Does Spackle Have a Place In Home Remodeling?

Spackle. Tetra Images/Getty Images

Spackle is the duct tape of home remodeling: it gets used for everything related to drywall, and sometimes more than it should. Even though the word "spackle" is a trademarked term of the Muralo Corp. and has been around since the 1920s, we are referring to any type of drywall repair compound.

The good thing--and the reason why--homeowners use spackle as opposed to the harder, heavier drywall compound, is that it is easy to sand. A few brushes of sandpaper and you're done. You can even "sand" lightweight spackle with anything rough--a rag, a slice of cardboard. The stuff practically crumbles off.
If you're worried that spackle seems too crumbly and weak, keep in mind that with the addition of primer and paint, spackle gains some strength. Not structural hold-the-wall-together strength, but enough strength to hold at least itself in place.

Where to Use It

Spackle's value is limited to very minor holes and dents in drywall. For that reason, limit it to home repairs, and no kind of room-size home remodeling project. You're looking at things like:

  • Nail holes.
  • Scratches no deeper than 1/4"
  • A hole ​up to a half-inch in diameter

Fix Correctly, Instead of Spackling

As a rule of thumb, let's confine spackling to any room that has no more than ten minutes of wall repairs. Spackle is a quickie solution, the type of thing you do on the day before moving out of an apartment or for those last-minute holes you missed before painting.
For most wall-related home renovation projects, you will want to undertake more substantial repairs. Small holes can be fixed with drywall compound and mesh tape. If you are unfortunate enough to have large holes (let's say fist-sized or greater), you can fix large holes with the same materials above, plus an extra piece of drywall and some plywood strips.