Drywall Mudding & Taping Process & Compounds
If you are putting up new drywall or merely repairing it, mudding and taping can be intimidating concepts, but it’s understandable. Additionally, drywall work is tedious and often messy.
Drywall seaming, applying compounds, and sanding are all seemingly complicated processes that require technique, but this article will remove all the angst and uncertainty. Yet, drywall projects could remain challenging until you pair what you learn with a solid plan.
We will explain everything you need to know about taping and mudding drywall, including a rundown of which tools, compounds, and processes are the most effective.
Understanding Drywall Mudding
Through experience, professional drywall tapers are incredibly efficient and have effective ways to shorten the process, making applying joint compounds easy. But for homeowners, the job typically includes one person with limited knowledge and resources.
Therefore, a novice has a few basics to learn before starting.
First, “Drywall mudding” is the process and technique of applying base coats and final coats of drywall compound to drywall seams, nail holes, and additional imperfections to be sanded and smoothed out later in the drywall finishing process.
Secondly, “Drywall mud” is a white paste-like material referred to as “gypsum” used to spread over drywall gaps and damages. Drywall mud also helps to seal out moisture, reducing mold and mildew growth inside wall cavities.
Which Drywall Mud Compound to Use
There are several drywall mud options for any significant or minor application. Often efficient drywall finishing includes a combination of different mud types, and variating mud types during each phase is advantageous in many ways.
Categorizing Types of Drywall Mud
All mud falls into either of these categories.
Premixed compounds are ready to be applied to drywall directly from the bucket. A premixed compound is popular for DIYers because it’s simple and doesn’t require the extra step of mixing.
Premixed joint compound is typically harder to sand, depending on the brand; therefore, it isn’t always the best choice for final coating, but it creates a strong bond for an initial coat.
Premixed all-purpose compounds can be used during all phases of the finishing process, including bedding tape, base layers to cover tape, and final coating joints. Its versatility makes it ideal for beginners. But be mindful that it takes approximately two hours to start drying, shrinks after it dries, and requires priming before painting.
Lightweight all-purpose mud is used by painters for light repairs and is ideal for the final coat when finishing drywall because it is easy to sand.
Topping mud is also easy to sand but provides the most negligible adhesion. It also dries to a bright chalky color making it easier for the paint to cover it, especially for lighter colors.
Powdered compounds are “quick setting compounds” or “hot muds.” The chemicals within this powered formula react to water, inducing the water to dissipate rapidly. This mud type ranges from 5 to 90-minute dry times, making drywall repairs faster.
Additionally, this mud also mitigates paint “flashing” (a dull paint finish where patches are conducted.) But your mud application must be smooth and neat, as powdered mud is not the easiest to sand despite what the label says.
Drywall Taping with Accuracy
Accurately, mudding sheetrock is critical if you want a well-finished wall surface that won’t crack or suffer from future nail pops. Proper drywall taping also leaves a smooth and improved canvas enabling gorgeous paint finishes.
Furthermore, drywall hanging is a relatively straightforward concept, overlooking the challenges of its weight – but achieving a smooth and seamless finish is more involved. To finish drywall seams, you’ll have to know the ins and outs of how to tape, mud, and sand them properly.
Drywall “taping” seamlessly joins multiple sheets of drywall together, involving a base coat of drywall mud followed by drywall tape that will bridge all gaps for a smooth and even look.
Professional drywall taping will contain no gaps, visible humps, or recessed areas. If this process is not initiated correctly, achieving smooth walls in the future will be nearly impossible.
Unfinished areas or rooms should still contain a rough coat of drywall mud at a minimum – as mentioned, doing so will minimize moisture. Areas with exposed drywall will also benefit from wall sanding followed by applying a primer base coat. The primer will further seal the walls, reducing indoor dust, which can cause respiratory issues.
Drywall Tape Types
Without drywall tape, joints between drywall sheets will crack as drywall mud is not flexible. Drywall tape also resists joint cracks by allowing slight wall flex and expansion.
Minor drywall seam cracks are expected over time. But be mindful that significant breaks within drywall involve massive force and could result from foundation settling or load-barring walls. A structural engineer is best at locating the source of substantial drywall cracks and settling.
Consider the level of adhesion, moisture resistance, and strength needed for your drywall.
Paper tape is the hardest to apply, requiring experience, but because it is thin and pliable, it enables clean and sharp seams and corners. It can be used for inside or outside corners when folded in half. It is versatile but does not contain built-in adhesive, so you must bed a thin layer of drywall mud underneath the tape for it to stick.
Fiberglass mesh tape is the most robust option and is best for fixing problematic joints and cracks. The adhesive makes it easy to stick to surfaces, but its increased thickness makes it challenging to achieve a flat and even surface.
Preformed tape comes in many angles made from materials ranging from plastic, composite, paper, and metal. Plastic preformed corners offer increased joint strength and require less installation skill if you have problematic drywall in a room with vaulted ceilings or irregular corners.
Drywall corner beads do not fall under the category of tape. A few of the key differences are:
- Metal corners are typically fastened with nails or screws.
- Tin corners are mainly found on 90-degree corners.
- Drywall corners consist of thin metal or tin.
Taping & Mudding Drywall & Drywall Corners
Step 1) Preparations & Protection:
- Place plastic or canvas tarps/ (dropcloths) throughout the workspace to prevent drywall dust from spreading and contaminating nearby areas.
- Put on a mask or respirator to protect your lungs; you don’t want to breathe in potentially harmful drywall dust.
- Put on goggles to protect your eyes, and change into clothing you don’t mind getting messy.
Step 2) Initiating Setup:
- Grab your desired hawk or trowel that will hold your mud.
- Mix your mud (if powered) using a drill and mixing paddle.
- Remove the lid from the bucket (if premixed) and scope a small amount.
Step 3) Pointing Up Nail Holes
- Start filling nail holes to gain practice and a feel for mud consistency.
Step 4) Bedding Horizontal Drywall Seams
- Drywall horizontal edges are beveled, offering a recessed area for taping.
- Completely and evenly fill the beveled edges with mud using a 4-6 inch tape knife.
- Before the mud sets, quickly cut a piece of paper drywall tape to length.
- Place the drywall tape over the wet compound “bedding,” ensuring no bubbles or imperfections.
- Wipe all excess mud perpendicular to the joint using the taping knife.
Step 5) Mudding Butt Joints
All large drywall projects will inherently have joints that are not beveled. Often these joints are located where the end of two sheets of drywall meet, referred to as “butt joints.” Here is the best practice to handle these areas.
- These areas are the hardest to smooth out due to the lack of a recessed joint.
- Apply the mud very thinly in combination with using paper drywall tape.
- Using a taping knife, wipe the seam thin and smooth.
Step 6) Taping Inside Corners
- Push mud into the crack leaving no spaces between the drywall.
- Using a 4-inch tape knife, apply a thin layer of mud to both sides of the corner.
- Cut and fold the tape (if paper) or cut your preformed tape to length.
- Quickly apply the tape to the wet mud removing any excess mud.
- Using a light downward motion, stroke each side of the corner from bottom to top to ensure an even seam.
Step 7) Outside Corner Beads
- Outside corners are the most exposed and often take direct hits.
- Preformed metal is recommended for outer corners, increasing durability and dent resistance.
- Outside corners are best secured with screws.
Step 8) Apply the Second Coat of Mud
- Wait a day for the first coat to dry.
- The second coat of mud should be a lighter-weight “topping drywall compound.”
- Apply a second coat of mud to all seams and holes (a double layer of drywall tape is unnecessary.)
- To hide or “feather out” butt seams (use a 10-inch taping knife creating approximately 8 inches of mud on either side of the seam to reduce the visibility of the hump from the first application.)
Step 9) Apply the Final Coat of Mud
- After the second coat of mud dries, apply a very thin coat of lightweight mud, just as wide or slightly wider than the second coat.
- Apply the final coat of drywall mud to all butt joints, beveled seams, and nail holes.
- Wide drywall knifing reduces seam visibility and is the secrete to a smooth finish.
- A typical mud swath on professional butt joints has a 2 feet minimum span.
Step 10: Detail Sanding
- Lightly sand parallel to each seam.
- 120 – 150 sandpaper is recommended.
- Use a pole or drywall power sander attached to a vacuum to reduce labor and dust.
- Use a sanding block/ sponge for inside corners and detailed sanding.
Priming & Painting Drywall
To conclude this article, here is our recommended drywall sealer and the absolute best paint you can apply to your interior walls for outstanding durability and results.
Before applying primer to drywall, it is important to dust the walls removing all excess drywall particles.
As a professional house painter and licensed home service provider – for us, the rough end is never the finished product. So, after all of that hard work, it’s time to coat those walls!