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How Long Does Plastering Take To Dry

15 June 2023

A newly plastered wall can do wonders for improving any room and can also serve as a protective coating for your masonry. If you have new plaster on your walls or are planning on getting some plastering done, you might wonder about the plaster drying time. Specifically, many people want to know when they can go in and apply their finishing touches such as paint or wallpaper. The answer to this question isn't simple as it depends on a variety of factors such as plaster type, weather conditions, and plaster thickness.

Setting Versus Curing

One point of confusion when talking about plaster drying times is setting versus curing times. Plaster can be touch dry as soon as it is set, which usually takes a matter of hours, but it is still wet underneath the surface. You can't do anything with your newly plastered walls until the plaster is fully cured, which can take much longer, usually around a week or more.

Type Of Plaster

One of the main factors that influence the drying process is the type of plaster that you are using. If you are applying a skim coat to a plasterboard, for example, this will take much less time for the plaster to be completely dry than if you are applying layers of plaster directly to masonry.

Undercoat Plaster

If you are not using plasterboard and are constructing your plaster wall directly from the masonry, then you will need an undercoat plaster to start with. The exact type of undercoat plaster you use will depend on the type of material you are applying it to and the most common types include:

  • bonding plaster - used for concrete
  • browning plaster - used for stone
  • hard wall plaster - used for brick
  • tough coat plaster - used for tough conditions

Bonding, browning, and tough coat plaster will take between 1 and 3 hours to set but between 4 and 7 days to cure. Hardwall plaster takes longer to dry, between 2 and 5 hours to set and 7-14 days to cure.

Once this undercoat is completely dry then you can move on to the finishing plaster.

Finishing Plaster

This is a plaster that can be used in most conditions and is likely the plaster surface that you are most familiar with. It creates a smooth surface to which you can apply paint or wallpaper.

This wet plaster has a setting time of 1.5-4 hours and a curing time of 3-10 days.

Patching Plaster Or Base Filler Plaster

This is the type of plaster that you will use if there are areas of plaster that are damaged and need repair. It takes less time for this plaster to dry than other types, around 1-4 hours for setting and 1-2 days for curing.

Skimming Plasterboard

If you are using a finishing plaster, such as Thistle plaster or gypsum plaster, you can apply this to your plasterboard to create a thin layer of plaster that creates a smooth surface. It will cover over any joints or screws in the plasterboard and your newly skimmed walls will be ready for decorating.

Because skimming uses such a thin coat, it doesn't take long to dry. The setting time will be 1-4 hours and the curing time 3-5 days. Our post "Is Skimming Cheaper Than Plastering" maybe interest you. You can check it out.

Lime Plaster

Lime is a specialist traditional plaster that you will usually see when renovating older buildings to keep in line with the style. The drying process is much longer than for other plaster types. It can take 4-10 days to set and between 2 weeks and a month to cure. You can also check out our post "How Much Does Lime Plastering Cost" for more additional insights.

One Coat Plaster

One coat plaster can make the process of applying fresh plaster much quicker but the plaster drying time is a little longer than for other types. It will take around 4 hours to set and 4-10 days to cure.

DriCoat Plaster

This specialist plaster is used when there has been flooding or as damp-proofing. It is effective at protecting interior walls from future water damage. Its drying time is a little longer than average, at around a day for setting and 7-21 days for curing.

Environmental Factors

How long plaster takes to dry isn't just influenced by the type of plaster you are using. It is also influenced by the environment in which the wall sits. As with anything else, drying time is influenced by what's happening around the plaster.


The more moisture there is in the air, the longer it takes plaster to dry. This is one of the reasons why it is usually better to plaster walls in the summertime when the air is less humid.

Ambient Temperature

Another reason why it is better to plaster in the summer months is that the air temperature is higher. The higher the air temperature, the more water molecules can evaporate and the quicker the plaster drying time.

Air Flow

If you've ever looked at your washing drying on the line, you will know that if there is some wind blowing, the clothes will dry faster. It's exactly the same for your new plaster. Increased airflow will pick up the water molecules that have evaporated and carry them away before they get the chance to reattach to the wall.

How Many Layers Of Plaster There Are

If you are only applying a single skimming layer onto the plasterboard, this will take much less time to dry than applying two or three layers to create the plaster wall.

The Size Of The Area

Plaster applied to entire walls will take longer to dry than smaller patches of plaster.

Can I Speed Up The Drying Process?

It can be tempting to use these environmental factors to speed up the drying time of your plaster but this is almost always a bad idea. Cranking up the central heating or placing a heater in the room will make the plaster dry quicker but it can often make it dry too quickly.

When this happens, it can make the plaster crack which can mean that you will have to start the process all over again by plastering over the cracks.

For the same reason, you should try to avoid leaving your fresh plaster in direct sunlight as this can make parts of the surface dry too quickly and crack.

It is usually fine, however, to open at least one window to improve the airflow in the room. This won't make the plaster crack and it can lower the drying time slightly. For more information, check out our post “How To Fix Cracks In Plaster Walls".

Can I Paint On Wet Plaster?

You should only ever paint on completely dry plaster. The moisture in wet plaster can prevent the emulsion in the paint from adhering to the surface properly. This can leave you with paint flaking, peeling, or bubbling. So it is always best to wait until the walls have completely cured and dried before you start painting. For more learnings, you can check out our post "How To Paint New Plaster".

Applying A Mist Coat

Even once you have dry plaster, you still need to be careful about how you apply your paint. It is always advisable to go in with a mist coat before applying your desired paint colour.

Mist coats work as a primer. Plaster is a very porous material so when you paint brand-new plaster, it will absorb a lot of the moisture in the paint. This can mean that the paint will dry too quickly, leaving you with an uneven finish and visible brush strokes.

A mist coat is watered-down emulsion paint, usually at a ratio of three parts paint to one part water. This excess moisture will absorb into the porous dry plaster, allowing the emulsion to bond properly with the wall's surface.

How Will I Know When My Plaster Is Dry?

Figuring out whether your plaster is dry isn't an exact science. As we have mentioned, it can take only between one and three hours for plaster to be touch dry but sometimes up to three weeks for it to dry properly. And it is impossible to see beneath the surface to know for sure.

A tried and true method for determining if your plaster is dry is simply to monitor the colour. When plaster is first applied, it is usually a dark pink or brown. As it dries, you will notice lighter patches appearing. Once the entire area is a uniform pale pink complexion without any dark patches at all, you will know that the plaster is fully dry.

How Long Does Plastering Take To Dry

The Bottom Line

So how long does plaster take to dry? The answer to that is "It depends". There is a wide range of factors that can influence plaster drying time, including the type of plaster used, how much plastering has been done, as well as a variety of environmental factors.

Plastering is a skill that can take many years to master so it is usually a good idea to bring in a professional plasterer to make sure that the job is done properly. If you are looking for an experienced and highly trained plasterer, don't hesitate to get in touch. Our team has a deep understanding of plastering, including the factors that can influence how long it takes to dry. We will ensure that your plastering is completed to the highest of standards and that you are armed with all of the information about its specific drying time that you need.

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