Spackle vs. Patching Plaster, etc.

I have a variety of wallboard wounds to repair. There are some cracks, dings, screwholes, and a hole that's about 1.5" x 5". I find on the hardware store shelf "Vinyl Spackling", "Lightweight Vinyl Spackling", and "Patching Plaster". I already have a big tub of joint compound.
What's the difference between Spackle and Patching Plaster? The labels are almost identical. Why would I choose one over another? Can I use joint compound for these repairs?
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Patching plaster shrinks less than spackle, and dries faster and harder.
For a hole 1.5 x 5 inches, I'd use patching plaster, but not filled quite all the way flush with the surface. Then after the plaster cures, lay on a thin coat of spackle.
Before applying the patching plaster, moisten the drywall with a sponge. Plaster cures by chemical reaction between the powder and the water. If you don't dampen the area around the patch, it will wick enough water out of the plaster to prevent it from curing around the edges, and the patch will not adhere well to the wall.
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On 28 Jul 2004, snipped-for-privacy@milmac.com (Doug Miller) wrote in

Thanks VERY much for the quick answer. Of course, none of the teenagers working at Ace had a clue.
So, would joint compound be a bad choice for these repairs? I would think it would be OK for screw holes and smallish dings and dents, and also to top off the larger hole repair instead of spackle. Yes?
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Tip: when you need advice in a hardware store, look for a guy with gray hair. Doesn't even matter if he's a customer and not an employee.

stuff that you have to mix with water (typically labelled "setting-type joint compound") is essentially patching plaster. The premixed joint compound is the same thing as spackle.
Spackle is not suitable for filling holes much bigger than a pencil, or deeper than about 1/8", because (a) it very little strength, (b) it shrinks too much and cracks as it dries, and (c) the thicker you apply it, the longer it takes to dry, which means (d) large or deep patches need to be built up in multiple layers, allowing it to dry after each layer, which means (e) it takes forever.
Spackle does do well on shallow dents and dings, but for screw or nail holes, there's something even better: DAP Painter's Putty. (Which may well be the only product DAP ever made that's actually worth a hoot. If you ever need to re-glaze a window, don't even think about using DAP glazing compound. Go back to that Ace hardware, and buy some of the Ace-brand stuff. It's really good.) But I digress... Anyway, the DAP Painter's Putty can be smoothed out with your finger, and painted over far sooner than spackle or plaster. A little goes a *long* way, though. Don't buy it in a quart can, you won't use it up in your lifetime. Look for it in half-pint cans. I think Lowe's has it in that size.
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Doug Miller wrote:

plain old acrylic caulk works well for screw and nail holes, but like you said you need to smooth it out with your finger. However his joint compound will work just as well.
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Patching plaster IS NOT sandable and is for plaster repairs.
Spackle is for filling tiny nail holes when you are in a hurry.
A sandable joint compound will work for all of your problems.
Best wishes.
Colbyt
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On Wed, 28 Jul 2004 18:00:55 -0400, "Colbyt"

need to fill large holes. I have used Durabond (patching plaster) with both drywall and plaster with excellent results using joint compound only for the final coat. An electrician I know who does a lot of rewiring in older homes and ends up with holes to patch never uses joint compound.
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Some are, some aren't. Durabond sands fairly readily IME, but most others won't.
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wrote:

Doug,
Unless you are buying a Durobond product I have not, I have to disagree with your statement.
If it does not say Sandable on the package, it isn't.
Durobond is an excellent quick setting product for filling large areas to a sub surface level. But for the average DYI person it is not suitable for the final top coat which will need some sanding to look proper.
Colbyt
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The stuff I'm talking about comes in a carboard package the size and shape of a half-gallon milk container. Haven't seen it at any of the home centers recently, though, and I'm not sure it's still made.

True enough.

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Well, they use joint compound to fill cracks originally so why wouldn't you use joint compound to fill small holes and cracks now. You can use joint compounds for any repair but large holes and repairs require that you build up in thin layers or you will likely get cracks, so you might want to use spackle for those. Joint compound is excellent for screw holes and you put it on with your finger leaving a bump that you can sand off level with the wall.
Nil wrote:

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