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Welcome!

 ...and thanks for stopping by. I'm Claire Douglas,  DIY and home interiors writer specialising in money-saving and creative home interior projects. I've spent years developing my 'bespoke on a budget' approach to DIY and home interiors and I love sharing all my tips and tricks in tutorials and posts here on my blog, in articles I write for some of the leading titles, in the press, on Instagram, Tiktok and my online course

Best plasterboard filler for fixing cracks and holes: A DIY guide

Updated: Feb 3

Use this guide to save time and money searching for the best plasterboard filler.

Plasterboard filler and taping knife

This post is all about finding the best plasterboard filler, possibly not the most exciting topic, but certainly an important one if your home has plasterboard walls - like mine. Over the years, I’ve tried many of the different plasterboard fillers available in DIY stores and online with varying success, so I thought it would be useful to share my feedback to save you time and money. 

If you’ve already sourced your plasterboard filler and just want a step-by-step on how to repair holes in plasterboard, then you should hop over to this post, which gives a full tutorial for repairing plasterboard holes


Why use plasterboard filler?


Over time, hairline cracks and holes in plasterboard walls are inevitable - well, they are in my house - and not just because I’m a DIY blogger with a penchant for drilling and bashing holes in things! Day-to-day family life can be testing for your walls when they are constructed of plasterboard (drywall if you’re reading this over the pond), but with the right filler, you can restore your surfaces to perfection quickly and easily and with the best wall filler it's a super easy process even for DIY novices. 


What can go wrong with filler for walls and ceilings?


Choosing the right product is important to ensure you avoid these potential pitfalls...


  1. Shrinking and cracking / inflexibility - flexible fillers are designed not to shrink (causing a crack) and can resist small amounts of movement that can cause cracks. 

  2. Adhesion issues - Quality fillers adhere well to surfaces, ensuring a robust and lasting bond. 


Aren’t all plasterboard fillers the same? Factors to consider…


Before looking at my product recommendations for best plasterboard fillers, here are the factors you should consider:


What material is your wall constructed from?


There are various fillers, each suitable for specific materials (e.g. interior vs exterior, brick and masonry, plaster, plasterboard or wood. If you're looking to make interior repairs to drywall/plasterboard you'll want to ensure your product choice is suitable by reading the manufacturer guidelines on the pack.

 

How do you want to apply the filler?

Plasterboard filler in a large tub

Here are some examples...

  • Cartridges that are loaded into a caulking gun (I recently wrote a post about how to use a caulking gun in case it's useful)

  • A squeezable tube that you 

  • A tub of filler that you scoop product out of and apply with a putty knife or spreader



What type of repair are you doing?


I have different go-to products for different repair jobs. For example, I wouldn't use the same filler to repair a deep hole as I would to repair a hairline crack in a plasterboard wall. 

Therefore, the product recommendations I make below will be split into the following categories.


  • large holes

  • small holes

  • cracks

  • smoothing over a textured surface


Product recommendations


Now, let's dive into my top picks for the best plasterboard fillers, considering the factors mentioned above:


Repairing large holes in plasterboard


You'll need additional products for this task if they are deep holes. I recommend using plasterboard mesh tape, which is the simplest way to cover a large area. Read this post about how to use mesh tape in repairs. This is my go-to tape. If the holes are very deep, you can use expanding foam to fill the gap before smoothing it over the top with a flexible filler. There's a higher risk of shrinking and cracking with large hole repairs as you use more filler so it's often better to build up the layers rather than apply a lot of filler in one go. 


​Products I've used and recommend are...


Repairing small holes in plasterboard


This is an easier task as you'll need less product for smaller holes (like those left after removing a rawl plug or a screw) so there's less chance of it shrinking and cracking once dry. 


Ronseal filler for plasterboard

  • Ronseal Smooth Finish Filler

  • Suitable for both small repairs and larger surface areas.

  • Quick-drying and easy to sand for a seamless finish.

  • Versatile, working well on various surfaces.



Langlow filler

Langlow Fine Surface Filler

  • Designed for easy application and minimal shrinkage.

  • Dries quickly, allowing for multiple coats in a single day.

  • Excellent value - seems too good to be true at this price, but it genuinely works.



Repairing cracks in plasterboard

Cracks of varying size can appear in plasterboard for a number of reasons (the boards shrinking, the building moving slightly(movement cracks), issues with the installation - to name a few). For large cracks, you'll want to work out the reason before starting the repair as you might need extra materials, for example, a tool to rake out the crack (eg a Stanley knife/utility knife) and scrim tape (self-adhesive mesh tape) or paper joint tape to cover over the crack/joins. 


As for the best filler to use, you can buy specific joint compound or joint filler, but if you are only making a small repair rather than taping and joining newly installed plasterboard sheets, then either of the following products will work well to restore a smooth surface. 


Ronseal filler for plasterboard
  • Ronseal Smooth Finish Filler

  • Suitable for both small repairs and larger surface areas.

  • Quick-drying and easy to sand for a seamless finish.

  • Versatile, working well on various surfaces.




Interior smoother / finishing plaster

Diall Interior Smoother

  • Perfect for smoothing out minor faults, broken surfaces, scratches and other imperfections up to 2mm deep prior to painting or wallpapering.

  • Paintable & sandable


Smoothing over a textured surface


I've got a whole post dedicated to smoothing over a textured artex ceiling, and after trying several smoothing products, my top pick is the B&Q Diall Interior Smoother. It's amazing, covers so well, and is considerably cheaper than the Tourpret smoothover product, which is ok but not worth the extra money, in my opinion. The Diall product is a finishing plaster ideal for applying a skim coat, repairing hairline cracks, and smoothing over textured surfaces. You'll need to measure the profile depth of the textured surface as there are two types: one is designed for rough surfaces.  


Finishing plaster / interior smoother

Diall Interior Smoother

  • Perfect for smoothing out minor faults, broken surfaces, scratches and other imperfections up to 2mm deep prior to painting or wallpapering.

  • Paintable & sandable


​Summary

In summary, there are different products suited to plasterboard application for example, multi-purpose filler, deep gap filler and finishing plaster. Each is useful for a different type of repair. Aside from repair type, the key considerations when choosing the best plasterboard filler are ease of use, flexibility, cost, paintability, and dry time. 


A note about window frames.

Although not technically a hole, gap or crack in the plasterboard, I recently wrote a post about replacing the seal around a window frame. This DIY task can arise when the seal starts to deteriorate, shrink and crack and can cause heat loss and draughts, so it needs prompt attention or can lead to condensation. In some cases, the wall will be constructed from plasterboard so I thought I'd add it to those post. The best filler for this task is a silicone sealant applied with a caulking gun. I used this Unibond door and window sealant, which is a great product because it's quick drying and paintable, which is convenient. 


Which tools should a DIY enthusiast use to apply wall or ceiling filler?


There are various tools you can use to apply ready-mixed filler, and each has its own advantages and disadvantages. See below for a summary based on my opinion...


A putty knife

Great for getting filler out from a tub (the skimming spreader i use doesn't fit in a small tub), useful for applying filler to small holes but I wouldn't use it for larger holes or smoothing over large areas. 


Jointing / Taping knife

Great for smoothing filler over larger cracks and feathering the edges of the surrounding area. This tool is very affordable and is a cheaper option than my favourite roll grip spreader (below)

Skimming spreader

Skimming spreader

This is my trusty tool for smoothing, spreading and skimming. I've used it to skim two large artex ceilings as well as numerous walls and a whole bunch of microcement projects too (eg the DIY microcement fridge surround and the worktops and backsplash in the DIY kitchen makeover parts one and two). It's small, easy to hold, flexible and creates a super smooth finish so is my go-to tool for applying filler to plasterboard walls. 


Do I need to sand filler applied to plasterboard?


To achieve the best results, you'll likely need to sand the filler once it's dry. The only exception I'll note here is when smoothing over artex ceilings and walls if you haven't tested the artex for asbestos, as that would be a big mistake. If you have a surface that could potentially contain asbestos, then you mustn't disturb it in any way (e.g. drilling, scraping or sanding) as that could release the asbestos fibres in fine dust form, which, if breathed in, can cause potentially life-threatening illnesses like mesothelioma. 


When sanding indoors, wearing a mask and using a sander with a dust collector or vacuum attachment is a good idea. If you only have loose sheets of sandpaper or say a sanding sponge, then I recommend holding the hoover right up to the area you are sanding so it can suck up all the dust particles that are created. 


Tips for application of plasterboard filler


  • Ensure the surface is clean, dry, sound and dust-free.

  • Don't apply too thickly, as this can lead to shrinkage or cracking. It is preferable to build up multiple thin layers.

  • Spread the filler in a different direction, each pass over a hole (e.g. screw hole) to prevent air from getting trapped and causing a bubble.

  • Use mesh or joint tape over heavy cracks or large/deep holes 

  • Choose the appropriate tools for the repair job, e.g., putty knife, taping knife, and flexible skimming spreader. 


Disposing of plasterboard


You do have to be careful when it comes to disposing of plasterboard because if left to rot in wet areas like landfill it releases toxic chemicals as it deteriorates which is bad for the environment and people's health. It's also easy to recycle it which is a much more sustainable approach. I wrote a separate blog post about how to dispose of plasterboard which you might find useful. Read the plasterboard disposal blog.


Is plasterboard fireproof?

Find out about pink fire-rated plasterboard in this comprehensive guide.

How to repair holes and cracks in plasterboard

This is a common problem for homeowners and renters alike. If you need tips and tricks for read my plasterboard repair blog post.


DIY skimming

I have a whole section of my blog dedicated to skimming visit here.


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