How to Spackle – Spackling Tips and Tricks

two types of spackle

Dents, dings, or holes are common in walls and wood trims around your home.

Repairing them early will help to prevent further damage and maintain the integrity of your wooden trims and walls.

Knowing how to use the right compound, such as spackle, to patch those minor damages can be useful for many homeowners.

So, in this blog post, I will share with you all the information you need to know about spackle, what it is, how to use it correctly, how much time will it generally takes to dry, and much more.

Hopefully, my short guide will help you use the product next time you see holes and cracks in your MDF trim or drywall.

So, without any delay, let’s start with getting basic rights…

What is Spackle?

In simple terms, a spackle is a paste that covers small holes in walls or woodwork.

The compound is generally used to fill cracks, small nail holes, and damage in plaster while producing a smooth surface before applying paint or other decoration, such as wallpaper.

Spackle has a consistency much like the paste, but it’s a bit drier than a joint compound.

While the joint compound is typically meant to repair large-sized holes and significant damages, the spackle is designed for smaller touch-ups.

Types

There are two types of spackle: lightweight and heavy.

Lightweight is made of vinyl, and it works best for smaller holes and dents, while heavy is made from acrylic and is often used to thicken walls or fill larger holes.

Most people prefer premixed spackle, but you can buy the powder and mix it yourself when needed if you prefer.

Benefits

Spackle does have certain advantages over other filler types, making it the best choice for some situations.

First of all, it’s much easier to sand and doesn’t require as much time to dry, which means you can sand and apply paint or other finishes much sooner than with a joint compound.

Spackle is also much easier to apply (thanks to its thinner texture and consistency), and it doesn’t shrink as much as a joint compound once it has spread and dried completely over the wood or wall surface.

Usage on Wood

Spackling work as a filler very well on wood surfaces in some applications.

Vinyl spackling paste, for example, is excellent at repairing indoor cracks or superficial holes in the wooden door and window trims, no matter its solid wood, plywood, or hollow core.

You can also use it to repair small nail holes on wooden TV panels, hardwood floors, wooden ceilings, etc.

The good thing about vinyl spackling is that it adheres to the surface pretty well and dries rapidly, too, so you can usually use them on interior wood surfaces instead of water-based wood fillers without an issue.

How to Spackle Holes?

Now that we have established the spackle, it’s time to learn how to use it correctly to fill holes and other minor damages.

Generally, the process of using a spackle like 3M and Drydex is pretty straightforward once you have the following items at hand:

  • Sandpaper
  • Putty knife
  • Cleaning rags
  • Spackle compound

Steps to spackle a hole are as follows…

Step 1- Clean the Surface

Preparing the hole will make it easier for the spackle to adhere. Use sandpaper on any rough edges or debris around the perimeter of the hole until they’re smooth.

Also, clean the area with a damp cloth to get rid of any sanding dust or debris that might be present.

Step 2- Pick Your Compound

The size of the hole or damage being repaired will be the primary deciding factor in which repair compound you should use.

A lightweight spackle that contains a binding agent is usually sufficient for small holes.

If your hole is as wide as ¾ inch, though, you may need to opt for an all-purpose or heavy compound.

Step 3- Mix and Spread the Spackle

Next, you’ll want to combine or prepare the compound of your choice and apply it to the damaged area.

If you purchased a premix powder that must be combined before use, make sure you only use the amount required for the current repair project.

You don’t want to waste money by mixing more than is needed, as it will get dried and wasted without any use.

Now, using your putty knife, apply a generous amount of the spackling compound in a downward motion beginning from the top side of the hole.

Step 4- Level the Spackle and Make it Even

Fill the hole until it is packed, then use a putty knife to level it off.

Avoid pressing too harshly, or you’ll end up taking putty out of the hole. Use a wet cloth or a piece of rag to remove any compound debris from where you just repaired.

Remember, it doesn’t need to look impeccable since you’ll sand over it later when the repaired hole is dry.

Step 5- Check for Shrinkage and Sand Lightly

When the spackle dries, it most likely shrinks. Check to see if the defect has receded after an hour or two. If it has, apply another layer of spackle.

Most holes more than ¼ inch deep need to be filled twice (or more). So, apply some more spackle generously.

Don’t overthink the spackle remaining, as it will be smoothed out during the sanding process.

After you have applied the second coat of spackle, allow it a couple of hours to dry. Then lightly sand the repaired hole area to smoothen the wood trim, panels, or wall.

Use a dampened rag or a cloth to wipe the sanded dust, and your repaired area is ready to finish with paint or touch-ups that matches the rest of the trim/wall.

When is the Best Time to Apply to Spackle?

Applying spackle is typically done after stripping paint and other finishes from the woodwork.

Once the wood is stripped and sanded, any holes or gouges will be visible and need to be repaired before painting or re-staining the wood.

Additionally, spackle can also be used to fill small cracks in walls before painting.

In terms of the best time to apply spackle, it’s usually recommended to do so in the late afternoon or early evening because the temperature is cooler, and there’s less chance of the spackle drying too quickly, which can cause cracks.

How Long Does Spackle Take to Dry on Wood?

It’s crucial to remember that various spackles come in a variety of dry times, so choose carefully based on your project deadline – some are fast-dry, while others take much longer.

Generally, a fast-drying lightweight spackle will take only a few minutes to dry. But you should wait for at least 1-2 hours if you intend to sand and paint the surface further.

In contrast, heavy spackles will typically dry in 1-2 hours, but it’s recommended to give it a full day to set and avoid any issues with sanding or painting.

Additionally, conditions such as temperature and humidity have an impact on the drying time of the spackle filler – extreme heat or cold slows down drying time.

Finally, if you’re filling a large surface, expect a longer dry time.

Remember that the drying time of the spackle on wood surfaces affects how strong the bond will be between the spackle and the wood paneling.

If you need a stronger repair with spackle before painting, give it more time to dry before putting any weight on it or painting over it.

Can You Add Water to Drydex Spackling – To Keep Spackle from Drying Out?

Once you have applied the spackle paste, it will get hardened and become the part of the surface it’s applied to.

It’s only natural that the leftover paste in its container would harden over time and would turn out to be waste.

If this occurs, you can, however, add water to it to loosen it up so you may reuse it again within a short time period.

Remember, the process to revive dried-out spackle will work only if the paste hasn’t been set for too long.

If it’s already been weeks or months, it’s good to dispose of it and use the new container.

Here are the steps to follow with restoring dried-out spackling:

  1. Remove the lid of the spackling paste container.
  2. Add some water slowly into the dried spackle paste container.
  3. Mix it well (using a power paint mixer) until it has a creamy texture and seems to be easily spreadable
  4. If the paste is still too dry or hard, add more water as needed. The paste should be thick enough to stay in place but easily glide in the container, similar to peanut butter.

If the dried spackling compound has chunks, use a sharp object like a screwdriver to break up the compound into small pieces before adding water.

Continue mixing and piercing at the compound until the chunks smooth out and get smaller.

It might also help if you put the jar in the microwave to heat the spackle for around 20-30 seconds. After that, add water and stir it until you achieve the desired consistency.

After the process of adding water and mixing it well, you’re dried spackle should now be usable again.

If not, it’s best to start with a new container, as the ratio of water to spackle might not have been correct.

Final Thoughts

While spackling might seem daunting, it’s actually a pretty simple process.

Just remember to choose the right type of spackle for your project, take your time, and be patient as the spackle dries.

And with that, you should now have all the knowledge you need to spackle like a pro!

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