Joint Compound Vs Spackle – What is the Difference?

Joint compound and spackle are two prominent products designed to help you fix the flaws in your home’s walls.

However, if you had to choose between the two, which one would you pick? While preference is important, it all boils down to what you plan to do with them.

It’s useful to know which product is best for which job, so you can find out the difference between joint compound vs spackling in our guide.

Difference between joint compound vs spackling

Can I Use Spackle Instead of Joint Compound?

You can use either spackle or joint compound for many tasks, although it is good to understand why they exist and what they are intended for. (Read Drywall Tape vs. Mesh)

Before looking more in-depth, the old-style heavy spackle was hard to use since it dried so hard compared to the joint compound. Thus, it was challenging to sand down, and the joint compound was much easier to sand.


Spackle is typically used to fix minor drywall and plaster damage. Spackle is a gooey substance made from gypsum powder and binders, which are pre-mixed and sold in small tubs.

You use this to repair minor dents and nail holes or screw holes in walls. It dries faster and shrinks less than joint compound and enables you to sand and paint over the repairs almost immediately.

Joint Compound

When installing new drywall, joint compound will be used. Joint compound can also be known as mud by professionals or drywall mud by others. It is made from gypsum dust, which you need to mix yourself to a similar consistency to cake frosting.

Contractors fix large sheets of gypsum board to the wall’s stud framing, tape the seams between boards, and cover this tape using joint compound.

The joint compound helps create a smooth surface on plaster walls where the seams are undetectable after some expert finishing work on the surface and painting.

If you need, you can use joint compound in place of spackle for small areas; however, you can’t use Spackle to replace joint compound. Spackle isn’t suitable for this task because of its fast drying time. (Read Acrylic vs Enamel Paint)

Joint Compound or Spackle

Which is Better Joint Compound or Spackle?

Joint compound, or known as called drywall compound, is a putty-like plaster consistency used for large tasks when installing drywall. Joint compound will be made by mixing gypsum dust and water to make a paste.

You can find it in a form to mix yourself or smaller containers that are ready mixed as is spackling paste. You use this compound with paper drywall tape and to finish drywall seams. You can find 4 types of joint compounds:

  • All-purpose compound: Used for any phase of the patching process
  • Topping compound: Designed to spread on the wall with two coats of taping compound.
  • Taping compound: Comprise the first and second compound coat you need to apply. (Fiberglass mesh tape comes with adhesive already applied)
  • Quick-setting compound: Designed to dry faster and works best in deep cracks or wide holes.

Spackle is a brand-named product developed by the Muralo Company. It looks like paste and can be found in either lightweight spackle and heavy spackle.

The Lighter Spackle will be made from vinyl and used to fill small holes from nails, pins, and screws. Heavier spackle will be made from acrylic and typically used in filling larger holes.

Spackle will also be found as a ready-mixed compound for easy use, though you can also find a mix yourself option.

When you look at Spackle vs. joint compound, they both have their uses, and neither is better than the other when used where they are supposed to be used.

When you look at what is joint compound good for, you’ll see joint compound is best for drywall joints in construction and used with paper tape for finishing drywall seams. Spackle is a better choice for DIY projects around the home.(Find the Best Nail Gun)

Can You Use Joint Compound to Fill Nail Holes?

It is easy to learn how to fill in nail holes in your home. While you can use spackling compound, if you don’t have any on hand and you need to fix holes quickly, it is possible to use joint compound instead of spackling paste.

Here you can learn how to fix various things without resorting to spackling paste.

Fill in Nail Holes in Walls

To properly fill nail holes, you’ll need to use wall putty (spackling paste) or drywall compound.

Wall putty comes in a tube and can suffice for a couple of small holes. Just squeeze some onto a knife and push the putty in the hole. Let it dry, and then follow finishing instructions.

Drywall compound can be suitable for nail holes. Mix your drywall mud unless you have ready-mixed, and then with a ball-peen hammer, create a dent over the nail hole to make a larger filling area. Fill the hole with drywall mud.

Let the mix dry and sand with fine-grit paper to create a smooth surface. You can then primer the area and paint. Because you create a larger area to fill, you won’t see a spackle patch from the spackling paste.

Can You Use Spackling to Repair Drywall?

Drywall can easily damage. Smaller holes in drywall are easily remedied using Spackle, a repair compound specifically designed to cover cracks and holes in walls.

All you need to do is purchase a ready-made tub and use your putty knife to cover the drywall’s hole with spackle.

Step 1

Use spackle to repair holes smaller than 4 inches in diameter or to the size of your hand. To make it stable in larger holes, you need support like mesh or wire in holes bigger than 4 inches in diameter.

Step 2

Buy light spackle from your local hardware stores. You can purchase Spackle and joint compound in different weights and sizes. Use a light spackle for smaller drywall holes.

Step 3

Use 150-grit paper around the drywall hole. When the drywall gets damaged, the drywall can splinter, and smaller fragments stick from the wall.

Place your grit paper over the hole and turn it back and forth as it can keep the area to repair smaller.

If you’re filling holes like a nail hole, you can push the drywall in with your thumb or a handle of a screwdriver, then spackle the dent.

Step 4

Scrape the area before sanding any dry spackling paste to remove any fragments or splinters. Don’t bother with removing paint around the hole as you will cover it with drywall primer and then paint a finish coat over the area.

Joint Compound Vs Spackle - What is the Difference

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