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Spackling vs Joint Compound

mtnbiker's picture

which is better? we just bought this house and it has some 1/4" holes. also a lot of small nail holes. I just don't want to see the patches under the paint. flat paint on walls now, going with satin finish.   thanks Doug

(post #70999, reply #1 of 11)

The 1/4'' holes would be hard to hide with lite and ez spackle (too soft).

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(post #70999, reply #2 of 11)

Get the joint compound that says "topping compund" on the label. It dries to a much finer finish and not as rough as standard joint compound. Since your going to satin finish, you'll have to do a better job sanding and applying to get it to the point where you don't see the repair at all. Fill holes, let dry, sand then use wider knife and apply 2nd and 3rd coats if needed. Lite sanding with 120 to 240 paper and prime will likely get you to where you want to be.

(post #70999, reply #3 of 11)

When sanding, use a sanding block.  If you use just your fingers you'll dish out the patch.

For a really invisible repair on the ¼" holes, take a utility knife and chamfer the edges a bit to remove the fuzzy paper edge before patching.  After the final patching and sanding, spot prime the areas with a primer, then lightly sand again.  If you skip the primer the patch and the surrounding drywall paper can absorb paint differently and you'll see a slightly different sheen.  Few people are nit picky enough to do the above, though.

(post #70999, reply #4 of 11)

As another suggestion, try 20 minute setting type compound.  For small patches, you'll have the whole job done and ready for paint in a couple of hours.  Most of the big boxes (at least near me) stock it.  Every decent building supply has it.

Mix it to consistency of peanut butter for first coat.  Stiff cake batter for subsequent coats.  On the 1/4" holes, you might need a square of paper tape over the hole at the second coat to keep however you do it from cracking at the edge and falling out.  Setting type compound doesn't shrink very much though so you might have better luck if you forego paper tape.'sheetrock%20lightweight%20setting%20joint%20compound'


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(post #70999, reply #5 of 11)

Spackling vs Joint Compound.  which is better?

So far, I haven't seen a specific answer to your question.  I agree with the poster who recommended to NOT use lite spackle, but there is a regular weight spackle that will work just fine.

Joint compound would also work.  What's the difference?  There is no practical difference for what you have in mind.  If you were taping drywall joints, I would say stay with joint compound (and don't ask me why, but this activity is called "taping and spackling").  Joint compound is specifically meant for this and it's cheaper, but that might be because it's usually purchased in large buckets.

If I were filling holes like you need to do, I would use regular weight spackle.  Spackle tends to be a bit thicker and harder to apply over large areas, but it's a little bit better for holes because it tends to shrink less.  These are gross generalizations and others may have different experiences depending which brand they use.

I use Muralo Spacke® and it works well for me.

Plan on more than 1 coat for the larger holes.  Once dry, feathering the edges to blend with the wall should be pretty easy with a sanding block or even sandpaper folded multiple times to make it stiffer and keep it laying flat.

As for not seeing the repair under the paint, the hardest part will be achieving the same texture.  Often the repair will have a smoother texture because it no longer has several coats of paint.  I would suggest trying a flat paint over the repairs to see just how visible they are.  If they hide well, then that can be your "primer" coat.  If they don't hide well, you may want to re-consider whether or not to proceed with a satin finish.


(post #70999, reply #6 of 11)


set any popped nails or screws, trim paper fluff w/ utility knife.......

for the larger holes:

first coat with lightweight spackle (the very light weight  and fluffy white variety)

use a wet knife and thin the product with water so if just flows on the knife, this dries quickly and shrinks minimally

Skim coat all (large and small holes  with light weight joint compound (blue label bucket locally, us gypsum corp i think.......)

sand with a block or pad 120-150 grit

spot prime wth finish satin as you cut each wall on BOTH finish coats, i like to use a 1/2" nap roller to build up a descent texture........

good luck


(post #70999, reply #7 of 11)

Hey helicopter.  First coat with fluffy spackle thinned with water?! 

Won't shrink much?!

Is that a typo?


"A job well done is its own reward.  Now would you prefer to make the final payment by cash, check or Master Card?"


"Let's get crack-a-lackin"  --- Adam Carolla

(post #70999, reply #10 of 11)

just a wet knife dear

saves time

works well on DRYWALL

as a first filler

with heat therapy

finish in a day

(post #70999, reply #11 of 11)

>>"use a wet knife and thin the product with water"

Check your first post.

I can read, y'know.


"A job well done is its own reward.  Now would you prefer to make the final payment by cash, check or Master Card?"


"Let's get crack-a-lackin"  --- Adam Carolla

(post #70999, reply #8 of 11)

I'm partial to spackle like Zinsser's "MH Ready Patch". Goes on easy, sticks well even in a thin coat, dries hard, but sands ultra-smooth with no bulging.

Of course with any patch you need to spot prime before painting, and generally give the spot an extra pre-coat of paint.

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(post #70999, reply #9 of 11)

Another vote for setting type joint compound. It cures fast, is strong, shrinks minimally, and it is cheap at <$7 for an 18 pound bag. You can always use spackle or bucket mud for thin skims, but I just use the hot mud on the whole thing and get it done faster.