Learn how to apply tape and joint compound to drywall.
More in Windows Walls and Doors
The first step in the finishing process is called the taping step. During this step you are embedding drywall tape over the joints in the walls and ceiling. Some DIYers will choose to use a fast-setting compound for this first step. While fast-setting compounds will speed up the long process of finishing drywall, the time available to you to work with the material is greatly reduced. This in turn will affect the quantity of compound you will have time to apply, so you will need to judge carefully how much compound you mix with water to begin with.
If you're working with premixed compound, do not stir the compound too vigorously in the bucket. If you stir it too much you can work air into the mixture, which will create little bubbles and craters on the surfaces.
Use a 6" taping knife to apply the joint compound along the seam. Be generous with the joint compound at this point. Spread out more than you need to fill the seam. Try to work as neatly as possible, but keep in mind that it is not as important to have a perfectly smooth surface when you finish this step. The objective is to make sure that the tape is completely embedded and rests flat over the drywall seams.
Lay a piece of joint tape over the center of the joint, pressing it lightly with your hand to make it stick. Place more joint compound on your knife, and pass it back over the tape. This will embed the tape. Make sure the tape lays smoothly across the joint.
Apply a thin layer of joint compound to the seam. Press tape into the joint compound along the seam. Then apply joint compound over the tape with a drywall knife (Image 1).
Smooth the compound into place. Let it dry completely and then sand it with a pole sander to remove large imperfections (Image 2). You do not need to smooth down the finished surface.
Excerpted from Do It Yourself Home Improvement
© Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009