The difference between spackle & drywall compounds

Updated April 17, 2017

When repairing walls with large gouges, holes or pits, a person has two options, spackle or drywall compound, commonly called joint compound. The difference between using spackle or drywall compound depends on the type of minor wall repairs needed. Differences, however, don't stop there. For example, once spackle dries, it isn't as easy to sand down to make it flushed with the wall than drywall compound.


Drywall compound differs in appearance from spackle. For example, spackle's consistency resembles a thinner, more flexible material. Thus, an individual can apply a smaller amount to a hole or dent. When dry, spackle doesn't shrink as much as drywall compound. When connecting sheets of drywall, joint compound tape is required. However, the tape isn't needed when using spackle. In fact, spackle does not work as well for skim coating or joint seams as drywall compound does, according to Paint-N-Stain Inc.


Spackle options include lightweight and standard. Standard spackle has vinyl, epoxy or acrylic added to it to strengthen the material. However, lightweight spackle is typically for interior walls. Drywall compound, unlike spackle, has three options depending on the repair project. Taping compound can be placed over joint compound tape and used as the second coat. Topping compound is typically the last coat. All-purpose compound, the third option, doesn't have a specific purpose. Therefore, a person can use the all-purpose compound during any phase of a project.


The uses for spackling differ from drywall compound. A minor repair, such as a hole 1-inch in diameter or less, requires spackle. For instance, an individual covering up a nail hole in a wall applies spackle instead of drywall compound. However, covering up larger holes, like ones made after removing a medicine cabinet from a bathroom, requires drywall compound. Drywall compound, not spackle, is used when constructing a new wall using sheets of drywall. An individual secures sheets of drywall to studs forming a wall. Then he places joint compound tape on the corner joints and along the horizontal and vertical seams of the drywall before applying the compound.


An individual can use standard spackle on wood, concrete or brick in addition to interior walls. After filling large holes, an individual may apply lightweight spackle to smooth out the wall's surface. Manufactures typically sells spackle in small containers such as 227 to 454gr. However, manufactures sell drywall compound in 1- to 5-gallon buckets. A gallon bucket has enough drywall compound for small patch jobs and the 5-gallon bucket has enough to tape and finish an average-sized room, according to

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About the Author

Demetrius Sewell is an experienced journalist who, since 2008, has been a contributing writer to such websites as Internet Brands and print publications such as "Cinci Pulse." Sewell specializes in writing news and feature articles on health, law and finance. She has a master's degree in English.