5 Best Drywall Mud – Best Joint Compound For Skim Coating 2021

Putting walls together and finishing them up can be a messy task. And if you are relatively new to it, you might want to get some extra hands to help you.

One of the most important tasks while finishing up drywall is to use drywall mud to make them look seamless.

While you can also do this with joint tape, at the end of it, you’ll have to cover the tape up with a good quality drywall mud. It is an entirely different matter if you want to leave the tapes be. 

But we will always be in favor of smooth walls and corners. Though working with drywall mud can sometimes be messy, using the correct type of mud can give you a good looking wall.

There are many different types of muds available in the market. Some of them can be used directly out of the box, which are called pre-mixed compounds.

best drywall mud

Whereas a quick setting compound is a powdered compound that would need to be mixed with water before you can make use of it. Different types of drywall compounds have different ways of application.

You can either use just one of them, or you can use a combination of them to get smooth finished walls. 

Since there are a lot of options available in the market, we have picked the five best drywall muds you can choose from.





DAP Wallboard Joint Compound

Weight: 12 Lbs.
Rating: 9.5/10

USG Sheetrock All-purpose Joint Compound

Weight: 1.75 pt
Rating: 9.5/10

USG Sheetrock Plus 3 Lightweight Joint Compound

Weight: 4.5 Gallon
Rating: 9/10

DAP Phenopatch Wallboard Joint Compound

Weight: 3 Lbs.
Rating: 9.5/10

USG Sheetrock DuraBond Joint Compound

Weight: 25 Lbs.
Rating: 9.5/10

Our 5 Best Drywall Mud Picks:

1. DAP Wallboard Joint Compound

DAP Wallboard Joint Compound is a tough drywall mud. It sits in hard and holds the gypsum panel joints in place firmly.

It comes pre-mixed and is ready to use. You can use it as the first layer of mud between the joints, and then top it with multiple layers as required. Depending upon the temperature, it may take 8 to 24 hours to dry off completely.

Once dried off, you can sand it as required and paint it over. The creamy consistency makes it easier to apply and spread evenly.


  • Pre-mixed drywall mud can be used directly out of the tub
  • Can be used as a taping compound or for skim coating
  • Creamy consistency makes it easy to apply
  • Doesn’t flash paint after painting over


  • Takes a long time to dry
  • Wiping with water may leave smears
  • Can be difficult to sand after it dries completely

2. USG Sheetrock All-purpose Joint Compound

As the name indicates, this is an all-purpose joint compound and is pre-mixed and ready to use. You can use it for tape joints and finishing coats on the drywall as well.

It bonds very well and produces hard-finished, smooth surfaces. It is not very thick in consistency, which allows you to apply and spread it evenly, and also sand it off very easily.

The product is certified GREENGUARD Gold and qualifies as a low VOC emitting material.


  • It is an All-purpose compound and can be used in all the phases of finishing
  • Less thick in consistency and can be applied evenly
  • Very easy to sand off once dried
  • Certified GREENGUARD Gold Pre-mixed Mud


  • May not work well with epoxy coatings and can cause delamination

3. USG Sheetrock Plus 3 Lightweight Joint Compound

The Sheetrock Plus 3 is an all-purpose joint compound. USG claims it to be 25% lighter than any other conventional joint compounds. It is ready to use and can be applied in all the drywall finishing phases.

Since it is a lightweight compound, it can be easily applied and spreads easily. It also requires less coats over fasteners and beads. Using it with a paper joint tape will enhance its strength and efficiency.

It is also very easy to be sanded off once it dries. This can also be used to fix up drywall damages or to create custom wall textures.


  • 25% lighter than conventional joint compounds
  • Easy to apply, spread, and sand off
  • Can also be used on minor drywall repairs and to create textures
  • Requires minimum sanding
  • Great for finishing drywall seams and plaster cracks


  • May not work well with epoxy coatings and can cause delamination

4. DAP Phenopatch Wallboard Joint Compound

This is a pre-mixed joint compound and is ready to use. You can use it for wallboard joints, patchwork, and even ceilings.

It is an all-purpose mud that allows you to fix up any damages easily. It does not have a thick consistency. You can apply it effortlessly and spread it evenly.

Because of the thin consistency, the wet joint compound may require multiple coats to get a smooth finish. You can get it in white and off-white colors.

The gypsum-based paste may take a longer time to dry off, which increases the finishing time if you need multiple coats. But it becomes durable upon drying and is easy to sand off. You can also wet sand it if required.


  • Thin consistency makes it easy to apply and spread evenly
  • Can be used for minor drywall repairs as well
  • Easy to sand off or wet sanding
  • Available in multiple color variants to cover entire wall design
  • Works great for new drywall installations


  • Takes a long time to dry
  • Shrinks up to 50% upon drying
  • Can dry off in the tub if left unused

5. USG Sheetrock DuraBond Joint Compound

The last on the best drywall muds list is the Sheetrock DuraBond Joint Compound by USG.

This is a gypsum powder compound used for drywall joint finishing. To use this drywall compound, it needs to be mixed with water and create a consistent paste. It is the fastest when it comes to drying.

It dries off on the same day, which saves a lot of time if you need to make multiple costs or need to finish multiple walls in a short time. DuraBond stands true to its name, providing a strong bond, and low shrinkage.

The dry joint compound also works well on concrete surfaces and allows heavy fills. DuraBond also offers resistance to humidity. 


  • Sets and dries on the same day of application
  • Provides strong bond and low shrinkage
  • Resists humidity
  • Can be used in all phases of drywall finishing
  • Can skim coat walls
  • Comes in powder form


  • Requires some experience to mix the powder perfectly
  • Difficult to smooth after drying
  • May not work efficiently on moist surfaces

Final Thoughts

When it comes to drywall muds, you can choose from many different options depending on your needs. Different joint compounds come with various advantages and limitations. Using them to finish drywall joints may require some experience, but is easy if done correctly.

USG Sheetrock All-purpose Joint Compound is the best choice if you need to finish drywall joints with a good quality joint compound.

USG Sheetrock DuraBond is the best drywall mud when it comes to quick setting compounds. It is really easy to use if you have some experience with powdered compounds. It can get the job done on the same day of application.

Best Joint Compound For Drywall Buying Guide

Coating drywall surfaces with the joint compound is a hectic job unless you get the right tools and supplies. You need a lightweight drywall mud that can be applied in a thin layer on drywall surfaces. To find the right drywall compound with superior bonding, here are the things you need to know-

What Type of Joint Compound is the Best?

Manufacturer’s come up with different formulas to give the user ultimate freedom in their drywall installation and repair works. You’ll see different types of the joint compound but these are the four types that are used in 99% of the occasions. So, here is a quick guide on their usage and work process-

1. All-purpose drywall mud

Not all of us require a lot of mud and thus it is not viable to purchase different packs of joint compounds for different tasks. So, you need an all in one pack that can be used in various occasions effectively. To combat this problem, the all-purpose compounds have emerged in the market. These are good for small DIY works that do not require gallons of mud.

2. Taping Compound

For making drywall joints seamless, you need to use drywall tape on the joints. Before you put the tape, a coat of taping compound must be applied on the surface to make the drywall tape stick to the surface. This type is highly adhesive, dries smooth, and holds the tape perfectly on the surface.

3. Topping Compound

As the name suggests, this type is used as the final layer of the drywall joint compound. With this type of mud, you can make the surface smooth and seamless. A great advantage of this type of joint compound is its resistance to shrinkage and expansion. So, dried topping compound should withstand vibrations and shocks on the surface.

4. Setting Compound

The final type of drywall mud is setting compound. If you are looking for the most powerful bonding, this type is recommended for you. You’ll not see hairline cracks on the surface shortly when this is applied following the proper application process. The problem with this type is that handling the setting compound is not easy. Inexperience people often mess up with this type because it starts drying within minutes. So, you get less time to make up for any mistake.

How to Choose the Best Drywall Mud?

Picking up the right joint compound pack for your drywall joints is a tiresome task because of the abundance of the product in the market. You’ll see hundreds of companies are manufacturing mud and all of them claiming their product to be the best joint compound in the market. So, here is a quick guide to filter good joint compounds quickly and efficiently-

1. Objective to Fulfill

Ask yourself, why do you need to buy the best drywall joint compound? If you need drywall mud for repairing joints, you should not look for different types of compound for different layers. You should go for the all-purpose joint compounds for repair works as they can save a lot of your money.

On the other hand, if you have a whole house to cover with joint compound, you shouldn’t buy all-purpose products. In this case, we recommend you to purchase separate packs of taping, topping and setting compound.

2. Ease of use

When you are new in the industry, you shouldn’t go for the complicated options. That’s why we feel that this criterion is one of the vital factors for buying drywall mud.

Generally, all-purpose mud is easiest to apply, and the setting compound is the hardest among all types. So, depending on your requirements, go for the appropriate options.

3. Texture

Drywall mud is for making the drywall joints look seamless. So, the texture is an important factor to consider. For a smooth seamless finish, you need to go with a compound that dries smooth without leaving any rough surface. Although you need to sand the surface after applying the joint compound and drywall primer, it is good to go with the smoother products for easy application.

4. Durability

Who wants to repair drywall joints every year? I bet, no one! That’s why you must buy the most authentic drywall mud that is durable enough to hold the joint for a long period. Since Durability depends on product quality, the application process, and weather conditions, you should verify the product quality before everything else.

5. Drying Time

How much time it takes for the best drywall joint compound to dry out is a question that we often encounter with. Since this depends on the product you are using, and the weather condition of the area where you are doing the work, we can’t give you an exact drying time frame of your product. But your product manufacturer can! So, check the product label and see how much time it will take to completely dry out. We recommend going the fast-drying products so that you can do all your job within a day or two. Having said that, going with a product that dries too fast can make your task a lot harder than expected. So, a one-hour drying is what we aim at.

How to Use the Best Drywall Joint Compound

Applying drywall mud in the joints is easy. Follow these simple steps to get your job done-

Step 1: The first thing to do is cleaning the surface thoroughly. You should remove each dust particle from the surface for a high-quality job. We recommend using a vacuum to remove dust out of the joint. If you don’t have access to a vacuum cleaner, use a cleaning brush to do the job.

Step 2: Now apply a coat of joint compound. Fill the gap between two drywall panels with the mud. If the joint is too wide, you can fill it with drywall tape too. But don’t forget to hide the tape under the joint compound.

Step 3: Now that you have a properly prepared surface, apply tape on the surface. Use a drywall knife for placing it in place without leaving any wrinkles in it.

Step 4: After all the above steps are done, you now need to apply two or three coats of drywall mud on the joint to have a seamlessly smooth surface on the drywall joint. Leave the surface untouched for around a day so that it can completely dry out.

Do I have to sand between coats of drywall mud?

It depends on your work. If you leave the first coat without finishing it up perfectly to get an even surface, you may need to sand the surface before applying the second coat over it. But if the surface is apparently smooth and even, you can apply subsequent coats without sanding between the coats.

How many coats of drywall mud do I need?

This depends on various factors like joint compound consistency, thickness, and the surface you are hiding with the compound. Generally, you should get a perfectly patched surface with 3 to 5 coats of drywall mud. One coat before applying tape and 2 to 3 subsequent coat on the tape.

How big of a gap can you fill with drywall mud?

You can fill a half-inch wide gap with drywall mud. If you need to fill more, reinforcement with tape with needed for durability.

Why does drywall mud crack?

Drywall mud can crack various reasons. The most common reason is doing mistakes in the application process. Having too much liquid content in the mud can make the mud weak. So, when applying the mud, make sure to check the consistency of the mud. Dry mud is tough to apply and thin mud will crack after a few weeks of application.

What kind of mud do you use to tape?

You can use any kind of mud with drywall tape. But the best mud to use with tape is all-purpose joint compounds as they contain an adhesive formula to hold the tape on the surface. Setting compound and taping compound also do the job pretty well.

How do you apply the last coat of drywall mud?

When applying the last coat of drywall joint compound, you need to be cautious. Try not to scratch the surface with the putty knife and make the surface as smooth as possible. When minor imperfections in the prior coats are acceptable, the final coat of joint compound should be near perfect.

Can you use caulking instead of drywall mud?

You can but we don’t recommend doing so. If you have to do that, use paintable caulk so that you can hide it under the paint. If you have spackle, you can use that instead of mud in case of small repair works.

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