The all-purpose flour of drywall joint compound
April 28, 2016 9:57 AM   Subscribe

I need drywall compound. Can you simplify this shopping trip and/or can you point me to a reputable, simple DIY book that is not so comprehensive I have to lie down but that gives me the ordinary facts most people need to know about basic home improvement-ish stuff?

I had a premixed type previously and it wound up getting moldy (in the package) before I'd used it all up. I would now like to buy a powder that I can mix myself to the consistency of peanut butter, frosting, pancake syrup, human tears--whatever the application calls for.

Is there a single type of powdered drywall compound I can use for skim coats, taping, filling in a rough area, patching, etc. that will is reasonably easy to sand and is more or less 'all-purpose'?

Googling this stuff is totally overwhelming. I keep getting sucked into logical holes, like what happens if I have to put up drywall in zero gravity or 99% humidity or in a room that is perfectly round or some edge case and I can't tell how to weed that out from the Least I Need To Know, which is my sweet spot.
posted by A Terrible Llama to Home & Garden (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
For context, this is where I caved to 'ask metafilter'.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 10:02 AM on April 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

Go to your nearest big-box store and ask the pro. Describe the jobs you're interested in and they'll show you what, how, how much and perhaps will bust out a quick workshop for you.

There's a paddle-thingy for your drill that you'll buy to mix it in a 5 gallon bucket, that will make you so BOSS!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:03 AM on April 28, 2016

Every contractor I've ever hired has used Sheetrock blue compound. I've used it myself for decades. You can get it premixed or dry. Here it is. It's sold everywhere.

(And I don't mean to go off-question, but the premixed stuff is lightyears easier to work with. I'm not sure how your last stuff got moldy, because I've re-opened tubs of this stuff from years earlier and once you discard the crusty stuff on top it's exactly the same. Just seal it up better next time?)
posted by JoeZydeco at 10:07 AM on April 28, 2016 [3 favorites]

Home Depot actually has a couple of books, one is general home repair stuff and a couple of more specific (plumbing, electrical, actual construction stuff), and they are pretty good and they have the good multi-step photos.

And yes, often you just need to go there and talk to someone. It's kind of like gardening - it's really hard to find comprehensive documentation online because you really cannot garden and be online at the same time in any meaningful way. Talking to someone who has lots of experience, where you can bring in photos of your issue on your phone and show it to them, is so much more helpful.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:09 AM on April 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

Agree with JoeZydeco on the premixed stuff. It is SO cheap and so easy to use. I've done more drywall projects than you can shake a stick at and I've always used it.

I've lived in both Florida and Georgia and I've never seen it mold in the bucket. Even if it had, I'd just spend the $15 and get another bucket.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:09 AM on April 28, 2016

Setting aside products clearly labeled as plaster, what you're looking for will be available in two different hardnesses, and each hardness will be available in formulations that harden faster or slower. I'm most familiar with Durabond (hard) and Easy Sand (soft), both from US Gypsum, but I've seen equivalent products under other brand names in other markets. I keep a cat litter bucket full of each, because they're both handy to have around. Durabond makes for better repairs to real plaster walls, and is much more tolerant of moisture than Easy Sand, which is better for drywall work and repairs that will be sanded.
posted by jon1270 at 10:13 AM on April 28, 2016 [2 favorites]

I've been having lots of renovations done and my guys have used premixed....I believe it was the Sheetrock blue mentioned above. I'm in Georgia....old home so lots of concerns with insulating everything correctly....bringing what was there up to snuff... They just walk around with these little buckets and slap it up....go back and sand later. Looks great. Good luck!!
posted by pearlybob at 10:13 AM on April 28, 2016

Huh, weird, I thought you were supposed to use a different consistency under tape versus over tape.

But I'm more than happy to buy premixed forever.

I don't know how it got moldy; I just assumed that was what happened normally and that it would go bad, like dairy products. (Clearly I'm not thinking deeply.)

OK; thanks.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 10:50 AM on April 28, 2016

I have prevented mold with mostly success as follows. When I'm done with my project, I level off the compound in the tube and wipe it off the inside down to that level. Then I take a piece of clear plastic wrap and lay it down over the surface of the compound so there are no air bubble underneath, and it clings tightly to the edges. Seal it well and it should last,
posted by beagle at 11:32 AM on April 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

FWIW premixed compound gets mildew growth for me after being used and closed back up again. I scrape out the mold and keep using it.
posted by exogenous at 11:33 AM on April 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I've had spackle get moldy too.
posted by rhizome at 1:20 PM on April 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

At home or on small jobs I use CGC 90 or CGC Dust Control premix because it's convenient.

At work our crews use CGC 90 powder in the bag because you can mix it thick or soupy, and because it's cheaper, but it's more messy to prepare, unless you're in a work site and don't care about the mess as much.

As jon1270 says, you might want some Durabond if you need a tougher hard-setting repair for tricky busted plaster. Smoosh it down nice, because it doesn't love sanding, and go over it later with CGC or other brand plaster.
posted by ovvl at 4:56 PM on April 28, 2016

Huh, weird, I thought you were supposed to use a different consistency under tape versus over tape.

The only people that I've seen do this have been professional tapers, who swoop in and tape an entire house like magic. They have fancy equipment like giant syringes to get into corners, special taping buckets full of liquidy compound that pre-coat the tape before they slap it up, and rollerskate-looking tools to smooth it out. So they need their compound thin for their special ninja taping gear.
posted by CKmtl at 5:02 PM on April 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

^^ Yes, it's true the Pros have their magic, but premix is fine under and over tape for us mortals. The plasterers I know also smooth out corners with a few deft passes of their drywall knives, but I use the cheap plastic 45' corner tool for that.
posted by ovvl at 5:27 PM on April 28, 2016

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