We are skim coating our walls with joint compound. After that, Around how many days or hours, should I wait before applying real paint? Is there any best practice? I hear many drywall say its 3 days standard?

  • Skim coat with which product exactly? Can you post a picture of the product's instruction label?
    – MonkeyZeus
    May 23, 2022 at 17:27
  • Probably too late but my experience tells me that applying multiple thin coats is faster (to dry) and gets you better results. This is an advantage for the DIYer. Professionals will typically plan around going to another job for a few days.
    – JimmyJames
    May 23, 2022 at 20:39
  • Don't forget a quality primer. There's a special hell for people who shortcut paint work, and you go there immediately. It involves lots of laborious scraping and stripping. No fun. May 23, 2022 at 22:58

2 Answers 2


Wait until it's completely dry.

It's not time-based. Time will vary with how thick the thickest part is, temperature, humidity, and airflow.

If in doubt, wait longer. If any part of the area feels cooler than the rest, that's usually because it's still evaporating moisture.

  • 2
    If it’s an option, a pva primer on new mud is slightly better than a regular primer. May 23, 2022 at 1:43
  • 2
    You can accelerate drying with fans, higher temperatures, and/or lower humidity (e.g., air conditioning). May 23, 2022 at 14:18
  • 4
    A darker spot in the wall can also be an indicator that it's not completely dry. This can be confirmed by touching it to see if it's cooler than the lighter areas, like the answer mentions. May 23, 2022 at 16:11
  • It's too late for now, but if you're planning to skim coat and you want to reduce the drying time, add some salt to your joint compound May 23, 2022 at 18:38
  • @PhilFreedenberg I don't know about joint compound specifically, but I encountered gypsum mixes with slowing agents that you could totally dry out too fast for it to set completely. Is it safe to assume joint compounds pose no such risk?
    – Mołot
    May 23, 2022 at 21:14

Here is my answer to a similar question: https://diy.stackexchange.com/a/250039/148888

1 rule of thumb? If your guessing, you'll probably be wrong.

Regarding moisture content of any substrate, you can obtain a moisture meter to test it, be it wood, concrete, or plaster.

This is one we use at our paint store. There are less expensive ones and you can find them at any home center.

Technical Service Bulletin on moisture content and different substrates.

I am a General Manager in a local owned, (multiple)paint stores for 21 years.

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