Can You Spackle Plywood?

There is a general misconception that spackling is effective for repairing plywood surfaces. Spackling is essentially a process of repairing and smoothing rough edges, cracks or crevices using a spackling compound, followed by sanding. Spackling is now considered one of most effective methods of preparing the drywalls before painting them. However, plywood spackling is generally not recommended.

Why is Plywood Spackling Used?

Some homeowners tend to use spackling for repairing plywood surfaces of aged furniture items. This is primarily because the spackling process immediately renders a ‘newly-polished’ look to the plywood surface. Since spackling compounds are available in the form of easy-to-use tubes, there is a tendency to use them for finishing plywood surfaces. Furthermore, spackling is easier and less time-consuming than finishing the plywood with wood fillers. However, plywood should never be spackled.

Why is Plywood Spackling Not Recommended?

The plywood surface cannot absorb the spackle compound like the outer surface of drywalls. Usually, the plywood surface is composed of multiple layers of wood fiber and veneer or other finishing compounds. These serve as natural deterrents for the spackle compound to be imbibed within the plywood surface. Furthermore, unlike drywall surfaces, these compounds cannot be scarped since they are deep-seated within the wood grain. As a result, the spackled plywood develops a dried, crumbly spackle layer that is vulnerable to cracking.

You should use standard woodworking techniques for repairing plywood surfaces, such as caulking. Latex caulking is doable with basic supplies and household tools, and effective for strengthening/finishing all types of plywood. Caulking is ideal for smoothing splintered plywood edges. If caulking proves too demanding, you can use other, easy-to-handle plywood repair options, like wood patches or wood putty.