dry much faster and guarantee a smoother finish.

Please note that the coats shouldn’t be too thin as that will make the drywall mud ineffective. Make sure that you apply enough drywall mud.

• Introduce a Dehumidifier – This has become a common practice in most drywall installation jobs. A dehumidifier simply does what the name suggests.

It lowers the humidity levels in the environment thus allowing the mud to dry much faster. A dehumidifier can make drywall mud dry in less than 6 hours.

• Increase Air Circulation – When applying drywall mud to congested areas like bathrooms, the lack of fresh air can also contribute to longer drying times. Therefore, it is advisable to open up the ventilation to promote airflow.

• Turn Up the Heat – If the HVAC system is already installed and it’s working, then you should turn up the heat a little bit. Drywall mud dries through evaporation and the presence of heat can significantly speed up this process.

• Use a Blow Dryer or a Portable Heater – For homes that are yet to be fitted with HVAC systems, you can use a portable heater or a blow dryer.

These can also promote faster drying times. A pro tip to follow when using heat guns is to stand a few feet away from the drywall mud. If you stand too close, it may cure faster and crack.

• Use Hot Mud Instead – In case this is a problem that you frequently run into, it’s advisable to try the quick-setting formulas popularly known as hot mud. Unlike the regular type, hot mud dries pretty quickly in less than 90 minutes.

Do You Need to Start Over When Drywall Mud Fails to Dry?

This heavily depends on the situation you are currently experiencing. If it is after 24 hours and the drywall mud is still wet, you can use a dehumidifier or heat gun to speed up the process.

However, if it’s days and the drywall mud has not dried, the best solution is to start over. And this time you better apply thinner coats.

I wouldn’t advise you to rush into starting over because the reason your drywall mud is still wet could be because of the surrounding conditions like high humidity.

Only start over when you are sure that the drywall mud will not cure no matter what you do.

Can You Work on Wet Drywall Mud?

You should never work on wet drywall mud. Always give it enough time to dry before you can sand or paint over it. If drywall mud is still wet, it will be easy to sand away the entire product.

Secondly, the paint may not adhere properly to it. In short, anything you do over wet drywall mud will fail.

Therefore, if your drywall mud is still wet, follow the tips shared above on how to speed up the process before working on it.

Are There Products that Can Harden Wet Drywall Mud?

Unfortunately, there isn’t a product that you can use to speed up the drying process of drywall mud. The only options you have entail adjusting the environment such as increasing the heat and lowering the humidity levels.

These methods are usually quite effective and you don’t need to look for any additives to harden wet drywall mud.

How Will I Know When Drywall Mud Dries?

It’s easy to know when drywall mud dries. First, when you touch it, a fine dust print should be left on your fingers. It should also feel dry. Also, examine the color. When drywall mud is dry, it turns a bit white.

However, if it’s darker and feels moist when touched then it is still wet.

Does Poor Quality Drywall Mud Take Longer to Dry?

There are many cons of using a poor-quality joint compound, one of them being that it takes longer to dry. Low-quality drywall mud is usually cheaper and this is its only selling point.

However, once you apply it to drywall seams, it may take more than 48 hours to dry even if the conditions are perfect.

To avoid such problems, it’s advisable to stick to high-quality joint compounds. Even though they are a bit pricey, they dry pretty easily, are durable, and are easy to work with. A quick Google research can reveal the best joint compounds in the market.

Can a Fan Speed Up the Drying Time of Wet Drywall Mud?

It’s not strange to walk into a construction and find a fan blowing air into a wall. A fan in this case enhances ventilation which lowers the drying time of wet drywall mud. So, should you find yourself in such a situation, feel free to use a fan.

Was this article helpful?