Friday, July 10, 2009

Spackle or not to spackle....that is the question

I have a hole in my sheetrock the hole small enough to spackle? Which spackle should I use? Is there a proper way to apply spackle or does it matter? What if I just used caulking? Should I patch the hole with tape & mud instead of spackle? How long do I need to wait before I can paint? Is it going to look good once I paint? Did I make the right decision? Is anyone else asking any of these questions? Does it really matter?

Have you ever asked any of the above questions? I will do my best to answer each one for you right now.

Question: Is the hole small enough to spackle?

Answer: Usually spackle is used for very small holes. As a rule of thumb, I would not spackle anything over the size of a quarter or so, maybe even a dime. If the hole is too big, you won't have any backing to hold in the spackle. If the hole has a little of the sheetrock paper left on the back, you may be able to fill a slightly larger hole,nick, or tear. In most cases, spackle is used very sparingly.

Question: Which spackle should I use?

Answer: There's two main types of spackle. The type I like to use is called "lightweight" spackle. It almost feels like there's nothing in the plastic container that's how light it is. It kind of looks like whipped cream & is non-shrinking which is a plus since you can usually apply what you need with only one coat. The other type of spackle is very moist in nature & you need to mix up the material a little bit before applying. This kind can shrink a bit so you may have to apply two small coats depending how deep your patch is.

Question: Is there a proper way to apply spackle or does it matter?

Answer: Yes there is a proper way to apply spackle & believe me, it does matter. You will want to use a small putty knife & in some cases, a small standard screw driver comes in handy as well. Remember, the smaller the spackle patch the smaller the paint patch. If you have a small hole to fill, you don't want to just put a large amount of spackle on it & just wipe off with a putty knife as you will get alot on the surrounding wall area thus making your patch that much larger to paint since you will have to paint not only the small patch/hole but all of the remaining spackle material beyond the hole. So be careful when you put the spackle on. A wet rag comes in handy now & again so be ready. The lightweight spackle doesn't work very well on larger holes since the spackle is slightly porous & will show up when you apply your paint touchup so keep that in mind....the smaller the hole the better.

Question: What if I just used caulking?

Answer: I would recommend only using caulking in filling: small screw holes,tack holes,staple holes,hairline cracks,etc.. Before filling small holes like these, use a tiny screwdriver & fold the outside edges back into the hole & flatten out minimizing the overall patch. The caulking blends in to the same level of the wall when you do this & doesn't leave a bump. Putting a dab of caulking in the hole & shaping it flat using a tiny screwdriver I find works the best, wiping off any overage with a wet finger &/or wet rag keeping the excess to a minimum. Don't use caulking on too big of a hole since the caulking tends to sag a little, while drying, on larger holes.

Question: Should I patch the hole with tape & mud instead of spackle?

Answer: I would recommend patching the hole with tape & mud if the hole is larger than a quarter. You will end up with a less porous patch & your paint will cover better. Work with the spackle a bit & come to your own decisions about how large of a hole,rip,tear you want to cover remembering that the bigger the patch area, the more likely the patch will stand out after you apply the paint.

Question: How long do I need to wait before I can paint?

Answer: Lightweight spackle can be covered with paint generally after just a few minutes. Regular moist spackle has to fully dry before you can paint over it so it will depend on how deep your patch is or if you applied two coats of spackle or just one. Caulking should have a skin developed over it before you paint & a few minutes after that. This could take 30 minutes or so depending if it's summer or winter,raining outside,etc.. Don't paint over caulking too soon as the caulking could start sliding or pushing in when paint is applied.

Question: Is it going to look good when I paint?

Answer: It depends on how well you applied the spackle & caulking. Use a small paint brush, mini roller,artist paint brush, & sometimes just a folded up paper towel. You will probably need to apply two small coats of paint touch up to blend in better. Try not to paint too far over the patch areas thinking you will just blend in the paint as the paint may "flash" in these little patch areas & you will want to make your paint patches as small as possible.

Question: Did I make the right decision?

Answer: You will know the answer to this one once you do a few little patch projects as the more patches you do, the more you learn.....and the more you save! (since you won't have to call a professional painter anymore).

Question(s): Is anyone else asking any of these questions & does it really matter?

Answer(s): Yes...others out there are asking these same questions, usually after their project is done (after they came to the realization that they should've done their homework a little better) but you are making the most of this blog by preparing yourself for your next "patch & paint" project before it's here & trust's only a matter of time before you will need to patch up your walls again. Does it matter? I would hope your answer to that would be a resounding YES since if you're going to do something (like patch your walls), you might as well do it to the best of your ability.

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Good luck with your next "patch & paint" project!


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