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Beating the Clock: Tips for Faster Plaster Setting Times



Do you ever need to speed up plaster setting times?  We've all been there: a small skimming project grinds to a halt because you are hanging around waiting for it to set. Sometimes there's more waiting around than actual plastering. While patience is a virtue, there are situations where accelerating the setting process can be a lifesaver.


Understanding the Factors at Play


Before going any further, let's understand the main factors affecting plaster setting time:


  • Temperature: Warmer temperatures promote faster evaporation of moisture. Ideally, aim for a range of 18-24°C (64-75°F).


  • Substrate: The background substrate that the plaster is being applied to has an effect on the setting time. The higher the suction of the substrate the faster the setting time.


  • Humidity: High humidity creates a saturated atmosphere, hindering evaporation. The sweet spot lies between 60-70%.


  • Plaster Type: Different plasters have inherent setting times. Gypsum-based plasters tend to dry quicker than lime-based ones.


  • Plaster Thickness: A thicker coat naturally takes longer to dry than a thin one.


Creating the Ideal Environment


Now, let's leverage these factors to nudge the setting and drying process along:


  • Increase Airflow: Open windows and doors (weather and temperature permitting) to promote circulation and remove moisture-laden air.


  • Dehumidify (Strategically): While dehumidifiers can be tempting, use them cautiously. Excessive drying can cause cracks. Aim for a moderate humidity level and monitor the plaster closely.


  • Introduce Gentle Heat on cooler days: Space heaters or strategically placed fans (not directly blowing on the plaster) can provide a controlled warmth boost.

Additives To Speed Up Plaster Setting Times


  • Use plaster accelerators: Probably the easiest and most efficient way of speeding up the setting time is with plaster accelerators.  Some manufacturers offer specifically designed plaster setting accelerators such as Halftime Plaster Accelerator and Halftime 4Bonding Plaster Accelerator (by Eazymix).  These products have been designed and extensively tested for the job and will ensure that the reduced setting time is consistent and the resulting plastered walls will not have structural or aesthetic issues.


  • Using DIY Methods: Cement, dirty water and other experimental additives can be introduced to speed up the setting process, but these are unpredictable and can cause structural and aesthetic issues with the plaster.  For guaranteed results it is highly recommended that a branded product is used that has been thoroughly tested and provides a consistent setting time and does not affect the plaster strength.


Additional Tips


  • Planning is Key: Where possible, schedule internal plastering projects for warmer, drier months. Avoid plastering in freezing temperatures or very high temperatures.


  • Remember: Good planning is often the best policy. If possible, prioritise creating a good drying environment. By understanding the factors at play and implementing these tips strategically, you can achieve a balance between efficiency and a quality plaster finish.


Safety First! When using dehumidifiers or heaters, always follow safety guidelines and manufacturer instructions.


Halftime Plaster Accelerator is available from Wickes, Travis Perkins, Selco, B&Q, Huws Gray, JT Atkinson, JT Dove, MKM, and online through TW Wholesale and Plasterers 1Stop Shop.


Browse our range of plaster additives and scrim here or contact us today for more information.


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