Choosing Between a Drywall Joint Compound and a Sheetrock Joint Compound Choosing Between a Drywall Joint Compound and a Sheetrock Joint Compound

Choosing Between a Drywall Joint Compound and a Sheetrock Joint Compound

Anytime there is a sheetrock job in the future it is necessary to consider what type of sheetrock joint compound , or "mud" you will be using. Even though sheetrock, wallboard, and drywall are all words used to identify gypsum panels, there are many brands and types of joint compounds to choose from when finishing a joint. The reason for this is that finishing drywall happens in multiple steps, where at least 3 coats of compound are used, and each coat serves a different purpose in the process of fixing your wall. With that said, you should familiarize yourself with at least a few types of mud.

Drying Compound

This is the most popular type of  joint compound, and the one most often used by people when installing or repairing sheetrock. It is not the same as spackle, which is usually used only for smaller repairs, but nevertheless comes in a variety of styles. Drying compound is pre-mixed and comes ready to use. There are 2 main types of drying joint compound: all purpose and topping compound.

All -Purpose Compound

All-purpose compound is used for taping drywall joints and for patching, but it is still usable in other sheetrock applications. It shrinks more than topping compound, is harder to sand, but has more strength than other dry type compounds. This is why it is also referred to as joint compound. Its strength means it is less likely to crack. Remember, because it is harder to sand, you want to apply this mud as lightly as possible. For the most part, all purpose compounds are the most prevalent type of compound you see around a job site.

Topping Compound

Topping compound, or lightweight compound, is usually used for the first main coat and subsequent coats. This type of compound is easier to sand, creates less dust, and shrinks less than all- purpose type drying compounds. Lightweight compound is easier to work with, however due to its weaker strength, it is not recommended for taping joints of drywall. Lightweight compound works better when it is applied in wider and wider successive coats. The wider and lighter the coat, the better the joint blends into the surrounding wall area.

Setting Compound

Setting compounds are the name given to joint compounds which are not affected by moisture for them to dry.  They come in powdered form and have to be mixed in the pan “as you go.” Setting type mud comes in a variety of drying times, from 5 minutes to 45 minutes.  This is the approximate time you have to work with.  There are positive and negative points to working with setting type compounds. On the plus side, you can finish a job sooner by applying more coats in less time. Yet, some of the negatives can scare you away. It is harder to sand, is not easy to mix sometimes, and can even start setting before your work is done. Setting compound is usually reserved for professionals, due to its fast drying time.

As you can see, even with only these choices, you can be overwhelmed. With the variety of manufacturers and different applications, one could easily be confused. Just remember to take into account your particular purpose when choosing the type of compound you are going to purchase, and always ask for help from a professional when needed. The goal is to make your life easier.


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