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Finishing Drywall: Tape and Joint Compound (page 1 of 3)

Learn how to apply tape and joint compound to drywall.

Excerpted from Do It Yourself Home Improvement

More in Windows Walls and Doors

Prepare Joint Compound for Drywall as Directed

Courtesy of DK - Do It Yourself Home Improvement © 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Finishing drywall involves typically three to four days of work and a great deal of joint compound. The type of joint compound you use to smooth seams and cover nail holes will depend on the size of your room and your level of experience. The entire process from taping to finishing the final coat can take four days, because of the drying times of the joint compound. Make sure you have allowed enough time to finish each step completely before starting the next.

If you have never completed a drywall project on your own before, and you still do not feel comfortable about tackling a drywalling job after reading the steps in this section, it is a good idea to hire a professional. In order to find a reputable contractor, contact your local chapter of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry ( or search for a regional association of drywall professionals online. For example, there are drywall organizations for professionals across the country from New Jersey to Nebraska and California. Drywall contractors also usually offer painting and other finishing services.

Finishing Steps

It may seem like drywalling is a time-consuming, labor-intensive process. In spite of this, the reason drywall has become a standard wall covering is that it takes fewer finishing skills, and less money and time than the traditional alternative of plastering walls. If you have an older home, and want to have a plaster finish to keep consistent with the construction of your home, it is possible to use drywall instead of lath and finish with plaster. It will take longer to accomplish, but you will be able to use the plaster to create any texture patterns in the wall or ceiling surfaces that you may want.

At every seam where two pieces of drywall meet, and where there will not be any beadboard or other trimwork covering the panels, you will need to fill the seam and create a seamless transition between the panels. The objective to finishing drywall or finishing with plaster is to create the illusion that the wall consists of one flat piece.

The advantage of installing flat panels of drywall is that there is less finish work after the panels are installed and planning the panel layout to reduce the number of seams will further minimize the time you will need to invest in taping and finishing it. Every seam and every screw hole will need to be covered with joint compound, and each seam requires further steps.

Finishing drywall joints involves three basic steps that can take as many as four days to properly complete. The first step is called the taping step. The second step is called the filler step, and the third step is the finishing coat. Each step involves applying a layer of joint compound that is wider than the one before.

Before starting the taping process, make sure corner bead is installed on all outside corners around the room. Inspect the walls and ceiling to make sure that all of the screw or nails are firmly embedded into the drywall sheets. You can do this by running a taping knife over the surface of the wall. If you hear a tap when going over a surface, it means that a screw or nail will need to be tapped further in.

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Excerpted from Do It Yourself Home Improvement

© Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009