Joint Compound Vs Spackle: The Two Wall Repairing Tools

Joint Compound vs spackle

Joint Compound Vs Spackle: The Two Wall Repairing Tools

Who does not face the confusion before picking between the two – joint compound vs spackle; for fixing the imperfections in the wall?

They are both high quality and handy in their way. If you can able to understand these similar yet not interchangeable wall-patching putties, you can pull the wall repair project off like a pro.

Half of the typical home repair battle happens for picking the correct product. Since there are some overlaps in the intended purpose of these two products, the choice gets trickier. We are here to tell you how to differentiate them precisely. Let’s start reading below.

Another interesting read: Types Of Joint Compound

Joint compound vs spackle: The Comparison Overview


Joint compound


Dry-time Takes more time to get dried Dries faster than the joint compound.
Price Cheaper More expensive than joint compound
Consistency Heavy Light
Usage Suitable for heavy renovation, drywall installations, attaching the large seam holes, filling panels, etc. Suitable for filling small holes and gaps on the wall.
Durability Quite durable Less durable
Coatings Requires multiple coatings. One or two coatings will be enough.
Substitute Can be used as an alternative to spackle. Not recommended as an alternative to joint compound.
Sand Down Easy to sand down. Easy to apply but less handy to sand down.
Shrinkage Get shrunk after drying out. Does not shrink as much as the joint compound

The Features We’ve Considered

By Definition

Joint compound is a product that is comprised of mainly gypsum dust, and you need to mix it yourself to a cake frosting-like consistency. It is often referred to as ‘drywall mud’. If we compare joint compound vs plaster, the former one can be an alternative to traditional plastering.

On the contrary, spackle is made of gypsum powder and binders. It generally has a gooey toothpaste-like texture and is used for filling small dings and dents in walls. It is generally packaged in powder form, and you need to mix water to use it. It is available as ready-made paste too.

Drying Out

Either it is a joint compound or a spackle, you need to apply them as soon as possible to prevent them from drying out. When they are left exposed to air, they are prone to quickly drying out.

The spackle dries out faster (usually 30 minutes) than the joint compound. And after the dry time, you can simply sand and paint over the filled faults almost right away.

It will be wise if you make the paste according to the job at hand to avoid wastage. And keep them in airtight containers when not in use. 

However, if we talk about joint compound vs mud, they are actually synonyms.


If we compare joint compound vs spackle for cracks, there will be differences according to usage, application, and so on.

Spackle is quite recommended for household uses to repair the small holes quickly in plaster or drywall. You can apply with a flexible spatula and smoothen the surface with a damp sponge. When it completely dries out, it can withstand paint, sandpaper, and wallpaper.

On the other hand, the joint compound is for covering the joints between the panels. It is a kind of mask that is applied several coats to envelop the blemishes, screws, or fasteners.

So, at the time of drywall installation, the contractors attach the large sheets of gypsum board to the wall’s framing. Then, they tape the seams between panels and coat the tape with the joint compound. There you can have smooth surfaces with undetectable seams. So, if we talk about the joint compound vs spackle hole, the former one can repair larger holes. Overall, it is meant for larger projects as spackle quick-drying nature gives short working time.


In this category, spackle gets a plus point. It does not shrink as much as the joint compound after drying out. That’s why you have to apply several coats of joint compound.


The joint compound is quite thick, dense, and all-around durable. And you can apply multiple coats to fill in and thicken up certain areas of your wall. But you cannot do this with spackle.


Budget is always the main criteria for deciding our choice. And the price difference between these two is worth mentioning. As the joint compound is usually applied for covering large areas, you will need a bulk amount. They generally come in containers ranging from 1 quart to 5 gallons. As a result, the overall cost gets higher.

On the other hand, spackle is pricier on average. But, since you have to use a small amount of it for every time use, you will end up paying less.

Always put the lid back on the containers after usage. 

How to Apply?

If you are going to apply joint compound, you will need joint tape. Fiberglass mesh tape is the most common and easiest to use.

The process of using joint compound:

  • Cut the tape according to your need.
  • Stick the tape on the seam
  • Use a trowel to spread a layer of joint compound over the seams.
  • Let it dry completely.
  • Examine it whether you need to add more or not. And let them dry.
  • Sand down the surface for a smooth appearance.

When you are going to fill the holes with spackle, you need to follow the steps:

  • Take a putty knife and spread the product in and over the hole
  • Let it dry
  • Sand down the surface for smooth-looking wall


This factor is quite crucial as consistency varies according to the job. Like, spackle can be grainy, lightweight, or heavy as well as the joint compound. There are various types of spackling paste – the most lightweight one is made of vinyl and dries out almost immediately.

But it does not go well with holes larger than about ¼ inch in diameter. And the heavier one is made of acrylic, which works well for filling larger gaps.

And it dries out quickly for its weight. And it is not spreadable as the mud.

There are also various types of joint compounds – all-purpose compound, topping compound, taping compound, quick-setting compound.

If we talk about joint compound on top of spackle, the former one takes time to dry out. So, if we compare lightweight joint compounds vs lightweight spackle, the lightweight ones can be used for minor tasks according to their job.

Another must-read: Joint Compound vs Plaster

Joint Compound Vs Spackle

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Joint compound used for?

Joint compound is mainly used for tapping and fixing the minor cracks in walls. Besides, this composite is sometimes used as a skim coating.

Is DryDex joint compound?

Yes, DryDex is a joint compound. It is a lightweight, low dust joint compound.

Is spackle as strong as drywall?

Spackle is more robust than drywall. But they are for filling nail holes. If the diameter of the hole is larger than 10 cm, spackle won’t be strong enough to support it.

Can you rehydrate joint compound?

No, you cannot rehydrate the joint compound. If you rehydrate the dried-up mud, it will break down into rough slurry but won’t bind enough as it should. Thus, you will get poor adhesion to the wall.

Can I add water to dried-out spackle?

Yes, you can. Start with a less amount and keep adding water to moisten the dried-out spackle until you get the desired consistency. However, you have to dry the mixture up in your microwave oven so that it doesn’t remain watery and so it becomes ready to use.

How long does spackle last?

The average life expectancy is 9 to 12 months. However, it can last longer if the condition of the wall is favorable.

Can you use spackling instead of joint compound?

We recommend not to use spackling instead of joint compound. Because the joint compound is mainly for taping and finishing surface with undetectable seams. On the other hand, spackle dries up quickly, and so they can’t serve this purpose.

Joint compound vs spackle: Final Feedback

If you want to tackle the wall installation or repair like a pro, you need to know the differences.

Joint compound is the better selection to tape, sand, and finish drywall seams. And on the contrary, spackle is for filling in small to large-sized holes in your walls.

The joint compound takes a lot longer to dry. There may arise a question in your mind – Can we use joint compound instead of spackle? If we give you a short answer, the answer will be – You should not use it. However, if you get a tub of joint compound left from a previous renovation, you can substitute it for spackle in a small wall fixing. But keep in mind that the joint compound takes a lot longer to dry.

So, joint compound vs spackle, who wins the battle? Each one has its own purpose.