Which wall putty is best?
Wall putty is a catch-all term that usually refers to the malleable product people use to smooth out rough areas or fill in small holes on a wall. Some people call it spackle, though they’re slightly different. You can use wall putty to renovate a room or put some finishing on the walls before painting. Some people also use wall putty to mount things to walls. But if you’re looking for something for touching up certain areas before painting, the best option is the Alex Plus High Performance Spackling Paste.
What to know before you buy a wall putty
There are two main types of wall putty. The first type is the one that lets you hang picture frames and other objects without using nails or hooks. This putty can also hold up other lightweight items, such as wall decals or posters, to accent or decorate a room.
The other main type is the kind used in construction and home renovations. This type uses a combination of water, additives and other ingredients to make a putty that’s strong enough to cover cracks, gaps and holes before applying paint. With this putty, the two main options are:
- Cement-based putty: Used on interior and exterior walls, this type is best for plaster and concrete surfaces. Since it’s cement-based, it binds well and is water-resistant.
- Acrylic putty: Best for interior surfaces, this putty leaves a smooth matt finish and helps bring out the colors of the paint. It dries more quickly than cement putty but is slightly less durable.
If you want to fix any uneven sections or for painting, cement and acrylic putty are good options.
Wall putty vs. spackle
Spackle and putty are similar in that you can use them both to fix small errors on the wall or paint over them when done. However, putty is easier for the average user and doesn’t work well on drywall. If you want something for drywall or plaster, make sure to use a product that has “spackle” in the label or indicates those surfaces are ok to use it on.
Mixing and using the putty
Depending on the size of your project, you might need an electric putty mixer. This machine can radically reduce the time it takes to mix the putty properly and prepare it for application. However, you can mix it by hand. Once mixed, make sure you use the putty within 2 hours, or you’ll need to make a new batch. Make sure you have a finishing tool or putty blade nearby so you can easily apply the putty to the wall.
You should only use putty after applying a coat of primer to the wall. In that case, let the primer dry for up to 24 hours before using it. Check the manufacturer’s instructions to see if a primer is necessary.
When it comes to mixing, refer to the label for specific instructions. Usually, you’ll need a 2:1 ratio of the dry and wet mixture. Mix the solution until all lumps are gone.
The first thing you should do is make sure the putty is compatible with the wall you intend to use it on. Most wall putties work best on plaster or cement, but the label should indicate whether it works with other surfaces.
Next, clean the surface thoroughly to remove any leftover paint, grease, mold or other debris. Use sandpaper or a putty blade to remove anything remaining and buff the wall. Ensure the wall is fully cleaned and dry before mixing and applying the putty.
Use the putty blade or another suitable tool to apply the wall putty. Move in a vertical direction from bottom to top. Be prepared to use at least two coats of putty. After the first coat is done, gently rub it until smooth with sandpaper. Let it fully set for six to eight hours before applying the second coat. Repeat the process until the wall is ready for paint.
What to look for in a quality wall putty
Regardless of its purpose, wall putty should adhere well to the surface, and you should test different options on a small section of the wall before applying putty to the entire area. That way, you can determine if it’s adhesive enough for your needs. Also, test the putty with a small amount of paint to see how it looks when it’s dry.
Make sure you have enough wall putty to cover the entire area you need and for a second coat. That way, you won’t run out midway through and have to go out and get more or start again.
If you’re trying to cover up a few small holes or cracks, get a smaller container of putty instead. Choose a container that’s fully resealable so it won’t dry out. Alternatively, you can reseal it in an airtight container, though it won’t last long once mixed.
Wall putty should be malleable until it fully dries. If it dries too quickly, you might have to scrape it off and try again. Do a trial test of the putty on a small wall section to see how long it takes to dry and how workable it is.
How much you can expect to spend on a wall putty
A 16-ounce container of professional-grade wall putty will cost anywhere from $3-$7, on average. When buying in bulk, expect to spend $40-$80.
Wall putty FAQ
Are primer and wall putty the same?
A. Primer is a liquid substance that improves the adhesion between the base surface and the paint top coat. Some primers also help resolve problems such as chalking. Putty has a more paste-like consistency and is used to smooth out rough surfaces for an even finish.
Is wall putty toxic?
A. In small quantities, wall putty is not toxic. However, do not ingest it or let it come into contact with your eyes.
What are the best wall putties to buy?
Top wall putty
What you need to know: This professional-grade putty comes in 12 packs, each with 16 fluid ounces, and is great for painting.
What you’ll love: Each pack comes ready to use and works well on small or medium projects. It’s effective on interior and exterior walls. Plus, it’s very workable and can be sanded.
What you should consider: It takes a long time to dry.
Where to buy: Sold by Home Depot
Top wall putty for money
What you need to know: Compatible with wood, drywall, stone, concrete and plastic, this putty is perfect for smoothing out surfaces and lasts a long time.
What you’ll love: Good for indoor and outdoor use, this product can be sanded, drilled into or painted as needed. It’s also good for small do-it-yourself projects.
What you should consider: It sets quickly. When used outdoors, it will need to be painted.
Where to buy: Sold by Home Depot
Worth checking out
What you need to know: This fast-acting putty is best for anyone who wants to repair and paint their walls quickly without hassle.
What you’ll love: It works on various materials, including concrete, wood and other masonry. It’s also good for sanding, painting and staining. Plus, it adheres well, is water-resistant and doesn’t shrink, making it ideal for long-lasting repairs.
What you should consider: It dries super fast, which can be problematic when working on more time-consuming projects.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.
Angela Watson writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
Copyright 2022 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.