Joint Compound vs. Spackle | Difference & Which One Should Be Used


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Joint compound and Spackle are the two most frequently used materials for construction or wall repairing purposes. Both these compounds are very effective while working on the drywall, and there has always been a battle between their uses. Joint compound and Spackle are often used side by side for the same drywall projects, and also, these are used interchangeably. It is up to you to choose the right one for your wall repair projects. In this guide, I will discuss joint compound vs. spackle.

Joint Compound vs. Spackle

Joint compound will offer a more water-resistant finish that also has greater flexibility than spackle, but in many cases, you can use both products successfully. The key thing with choosing either product is making sure to get an appropriate consistency for the job at hand – if too dry it may not stick well enough, whereas if too wet it could drip off where needed.”

The primary use of the joint compound is as an ingredient in drywall installation. In this case, it’s blended so that it can be used without adding water to mix with the other components. This type of work demands great flexibility from the material being applied – if not mixed well enough, you may end up applying too much weighty stuff next to delicate pieces; too little of something will result in shortfalls like missing borders or corners.”

Spackle compound is a relatively thicker compound used in wall repairing jobs and for filling in cracks, holes, or gaps. It is substantially less expensive than joint compound and usually comes with a brush on one side making it easier to apply the product.”

Joint Compound vs. Spackle

Here are the major differences between drywall joint compound and spackle.

Joint CompoundSpackle
They share some characteristics but serve different purposes. A joint compound is your best choice for filling large holes and cracks and concealing seams between drywall sheets.Putty, on the other hand, excels at smaller tasks like filling in nail holes and other blemishes on walls.
Joint compound is much heavier and thicker and takes longer to dry than putty.You can complete the application of putty and start painting in one day. Fortunately, joint compound is not in this category.
Allow plenty of time for the joint compound to dry.Because caulk is not common at all, you can get it in smaller containers at lower prices.
Joint compound is available in various sizes, ranging from 1-quart containers to 5-gallon pails. The giant bucket is preferable if you need to cover a large area.It contains gypsum and adhesives
Contains both gypsum and limestone.Designed for minor wall repairs.
Application in large-scale wall constructionThey are less expensive because you can find them in smaller quantities.
Large quantities are available for purchase.Thicker than normal
A smooth transition is more difficult to achieve.Low shrinkage after drying
After drying, there was a lot of shrinkages.Simple to put into action

My Personal Opinion

Due to their susceptibility to evaporation when you expose them to air, both items can become ineffective if used prematurely. Cover the product when you finish using it and prioritize velocity. If you make your joint compound out of the water, don’t make more than you need.

You can utilize both products in the same manner to patch small holes. Pre-mixed spackle is the best choice for patching holes less than half an inch in diameter in drywall or plaster.

To prepare the area, remove any loose wallboard from the area’s perimeter.

You spread the spackle, and do it with a putty knife. At a 45-degree angle, insert the knife into the hole until you fill it. Using a knife, scrape away any excess putty. Before applying a second coat, adhere to the manufacturer’s recommended drying time.

When the surface is dry, sand it down and use a damp rag to remove any dust. Several-inch-wide holes in drywall or plaster (even cracks) require a similar approach, but also joint compound, once you adhere it to the damaged wall, gives the joint compound what it needs to adhere to. Mesh prevents the repair from dehydrating and crumbling over time. 

The mesh applied to the prepared surface must cover the hole entirely. The following step is to apply the compound, allow it to dry per the manufacturer’s instructions, sand it, and then apply a finish coat.

What is Joint Compound?

What is Joint Compound?

A joint compound is also known as mud, or more precisely drywall mud. This compound has a very effective consistency, just like the mud. However, this consistency mainly depends on the type of compound. 

Ingredients of the Joint Compound

The major ingredients of joint compounds are limestone and gypsum. However, some other elements like mica, clay, starch, and perlite, are also there in this compound. 

Properties of Joint Compound

  • This compound is mainly used in huge wall-repairing projects. 
  • The primary ingredients of this material are limestone and gypsum. 
  • Primarily sold in large quantities. 
  • Thinner but very consistent. 
  • Its shrinkage is very high in dried form.
  • However, it is harder to smooth in the dried form. 
  • Relatively inexpensive.

Types Of Joint Compound

There are four major types of joint compounds.


Topping is mainly used for the final coats. Two coats of tapping compound are effective for a perfect wall repair. 


Tapping joint compound, also known as a lightweight compound, is mostly used on the drywall for setting the seams of the wall to make it seamless. 


This type of joint compound is used for all sorts of repairing or construction work. 

Quick Setting/Setting Compound

Quick setting proves a perfect building material for the patching works and covering the wide holes. It dries faster than all the other types of joint compounds. 

Uses of Joint Compound

A joint compound is an effective material for many wall repairing contracts. Some important uses of this compound are as follows.

  • It is used for the final coats. 
  • It is an effective compound for filling the drywall seams of the wall to make it seamless.
  • the best choice for patching work and covering larger holes. 
  • All-purpose joint compounds can be used for any type of repair or construction work.

Pros & Cons of Joint compound


  • Utilizing a pre-mixed joint compound will save you considerable time. You will not require much time for preparation, mixing, or cleanup. Use it all once you open the product. It produces a flawless, mirror-like sheen, dries quickly, and is gentle on sandpaper. By completing the task quicker, you will save time and effort.
  • Since the jointing compound is mixed and ready for use, you won’t need water. Since the water supply has not yet been turned on in many recently built structures, the availability of ready-mixed joint compounds is a tremendous boon to construction workers.
  • The ready-to-use joint compound is efficient and easy to apply. Once you open the container, the silky consistency is immediately available. It produces a smooth, lightweight, and simple surface to sand.
  • Due to traditional plastering, dust disperses and can settle even in inaccessible areas of your home. This is a sentiment to which we can all relate.
  • Plasterers are professionals who apply cement or plaster to create a uniform surface. Plastering requires skill; anyone cannot simply pick up a trowel and begin. Unlike plastering, applying ready-mixed joint compound and drywall tape requires minimal effort and expertise.


  • Being overweight has numerous disadvantages.
  • It takes a long time to dry on the wall and looks unsightly unless you tape it. High-quality paper tape can simplify this project, but it requires time and effort.
  • This indicates that it is unlikely suitable for your small projects and tasks.
  • Multiple coats of joint compound will work for a flawless finish.

Why use Joint Compound

A joint compound is great for large-scale projects. It is ideal for large-scale drywalling and renovation projects. You can utilize it in more limited capacities. On the contrary, you can use it for widespread distribution.

This is probably unnecessary for the average homeowner, who only needs it for minor repairs. A can of joint compound is unnecessary unless you are a professional handyman who likes to be ready for anything. The joint compound is expensive. It is considerably more affordable than spackle. However, the price can quickly accumulate because you will utilize a large quantity at once. Even though it is less expensive overall, the total cost can add up when applied to large-scale projects.

What is Spackle?

What is Spackle

Spackle is a relatively thicker compound used in wall repairing projects along with joint compounds. This material is sold in premade tub containers, and there is no need for further preparation. It is available in different grades designed for different applications, and one may choose according to his/her requirements. 

Learn More: How To Remove Sand Texture From Walls

Ingredients of Spackling Compound

Spackle is made up of binders/adhesives and gypsum powder and has a thick gooey toothpaste-like consistency. 

Properties of Spackle

  • It mainly consists of gypsum powder and adhesive or binder compounds.
  • It fits well to the small wall repairs and fills the nail holes or cracks.
  • Comes in a prepared form. 
  • Spackle is a comparatively thicker compound.
  • It does not dry out instantly. 
  • The Spackle compound has very low shrinkage in the dried form.
  • Hard to smooth in dried form. 

Types Of Spackling Compound

There are five major types of spackling compounds. 

Lightweight Spackling Compound

Lightweight Spackling Compound is mainly used to fill or repair small holes, dings, and cracks. It contains a fine aggregate of Sodium Silicate and an adhesive. It is the best choice for small and quick fixes.

All-Purpose/Standard Spackling Compound

This gypsum-based spackling is used to repair the large holes, cracks, or gouges in the drywall. It is identical to the joint compound. 

Vinyl Spackling Compound

Vinyl Spackling Compound is mostly used to fill the cracks or holes up to ¾ inches. It is used in layers and is allowed to dry there. The vinyl does not let this compound dry instantly, and it sands well. 

Acrylic Spackling Compound

Acrylic Spackling Compound is a flexible material and is a perfect choice to apply to drywall, bricks, plasters, wood, or stone. 

Epoxy Spackling Compound

Epoxy Spackling Compound is perfect for holes, cracks, gouges, and other repairs. It is an oil-based compound that does not fit well on wood surfaces. 

Uses of Spackling Compound

  • It is applicable on drywall, bricks, plasters, wood, or stone.
  • Best to fill the holes, cracks, gouges, and other repairs.
  • Dries fast, which is why it sands well. 
  • Is the best compound for the sake of adhesive uses. 
  • Spackle is the perfect compound for quick fixes. 

Pros & Cons Spackle

You can use it to patch nail holes and small wall cracks.They are inadequate for large-scale projects and tasks.
It is easy to use and already in a practical format.It is incompatible with all sealing applications.
It might be more economical than a joint compound.Using spackle for heavy-duty sealing, filling, or similar tasks is inappropriate.
You will permanently resolve minor issues and problems with walls, joints, and other similar locations.Plaster and joint compound might be the most cost-effective options for repairs.
After it has been applied, no additional shrinkage will occur.Spackle can be reshaped and shrunk if necessary.
The optimal solution for maintenance duties.If you intend to apply a single coat of paint or shrinkage is a concern, you should not use spackling.
Ideal for interior wall repairs and other small projects.You may require multiple coats of spackle to achieve an even fill.
Holes more minor than a nickel require spackle for repair.Avoid substituting spackle for joint compound. Although useful for minor drywall repairs and touch-ups, spackle is not designed to cover large areas.
One example is vinyl spikes, a form of spackle that is flexible and shrinkable.This material is incapable of contracting.
There are numerous types of spackle, including vinyl, standard, acrylic, and others.Please utilize the proper packaging. You should not apply acrylic and epoxy spackle to surfaces requiring standard or lightweight.
Before painting, spackle is commonly used to repair minor damage, such as thumbtack holes or fine cracks.It may not be sandable or paintable with the paint base you are using.

Why Use Spackle

Similar to how a joint compound is prepared, gypsum is used to create spackle. However, it has a more paste-like consistency, expanding its usefulness. It’s intended for targeted use and comes in a slightly thicker consistency.

It will take some extra time and effort, but it is possible to cover a wider area. Not as quickly dispersed as the joint part. Spackle is typically reserved for spot repairs and other minor touch-ups. However, it doesn’t work well for projects of a more substantial scale.

You can use it for more significant tasks, but it will take longer and cost more.

Spackle is the material of choice at home for the typical repair job. As a result, it’s recommended that most households keep some on hand for any emergency fixes that you can make in a few minutes. You can fill small cracks and holes with spackle.

Drywall Joint Compound vs. Spackle

Here are the major differences between the drywall joint compound and Spackle.

  • They are made up of different ingredients. So, they differ in manufacturing.
  • The joint compound is thinner while the Spackle is thicker. 
  • Spackle dries out faster as compared to joint compound.
  • Spackle is comparatively hard to smooth in dried form.

Similarities of Joint Compound vs. Spackle

Here are some of the major similarities between the joint drywall compound and the spackling compound.

  • In airy places, both can dry out quickly. So, only mix up what you are using.
  • Both the compounds shrink on drying.
  • Both compounds are perfect for drywall.
  • start sanding if applied in excessive quantities. 
  • These compounds may dust on drying, so wear the mask when using any of them. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Substitute Joint Compound for Spackle?

It is common practice to use spackle and joint compounds when hanging drywall because they serve the same purpose. Although some may consider them synonymous, they are not. Although a joint compound can be substituted for spackle, the converse is not true.

Can you Substitute Spackle for Joint Compound?

Using joint compound and careful sanding, you can create a seamless surface. Smaller containers of spackle are inappropriate because you will have less time to apply it before it dries.

Before painting, various textures and hues of spackling paste are available at your local hardware store for patching holes. In an emergency, a joint compound for drywall will suffice. Spackling paste is designed to fill smaller holes and is resistant to shrinkage.

Can you use spackling instead of the joint compound?

You can use the spackling instead of the joint compound, but the joint compound typically dries much slower than the Spackle, and this fact may trouble you.

What is the difference between spackling and drywall mud?

Drywall mud does not stick to painted walls or plaster. At the same time, Spackle can be applied on painted or plaster walls. Usually, drywall mud is not used as a repair compound.

Can you use spackling to repair drywall?

Yes, you can use spackling to repair drywall. You can use it to fix the smaller holes in the drywall. Spackle is a compound made to repair cracks and holes in drywall.

Can I use Spackle instead of drywall mud?

You can use Spackle instead of drywall mud, also called joint drywall compound. However, Spackle dries out faster which may lead to any trouble while coating the wall. 

Is Spackle as strong as drywall?

The drywall compound comes in a prepared container. However, Spackle comes in powdered form, and you have to mix it with water before using it. So, the spackling compound is much stronger than the drywall as it dries by chemical reaction rather than evaporation. 

What is the best joint compound for skim coating?

Here are the five best joint compounds for skim coating. 

  • DAP 10102 Wallboard Joint Compound
  • DAP Wallboard Joint Compound
  • US GYPSUM-385140-85140004 All-Purpose Joint Compound
  • US GYPSUM-380270072, US Gypsum-380270 Quart Joint Compound
  • USG Series 381110060 25Lb Bag Dura bond 45 Min Joint Compound Powder


Certain repairs have always been there within any house. However, each repair needs the perfect repair material for an effective finish. Usually, joint compounds and Spackle are used for drywall repairs, and it is crucial to have particular knowledge about these building materials. The professionals use this when you need to get your lawn back, and you can apply merits yourself and save 400%.

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Expert Opinion

From the above discussion, it should have been clear which one should be chosen for a particular repair project. Both these compounds have various uses, and one should choose the right one for an effective repair. Usually, Spackle is the best choice for small home repairs. However, for extensive repair or coating of drywall, a joint compound is the best option. 

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