Fix-It Chick: Pick out the right spackle for the job

Spackling is a generic term used to describe patching compounds typically made from gypsum plaster and adhesive.

There are so many variations on the Muralo Company’s trademarked product “Spackle” on the market today that picking out the right patching compound for your wall repair project can be more daunting than the project itself. Here is a quick tutorial on spackling products.

Step 1: Choose the right product for the job. Spackling products work well for small holes in drywall. Plaster walls should be repaired with a plaster product.

Step 2: Lightweight spackling products are made with sodium silicate and adhesive. The extra-fine aggregate allows for faster dry times, little to no shrinking and a smoother finish. Patch holes that are less than 1 inch wide and no more than 1/4 inch deep with lightweight spackling. Use a putty knife, slightly wider than the hole, to fill the hole with spackling. Skip sanding by smoothing the finish with a putty knife dipped in water. Lightweight spackling dries hard, but will crumble if bumped, so it is best used for small repairs.

Step 3: Use vinyl spackling for holes and cracks that are up to 3/4 inch deep. Layer the spackling into the area 1/4 inch deep at a time and allow it to dry between layers. Vinyl spackling will typically dry within one to five hours, depending on temperature, humidity and material depth. Vinyl spackling may shrink or crack slightly when applied in layers deeper than 1/4 inch.

Step 4: If time is of the essence, take the guess work out of drying time by using a product such as DAP brand DryDex. This vinyl spackling goes on pink and turns white once it is dry.

Step 5: To ensure that all traces of the patching project are undetectable, choose a spackling compound with added primer. 3M Patch plus Primer, dries within 30 minutes after application and because of the added primer, ensures a smooth, undetectable finish under the first coat of paint.

Step 6: For projects where the convenience of a lightweight spackling and the durability of a vinyl spackling are desired, choose a light-bodied spackling such as Crawford’s Spackling Paste.

Light-bodied spackling is a mix of both fine and heavy aggregates, producing a durable product that goes on smooth. High-end light-bodied spackles, such as Crawford’s, can also be used to fill small nail holes in plaster.

— Linda Cottin can be reached at