Finished is better than perfect
September 28, 2018 7:36 AM   Subscribe

Is there a compelling reason not to use spackling compound instead of traditional grout in a decorative mosaic? It's a dry interior wall treatment above the crown molding that never freezes and it's just decorative-- nothing is hanging off it. The tiles are glass and adhered with Weldbond. I'm just deciding on how to finish it.
posted by blnkfrnk to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Spackle may absorb and release moisture and decompose.
posted by theora55 at 7:45 AM on September 28, 2018 [4 favorites]

Spackle (the kind in a small tub)shrinks a bit when it dries and an overly thick application sometimes cracks. It also won't clean up the same way as grout, as it is water - soluble when dry.

There are many pre-mixed grouts available at large hardware stores in several formulations, prices, and colors. They come in some very small tubs.

There is also grout caulk but it is weirdly runny and doesn't behave anything Iike normal grout.
posted by twoplussix at 8:04 AM on September 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

In my opinion, grout is easier to install than spackle.
posted by The_Vegetables at 8:14 AM on September 28, 2018 [7 favorites]

Agreeing with some others here. Spackle will probably crack and fall out, plus you won't get a smooth line. I'd be very surprised if you would be happy with the result.

Grout is specifically made to be forced into the gaps, then the excess to be easily removed, all with a rubber grout float. After drying, a couple of wipedowns with a damp sponge and a clean cloth will leave sharp, clean lines. I can't imagine trying to place spackle, caulk, or any other material would be any easier and it certainly won't look or last better.

Go to your local hardware store, get some pre-mixed grout, a grout float, and a big flat sponge, and that's about all you need. If you're unsure of your grouting skills (of which not much is required) have the hardware store person give you some pointers. Plus as you say, it doesn't have to be perfect.
posted by The Deej at 8:31 AM on September 28, 2018 [2 favorites]

I agree with The_Vegetables. Stuffing grout into cracks and then wiping over the whole job with a damp rag or barely-damp sponge yields cracks full of grout and a clean surface. Doing the same process with spackle yields cracks with half the spackle torn out and smears of dilute spackle all over everything, and even after dealing with that, you need to do the whole thing over anyway after it dries, because now half your spackled cracks have shrinkage cracks in the spackle.
posted by flabdablet at 8:32 AM on September 28, 2018 [4 favorites]

Just remember that grout's actually quite abrasive and no matter how tempting you shouldn't use your fingers to rub it into the cracks, or your grout might start turning a lovely shade of pink....
posted by Heloise9 at 9:04 AM on September 28, 2018

Also, if you do decide to go the grout route, note that ready-mixed grouts are generally not nearly as good as the powder ones, especially in terms of shrinkage.
posted by pipeski at 10:03 AM on September 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

You do not want to substitute spackle for grout. Grouting isn't that bad - buy some big new sponges, mix the grout accordingly, apply, use a float to press it into the crevices, wipe clean.

Agree with pipeski that the premixed tubs aren't as good as powder mix, but for an interior, non-wet area, they wouldn't be the worst thing. Spackle would be the worst thing.
posted by rachaelfaith at 11:28 AM on September 28, 2018 [2 favorites]

Compelling indeed! I did make a sample piece with spackle but fortunately it’s nothing permanent, even though it looks OK. I’ll suck it up and grout.
posted by blnkfrnk at 4:03 PM on September 28, 2018 [2 favorites]

The mapei brand premixed grout comes in a variety of colours (get the UNSANDED GROUD THO, if it says it has sand in it, you don't want it for your particular project. Sanded grout is for BIG tile gaps in bathroom floors and such) and also comes with a lovely grout sponge. If it's a small area you don't even need a float, just use a drywall trowel that matches the width of the tiles (my dad calls em all "spatulas" lol. no Dad, they're trowels, even if they're not for brickwork)
posted by some loser at 5:58 PM on September 29, 2018

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