Painting, in theory, is a very easy task. Well, it’s very easy to put paint on the walls and ceiling, especially with an electric paint sprayer.
However, to do it to a high standard, you not only need a degree of skill but the right materials and tools. And, boy, are there are a lot of different tools, equipment, and materials out there to choose from.
We have already covered a guide to how to clean and prep your walls for painting here on Paint Sprayer Guide. For this article, we wanted to tackle a question that is central to a lot of debate and something you may have wondered yourself.
So, What’s The Difference Between The Two?
Painters putty vs spackle: Painters putty and spackle are very similar, but there is a difference. Painters putty is designed with painters in mind, whereas spackle is not designed just to be painted. Both can take each other’s place if needed, but it’s best to use painters putty if possible.
It’s funny that this is such a big issue because it always seems to be that way. The smaller things that cause the most deliberation.
After all, perhaps you have everything ready. You’ve made your decision on whether you’re going to use just paintbrushes or one of the different types of paint sprayers out there.
If you are going to use one of those economical and time-saving tools, you’ve probably figured out the paint spraying accessories you need. What though, should you use – spackle vs putty.
If you are completely new to decorating or the use of these kinds of products, you may be wondering which is best spackle or painters putty and what are the main differences.
Well, in the following post, we hope to help you come to a decision. It makes sense to first explain what each of these similar products is, why they are used and why you should choose one over the other.
What is Painter’s Putty?
Painter’s putty is designed as a tool especially for painters (not just your general contractor), as indicated by its name, although some do call it paint putty. It is used to fill in any small holes, nail holes, gaps and cracks on surfaces you are intending on painting to help produce a nice smooth finish, when used with a putty knife and sand paper.
Then, after you have corrected all the problem areas, it can be primed and painted over seamlessly. So, no-one would ever know you’d actually done anything other than painted the wall.
If you don’t make those corrections to the wall or area you are painting before you commit a coating, your hard work with the paintbrush or sprayer will be compromised and the quality won’t show.
Although that may sound like a lot of extra work, there’s no reason to sweat it. Most painter’s putty is incredibly fast-acting and is so easy to use, no matter what your level of skill or experience and what purposes you have.
What is Spackle?
If you don’t work in construction, you could be forgiven for thinking that this paste one and the same thing.
Spackle is a drywall joint compound normally used in construction. Interestingly, it is a different product that shares similarities with painters putty. For one thing, you can use it to fix gaps, holes and other minor imperfections in woodwork, trim, wall or ceiling. Similar to caulk, it can be painted over very easily when you coat it with a layer of primer beforehand.
Although it shares these similarities in its base compound, it is not just another name for painters putty. What, then, is the actual differences between them?
In general, is not quite as effective at taking on paint as its application purpose if for use on paster. Sure, it will do the job, it just won’t do it producing the same almost invisible results. It’s designed to be a joint compound.
You can often tell an area that has had spackle used on it because there will be uneven paintwork and colors where the hole once was when it all dries in. Which is probably not the effect you are looking for if you are trying to finish large visible walls to a professional standard.
As with caulk, spackle can also suffer from shrinkage once the water dries out, which makes filling in dings in walls with this paste compound harder than painters putty.
With that in mind, what is the better product?
If you are going to paint a wall and need to fix or repair imperfections in the surface or working on the ceiling or a wooded surface that you are going to paint, then best painters putty will always give you the best results. It is designed and manufactured with painters in mind and not designed to be a joint compound.
Vs spackle that produced as a more general product with multiple applications and uses, such as sealing spaces between plaster or drywall.
Does that mean spackle has no place in your home? Not really, as they are both very helpful in their own right. For instance, if it doesn’t matter about the color imperfections because the area you are using it on is not going to be visible and it’s purely for structural reasons, it will do just fine, even for wood finishes.
The Bottom Line
So, hopefully, that clears it up.
Yes, these putties are very similar and while they can be used indiscriminately for many of the same jobs, such as filling nail holes. When it comes to completing a paint job to a highly professional standard, painter putty should always be the answer and part of your process, as long as you plan to sand it once dry.
If you’re repairing plaster, corners, wood or trim then consider doing the repair with spackle as this is its primary purpose.
Frequently Asked Questions
To finish the post off, I’ve answer a few common questions I get asked.
Can you use painter’s putty on drywall?
Yes, you can but it’s not the best option. Painters putty is designed to be used with plaster, not raw drywall. If working directly on drywall, you’ll get better results using spackle, which is a purpose-built joint compound for dry wall.
Does painter’s putty harden?
Yes painters putty will dry, but it normally takes years. It generally forms a solid skin on the exterior which can be sanded and smoothed. Applying heat will make putty softer, not harder. It’s best to leave it until it’s hard to the touch and be gentle with it.
How do you use painter’s putty?
Using painters putty is different to applying spackle. You’ll need to dry the putty into the hole and then remove all excess with a putty knife. Make sure you’ve covered the full area as paint will not fill any wholes once painted.