How to Make Putty Dry Faster

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A putty knife is the preferred application tool for putty.
A putty knife is the preferred application tool for putty. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

If you need to fill a hole or dent in metal or woodwork, putty comes to the rescue. Some putties are water-based, while others are solvent-based. For either to dry, evaporation must take place. A handful of variables determines how long putty takes to dry. Understanding these variables helps create an environment where putty dries faster.

Things You'll Need

  • Putty knife
  • Oscillating fan
  • Heat source

Apply the putty in thin layers. The thicker the putty, the longer it takes it to dry. Use a putty knife to apply a 1/8-inch-thick layer. The thin layer allows the water or solvent in the putty to escape through the process of evaporation. When you apply thick layers, the outer layer dries out first, often trapping moisture inside the deeper layers.

Set up an oscillating fan so that it blows air directly at the puttied surface. As the fan blows, it helps removes the humidity in the air. The drier the air, the faster the putty is going to dry.

Raise the temperature of the puttied surface to more than 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Do this by turning up a thermostat, using a space heater, a kerosene heater or a propane heater. Use a blow dryer to heat puttied surfaces when you can't raise the ambient temperature. As the temperature rises, the evaporation of the water or solvent in the putty quickens.

Tips & Warnings

  • Thick layers of putty often lead to cracking and shrinkage.
  • Keep all open flames away from solvent-based putties because they are flammable.

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