What are the tricks to spackling?
September 11, 2004 1:57 PM   Subscribe

Spackling: What are the tricks to spackling and sanding (relatively small, no mesh or such required) holes or dings, getting a nice smooth patch, prior to painting? There are generally little tricks to anything handy, but after all these years I'm still not learning them and I just can't get the knack.

The couple tricks I think I've learned amount to these:
-Keep the spackling knife relatively flat against the wall.
-When patching a larger hole, it seems to work best if you use a lot of plaster and smooth it down aggressively, not lightly. I think.
posted by Shane to Home & Garden (6 answers total)
i had just got some dap precompressed no sanding spackle
(just before the tar in the parking lot got my foot)
reliable, clean non toxic, easy, quick, paint ready
i can't think of anything besides just making it flush unless you aren't painting.
posted by ethylene at 2:59 PM on September 11, 2004

Use knive wider than the width of the repair (obvious)
Clean up stray spackle around the edges with a wet sponge (obvious?)

I don't know the brand of the spackle I use but it comes in an orange and black can with big block letters.
posted by luser at 4:06 PM on September 11, 2004

The sponge is the trick that made a huge difference for me. Basically, don't use too much spackle. Press down when you push it into your little dent/hole so that there's not much overage around the hole, really scrape the wall a bit. Use a damp sponge to wipe down the lumpy edges so that they feather nicely into the rest of your sheetrock. Then, wait for it to dry. Sand it using fine grit paper with a block or something else that is FLAT so that you'll get a smooth finish. Then, you'll notice that there is a little depression in the hole because the wet spackle shrunk a bit when it dried out. Repeat. I usually can do this once or twice before I say "screw it, it will look fine with paint over it anyhow" but two applications of spackle, sponge and sandpaper is usually a good balance between sloppy and obsessive.
posted by jessamyn at 4:51 PM on September 11, 2004

everyone: DAP
less than $2.50, no sanding, drying, feathering, waiting, worrying for animals/chiildren/criminally stupid, better than toothpaste by leagues
scrape and go!
posted by ethylene at 4:58 PM on September 11, 2004

DAP DryDex goes on pink. Turns white when it's dry. Very cool.
posted by internal at 6:12 PM on September 11, 2004

Thanks, folks. The sponge around the edge is a great idea, as that subtle line around the edge is sometimes the toughest thing to sand out afterwards. Feathering with a sponge is a great idea.

I think one problem I often have is that, as I pull the spackling knife across the filled hole, for some reson the spackling is kind of sticky and it doesn't leave a flat filled depression -- instead some of the spackling sticks and pulls out of the depression.

I'm thinking maybe I need to hold the knife flatter and apply more pressure and, if that doesn't work, maybe try wetting the knife.

It's puzzling because I did house painting for quite a while, and I'm a whiz with painting and caulking. But I always suck at spackling.

Anyway, Dap and a sponge! Thanks!
posted by Shane at 7:08 PM on September 11, 2004

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