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When and How to Use Spackle for Drywall

spackle - ACP

Have you got some holes in your walls that you want to fill? Then you’re most likely going to want to use spackle to get the job done. What is spackle, and how do you use it? Here’s everything that you need to know before you get started. 

What Is Spackle?

Firstly, what is spackle? It’s a substance that can be used for filling holes and cracks in drywall and can be highly useful. It’s made from gypsum powder and glue. That gives you a gummy paste texture that will dry hard over time. The gypsum is what makes the paste coarse, and helps it stick to other surfaces. 

Typically in-store you’ll be able to find spackle as a paste, or as a powder. The paste is ready to use, but the powder will need to be mixed with water before it can be applied to the walls. Which one you use will be down to personal preference. Some like having ready-made spackle to use right away, but it can dry out over time. You avoid that with powder, but of course, you’ll have to mix it up every time you need it. Plus, you’ll see it can get rather messy. 

How Its Used

Spackle is most typically used to fill holes in drywall before they are painted. When this is done, it allows the homeowner to paint over the filled-in sections and get a smooth finish. It can also be used to fill in holes that were made for hanging pictures on the walls. That makes it really useful for renters who are looking to ensure they get their deposit back before they move out. 

Why ‘Spackle’?

Why is this mixture called ‘spackle’? The fact is it actually used to be a trademark back in the 1920s. Over time, it became the generic term for the paste, and the company that owned it lost the trademark as they didn’t enforce it. 

In the UK, Australia, and Canada, a similar thing is happening with the term ‘Polyfilla’. This is the same substance, and ‘Polyfilla’ was a brand name but has become more generic over time. 

How To Use Spackle On Your Walls

Now you know the basics about spackle, you’re ready to use it on your walls. Here’s how to go about it. 

  • Pick your spackle: Firstly, you’re going to need to find the right spackle for the job at hand. There are spackles in different degrees of coarseness, so you’ll have to consider how coarse you’ll need it to be for the wall you’re mending. You’ll also need to think about the size of the hole that you’re looking to mend. Pre-mixed compounds are usually best for small holes, such as those left by hooks for hanging pictures. If you’re filling a hole up to an inch wide, then you’ll want a              powder version that you can mix up. These can be applied in layers, as the compound will stick to itself. 
  • Clean the area: Now that you have the spackle to hand, you’ll need to get the area ready to be treated. The cleaner it is, the easier it will be to get the spackle to stick to the wall. Clean out all the debris in and around the hole, either with fine-grit sandpaper or the putty knife you’ll use to apply the mixture. Get as much as you can out, then clean the area ready to be mended. 
  • Apply the spackle: Now you’re ready to start applying your spackle. How you apply it will depend on the type you’re using. For pre-mixed spackle, you can simply dip the putty knife into the mixture, getting just slightly more than what you need. Then, hold it above the hole and apply it in a downwards motion. If you’re using powdered spackle, you’ll need to mix it up first. Add small amounts of water to it until it becomes a thick but easy-to-manage paste. Only mix up a small batch, as you can make more if you need it later on, and you don’t risk it drying out on you. 
  • Scrape away the excess: Once the hole is filled, you’ll want to scrape away the excess. Hold your knife at a 90-degree angle, and then gently scrape it away. Don’t try and get it perfect, as you want to avoid scraping the wall and causing more damage. You will get it even in the next steps. Use a damp cloth to wipe away any excess and clean the wall. 
  • Let the spackle dry: Let the spackle dry for about two hours, and then take a look and see if it’s dried out fully. If the patch you made seems to have recessed a little into the hole, then it has dried. If you’re filling a larger hole, then you’ll need to add extra layers until it’s fully dry. 
  • Sand off the spackle: Once all the spackle is fully dry, you’re ready to sand it down. Use a fine-grit sandpaper to smooth it down so the spackle is flush with the wall. Use a damp cloth to wipe away the dust, and you’re ready to paint. 

When Not To Spackle A Wall

Spackle will do the job in most instances, but sometimes it won’t be the right tool for the job. It should only be used indoors, as it won’t be right for fixing exterior cracks and holes. In those cases, you’ll want caulk to fill them. 

Also, consider the size of the hole that you’re going to fill in. If it’s any bigger than an inch, you may need to look at replacing that section of drywall. That’s also true if you have multiple holes or gouges quite close to each other in the wall. 

Now you know how to spackle the wall and make it smooth again ready for painting. It’s a simple process, and you’ll be able to make it look as though there was never a hole in the wall, to begin with.