How To Fix Bad Spackle Job

Spackling is an important aspect of painting preparation, which is also the most usually overlooked. A poor spackle application can compromise the aesthetic of a perfectly good paint job. So how do you fix a bad spackle job? We've researched this and here is what we found.

To save a bad spackle job, you must first sand down the high spots of the wall with 100 grit sandpaper, then smooth with 200 grit. After sanding, fill up any low spots.

In this article, we'll help you identify a bad spackle job.  We'll also cover tips and tricks to avoid a poor spackle job, getting spackle ready to paint, and the best products to use for the job. Read on to know the answers to these questions.

Applying putty or plaster to a vertical wall in a renovated house with a spatula or trowel, How To Fix Bad Spackle Job

What Is A Spackle And How Does It Work?

Hand with putty knife repair damaged wall

When applied with a mesh patch, spackle has a toothpaste-like consistency and can fill anything from a nail hole to a 6-inch-wide crater.

This soft substance is used to cover nail holes on walls and repair small defects in drywall (such as small holes, dings, and dents). Spackle is usually constructed of gypsum plaster, adhesive, and other materials.

Signs Of A Bad Spackle Job And How To Fix Them

You will know that it's a bad spackling job if these are present: 

  • Bubbles
  • Cracks and holes
  • Bumps or pimples
  • Lumps
  • Uneven spackle
  • Over spilling spackle
  • Sagging spackle


You can use a pin to pop bubbles in your spackle. If the bubbles are particularly huge, chop them open with a sharp knife. Smooth the spackle with your finger after they're open.

Cracks and holes

Before applying the spackle, make sure your wall is free of cracks and holes. Fill in the cracks with a putty knife, then sand it down until it's smooth.

Use a piece of drywall cut to fit the hole for larger holes. After that, apply the joint compound to the back of the drywall and nail it to the wall. Allow it to cure completely overnight before sanding it smooth the next day.

Bumps or pimples

Pimples and bumps might be tough to remove, but there are two methods for doing so:

  • The first method is to sand the bump down with an electric sander until it disappears.
  • The second method is to use steel wool. Remove any large bits of paint that are on top of your wall before moving on to the next stage. Rub the entire surface with a moist sponge to remove tiny pimples.


If your spackle has any lumps, smooth them out with a putty knife. Then wipe the extra spackle away with a moist cloth. If there are still any lumps after this, repeat the procedure until they are gone.

Uneven spackle

If your spackle is uneven, sand it down using an electric sander or steel wool to level it out. Before moving on to the following stage, make sure the surface is perfectly smooth.

Over-spilling spackle

Use a moist sponge to clean away any excess spackle. You can also remove any excess spackle from your wall with a wet rag or damp cloth.

Sagging spackle

If the spackle is sagging, apply several layers of joint compound, letting each one dry before applying another.

If there are little holes between dried layers, fill them with the additional joint compound so that everything is smooth and even when you're through.

What To Do To Avoid Bad Spackle Job?

Knock down texture

There's no denying that mending holes is a necessary thing and spackle makes this easy. However, there are a few ways for it to go wrong.

The most important thing to remember when you spackle drywall is, that you should not try to finish the repair in one sitting.

An adaptable spackling knife is recommended for the initial coat. For small interior spackling work, a 3" blade is often suitable and most useful. 

Spackle Application 

Man repairing crack white wall with spatula

Now, to properly apply the spackle, you can follow these steps: 

  1. Spread a reasonable amount of compound (around the size of the end of your thumb) across the surface with even pressure on the end of your knife.
  2. Break away the substance from the wall surface with the blade's sharp edge, leaving only a small amount to sand.
  3. While the spackling is still wet, repeat this process as needed until it's perfect.
  4. Take a break after applying the first coat of spackling. Before you touch it again, wait until it is completely dry.
  5. Break out the sandpaper and lightly sand the surface once you've confirmed that the spackling compound is dry.
  6. After lightly sanding, proceed to apply the second coat in the same manner as the first.
  7. Fan the outer edges of the spackling a little further away from the center of the damage with each consecutive coat, creating a greater surface area for the spackling thickness to integrate into the wallboard.
  8. In most cases, the third coat, applied exactly as stated above, will be sufficient to eliminate the bad spackling job.
  9. It's time to continue preparing the surface for paint after the final coat of spackling has been applied and sanded smooth.
  10. Over the mended area, apply drywall primer. 

After you've applied the primer and given it time to dry and cure, you're ready to apply the top coat of paint and cover up that poor spackling job.

Is Applying Primer To The Spackle Necessary?

It's much more probable that the spackle location will stand out if you don't apply a primer. The elements that make up the surrounding wall are more porous than spackle.

Going without primer will result in the spackle patches appearing as a dull spots on the wall's surface due to the porous surface.

When Can You Paint After Spackling?

woman painting interior wall

Regular spackle needs 1-2 hours to dry to the touch, whereas quick-drying spackle only takes a few minutes. After that, sand for another 1-2 hours, then you need to wait for another 24 hours before painting.

What Is The Difference Between Spackle And Wood Filler?

Because they both fill gaps on smooth surfaces before painting and are sandable, the distinction between spackle and wood filler may be difficult to discern.

For one, spackle, unlike wood filler, cannot be stained. Moreover, wood filler adheres to wood, whereas spackle adheres to drywall, stone, and plaster.

5 Best Spackle Products To Use

Here are some of the best products to use for your next spackling job:

1. DAP DryDex Spackling

This spackling product features a unique dry time color indicator that indicates when the repaired surface is dry and set to be sanded and painted, resulting in a smoother finished surface in less time.

Click here for this product on Amazon

2. DAP Alex Plus Spackling

ALEX PLUS Spackling outperforms the competition when it comes to filling holes and cracks in drywall. Its smooth, readily available white composition spread swiftly and evenly for professional-looking repairs that don't sink, shrink, or crack.

Click here for this product on Amazon

3. DAP Fast 'N Final Spackling

This product This lightweight, one-step spackling can be used to repair walls, ceilings, and timber in a single fill. Longevity and efficiency are unrivaled. It doesn't require sanding and dries quickly.

Click here for this product on Amazon

4. 3M High Strength Large Hole Repair Spackling

This product is designed to fix holes in both interior and exterior spaces that are three to five inches in diameter. Fiber-reinforced, this robust spackle dries five times faster than conventional 3M spackle compounds.


Click here for this product on Amazon

5. Red Devil Lightweight Spackling Patch-A-Wall Kit

Repairing dented walls and ceilings is a breeze using Red Devil's Patch A Wall Kit.

This lightweight, pre-mixed composition distributes smoothly for quick, professional wall and ceiling repairs in just one application. It dries quickly, doesn't require sanding, and won't crack, flake, or shrink.

Click here for this product on Amazon

In Closing

Applying mud to freshly taped sheetrock.

Fixing a bad spackle job is easy. However, to avoid such instances, it is important to properly apply it the first time. Remember, applying spackle can just be done in one sitting. For it to set and dry completely, it must take time. 

Good thing, there are different spackle products made to cater to specific wall repair problems. 

If you're concerned about your drywall, be sure to check these articles that might help you:

Does Drywall Bend Or Does It Break Easily?

Does Drywall Expand And Contract?

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