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Five Steps To Tape And Finish Drywall

by Sonja Albrecht
Repair-Home Columnist

The heavy labor is done: your drywall is installed and secured. All that remains is to tape and finish the walls. You don't need to rely on a home contractor for this straightforward task. Simply follow these steps to achieve smooth, seamless walls.

Five Steps to Perfect Drywall

  1. Surface Prep.
    • Install corner bead. If your residential contractor hasn't already installed bead, simply position the bead (metal is best for outside corners) and drive drywall nails or screws into the holes, five inches apart. Attach these fasteners to the wall studs.
    • Sink nails and screws. Check for protruding fasteners by running a taping knife over the wall surface. A simple tap of the hammer or turn of the screw should even the surface.
  2. Tape Coat. This coat will level off the gaps and holes in joints, corner bead, and fasteners.
    • First Layer. Starting at the ceiling, apply a layer of compound over the joints using a 5 or 6" taping knife. Run a layer of mud over fastener heads.
    • Embed Tape. Lay a piece of joint tape over the center of the joint. Flatten the tape into the mud, working from the center out to the sides. Finally, spread a thin layer of mud over the tape.
    • Outside corners. Fill the area between the bead and the wall with mud, holding the knife at a 45 degree angle.
  3. Fill Coat. Smooth the surface using 7" taping knives.
    • Apply Second Coat. This coat should extend 2 inches wider than the previous coat. Drywall without beveled edges requires an even broader swath.
    • Inside corners. A corner knife will help you coat one side one at a time without disturbing the other.
  4. Finish Coat. The final coat should produce a perfectly smooth surface. Use wide knives, 8" for fasteners and 12" for joints.
    • Apply Third Coat. Contractors recommend thinning the compound with water.
    • Ceiling. You may choose to apply a texture or a protective coat over the entire ceiling.
  5. Sanding. Use 120 to 150 grit sandpaper to smooth out the joint compound. Seal off doorways or vents to contain the dust.

Your walls are now ready for primer and paint. The process should take about four days, including overnight drying time between coats. If you encounter any difficulties, consult a residential contractor for help.


About the Author
Sonja Albrecht works as a writer and editor for an online media company. She has also taught college writing and completed a Ph.D. in English.