Friday 28 July 2023

How long does it take for plaster to dry?

* Collaborative post

When doing a DIY project it is useful to know how long certain things will take, and when it comes to painting and plastering, you should always factor in drying time. The drying process is essential, and if you start painting or drilling into plaster during the drying process, you're going to end up having to start from scratch.

So how long does plaster take to dry? Is there anything you can do to speed it up? Here's all you need to know with some tips from Top Notch Walls.

How long do different types of wet plaster take to dry?

Asking 'how long does plaster take to dry' is quite vague. In reality, plaster drying time depends on a whole range of things. For starters, there are a number of different types of plaster. Each type of plaster will have a different plaster drying time, so there is not one answer for the question 'how long does plaster take to dry?', instead, there are many.

There is also the matter of whether you mean how long does plaster take to set or whether you mean fully dry - as these are not the same thing.

Generally speaking, though, people tend to mean how long plaster takes to set. Which does differ depending on which type of plaster you're using. Generally speaking, these are the drying (setting) times of each type of plaster.

  • Undercoat plaster drying time: one to five hours

  • Finishing plaster drying time: one and a half to four hours

  • One coat plaster drying time: three to four hours

  • Browning plaster drying time: two hours

  • Hardwall plaster drying time: one and a half to two hours

  • Multi-finish plaster drying time: one to one and a half hours

  • Board finish plaster drying time: one to one and a half hours

These drying times are rough estimates, and assume an approximate humidity and temperature in the room. In some situations, you may find that the drying times are longer than this - perhaps due to moisture levels, or particularly thick plaster coats.

How long do different sizes of wet plaster take to dry?

In addition to different types of plaster, how long fresh plaster takes to completely dry will also depend on the type of job you're doing. If you're waiting for a newly plastered wall to dry, for example, it will take longer than a patch job.

Generally speaking, a small patchwork repair job will take approximately a week to dry. Plaster on whole walls will usually take around two weeks, and multiple layers of plaster will take up to three weeks.

What affects the plaster drying time of newly plastered walls?

The main factors that impact how long it will take to get dry plaster are:

  • Whether it is a thin layer or thick layer of plaster

  • Type of plaster mixture

  • Temperature and humidity

  • What the walls are made of

How can you tell when the plaster drying process is done?

If you're waiting for plaster walls to dry before you paint or wallpaper them, it is important to know how to check if they're set. This is referred to as when the plaster walls are dry, as opposed to when the walls are cured.

You can usually tell if plaster is dry by the colour. Plaster that is wet is darker, and will often feature shades of brown or red. Alternatively, dry plaster will be pale pink and creamy. The whole plaster wall should have a fairly uniform colour. If there are dark patches present it suggests that the new plaster has not yet dried. If the colour is even, however, then your newly skimmed walls are likely close to or are completely dry.

Is there a difference between plaster drying and plaster curing?

Yes. Plaster drying is often used to describe new plaster that has set enough to paint or wallpaper. Plaster curing, however, is the process of the new plaster drying completely. Once plaster is cured, it is completely dry and finished.

Can you make fresh plaster dry quicker?

There are a few things that you can do to help plaster drying times reduce, which will help if you're in a rush. However you should still ensure that your plaster (regardless of whether it is bonding plaster, gypsum plaster or any other plaster) is completely dry before you paint on it.

To help speed up the plaster drying times, you can try:

  • directing a few heaters towards the newly plastered walls

  • open a window to increase ventilation

  • turn the central heating on a little

It is worth noting, however, that speeding the plaster drying process can lead to plaster cracking. This can, in turn, lead to paint flaking. Often, those who find themselves asking 'why does plaster crack?' have caused it themselves by rushing the drying process.

What happens if you ignore plaster drying time?

It is never a good idea to just ignore the plaster drying time. If you try to do pretty much anything to wet plaster, you will end up having to do everything all over again. Paint will not dry on wet plaster, and wallpaper will be ruined. If paint does dry, or the wallpaper sticks, you will likely trap moisture under the paint or wallpaper, leading to the paint cracking and flaking, and potentially even causing mould and algae to grow in the moist, dark environment.

It is, essentially, a waste of time and money to skip the drying process. You will simply end up having to start at square one all over again. If you're not sure that you're patient enough to wait for plaster to dry, you can always hire plasterers to decorate your home for you!


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