Do you have holes in your drywall you must patch? Perhaps you have some gaps that need to be filled, and you need to use spackle but don’t know how long it will take to dry. Learning how to spackle drywall is essential for patching holes and filling gaps, but how long will it take it to dry?

  • On average, spackle takes about 1 – 2 hours to dry and about 24 hours to cure fully.

However, since there are different spackle brands, some spackle more slowly or quickly, depending on many factors such as the spackle type, the size of the needed repairs, including any environmental factor that can affect the drying time negatively.

In this article, I will thoroughly explain what you need to know about spackle, including some other tips.

How Long Does Spackle Take to Dry

What is Spackle?

Spackle is a product designed to fill holes and dents. It helps repair drywall before repainting. A new paint job will not efficiently cover up the initial damage. Spackle helps fill in the damage and make the wall fresh again.

In addition to its function above, spackle helps increase the paint’s adhesion ability. If you paint over a crack, it’s likely for the paint to peel. All paints require a smooth and cohesive surface for proper adhesion and for it to last long.

Spackle is not designed for large repairs or projects. This is because it dries quickly, thus, is challenging to use for large repairs. Spackle is best for minor repairs/damage caused by screws or other small dents around the house. If you need material for larger repairs/projects, you can use a joint compound. You can use spackle and joint compound interchangeably. It doesn’t mean that they are the same. Both are very different.

Spackle Types & Their Different Drying Times

There are several spackle types which are,

  • Standard spackle
  • Acrylic spackle
  • Epoxy spackle
  • Vinyl spackle
  • Quick-dry spackle

The spackle types listed above have different drying times. When learning how to spackle, it would help if you understood which spackle type is best-suited for a task. You will discover which spackle is best for small drywall holes, more significant repairs, and other tasks.

1) Standard Spackle

Standard spackle is the most common spackle type. It is a gypsum-based solution that can be used on small-to-large cracks and holes in drywall. Standard spackle is a premixed paste that you can apply directly to the wall or ceiling you wish to patch.

After application, please leave it to set and dry for at least two hours. However, I suggest you check the manufacturer’s recommendations for an exact drying time. You will find information about that on the can. Note that there are always slight differences in the drying time for each spackle type regardless of the average drying time.

2) Acrylic Spackle

This spackle type is an excellent choice for fixing deep gouges and gashes in drywall, brick, wood, plaster, and stone. It does not deform or crumble once it dries. This makes it a versatile option for serious repairs. Acrylic spackle’s drying time is about 2 – 4 hours.

3) Epoxy Spackle

This spackle type is an excellent choice for repairing large holes, cracks, or fractures. It is a great choice because it has higher adhesive strength and longevity than other spackle types. However, despite its excellent functions, epoxy spackle takes a long time to dry and can take up to 24 hours to dry and fully cure before you can paint it.

4) Vinyl Spackle

This spackle type is similar to acrylic spackle. Therefore, you can also use it for drywall, cement, wood, rock, and brick repairs. It is highly versatile, and this is because of the spackle’s elastic polymers. However, vinyl spackle takes a little bit longer to dry. It takes about 2 – 5 hours to dry. The drying time of vinyl spackle depends on the size of the repair, including environmental factors, such as humidity and temperature.

5) Quick-Dry Spackle

If you are in haste and perhaps, dealing with light drywall damage, I recommend using a quick-dry spackle solution. Before using this spackle type, you must mix it with water. One good thing about quick-dry spackle is that it can dry in minutes after application. However, if you use a premixed quick-dry spackle, you will have to wait up to thirty minutes for it to dry.

The table below illustrates each spackle type and their respective drying time.

SPACKLE TYPEDRYING TIME
StandardAt least two hours
AcrylicTwo to four hours
EpoxyUp to twenty-four hours
VinylTwo to five hours
Quick-dryUp to thirty minutes or less

Factors Affecting Each Spackle Type’s Drying Time

Factors Affecting Each Spackle Type’s Drying Time

Significant factors that affect the drying time of spackle are;

The size of the repair

Environmental factors

Spackle Layer Thickness

1) The Size of the Repair

Despite knowing the characteristics of your spackle, it is essential to know how long the spackle takes to dry before painting or sanding. The drying time for each spackle type depends on the spackle quantity you use, as the spackle amount may increase the time needed for the repair to dry.

An example is comparing the time it takes a paint coat to dry versus the time it takes for an open paint bucket to dry. Definitely, the paint coat will dry faster since there is lesser paint spread over a larger surface.

Thus, patching a screw hole in drywall, a minor repair, will require less drying time than using a half-spackle container to fix a big hole.

 In addition, if you use a spackle for a wide, shallow repair, it will dry faster than using the exact spackle amount in a gouge or deep divot. It is because when you spread the spackle over a large surface, more of it gets exposed to the open air.

2) Environmental Factors

Environmental factors that affect the drying time of spackle are,

  • Temperature
  • Humidity
  • Air circulation

Try using a spackle when the temperature is about 50 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent the spackle from drying slowly. If you are working indoors, it should be easy to control. However, it may not be so easy if you are working on outdoor repairs.

Humidity is another major environmental factor that you should consider. If your project space has a high humidity level, the water evaporation from the spackle might take longer. You can improve spackle drying time in a humid environment by increasing the air circulation in the area. How do you do this? Easy! You can open a window or door and install a fan for better airflow.

Another factor you can consider is “spackle layer thickness.”

3) Spackle Layer Thickness

It’s better not to start with more spackle than you need. However, regardless of the quantity, it is best to thin out the surface during the application and make it flesh with the rest of the wall.

Leaving a massive glob of spackle on the dent will only create more work for yourself. This is because it will increase the spackle’s drying time due to the large amount. Asides from that, you may end up with a messier project.

It is necessary to sand the spackle before painting it. A spackle that sticks out and is not flesh will require sanding for a long time. If you apply excess spackle, you will have more dust and a sore arm.

For your spackle to dry in a standard time frame, you must follow the guidelines on the container and procedures indicated in this article. It’s better to apply a second layer of spackle while the first is drying than to use a large amount of spackle at once.

How long should it Take Spackle to Dry?

Factors Affecting Each Spackle Type’s Drying Time

I explained earlier in this article about different spackle types and their respective drying times. Do you know there is also what we call

“Thick Spackle” and “Thin Spackle?”

You read that correctly. Just like how temperature and humidity can play a role in the spackle’s drying time, the thickness of the spackle also has a role in the spackle’s drying time.

Thick Spackle Drying Time

Large projects, such as filling large holes and dents, require using a large amount of spackle, and the more the spackle, the longer the drying time. Applying a thicker layer of spackle to your project will take more than the usual time for the spackle to dry.

Regardless, it would help if you didn’t skimp out on the spackle to save yourself drying time. You get beautiful work done when the spackle covers the crack or dent, thus, making it flesh with the rest of the wall. It’s better to use more spackle than you need.

When applying spackle, start with more than you need. After roughly covering up the dent, you can flip your putty knife over to the clean side. Afterward, you can glide the clean side across the spackle. Doing this will thin and even out the spackle.

You might wonder, “What about the extra spackle on the putty knife?” Some throw away the spackle left on their putty knife. However, I advise you to scrape the excess spackle back into the container. It helps save your resources. However, that’s just some advice. If you are not bothered about saving your spackle or resources, you can throw them away.

The volume of spackle you use will affect its drying time. Using a large spackle amount means you are using a thick layer of spackle; therefore, expect a longer drying time. Kindly put this factor into consideration when using spackle.

Thin Spackle Drying Time

In contrast to thick spackle, thin spackle takes a shorter time to dry. This is because less volume of spackle is used, and the water evaporates faster and more efficiently. The smaller and thinner the spackle amount you use, the faster it will dry.

Why does this happen, and why do small patchwork dry faster? It is because you are covering a smaller surface area. In addition, you are using a small spackle amount. I guess you can now understand why the spackle dries relatively fast.

However, regardless of how thin your spackle is, it is still best to wait an hour or two, depending on the spackle you use. Despite covering a small area, the spackle must dry before painting. If you want to know how you can tell if your spackle is fully dry, kindly check the next section below.

How to tell if your Spackle has Fully Dried

Several spackles change color when they are to be sanded and painted. I recommend that you purchase dry time indicator spackling. When you use it, you will discover that it often goes on to the wall pink, and once it gets dry, it turns white.

Your spackle is dry when you lightly touch it without leaving fingerprints behind. A sign of fingerprints on your spackle after touching it indicates that the spackle is not fully dry. Although each spackle has its drying time on its label, I feel this tip is also essential, and you can take note of it.

Some individuals prefer to wait longer when not using dry time indicator spackle. If you don’t have a dry time indicator spackle, you can follow the guidelines on your spackle’s label or perhaps, follow the tip I gave earlier. It’s not a bad idea to allow the spackle to sit for a couple more hours.

What Happens if I Paint Over Wet Spackle?

Painting over wet spackle can cause the paint to peel because it can’t adhere to the surface well. When you use oil-based paint on wet spackle, it dries dull, and this is because the underlying surface absorbs the oils; thus, giving another reason why it would be best to allow the spackle fully dry before painting it. In addition, for a smooth finish, you must sand the spackle before painting it.

Sanding a wet surface is not an easy task. You can end up having a big mess and a sore arm. Sanding a dry surface also gives too much dust, but much better than sanding a damp surface to avoid ending up with a milky substance.

I’m sure you know dust is easier to clean than a semi-liquid substance. Also, when you sand a wet surface, the sandpaper will turn mushy and become hard, if not impossible, to use.

Can I Moisten Dried Spackle?

If you accidentally left your spackle container open and it gets dry, you need not panic. You can moisten your spackle and able to use it again. When spackle gets exposed to the air, it dries up. You can moisten it by adding water. However, you can’t moisten spackle that has already dried on your repair patch. It’s not like it is impossible, but it’s not recommended.

If you made an error on your patch job, it’s better to sand down the surface and start over. When moistening the spackle, simply place water onto the spackle and not mix water into the spackle.

To moisten your spackle,

  • Break up the spackle using a screwdriver or flathead. It is essential to break them up so the spackle can be in small marble-sized chunks
  • Pour increments of a quarter cup of warm water into the container. It is essential to mix up the container between each water increment. Once you do this, the spackle chunks become smaller, gradually
  • After adding a few water increments, get a putty knife, and start breaking up the spackle chunks. You must continue mixing and breaking up the mixture until all lumps are gone. While in the process, if you need more water, it would help if you added only one tablespoon at a time.
  • You can always add more water but ensure not to add excess water because it’s impossible to remove the excess water

How Hard Does Spackle Dry?

Spackle may be able to stay in a container for years without ever drying into a hard substance. However, when used for repairs, it will dry hard. For the spackle to dry hard, it needs oxygen. Oxygen availability makes the spackle dry and turns into a hard surface.

I’m sure you wouldn’t want your spackle to form a hard substance while in the container. Most handypersons do not require frequent spackle use. Thus, they prefer the spackle to remain a semi-soft substance until they need it.

On the other hand, these handypersons also want the spackle to possess the same durability and strength as the rest of the wall. This explains why spackle dries into a hard substance once exposed to air and, more specifically, oxygen.

How Many Coats of Spackle Should You Use?

It doesn’t matter if you are patching/filling a small hole or a drywall joint. You’ll likely use more than one spackle coat. However, if the hole is minor, you might be able to avoid multiple coats.

If the hole is not tiny, you will need more than one spackle coat because even after applying the first coat, and it seems enough, you will still likely find a small indention. Usually, three spackle coats are enough for such patchwork. Each coat will require less spackle than the former, with each becoming thinner gradually.

When using spackle, always keep your putty knife’s edge as close to the wall as possible to reduce the risk of unevenness. If you wish to transition smoothly between the wall and the hole, one spackle coat is insufficient as the spackle will need to feather out from the hole.

Remember accounting for drying time. It is necessary for each coat to dry before applying another. For three spackle coats, the drying time can be between three and six hours.

However, if you wish to avoid using multiple coats, you may purchase a spackle that claims you only need one coat. You can learn more about how to fix holes with spackle by watching the video below:

How to Make Spackle Dry Faster

If you are in a hurry and can’t wait for your spackle time to dry naturally, there are a few things you can do to make it dry faster. Some of the ways by which you can make your spackle dry faster are,

  • Use of an air conditioner
  • Use of air hair dryers
  • Setting up a dehumidifier in the area
  • Use of fan

1) Use of an Air Conditioner

You can use an air conditioner to reduce your spackle’s drying time. Using an air conditioner will help improve the humidity and air movement. Also, it will help remove moisture from the air by cooling a space, thus, enabling the spackle to dry faster.

2) Use of Hair Dryers

Using hair dryers to make your spackle dry faster is another excellent option, especially if there is only a spot or two that is still wet. Ensure you set it to cool. Afterward, blow the air onto the area. Hair dryers are easy to use, but the only issue you might have is that you would need to stand there and hold the tool while using it. To use a hairdryer,

  • Kindly turn the appliance on to the lowest heat setting
  • Wave it over the spackled area for a minute or two. It is necessary to move the hairdryer as you wouldn’t want it to sit in one area
  • Turn the hairdryer off and leave the spackle to return to room temperature
  • Repeat the whole process if required

3) Setting up a Dehumidifier in the Area

If you have high humidity, it can increase your spackle’s drying time. However, using a dehumidifier will help reduce the humidity level by removing excess moisture from the air, thus, speeding up the drying process. Although a dehumidifier is an excellent option for indoor repairs with spackle, it might not be a great option for outdoor repairs.

4) Use of Fan

This option is more suitable for indoor use/indoor repairs. Although, it is also an excellent option for outdoor use, especially on hot, humid days with very little wind. You can set up one or more fans to reduce your spackle’s drying time. Using a fan or more than one fan will help the moisture in the spackle evaporate at a faster rate.

Is it Necessary to Sand between Spackle Coats?

It is only necessary to sand between spackle coats if it is required. If it doesn’t look smooth, or perhaps, you have many bumps, you can lightly sand it between spackle coats.

However, when you apply it for the first time, you will likely need to sand between your spackle coats. Once you know how to apply spackle smoothly using a spackle knife, you might not need to sand between coats as long as you keep your putty’s knife edge close to the wall.

Conclusion

The drying time for the spackle depends on the brand and the spackle type. Before using any spackle, always check the can/package for instructions. Although we have given you an idea of how long it will take for the spackle to dry, it won’t cost you anything to check the package/can. Good luck with your next project!

FAQs

Can I paint over wet spackle?

It’s not advisable to paint over wet spackle. It would be best to wait until your wall texture is dehydrated before painting over it. If you paint over a sticky texture, you may harm the texture, smudge the paint, or damage the finished project.

Is spackle the same as Painters putty?

Although Spackle and Painters putty is very similar, there is still a difference between both. While Painter’s putty is designed with painters in kind, spackle is not intended just to be painted.

Can I spackle over caulk?

You cannot spackle or paint over a compound that is 100% silicone. You can test the compound by applying latex paint to the surface. A silicone surface will make a brushed-on-paint bead up and skip across the surface. An ideal way of removing silicone is to apply plain old elbow grease.