Spackle Vs Putty – Key Differences Explained By Real User

Last Updated on January 25, 2023 by Heenan

The ancient art of painting walls is not as simple as it sounds. A painter has to know every tool in his arsenal, the two most common tools being putty and spackle. They’re often mistaken to be the same thing. Although their application may seem similar, there are some critical differences between putty vs spackle.

So, putty vs. spackle, which one should you use? Before making the ultimate decision, look at this article as I describe what they are, how they’re used, and compare the two. They’re both handy in their own way.  Read on as I justify why they should be in your home.

Spackle Vs. Putty

Spackle Vs Putty

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What Is Spackle?

What Is Spackle

Like painter’s putty, spackle is a construction material used to fix joints, imperfections, and cracks on drywall. It’s a champion at this. It’s mainly used for drywalls and ceilings, where they impart a solid and shiny finish after drying.

Several ingredients go into making spackles, such as clay, calcium carbonate, vinyl, and additives that increase its viscosity and make it gooey.  However, spackle does not expand after drying, making them unsuitable to use in cracks or holes with a bend. It’s mainly used to fix joints, not effective in hosting paint particles.

The finished paint job is underwhelming compared to that of dried painter’s putty.

Spackle Features and Uses

If you’re on board with spackle, these are some of its common aspects that you should consider

Thick Texture
Spackle has a toothpaste-like appearance that’s easy to apply. It mainly contains gypsum, clay, calcium carbonate, and several other ingredients to promote its viscosity. But its texture also makes it easy to apply on dry surfaces. Vinyl, mainly used as a binding agent, makes it lightweight.

Used to Fix Drywall Cracks
Spackle is a prime-time player for wall repair, mainly applied to fix small cracks and holes on dry surfaces. It dries fast, sealing the cracks inside. Once dried, it can’t be dampened easily.

Not Flexible
Spackle is mainly used to fix drywall cracks and holes. But the main ingredients of spackle include clay and calcium carbonate, which are hard. They don’t let the spackle expand after drying. As a result, this thick mixture can’t fill up the bend completely and can come off at times.

Therefore, if you have holes in your walls that bend, it’s smart to steer clear of spackles.

Doesn’t Take Colour Well
To perfectly match the appearance of drywall, the spackle takes a rough appearance after drying. It’ll seem like the wall is brand new, and nothing was put on it. Unfortunately, this rough surface has poor paint hosting property. You can still paint on it, but it won’t be as perfect as painting on the finished painter’s putty.

How Long Does Spackle Take to Dry?

Besides clay, limestone, and vinyl, some additives enable the fast drying of spackles. But whether it’ll dry as fast depends on a couple of factors—the first one’s humidity. If there’s more of it present, then the humidity will get absorbed by the spackles delaying its drying time.

The next factor to consider is the area and thickness of the spackle applied. If you apply more stuff, more time it’ll take to dry completely. There are fast-drying and fast-setting spackles that dry quickly. They’re very good options if you want the paint job done fast

Best Spackle

DAP 12330 Dry Time Indicator Spackling

This one’s an amazing product, a spackle that you can apply on drywall, wood, plastic, brick, etc. So, you can use it as a joining and fixing goods. You can apply it to exterior objects as well. DAP 12330  has a high flash point of 200 degrees Fahrenheit, so there’s zero possibility of your stuff catching on fire!

It’ll even let you know when it has dried fully! The spackle has a pinkish tint but soon turns white as it dries. You’ll have a lot of fun using this. DAP 12330 is easy to use and has a remarkable spread. This is one of the budget products on the market that rocks its performance.


  • Convenience

Spackles have a bad name for being too thick. DAP 12330 has a fantastic spread and lets you apply it like butter.

  • High Flashpoint

The temperature at which an object shows flashes of fire is the flashpoint  Since it’s so high, you can count it out as a fire hazard.

  • Dryness Indicator

One of its most attractive features. The color change will tell you when it has dried completely.

  • Versatility

Can be applied to drywall, wood, brick, etc. as a joiner.

  • Budget

You can get it at such a great price. Given its performance, it’s a steal.

  • High Quality

It has received some of the best reviews due to its excellent quality.


  • Can’t Reach Stretch or Bend

Like any other spackle, this one too doesn’t expand to reach the end of the bend after drying.

  • Dries After a Long Time

Some customers complained that it takes more than 5 hours to dry.

What is Putty?

What is Putty?

Now for the painter’s putty. It’s a pasty joint compound with a yellow or greyish tint, depending on the formula. The main ingredients of putty are ground limestone and linseed oil, but there are many other chemicals that go into the mix to give it this paste-like appearance.

Painter’s putty has a high demand among painters all over the world. That’s why it was modified for different purposes and materials. It can be applied to different materials surfaces, like wood, glass, cement, etc. You can also use it to paint the exterior.

Thus, in a way, the painter’s putty is capable of taking the place of tapes, magnets, stapler, etc. You can use it to put up posters, hold glasses in their place in windows, join two blocks of wood in furniture, etc. The pasty appearance makes it easy to apply.

One downside of painter’s putty is, it takes hours to fully dry. But it settles quickly, so in case you need to apply another layer on top of the initial, you can do it after it settles, which mainly takes about half an hour. After it’s finished, the surface is perfectly smooth, ideal for a paint job.

Putty Features and Uses

Painter’s putty has an exciting array of features that you should definitely look into.

The secret behind the painter’s putty’s bright semiliquid texture lies in its composition. Most painter’s putty formulas consist of silicone, polysiloxanes, different types of plasticizers, etc. These plasticizers are crucial because this gives it the added plasticity that allows it to block the holes with bends and turns completely.

Putties of different companies come in a lot of different sizes and dimensions. If you need a greater volume of painter’s putty, you’ll probably find bigger buckets. To just stick posters or pictures, fix the window or the mirror, or join some stuff, a smaller-sized bucket might suffice.

Ease of Use
painter’s putty can be applied using a roller. You can spread it easily and evenly. Because of its easy setting, you can use it as a primer for painting. The first layer (to fill the holes and cracks) settles quickly, and a second layer is applied to smoothen the surface and apply paint.

Convenient for Painting 
Well, it got the name ‘Painters putty’ for nothing! It’s a joining paste that was made for painting. Not only does it fixes the peeling paint, but it gives off a fine and clear surface. This surface welcomes paint particles and adheres to them, giving an exquisite finish.

How to Get Silly Putty Out of Clothes?

Silly painter’s putty is a famous plaything for kids. It has no known toxic substance. They’re colorful, can be shaped any way, and attach to any surface, even on clothes. And when they do attach on clothes, getting the stain off is not easy.

One way to get the stain off is to apply an alcohol solution. The sticky goo is non-polar and will respond and follow a non-polar solvent like alcohol. You can brush it off afterward. Silly painter’s putty will also come out if you freeze it in really cold conditions like in the freezer. If you’re lucky, it’ll come out in one piece.

Best Putty

DAP 12242 Painters Putty Pt Raw Building Material

DAP 12242 is an amazing painter’s putty that will always leave you coming back for more.

If you want to give your walls a sharp white finish, this is your guy. DAP 12242 is easy to spread and handle; therefore, you’ll have a blast applying it. The painter’s putty works fine as a primer. Painters love this product. After the application and drying, this putty will also clean easily without any hassle.

Suitable for exterior and interior uses, DAP 12242 can fill nail holes, cracks, and protect it like a pro. Fear oily walls on a hot day? This painters putty doesn’t break down and release the oil, remaining dry all the time. Being one of the most affordable products on the market, it’s a steal.


  • Great Finish

The painters putty gives off a brilliant white finish after drying.

  • Primer

Equalizes the wall, filling all the holes and cracks, even the bends.

  • Great for Painting

After drying, the smooth finish offers the fantastic convenience of painting.

  • Versatile

Fit for exterior and exterior usage, you can trust that this product has great resilience against dust, heat, and moisture.

  • Great Price

DAP 12242 has one of the best prices to performance ratios.

  • Zero Oil Release

The painters putty formula holds stability in any condition and doesn’t release oil.


  • Long Drying Time

Takes more time to dry than spackles.

  • Dry Product Delivery

Some customers complained that they received their product dry.  Dry putty is much more difficult to handle.

Putty vs Spackle: Which One Is Better?

Spackle and putty both have justified their use over the years. You’ll need putty whenever you have to paint the walls if you want a nice smooth finish. The silicone and plasticizers are essential to joint compounds that impart many desirable properties of the putty, like filling an internally bending hole completely.

Their paste-like consistency, along with their fantastic plasticity is what made them so convenient for painting. They can fill the holes, cracks, and work as a primer. Painting walls become a whole lot easier with them by your side. You can use them to join anything.

With that being said, they take hours to dry completely. It’s such a drag when you have somewhere to go, but you can’t until the putty is dry. If you just want to fix the walls, the spackle is the perfect solution, apart from drying completely in less than an hour.

Not only that, once it hardens, you won’t have to worry about them coming off. They’ll become rockhard after drying, and frequent moisture exposure can’t weaken them. This is perfect for the bathroom and shower, where the air is saturated with moisture.

The only problem is that it can’t reach bends and elbows or cracks.

Final Verdict

Picking one of them would be unfair, as they’re champions at their own game. On the one hand, we have the spackle, perfect for small cracks on drywall. If you have a leaky wall in the bathroom, the spackle will be at your rescue.

If it’s for painting, an expert painter will tell you to buy putty. They’re perfect primers even when there are holes in the walls. Putty does a fine job smoothening the playing field so that you can add your colors. You can use them in many other ways.

In the epic showdown of putty vs. spackle, the winner should be chosen based on how you plan to use it.

Related Reading:
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Meet the Authors

Heenan, Cannon, Mack, and Theodore are four outdoor enthusiasts. Each of them is a handyman and off-road adventurers. Dealing with different tools, automotive accessories, products related to home like sealers are some of their day-to-day tasks. They run this website to share their thoughts on various items they think are good or bad for others. Learn how they started as The Handyman Guru, and why they decided to start this blog..

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