Spackle is very similar to drywall mud, but this term usually indicates a premixed mud that is made to repair small holes. It contains binders and additives that make it dry faster with less shrinkage.
The lightweight type will likely contain a vinyl polymer, and the all-purpose type will likely contain an acrylic polymer.
Chemically sensitive folks can find the odor of the premixed types to be rather strong. Though for very small repairs this might be inconsequential for many people. Sensitive folks should consider using one of the following dry mix products as a sparkle or patching compound.
The following dry mix joint compounds like can be used as a spackle to make small repairs to walls.
Precautions with dry mixes – though they don’t contain VOCs, the powder can be harmful to breath in. They can contain crystalline silica (quartz) as an impurity. Wear an appropriate mask when mixing it or handling the powder.
1. USG Easy Sand (Powder)
The fact that Easy Sand 90 comes in a small bag makes it the most convienent option on the list. It’s also the least expensive.
The company says this is ideal as a patching compound.
This powdered drywall mud is made of plaster of Paris, limestone, attapulgite, perlite and calcium sulphate dehydrate and it’s zero-VOC. It has very low to no odor.
A small bag is under $20 from Amazon.
2. Murco M-100 (Powder)
Small amounts of Murco M-100 mixed with water can be used for simple hole patching or similar applications on interior walls and ceilings.
This product is free of VOC’s, preservatives, fungicide’s, mildewcides and petroleum products. It is made with only inert fillers and natural binders. It contains no slow releasing compounds and mixes easily with tap water. The product is marketed as hypoallergenic because it has smaller, less irritating particulates than regular drywall mud.
This is certainly a favorite brand of drywall mud amongst the chemically sensitive.
In very small quantities it can be mixed with a whisk to create a spackle. Mix till saturated. It dries to the touch in 30-60 minutes.
A 25-35 lb bag is $30 from GDC Building for Health
3. ECOS Interior Filler (Powder)
ECOS Interior Filler powder is a gypsum spackle in powder form designed to fill small and large holes and joints in drywall/sheetrock. It is odorless and zero-VOC.
Mix 2 parts with 1 part water to a smooth paste. The filler is ready for use in about one minute and remains workable for more than 20 minutes. Press filler paste into hole with a filling knife or trowel. Fill the hole slightly proud, or slightly higher than the surface, for sanding purposes. Sand, when fully dry, to a smooth flat surface and brush/wipe free of dust.
Before painting, spot seal/prime with one coat of ECOS Filler-Sealer or ECOS Primer before painting. Spot priming first helps seal the powder and evens out the appearance.
A quart is $40 From ECOS Paints
What about SafeMend? This product might be great, but we don’t know what is in it and the company has not declared the VOCs. I have not tested it and I couldn’t find sensitive folks that have tested it, so I cannot make a real judgement on it.
Corinne Segura is a Building Biologist Practitioner with 8 years of experience helping others create healthy homes.