Building Knowledge

When to use setting compounds vs. ready mix

Jun 30, 2022

Time-crunched schedules, high humidity and small projects are all reasons to consider setting compounds

Weather conditions can be a factor in any building project, but areas with consistently high humidity or drastic day-to-night temperature swings can face even larger challenges when it comes to drywall finishing. Setting compounds can take some of these elements out of the equation — but how do you know which one meets your needs?

Setting compounds have a degree of flexibility to their use, with different timed compounds allowing you the right amount of time for the task at hand. Each bag, mixed with potable water on the jobsite, will let you know how many minutes you have for application before it begins to harden. Standard drywall mud or ready mix, on the other hand, can be used immediately. That’s because everything has already been mixed, and you can open it and put it to use right away with no time limit on your work.

If you’re unsure which option is best for your next drywall finishing job, our experts have you covered. From applications to benefits and everything in between, we’ll help you make a more informed decision about using setting compounds or ready mix.

Why use setting compounds?

Setting compounds harden quicker, which allows you to apply a second coat sooner than you could with ready mix. Most setting compounds allow you to apply two coats in a day, so you can complete both the tape and the bed steps, which can save time.

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Setting compounds are ideal for:

  • Joint finishing on time-crunched projects
  • Winter projects where low temperatures slow the drying process
  • Locations that experience large temperature swings, from warm days to freezing nights
  • Areas with high humidity
  • Remodeling jobs in older structures where wood framing is more susceptible to movement

Setting compounds manufactured by ProForm Finishing Products, LLC spread the same way for the entire time listed on the bag, unlike others that get firmer and less workable as you go. The times on the bags give you a projected idea of how long you have to work with the compound depending on the substrate to which it is being applied.

ProForm® setting compounds also have what we call “snapset,” a reliable, quick setting feature. For example, if you’re working with a 20-minute compound, all 20 minutes of use are going to feel the same — the product won’t fully set until after the 20th minute.

ProForm setting compounds come in a variety of setting times — five, 20, 45, 90 and 210 minutes — allowing you to choose one that matches your finishing skill level and the size of the job. For example, if you’re finishing a whole house, it probably isn’t wise to use a five-minute setting compound. Instead, select a longer time so it doesn’t set before you finish.

ProForm ready mix and setting compounds are all mold resistant and carry UL GREENGUARD certification.

What is drywall mud and when should it be used?

Ready mix, often called drywall mud, consists of gypsum powder and a vinyl base, and is the most used drywall finishing product. Drywall finishers spread it to fill seams, nail holes and other gaps in drywall to create a desired finish as a base for paint, wallpaper or wall texture. It comes premixed in a pail or carton and is compatible with automated finishing tools. All ProForm joint compounds have mold and mildew resistance.

Drywall finishing

ProForm ready mix joint compounds come in a wide variety of options, including:

Ready mix solutions manufactured by ProForm Finishing Products such as ProForm® All Purpose Joint Compound are designed for tasks including:

  • Tape application
  • Fastener spotting
  • Complete joint finishing
  • Skim coating
  • Repairs to previous drywall finishing
  • Small-scale projects
  • Projects where mold resistance is crucial

The bottom line is ready mixes are versatile and easy-to-use solutions for a variety of projects.

How do you determine whether to use ready mix or setting compounds?

Whether you’re completing a job with a three-layer finish or one that specifies a five-layer finish, ProForm drywall mud has a joint finishing compound for you. Reliable texture, spreadability and color mean you can confidently walk onto the worksite and know how it will look when you complete the job.

Choose a setting compound when you need to:

Setting compound vs ready mix
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  • Meet tight timelines
  • Work in very cold or very humid conditions that inhibit drying
  • Finish a joint that may be susceptible to movement
  • Utilize a mesh finishing tape
  • Complete a small drywall repair

Select your setting time by factoring in your drywall finishing skill level and the size of the job.

Choose ready mix joint compound when:

  • The project schedule provides time for natural drying
  • The weather conditions are not extremely humid
  • Daily temperature fluctuations are small
  • Potable water is not available on the job site

Understanding the best uses for setting compounds and standard drywall mud will set you up for success on any finishing job. Use this chart as a reference guide to help you decide when to use setting compounds or ready mix.

In addition, learn more about the seasonal benefits of ProForm Setting Compounds in this guide.

For more information on setting compounds and ready mix products for your next job, visit our technical resources library.