What is spackling compound?

Spackling compound is a premixed patching or surface compound containing gypsum plaster and glue, then mixed with water to form a plastic paste. The compound is best used to repair small holes like nail holes, dings and dents.

Spackling compound is applied into the hole, then the area is scraped across with a putty knife. The product is not recommended for large jobs. Newer lightweight types of spackling compound are available, however you can still purchase the older oil-based or latex heavy types, but they are used less often.


Lightweight spackling compound repairs walls, woodwork and ceilings in one fill. It is durable, dries quickly and no sanding is required. Vinyl spackling compound is a heavy-duty all-purpose compound for both household and professional jobs. It sands easily, spreads smoothly and resists cracking. Both types of spackling compounds (lightweight and vinyl) come in tubs and are for interior and exterior use. Also available is a spackling stick. The spackling stick is for interior use only and fills nail holes, small cracks and dents. The product dries in minutes, won't shrink and requires no sanding.


Spackling compounds work well in bathrooms or wherever there is moisture because it is not affected like the drywall compounds. Most spackling compounds will not have to be primed and can be painted directly over after removal of any sanding dust. With a sheen paint, some spot priming may be necessary to prevent gloss absorption and flat spots. However, for the most part, spackling compound are shrink-free, quick drying and can be reapplied in 30 minutes to two hours.


Spackling compound can be used on new wood trim instead of putty. Oil-based putty causes staining and sometimes adhesion problems when used under a latex trim paint. Spackling compound does not cause staining and will fill nail holes in one application because it will not shrink.


Spackling compound dries in a more solid, water-resistant state than drywall compound. Unlike drywall compound, once spackling compound dries, it will not dissolve. Additionally, spackling compound will feather out finer than drywall compound, and new light shrink-free versions are available.