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I had to patch a cat door that was cut into the drywall, and put in a cutout that left small gaps around the perimeter. When I applied the first coat of joint compound, it pulled into the gap in certain places, so I have to apply a second coat. Do I or should I wet the first coat before applying the second?

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No. You shouldn't have to wet the first coat.

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    Rather the opposite - be sure the first coat is fully dry before applying the next one. "Mud" (joint compound) is not mortar. – Ecnerwal May 13 '15 at 2:09

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