Got cracks? Or gouges, holes, deep scrapes, or unsightly gaps? Congratulations – you must be a homeowner! Or maybe a renter, wondering what portion of your security deposit the evil landlord will retain because of your minor transgressions. (If the aforementioned defects are on your body, rather than on various portions of your dwelling, you need a different web site – and possibly a new hobby). For those home-related issues, we recently came across a product that could be a big help rectifying those defects, both inside and out. Join me as I replace the missing 10% of our old house with varying doses of Zinsser MH Ready Patch Spackling and Patching Compound.
Often, homeowners will patch up problem areas with light-weight spackle or joint compound, with or without adding drywall tape. Sometimes this is enough to solve the problem, but sometimes these repairs will shrink or crack after a while, and most aren’t suitable for use outdoors. Zinsser MH Ready Patch is advertised as being fine for use indoors and out, and it resists cracks and shrinking. Have a peek at the rest of the specs, fill in some missing details with Zinsser’s quick promo vid, and then we’ll take a look at some of the many instances of “character” I rectified in our old house.
• Recommended for application to new or previously painted wood, hardboard, metal, drywall, cured plaster, masonry
• Use to fill gaps, holes and cracks in metal, wood and masonry
• Sandable and paintable
• Resists shrinking, sagging and cracking
• Fast-drying and hard curing
• Dries to touch in 1 hour
• Clean up with mineral spirits
Take A Deep Breath, And Pop The Lid
When I pried off the lid, my first thought was “This stuff is stinky!” Zinsser MH Ready Patch is a solvent-based product, and like most such products, it has a strong odor. In this case, a strong fragrance foreshadows a strong patch, so hold your nose, and forge ahead.
The product has a very smooth consistency, similar to creamy peanut butter. Really stinky peanut butter, that dries hard as a rock. The beauty of the gallon can is that you can dip a 3 or 4” putty knife right in if you want, and get a hefty helping of goop to its target. On a project (or two) of mine, I did just that.
One piece of advice, before we proceed: Zinsser MH Ready Patch DOES dry as hard as a rock. And not just on your beautiful patches; any material left on your tools will ALSO dry like that, so unless you enjoy trying to chisel cement off your tools, clean them as soon as you’re finished.
Mind The Gaps – And Fill ‘Em With Zinsser MH Ready Patch
Our home in southwestern Pennsylvania is well over a century old. Although it was sturdily built, gravity and Mother Nature have worked their magic over the decades, and caused a stress crack or two to open up. And perhaps a little bit of punky wood, where some water forced its way into a seam. Possibly, there’s an extra hole or two in the entry doors, where hardware has been changed out over the years. And…well, you get the idea.
We’ve been in our house for 35 years, and we recently decided to sell it and downsize. We were amazed at the amount of little – and a couple of not-so-little – problem areas we needed to tend to before we could put it on the market. Things that developed slowly over the years, never serious enough to reach the level of “we need to fix this NOW!”, but things that a potential homebuyer would be likely to notice and start slowly backing away. Time to hit the deferred maintenance list.
The first room to get a taste of Zinsser MH Ready Patch was the entry room. Like most of the first floor, the walls are plaster. And like most old plaster walls, a crack or two had opened up over time. After digging out the loose stuff, I pried open the can, loaded up a 3” taping knife, and started attacking the cracks.
With its thick consistency, the Zinsser MH Ready Patch was a treat to work with. In the past, I’ve used spackling compound that flakes and doesn’t adhere to the edges well, and joint compound that sometimes mounds over the top or sags. For most of the cracks I filled, the compound filled the void with a nice, level coating, and just needed a light sanding afterwards. In a couple of spots where I overfilled, a fair bit more effort was required to sand it down.
While I waited for the entry room repairs to dry, I tackled another room: A kids’ closet that had some stress cracks, and some nail and screw holes to fill. Once again, the compound was easy to apply, and didn’t require much in the way of follow up.
Even though the patches felt dry and firm after a few hours, I waited until the next day to sand and seal the repairs. After a light sanding, and a coat of primer, the patches were almost impossible to spot. On all the repairs I did, once the compound had dried and hardened, it felt identical to a plaster wall.
Close Up The Door And Put It To The Floor
The walls weren’t the only surfaces in the house that needed a little MH TLC. One of the thresholds on an exterior door was pretty badly weathered. Although it was still fairly solid, it was groovier than a Grateful Dead concert in the 60’s. I wire-brushed and scraped it to get the loose paint and wood chips out, vacuumed it, and once again dug into the Zinsser MH Ready Patch.
Since the surface had a slight curve to it, some sculpting was required, but after a few minutes, it actually looked like a threshold again. The next day, I did some sanding and a bit of touch up, and the following day a coat of primer had it smooth enough even for bare feet.
One Door Closes, Another Opens…
Another entry door had been subjected to a variety of door knobs and deadbolts over the decades, leaving a variety of gaps and holes where they had once been. I had new door hardware to install, but first I needed to fill an extra hole roughly 1-1/2” in diameter, that went completely through the door.
To minimize the amount of Zinsser MH Ready Patch I’d have to use, I first used a hole saw to cut a plug out of a piece of 2×4. I cut it to fit snugly, slathered on some glue, and tapped it into place. After allowing it to dry, I applied compound on both sides of the door, let it dry, and gave it a light sanding. After painting it up, the hole disappeared.
Zinsser MH Ready Patch: Let’s Take It Outside
One of the attributes of Zinsser MH Ready Patch that sets it above many other patching compounds is its ability to patch exterior problem areas. Fortunately, we had several of those on which to test this ability.
In a couple of areas with punky wood, I dug and cut it out until I reached solid areas. We have Dutch lap siding, and some of the repairs took place on the curved portion of the wood. Thanks to the density of the compound, the material could be shaped to follow the profile of the siding without sagging.
Our daughter’s Husky-mix dog thoughtfully provided us with an opportunity to fill several vertical grooves, where he had scratched to be let in after his siestas on the back porch. After a light sanding to take off the rough spots, I applied compound to his handiwork. After drying overnight, and a light sanding, the grooves had disappeared. Luckily for Nanuq.
Repairs were also needed in a couple of areas on the exterior trim, on both horizontal and vertical pieces. The Zinsser MH Ready Patch did a very good job filling in the voids.
A word of advice, though: The instructions say to use multiple coats for deeper repairs. That’s good advice. In one largish area, with a void almost an inch deep, I decided to speed up the process by filling the entire area with only one coat. It sagged a bit, and took several days to dry. Patience, grasshopper.
Ready To Patch Things Up?
After using Zinsser MH Ready Patch on a slew of repairs, in wood, drywall and plaster, I’m a fan. It’s easy to work with, and makes a nice, smooth repair. I’ve had no issues with any of the repairs cracking or shrinking, either inside or out. It’s been about four months since most of the repairs were completed, and they haven’t gone through a winter yet, but based on online reviews, I have good expectations.
In addition to the gallon can, Zinsser MH Ready Patch is also available in a quart can. For those of you whose dwellings need more than just a LITTLE patching up – in other words, anyone with an old house – here’s a little HomeFixated insider’s tip. A gallon can currently sells for around $43. In the course of my arduous research, I discovered you can double your patching enjoyment for a paltry extra four bucks. (Naturally, I made this discovery AFTER purchasing a gallon can).
The double-gallon deal isn’t available in the Home Depot stores, but if you can wait a couple of days, you can order it online using the link below, and they’ll ship it to the store for free. Even if you don’t really need that much, it would make a great birthday gift or stocking stuffer for your favorite large-stockinged DIYer. Whatever size works best for you, give Zinsser MH Ready Patch a try when it’s time for YOUR next crack attack.