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Joint Compound Vs Spackle: What Are the Major Differences?

Joint compound and spackle are both famous as drywall compounds. They are used to hide uneven and defective spots of your drywall. Some people assume that joint compound and spackle are the same thing. 

That is why today we are going to discuss and find out the major differences between joint compound and spackle. 

Joint compound vs spackle: What Are The Major Differences?

The major difference between joint compound and spackle is that joint compound is better for large scale projects and spackle is better for small scale projects. Another major difference is that joint compound takes much more time than spackle to dry. But joint compound is cheaper than spackle.

It can be difficult to point out the differences between joint compound and spackle if you are not a drywall expert. Let’s discuss the biggest differences between join compound and spackle. 

The consistency:

Both joint compound and spackle is gypsum based drywall compound and they both come in pre mixed tubs. But there is a huge difference in their consistency despite being of the same origin. Joint compound’s consistency is described as being like cake frosting. 

On the other hand, spackle’s consistency is said to be toothpaste-like. 


The usage of joint compound is more vast than that of spackle. In fact, sparkles are used when you require small repairs. But joint compound is used on large scale jobs. This is one of the biggest differences between joint compound and spackle that sets them apart. 


Joint compounds can be used as a substitute to spackle as they share an almost similar sort of structure and usage. But the interesting thing here is that joint compound can be used as a substitute to spackle. 

On the other hand, spackle does not have the ability to be used in large scale projects. 

Drying time:

The best feature about spackle is its drying time. Spackle compound takes just thirty minutes to completely dry onto the wall. However, joint compounds have a longer drying time. Sometimes it can take as much as twenty four hours to completely dry. 


There is also a massive difference between joint compound and spackle when it comes to shrinkage. Joint compound is known for shrinking more than spackle in the drying phase. 


Spackles usually cost more than joint compound. So joint compound is said to be the most cost effective among the two. 

Is spackle harder than joint compound? What is better spackle or joint compound?

Joint compound is considered harder than spackle. Although it takes a lot more effort to spread out thick layers of spackle than joint compound. The thickness of the spackle is attributed to the binding agent mixed in it. 

The same binding agent lessens the shrinkage of spackle after it dries out. But joint compound becomes much harder than spackle after it dries out. 

The effectiveness of both spackle and joint compound depends on their usage. Spackle is better for small projects where you do not have to do repair work on a large area. On the other hand, joint compound is better for large projects like drywall installations. 

If you compare the durability of both these compounds, joint compound is the better choice. Joint compound is also more cost effective than spackle due to the spackle’s high cost. 

The versatility of joint compound also makes it a better choice than spackle as you can use spackle only in small projects. 

On the other hand, joint compounds can be used in both the large and small projects. However, joint compound is not as effective as spackle in small projects. 

Are spackle and joint compounds the same? Can I use the joint compound as a spackle?

Spackle and joint compound are both made from gypsum powder. But they are not the same thing. Their application and physical structure vary. For example, there is a binding agent mixed inside spackle that makes it thicker than joint compound. 

Spackles also take a lot less time to dry out than joint compound. 

Spackle is used to fill small holes on your drywall. Joint compound can be used instead of spackle in this type of project. 

But the disadvantage of using joint compound as a spackle is that joint compound takes a huge amount of time to dry and sometimes needs multiple layers of application due to excessive shrinkage. 

Using joint compound as a spackle can be cost effective as it costs significantly less than spackle. 

When to use joint compound vs. spackle?

Deciding when to use joint compound and when to use spackle can be a daunting task if you don’t have any prior experience. There are some deciding factors you can follow that will make the decision easier. Let’s discuss them in detail. 

Small projects:

Joint compounds are very versatile if you consider the fact that they can be used in both small projects and large projects. But in reality, spackle is a wiser choice for small scale projects like filling out tiny holes and cracks on drywalls. 

Spackle also takes a lot less time to dry out meaning you can start sanding and painting it in no time at all. 

Large projects:

Joint compound is the best choice when it comes to a large scale drywall installation. You can also use it to fill large holes and cracks found on drywall. Spackle is not suitable for large scale projects. 

Cost effective:

If you are trying to minimize the cost of your repair jobs, then using joint compound is a better choice as it costs a lot less than spackle. 


Joint compound is much more durable than spackle. That is why it should be used for drywall installations rather than spackles. If you want your drywall compound to last for a long period of time, then you should definitely go for a joint compound. 

Easy to use:

If you can not decide between spackle and joint compound when it comes to using it in a small project, then choose spackle for its easy usability. Spackle comes in a  premixed container and does not need any water for use. 

But joint compounds sometimes need an extra amount of water before it can be used. 

How to use joint compound?

Using joint compound can seem like a difficult task if you do not have any prior knowledge about it. Let’s discuss the steps of using joint compound below.

Remove dust:

Before applying joint compound, you will need to remove dust from the area you are going to apply it. A brush or broom will be sufficient for this step. 

Fill the seam:

Next, you will need to fill the seam of the wall using a small amount of joint compound. A drywall knife will be helpful during this step and the upcoming steps.

Attach drywall tape:

You will have to cover the seam with drywall tape in this step. You will need to cut out the exact length of the tape needed for the steam with your drywall knife. You will need to spread out the drywall tape onto the seam properly.

Spread out joint compound:

You will need to spread out the premixed joint compound onto the drywall and the seam using a drywall knife. You will have to do this job by moving from one section to another. The layers of joint compound have to be thick enough to cover the drywall tape.

Let it dry:

In the final step, you will need to give the joint compound enough time to dry out. It can take up to twelve to twenty four hours. The wall will have to be sanded after that.

How to use spackle?

The following steps can be applied when it comes to using spackle.

Clean the hole:

First, you will need to clean the hole on the wall using sandpaper or a brush. This will get rid of any dirt and debris before you apply the spackle. 

Make a mix:

If you have the powdered version of spackle at hand, you will need to mix it with water. But a ready to use version of spackle will not require you to make a mix as it comes in paste form. 

Apply the spackle:

You will have to use a drywall knife to fill the hole on the wall with spackle paste. You will need to give spackle paste enough time to dry before you start sanding. It can take about thirty to hundred minutes to properly dry. 

You might need to reapply the spackle paste due to shrinkage.

Final Thoughts

Joint compound is used for drywall installations and spackle is used to fill in small holes on the wall. Spackle is easier to use than joint compound as it takes less time to dry and also shrinks less than joint compound. But joint compound can be used as a substitute for spackle.