What Type of Joint Compound is Right for My Project?

Man Applying Joint Compound

When you're working on a project, it's easy to get into the rut of using a single joint compound for everything you do. But depending on the exact situation of your project, your go-to compound may not be the right one for the job. If you're dealing with a project that requires slow precision, a slow-setting compound may be a good bed. Do you need to get a job done quickly? A quick-set option is a good one to keep in mind. Have a fast patch job to complete? Pre-mixed mud makes it go faster. Here are some common types of joint compound and the situations in which they work best:

Pre-Mixed Compounds

Pre-mixed compounds tend to be air-drying varieties, giving you time to work the mud and taking longer to finish setting up. They're good for when you're working on an entire room or a job where you need extra time to get everything into place. Though you may need to thin it slightly with water, it will typically store in plastic buckets for extended periods of time with no degradation of quality. Some professionals will place a layer of plastic on top of the compound in a partially-used container to keep the compound at the right moisture levels.


As it is labeled, an all-purpose joint compound can be used for virtually every step of the finishing process. It will do everything well, but is not necessarily the best compound for each step of the finishing process. It also works very well as a texturing compound due to its extended set time.


Joint compound and putty knife.

A lightweight compound is lighter in weight and density than other finishing compounds. It works well as a finish coat because of its ease of sanding. Some drywall professionals bypass lightweight compound over the idea that it may not have as many adhesive agents in it.


A pre-mixed taping compound is developed specifically for the taping steps in finishing. It's designed to hold the tape in place and shape well under a knife, with minimal cracking, a problem often found in all-purpose compound.


Topping compounds are a thinner mix, with fewer adhesives in the mix, which is why it isn't used for taping. It is very fine and sands easily, also having a very white color. Because of the thin consistency, it works very well for adding texture to a wall.

Ready-to-Mix Compounds

Compounds that are available in powder form are typically much faster setting, harder and more difficult to sand. They set in a much shorter amount of time, making them a great choice for repairs, fast-track jobs and professionals that are able to move quickly on a job site. These compounds release heat as they set, hence the common term of "hot set". It's vital that the compound be kept dry and sealed in plastic as water or excess humidity can start the chemical reactions that sets the compound, rendering the rest of the container useless.

Hot or Quick-Set

The professional's standard, hot set is the original ready-to-mix compound. It sets up quickly and stays harder than other options, making it hardier on a job site and more resistant to scrapes. It's the hardest compound to sand and warm or dry conditions may make it set faster.


Otherwise similar to hot set, easy-sand is good if you're not sure you can get back to a joint to sand it quickly enough. It's a great piece of insurance if you're not sure that your sanders can keep up with the rest of the crew.

By keeping your project's requirements and your skill level in mind, you can select the right joint compound for the job and get great results. If you're still concerned about which joint compound is the best for your particular project's needs, or if you want to browse our entire line of drywall finishing products, download our free Drywall Finishing Product Guide below.

Dywall Finishing Prodcut Guide

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Wallboard Supply Company is a third generation, family run business that has been serving New England's building needs since 1970. Bob Filion started the company with a commitment to provide quality drywall and finishing products with unmatched customer service. The company has grown over the years, expanding its' product range, but never wavering from its' core values.