Why does the spackle dry time matter? The main reason is that you can't paint until the spackling is dry and sanded. You will likely need more than one application of spackling, so the drying time becomes more of an issue.
Factors That Affect Spackle Dry Time
How quickly spackle dries is affected by multiple factors. One is the compound itself. Different spackling pastes and drywall compounds dry at different rates. The 'Fast Dry' of 'Fast Setting' types have chemicals added that allow them to dry quickly.
The Second issue is the size and depth of the hole or ding that is being filled. The bigger and deeper the patch, the longer it will take to dry. In fact, large deep patches that have a lot of compound in them may take days to dry under certain conditions. This type of patching is way beyond the limitations of spackling.
A third factor is the humidity that is in the air. The more humid it is, the longer it will take for the spackling to dry. Spackling paste or compound is mixed with water, the water needs to evaporate for the spackling to dry, simple right?
Fast Drying Spackling
What is fast drying spackling? There are two types of spackling that will dry faster than thier normal dry cousins. Both types use chemical reactions to improve the drying time.
The first type is a dry powder that is a 'knock off' of the quick setting drywall compounds noted below. This type is sold in a powder form and needs to be mixed with water before it is applied. It is the water that causes the chemical reactions that helps the drying time. Once it is mixed the reaction starts and you have a limited working time before it hardens completely.
These products are an excellent choice for patches. They tend to dry harder and faster than most other products. However, the tradeoff is that they are a little harder to work with, requiring mixing and immediate clean up.
The second type is a ready mixed spackling that starts the drying process once it is exposed to air. These types may other additives that might affect the overall finish. This type of spackling does not dry as quickly as a dry mixed setting type compound. The other drawback can be the use of materials such as vinyl that are somewhat foriegn to gypsum products or drywall. Spackling that has a 'vinyl' composition or other plastic type chemicals may not blend with the existing surface as well as traditional gypsum based products.
Spackling That Changes Color
This is not intended to be a plug for a particular product, but it is pretty cool. Dap has a product called DryDex Spackling, and it changes color as it dries. This can be helpful if you are unsure of how to tell when the spackling is dry.
When it is applied, it is pink in color. As it dries the pink begins to fade and it turns white. It is something of a gimmick, but still it takes the mystery out of drying.
The truth be known, most spackling and drywall compounds have the same ability that is naturally built into the material. Wet gypsum products are a varying shade of gray. The wetter the compound is, the darker gray it will appear. As it dries, the gray color will become lighter and lighter until it is a flat white color.
For professionals, or those used to working with drywall compound, the color thing is not that significant. For a novice that is not used to working with drywall compounds, the 'pink' color my take the mystery out of the drying process. Of course, you will have to pay extra to get the pink technology.
Fast Setting Drywall Compound
Setting type drywall compounds have chemicals in them that help them to dry. Using this type of product will dramatically reduce the amount of time it takes for the compound to dry.
This type of material comes in a powder form and has to be mixed. When water is added to the powder it starts the chemical reaction the dries the material out. The drying time can be further accelerated by using warm water.
Do not mix large batches of this type of compound. It will turn rock hard in the container once the chemical process as reached climax. It is also a good idea to clean tools and containers as soon as your done. The material can dry hard and be difficult to clean later.
Helping Spackling to Dry
If you are in a hurry or it seems like the spackle is taking forever to dry, you may want to help it out. Spackling and drywall compound are made of gypsum, mixed with water. Humidity and air movement will affect how quickly the compound will dry. The following are some tips for getting the spackling to dry faster.
Air Conditioning - When it is humid outside it will be humid on the inside unless you are running your air conditioning. Air conditioners remove moisture from the air. Dryer air will help the wet spacklng dry faster.
Portable Fans - Circulating the air around the patches will also help them to dry. The moving air will help the moisture to dissipate allowing for more evaporation. Run a fan in the room you are working on as close to the patches as possible.
Hair Dryers - Do you have one spot or a couple of spots that are deep and won't dry? A hair dryer is the big artillary when it comes to getting spackling to dry. The hot air will dry the material faster than anything else. The drawback is that you have to stand there with the hair dryer blowing on the patch until the problem is solved.
Temperature - If you have the heat turned down while you are working on the area, you may want to consider turning it back up. Cool walls and air are not condusive to rapid drying of spackling.