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Best Drywall Compound for Skim Coating: Top 5 in 2024

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Drywall Compound for Skim Coating

Last Updated on January 16, 2023

Your home’s drywall can develop minor cracks, dents, and other imperfections over time. Skim coating is a great way to return your walls back to their original, pristine condition.

But to ensure a successful outcome, you will need the best drywall compound for skim coating. Quality drywall compounds make your effort worth it, as it ensures a smooth and durable finish.

Avoid poor-quality joint compounds since they cannot provide the necessary adhesion and smoothness. The most effective way to identify and choose the most suitable drywall compound is to evaluate different product reviews and compare the pros and cons of each.

Best Drywall Compound for Skim Coating: Our Recommendations

3M Fiber Reinforced Drywall Compound for Skim Coating

High-strength drywall compound for smooth skim coating finishes

Size/Quantity: 32 fl. oz
Essential Tools Included: Yes
5x faster repairs
3 to 5-inch hole repairs
Durable fiber reinforced
For interior & exterior

Do it Best Drywall Repair Compound for Skim Coating

Skim coating drywall repair compound that is ready to use and easy to apply.

Size/Quantity: 8 fl. Oz (2 pack)
Essential Tools Included: Yes
Ready to use
Crack and shrink resistant
Sands easily
Interior/exterior use

U S Gypsum Plus 3 Joint Drywall Compound for Skim Coating

Easy spreadable, strong adhesive, and great coverage with 3.5 qt

Size/Quantity: 3.5 qt
Essential Tools Included: Yes
Easy to spread
Strong adhesion
Dries within 24 hours
Low sanding requires

What Drywall Skim Coating Compound Is Best?

hot mud

A lightweight, all-purpose drywall compound, also called joint compound, is the most suitable for skim coating. As skim coating involves applying thin layers of joint compound, it is important to use one that is lightweight to ensure an even and flat surface.

The lightweight joint compound also has a low shrinkage rate, making it easier to apply. It is also possible to complete a skim-coating project quickly with lightweight joint compounds due to their quick drying times.

If you choose an all-purpose joint compound, you will be able to use it for a variety of drywall projects. For example, you can use it for taping, topping, and finishing. It is also possible to use all-purpose joint compounds on other types of surfaces, such as plaster and cement board.

Review of the Top Compound for Skim Coating Drywall

wet joint compound

In selecting the drywall compound for skim coating, it is essential to consider each product’s features, benefits, and limitations. A product review can assist you in determining which product is most appropriate for your needs.

Knowing the different product’s characteristics, advantages, and shortcomings will enable you to choose the best compound for skim-coating drywall.

The following are reviews of the top five drywall compounds suitable for skim coating. Take a look at each product’s pros, cons, and features and determine which is most suitable for your needs.

1. 3M Fiber Reinforced Drywall Compound for Skim Coating

If there are large holes, cracks, or damaged surfaces in drywall, stucco, plaster, concrete, or wood, the 3M drywall compound is the best solution. In skim coating applications, it can provide smooth and even coverage.

3M FPP-32-BB, Fiber Reinforced Spackling Compound, 32 oz

● 5x faster repairs
● 3 to 5-inch hole repairs
● Durable fiber reinforced
● For interior & exterior
● Essential kits included

Reasons That May Attract You:

Repair Small to Large Holes with Ease: This all-purpose joint compound can repair holes up to 5 inches in diameter, making it ideal for various repair applications. Using this compound, you can easily fix your walls and ceilings.

High Strength: This drywall compound is fiber-reinforced for extra strength and durability. So you can expect your repairs and skim coatings to last long. Because of this, you can use it both indoors and outdoors.

Fast Application: You can complete your repairs and skim coatings five times faster using this compound than traditional vinyl spackling. So you can finish up your work quickly and move on to other tasks.

Convenient Kit Included: When you buy the 3M fiber reinforced drywall compound for skim coating, you get a repair plate for easy patching, a putty knife for spreading, tape, and a sanding sponge for smoothing. This makes it even more convenient to use.

Positive Aspects:

  • Strong and durable, able to repair large holes
  • Suitable for indoor and outdoor use 
  • Reinforced with fibers for added strength
  • All necessary repair kits included for easy application
  • Fast application, 5x faster than traditional vinyl spackling


  • The container is a little bit flimsy, but the compound itself is excellent

2. Do it Best Drywall Repair Compound for Skim Coating

Using Do it Best’s drywall repair kit is an easy and effective way to repair and skim coating for drywall. This bundle comes with everything you need to fix your walls and make them look like new again.

Do it Best Drywall Repair Kit- DAP Drydex (2Pack)- Joint Compound Spackle Patch

● All-in-one drywall repair kit
● Ready to use
● Cracking and shrinking resistant
● Sands easily
● Interior/exterior use
● Necessary items included

Reasons That May Attract You:

Quick Application: This drywall repair compound is ready to use right out of the container without the need for priming. Its unique pink-to-white formula lets you determine when the surface is ready for sanding and painting.

When it dries, it turns white, which means it’s ready for sanding and painting, so you can avoid premature sanding, painting, or reapplying.

Durability: It can resist cracking and shrinking, so you can be confident that it will stay strong over time. You can use this drywall repair joint compound for skim-coating interior and exterior surfaces, and it will keep your skim-coat walls in excellent condition.

Convenient: The bundle includes two 8fl oz containers of Drydex Spackling, an all-purpose sanding block, and 3-packs of putty knife sets.

All the necessary tools will help you transform your entire wall into a brand-new appearance. And the sanding block makes it easy to refine the surface so that no imperfections remain. The putty knife sets easily fill in holes, gaps, and cracks.

Positive Aspects:

  • Ready to use without priming
  • Formulated to resist cracking and shrinking
  • Includes all the tools needed for wall repair
  • Dries white when ready for sanding and painting


  • The sanding block may be a bit small for larger patch jobs

3. U S Gypsum Plus 3 Joint Drywall Compound for Skim Coating

For skim coating in an affordable manner, US Gypsum’s drywall compound can be the most appropriate option. You can easily apply this compound on the drywall to give it an even surface.

U S Gypsum 384013 3.75QT Plus3 Compound, 3.5 qt, White to Off-White

● Easy to spread
● Strong adhesion
● Dries within 24 hours
● Low sanding requires

Reasons That May Attract You:

Durable Adhesion: This drywall compound ensures your repairs are strong and secure without the fear of them coming apart over time. You can expect a strong connection and bond between the repair areas.

Ease of Use: Skim coating and repair are much easier and quicker with this product. It spreads and sands easily, so your repair job can be done fast.

Quick Dry Time: When you’re in a hurry, this product will be the right solution to help. It sets quickly, so you can move on to a painting or another job without worrying about how long it will take to dry. The process of drying to white takes less than 24 hours.

Color Change to Understand When It’s Set: The best part of this product is it changes color, so you can easily understand when it’s set and ready for use.

You do not have to manually test whether the repairs are ready. It turns from white to off-white when you apply it, and then you know it’s all set.

Comes With Necessary Supplies: This product comes with all the necessary supplies and products needed to complete your job.

You get a 3.5 QT pail of joint compound, a patch, fill and repair, a wall surface repair product, and painting supplies. Everything you need for your project is included in the box for total convenience.

Positive Aspects:

  • Durable adhesion for secure repairs
  • Easy to spread and use for a fast job
  • Drying time of less than 24 hours
  • Changes color so you know when it’s set
  • Comes with necessary supplies included in the box


  • For some users, the off-white color may not match the surrounding surface

4. USG Interiors Gypsum Drywall Compound for Skim Coat

USG Interiors Gypsum drywall compound provides superior performance for skim coating walls and ceilings. You will have a smoother skim coat, faster drying time, and easier sanding.

U S GYPSUM 385140 385140004 All Purpose Joint Compound, 3.5 Qt (3.3 liters)

● Fast drying
● Easy to use
● Sealable container for later use
● Sands down smooth
● 3.5 qt quantity

Reasons That May Attract You:

Ready-mixed for Easy Application: When tackling a skim coating project, it can be difficult to find the time to mix drywall mud from scratch.

USG Interiors gypsum drywall compound comes ready to use, so you can get straight to work finishing your project quickly and efficiently.

Dries Fast: If you use this compound for skim coating, you’ll be able to finish the job quickly because it dries faster than other similar compounds. This can help make sure that you have time to complete all of your project deadlines.

Sands Down Smooth: After the USG Interiors gypsum drywall compound dries, it creates a smooth surface that is easy to sand down for even smoother results.

That means you won’t have to spend time trying to get rid of any bumps or lumps in your skim coat layer.

Easy Storage: This compound comes in a 3.5qt (3.3l) bucket that seals back up for later use. That means there is no need to worry about finding extra storage containers every time you want to use the compound again. Simply seal it up and store it away until you’re ready to use it again.

Positive Aspects:

  • Ready-mixed for easy application
  • Dries faster for quicker completion
  • Sands down smoothly for a professional look
  • Easy storage with the resealable bucket 


  • Some people may experience allergic reactions to the product

5. USG 381466 Lightweight Drywall Joint Compound for Skim Coating

USG 381466 lightweight drywall mud provides smooth and perfect skim coat results. This joint compound fills in any dips or holes in the dry walls and ceilings, creating a completely flat surface.

USG 381466 Lightweight All Purpose Joint Compound Ready Mixed

● Less shrinkage
● Sands easily
● Good crack resistance
● Excellent adhesion
● Dries fast
● ASTM compliant

Reasons That May Attract You:

No-Hassle about Mixing: Using this drywall compound, you don’t have to worry about mixing and measuring. It comes ready-mixed and conveniently packaged in a 4.5-gallon container.

Durable and Crack Resistant: When you skim coating with USG 381466, you can be confident that the thin layer of the joint compound will be resistant to cracking, even when used over metal fasteners.

Ease of Sanding: This product is formulated for optimum ease of sanding after it has been applied and dried. This makes it a great choice for skim-coating projects that require a smooth and even finish.

Less Shrinkage: The lightweight joint compound shrinks less than conventional-weight joint compounds, saving you time and money in the long run.

Fast Drying: This drywall mud dries quickly, allowing you to move on with your skim-coating project quicker.

ASTM Compliant: This lightweight drywall joint compound meets the standards laid out by ASTM C475. This ensures that this product is of professional quality and will help you get a quality finish on your project.

Positive Aspects:

  • Pre-mixed mud and available in a convenient 4.5-gallon container
  • Lightweight, up to 35% less than conventional compounds
  • Low shrinkage for superior taping and topping performance
  • Crack-resistant and excellent adhesion
  • Exceptional ease of sanding for a smooth finish
  • Fast drying time for quick completion of projects
  • Meets ASTM C475 standards for a professional quality finish


  • There are no necessary kits included

Comparison Chart of the Drywall Compounds

Product NameSize/QuantityEssential Tools IncludedSpecial Feature
3M FPP-32-BB Drywall Compound32 fl. ozYesStrong fiber reinforced, 5X faster
Do it Best Drywall Mud8 fl. Oz (2 pack)YesPre-mixed drywall mud/ready to use
U S Gypsum 384013 Drywall Mud3.5 qtYesSpreads easily
USG Interiors Drywall Mud3.5 qtNoFast drying
USG Interiors 381466 Joint Compound4.5 gallonNoLess shrinkage

9 Factors to Consider for Choosing the Best Drywall Mud for Skim Coat

excess mud

It is important to consider several key factors when selecting a drywall compound for your skim coating project. Because you want to get a perfect finish, you need to make sure that the product is of good quality and will give you excellent results.

Knowing some of these factors will assist you in selecting the right product for your project. So let’s take a look at the factors you should consider when choosing the best joint compound for skim coating.

1. Adhesion

When you apply the compound to your walls, you must ensure that it will adhere well and not slide off.

The adhesive quality of a joint compound is extremely important when it comes to skim coating, as you want the compound to stay in place while you are working on the project.

Upon drying, the compound should remain firmly attached to the surface. As you buy a joint compound online, there is no way to test the quality. So how do you know if it has good adhesion? 

The best thing to do is check the reviews from customers who have used the product. You can also find information concerning the adhesion quality in the product description.

A fiber-reinforced compound provides better adhesion and durability. It is also advisable to look for joint compounds that comply with industrial standards, such as ASTM C475.

2. Crack Resistance

Any joint compound needs to have excellent crack resistance. You should choose a product that is strong enough to prevent the walls from developing cracks, regardless of whether you use it over metal fasteners.

You need to carefully read the product description to make sure that the manufacturer claims that it has excellent crack resistance.

For real-world proof, you can check customer reviews to see if other people have succeeded with this type of product.

3. Drying Time

It is particularly crucial if you want to complete your project quickly. You need a joint compound that dries fast to move on to the next step of the skim coating process. You can find this information in the product description and also in customer reviews.

It is also important to note that some joint compounds require priming before using them, which will add time to your project. So choose a product that does not require priming. It will save you both time and money.

4. Interior and Exterior Use

It is important to pay attention to the type of joint compound you are buying. Some joint compounds are designed for interior use only, while others can be used both indoors and outdoors.

You will find it beneficial to choose a joint compound that can be used in both interior and exterior applications, as this will save you money in the long run.

This type of product is more versatile, which makes it suitable for most projects. The product description contains this information, so read it carefully before purchasing.

5. Ease of Sanding

taping compound

Once the joint compound has dried, you will need to sand it to get a perfect finish. You must choose a product that is easy to sand and produces minimal dust. This will enable you to save time and effort when sanding your drywall joints and other surfaces.

You can obtain this information from the product description, or you can look at customer reviews to learn how others have experienced the product. In this way, you will be able to get a better sense of how easy it is to sand joint compounds.

6. Speared Ability

The product you choose should be able to spread easily across your walls. This will help you achieve a perfect finish and prevent uneven patches from appearing on the surface.

That’s why a lightweight joint compound is popular for skim coating. Such a product can be spread more easily, resulting in a uniform finish. After that, you can sand the surface to get an even easier finish.

7. Shrinkage

You need to check the shrinkage rate of the joint compound. It should be low enough so that it won’t cause cracking or shrinking as it dries. This is especially important if you are using a lightweight joint compound for skim coating.

Low-shrinkage products are preferable because they will provide a better finish and be more durable over time. When you read the product description, look for “low shrinkage” to indicate that it is suitable for skim coating.

8. Quantity

For your project, you will need a certain quantity of joint compound. You should buy enough to cover the entire surface without replenishing supplies in the middle of your work.

Most manufacturers provide information about how many square feet their product can cover so that you can estimate the amount you will require and ensure you have enough on hand. In the product container, image and description, you can find information regarding the quantity of the item.

Depending on the nature of your project, some quality joint compounds may not come in large quantities, but you can buy more than one container to ensure that you have enough.

9. Included Accessories

You should pay attention to the accessories included in the product. Some joint compounds come with special tools that will make the application easier and produce better results.

For example, you may get a putty knife, sanding sponge, tape, or other accessories to help you complete your project. This is important to note as it can save you time and money if you don’t have to buy these items separately.

How Many Coats of Drywall Compound Should I Use for Skim Coating?

topping compound

A general rule of thumb for skim coating is to apply two coats of drywall compound. This will provide a smooth surface and minimize the amount of sanding required between layers.

But if your walls are particularly uneven, you may need to apply as many as five coats to achieve a smooth finish. The type and quality of drywall mud also affect the number of coats required.

For best results, apply four or five thin layers to the surface. In this way, less sanding will be necessary, and the final result will look more professional.

Can You Apply Drywall Compound Over Paint When Skim Coating?

You can certainly apply drywall compound over paint, but there are a few things you need to do first. Most wall paint contains chemicals that impart a glossy appearance, making it difficult for the mud to adhere properly.

So before you start, you’ll need to rub away the existing paint using 280-grit sandpaper. It will create a surface that is a rough and textured wall and will facilitate the adhesion of the mud. After sanding, sweep away the particles, and then you can apply the drywall compound.

How Long Does a Skim Coat of Joint Compound Take to Dry?

skim coat wall

The skim coat joint compound’s drying time varies depending on the temperature, humidity, and product type.

In general, in 70° Fahrenheit (21° Celsius) temperatures and 70% humidity, it can take about 24 hours for the joint compound to dry.

There may be some products with quick-drying formulas that will be set in less than an hour. The drying process for some products may take up to 12 hours.

Always remember that the drying time can vary significantly depending on the temperature and humidity.

Get Smooth, Strong, and Flawless Wall Surfaces with Quality Drywall Compound

It is now evident why you need to use a quality joint compound when skim coating. When selecting the right product, always look for lightweight compounds with a low shrinkage rate.

Be sure to consider the quantity and how many coats are necessary to get the job done. Remember that even if you plan on applying drywall compound over paint, it is essential to sand the surface before application.

All of the products we reviewed today are of high quality and suitable for skim coating. It is entirely up to you to make your choice. You can compare and contrast the properties of each product and choose any one of them depending on your needs.

But among these quality products, we think 3M’s FPP-32-BB fiber-reinforced drywall joint mud is the best choice for skim coating.

Our Top Choice

3M High Strength Fiber Reinforced Spackling Compound, 32 oz., Ideal for Large Hole Repair Cracks and Damaged Surfaces in Drywall, Plaster, Stucco, Concrete and Wood, For Easy Wall Repair (LHR-32-BB)
  • MAKES REPAIRS 5X FASTER than traditional vinyl spackling
  • REPAIR HOLES 3” – 5” in diameter
  • FOR INTERIOR OR EXTERIOR REPAIRS when sealed with exterior paint

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