Pro Remodeling Tips.com
How To Tape Drywall
Taping, or finishing, drywall is a bit of an art, or at least
it can seem like it. Once you understand the way the pro's do it, it's a piece of
cake. Getting smooth surfaces is possible, even with
very little sanding.
After hanging your drywall, you'll have to get it ready to be
painted. This entails taping all the seams, adding corner bead, and spackling over the nails. There is a proper
sequence, but done out of order won't result in any problems. It just makes it a little more
It makes sense to get all the tools and supplies ready, before you
start. You'll need a "mud pan", a taping knife, a roll of drywall tape, which isn't really tape at all, but a roll
of heavy paper. You'll also need joint compound, and since it's best to mix the joint compound before using it,
(even the pre mixed stuff), something to mix it with. I use a mixer in a drill. You can also use a manual mixer,
which is sold where the other supplies are sold. You can also mix it as you get it from the bucket, using the
taping knife. It's just not as effective, since you can only mix the top couple inches.
You'll also need corner beads, a pair of snips to cut the corner
bead, and a corner bead tool and rubber mallet. And either a hammer and some nails, or a screw gun and some drywall
screws. The nails and screws are for the top middle and bottom of the corner bead, after it's been installed wth
the corner bead tool. Some people don't bother with this step, but if the corner takes a whack sometime down the
road, the fasteners give it a better chance of being an easy fix.
If you're using pre
mixed joint compound, open the bucket, and mix it up. While this step isn't absolutely necessary, you'll get
better results if you do it. Load the mud pan, or spackle tray up with joint compound. About 3/4 full is about
TIP: Keep the lid on the bucket, and always use the
knife to scrape the joint compound off the sides of the bucket, as well as the rim. The reason for this is it
will dry, and fall into the joint compound, leaving you little with clumps to contend with.
The first step is taping the inside corners. Starting here will
prevent you from messing with taped seams on the field, or wall area. Tear off a piece of tape long enough to
do the corner. You'll notice the tape has a line in the center of it. It's there to help you fold the tape into a
corner. Fold it flat and squeeze it between your fingers to get a nice sharp corner.
Starting on one side of the corner, load some joint compound on to
either a 5" or a 6" taping knife. Working from the top, spread a bed of mud on one side if the corner. You want
about 1/16" thick bed of mud for the tape to lay into.
Do the second half of the corner the same way, being careful not to
remove the mud from the first half.
TIP: Always clean off both sides of the
knife with the edges of the tray, between steps. You can't clean the excess off the wall if the knife
still has joint compound on it.
Carefully, working from the top down, stick the tape into the corner,
and work your way down, taking care to get the tape into the corner. Using the taping
knife held vertically, use it to push the tape in the center, forcing it onto the corner. Now, working on one side, and from the top, hold the edge
of the knife against the corner, and the width of the blade against the wall.
Work to about halfway down the wall, doing one side first,
repeated by the second in the same manner. The idea is to remove as much of the mud as possible, so you need to
push fairly hard on the taping knife. You need to be holding the knife on a downward angle, which will
keep you from dragging the tape off too. Now do the same procedure on the lower half of the of the wall.
When you have completed that step, start again at the top, and run
the knife down the entire length of corner on one side, followed by the other. You won't be able to go all the way
to the floor, so do the last six or eight inches working from the floor up.
The purpose of this final pass is to remove any excess joint
compound, while also smoothing it out. What ever excess mud is left on this step, will either need to be sanded of,
or it will effect the final product. This is the step most beginners get wrong. They leave too much mud on the
joints. You're actually trying to remove all of the mud, except what's under the tape. If you get any loose edges
under the tape, you can lift it a little using the knife, and force some mud under the loose area. Then smooth it
In the process of taping the seams, I'm also spackling the nails, (or
screws). There are two ways of doing this. One is to cover each nail seperately, covering it with mud, then
removing the excess. This is time comsuming, and often leaves imperfections to deal with. The second way is to
treat the nails like a group.
Since they're nicely lined up, (since they follow the studs), put
some mud on the taping knife, and holding the knife so the edge is paralell to the stud, run it up the line of
nails, leaving a bead of joint compound covering them. Now, holding the knife flat across the bead, and clean
off the excess.
After all the corners are done, it's time to do all the flat seams.
Again, load some mud onto the knife, and run the mud on the seam, working parallel to it. Again, you want to leave
a bed of mud, about 1/16" thick. Now lay a piece of tape along the seam, and press it into the joint compound. With
the knife straddling the seam, and on an angle, move it along the seam, bedding the tape, and removing
the excess mud from under the tape, and from both sides of the tape.
After you have completed this step, now hold the knife so the edge is
in the middle of the tape, and overhanging the tape. Remove all the excess joint compound, and smoothing it out as
you go. Do the top half, then the bottom half of the seam, in this manner. Again, any excess will only need to be
sanded off later, so it's best to remove it now. The idea is to fill in the recessed part of the joint, but nothing
After all the flat seams are done, you can install the outside
corner beads. Installing the corner beads could have been done first, but then the tape wouldn't go under
them. Not critical, but better.
Installing the corner bead is easiest with the corner bead tool. It
seats the bead squarely over the corner, and with a good whack from the rubber mallet, crimps the edges in to grab
the sheetrock. I crimp it about every 8 inches, followed by a screw on both sides of the corner bead on the top, at
the middle, and also on the bottom.
With the corner beads all set, it's time to add the mud. With a fair
amount on the knife, and working on one side, do from the ceiling down about halfway to the floor. Put the mud on a
little thick, followed by smoothing it out, working from the top down. Now to the second side in the same
Repeat the same for the bottom half of the corner bead. Once the
entire length is done on both sides, you'll want to make the final passes, which will feather the outside edge of
the mud, and remove any excess. Working from the top, hold the knife so one end of it extends past the edge of
the mud, and the other is sitting on the corner bead.
Here's the trick to getting professional results with taping drywall.
With the knife held on an angle, and the edge of it out past the mud, flex the blade of the knife, so it is really
pushing on the edge where the mud meets the sheetrock. Now run the knife done the bead. Do the entire
side, from ceiling to floor, then repeat the same on the other side of the corner bead.
The idea is to leave a feathered edge, while smoothing out the mud on
the corner bead. Again, any excess will have to be sanded off, which is no fun. Don't worry too much about dents
and imperfections in the surface of the joint compound. You still have two coats to go, and they'll get filled in
To Be Continued...