How Long Does Spackle Take To Dry?

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Spackle is used to fix minor damage to drywall, wood, or plaster. It’s a putty-like substance that will fill the hole or crack. Once it’s applied, spackle needs to be left to dry, but how long does it take to dry? We’ve researched the topic in-depth and have an answer for you.

Spackle takes 1-2 hours to dry unless you buy spackle that is “fast drying.” In this case, it can be dry within minutes. 

Now you know spackle usually takes a couple of hours to dry, but keep reading as we discuss how long you should wait before sanding and painting over spackle.  We’ll also talk about ways you can increase spackle dry time. Additionally, we’ll answer some other questions you might have about spackle. 

A hard working man putting spackle on the wall using plastering tools, How Long Does Spackle Take To Dry?

Spackle Dry Time

A man using a small plastering tool while applying spackle on a yellow wall with a crack

It’s much easier to plan out your work when you know how long you have to wait for a product or, in this case, a spackle to dry. When it comes to spackle, the dry time can vary depending on if you’ve purchased a standard or fast-drying spackle. Some spackle that is fast drying states that it’s ready to paint in 30 minutes. While other spackle brands should be left for a few hours.

For best results, check the recommended dry time on the spackle’s container.

The dry time may be longer if you’re applying it in a humid location. The more moisture in the air, the longer it will take to dry. 

Some spackle comes ready-made and can be applied straight to the wall, whereas others come in powder form and must be mixed with water. However, even the ready-made spackle contains water. This is why moisture in the air can create longer drying times. 

Typically it takes at least a couple of hours for the spackle to dry, and if you’re unsure how to tell when it is dry, consider buying a spackle that changes color once it’s ready to sand and paint. For example, Dry Time Indicator Spackling goes onto the wall pink and turns white once it is dry, so you will know when it is ready.

Click here to see Dry Time Indicator Spackling on Amazon.

Spackling sometimes requires three coats, so be sure to make sure the first coat is completely dry before adding a second or third. Follow any drying directions on your spackle container. The spackle is dry when you lightly touch it, and no fingerprints are left behind.

If you need to sand your spackle and didn’t buy a color indicating spackle, wait an additional couple of hours after it has dried before you begin. 

You probably plan to paint over your spackle to match the rest of your wall but don’t try to do it too quickly. Spackle should be left at least 24 hours before painting.

How can I make spackle dry faster?

Sometimes our schedule doesn’t allow for us to wait hours for a coat of spackle to dry. So, if you want to try and speed up the process of spackle drying, there are a few things you can try.

As we mentioned earlier, the more humid a room is, the longer it will take to dry. Spackle is mixed with water, so if there is water in the air, you might be faced with a longer dry time. Try adding a dehumidifier to the room to remove excess moisture and help the spackle dry quicker. 

Another way to help spackle dry faster is to turn on your AC. Air conditioners will help dry out the air. The dryer the air, the quicker spackle will dry. 

You can also add some fans to help circulate the air and speed up spackle dry time. If you don’t have an air conditioner or dehumidifier, place some fans around the room.

Finally, if none of the above options work for you, you can dry the spackle using a hairdryer. If you choose to use a hairdryer, make sure you set the temperature to cool and slow. Drying the spackle too quickly can cause you problems.

If the dry time is very important to you, purchase a fast-drying spackle like the product below.

Click here to see Dap 12142 Fast Drying Spackle on Amazon.

How many coats of spackle do you need?

Whether you’re spackling a small hole or a drywall joint, unfortunately, you’ll probably need more than one coat of spackle. If it’s a very small hole, you might be able to avoid multiple coats.

For anything bigger than a small hole, even if you apply the first coat of spackle and it looks like it might be adequate, there will likely still be a small indention. It usually takes at least three coats of spackle to complete the job. Each coat will require less spackle than the previous, with each coat gradually becoming thinner and thinner. 

Keep the edge of your putty knife as close to the wall as you can to reduce the risk of unevenness. The spackle will need to feather out from the hole so that you end up with a smooth transition between the wall and the spackle, and one coat will likely not be enough to achieve this. 

Remember to account for drying time, as you need to let each coat dry before applying the next. For three coats of spackle, you can expect to wait 3-6 hours for dry time. 

You can also purchase a spackle that claims you only need one coat. So if you want to avoid multiple coats of spackle, considering a product like this might be beneficial. 

Click here to see ONETIME Lightweight Spackling on Amazon.

Should you sand between coats of spackle?

Whether you sand between coats of spackle depends on whether it needs it. If you have lots of bumps or it just doesn’t look as smooth as you want it, you can lightly sand it between coats of spackle. You’ll likely need to sand between your coats of spackle if it’s your first time applying it. Once you’ve mastered applying spackle smoothly using a putty knife, you probably won’t need to sand between coats. 

As we mentioned above, you can achieve smoothness by keeping the edge of your putty knife close to the wall. 

Click here to see WORKPRO 4-Piece Putty Knife Set on Amazon.

Do you have to sand spackle before painting?

Sanding between coats isn’t always necessary, but you should sand spackle before painting. When spackle dries, it will not look as smooth as the surrounding wall area, so it is important to sand it to achieve a uniform look.

Lightly sand the edges of the spackle so you can see a raised edge where it meets the wall. Then lightly sand the center to create an even surface. 

If you use spackle correctly, no one will ever know the wall was damaged. Don’t forget to make sure your paint matches the rest of your wall!

Final Thoughts

The time it takes for the spackle to dry depends on the brand or type of spackle you use. Remember to check the can or package for instructions, but hopefully, we’ve given you a general idea of how long you’ll need to wait for the spackle to dry between coats, between sanding, and between painting. Good luck with your spackling project!

If you need some tips on other home repairs, like cracked tiles, check out one of our other blog posts: How To Repair Cracked Ceramic Tile [5 Simple Steps] or How to Repair Cracked Vinyl Siding?

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