How To Finish Drywall

drywall finish taping

Finishing drywall does not take the muscles that hanging drywall does. Applying a smooth drywall finish is almost an art form but it is very forgiving when it is wet and even when it is dry you can easily sand it. So don't be afraid to give it a try. It is satisfying to smooth the joints on a wall out. Keep reading to learn how to tape drywall, hang corner bead, cover nail heads and finish inside corners.

brief how to

  1. Install corner bead
  2. Apply the first coat, tape,
  3. Scrape and apply second coat
  4. Sand and apply third coat
  5. Sand

tools and materials

  • Drywall taping knives 6, 8 and 10 inch. Also 12 inch may be used.
  • Joint compound
  • Tape
  • 14" pan
  • Pole sander 120 grit
  • Block sander 120 grit

step 1 Corner Bead

Install the corner bead by holding the corner bead up to the corner firmly and as close to the corner as possible without bending the corner bead. Be careful to not bend the corner so you end up with a crooked corner. Look at it from each side to make sure that it is straight. Nail one face completely before nailing the other face to prevent bending the corner bead.

step 2 First Coat

tip: It is important to use thin coats and to not leave "boogers" or edges when applying mud, these just cause alot of work after they have dried, so try to keep them to a minimum by scraping them off when the mud is wet. Make the edges of the mud application feathered to the drywall so there is no edge visible.

taping: Applying the tape is called "Bedding". Bedding is done with a 4 or 6 inch knife. To bed the tape you put a thin coat of mud, 1/16" deep and 4 inches wide, over the joints filling the tapered edge of the drywall. Then put the paper tape on top of this coat. Try to get the center of the paper directly over the joint. After sticking the paper to the tape you will take the 6" knife and run it over the paper firmly and squeeze out the mud.

inside corners: After doing the flat seams you will work on the inside corners. Using the 4" knife, apply mud to both sides of the corner, fold your paper in half on the seam that marks the center and press it into the corner being careful to not cut the paper. With a little practice you can get nice corners.

corner bead: Next are the outside corners. Use the 6 inch knife to fill the corner with mud and create a longer transition to the drywall. The mud should cover about 5" from the tip of the corner bead onto the drywall. Corner bead does not get tape applied to it.

Spot the Nails: Using the 4" knife you use a little mud and skim over the nail heads. Make sure you don't leave boogers. This first coat over the nails is very thin, If you go too thick then you have bumps on the wall at each nail head.

step 3 Second coat

tip: before starting successive coats you will want to take the 6 inch knife and scrape it across the previous coat of mud to scrape off any boogers. If there are excessively high areas or ridges left by the knife on the first coat that you think will show as a bump you may want to sand them before applying the next coat.

Joints: This coat will fill in the tapered recess at the taped joints. Put your 10 inch knife across a tapered joint and you will see the gap between the knife and the surface of the tape you applied earlier. This is the tapered recess that you will fill with the second coat. Using the 10 inch knife put about 8" wide strip of mud over the paper tape covered joint. Pull the knife down the joint in a long continuous stroke leaving a thin coat that is very "tight" at its edges. You don't want to have much sanding to do after it is dry.

inside corners: This coat will apply mud to only one side of the tape. You will apply one side and let it dry then come back and do the other side of the corner on your third coat. Only one side is covered so the knife does not dig into wet mud on the other side of the corner. An alternative to this is to use a corner trowel. If the corner trowel is used you will apply mud to both sides of the corner and use the trowel to smooth and skim the mud at the same time.

corner bead: Using the 10 inch knife, apply a second coat to the corner bead. Like all second coats you will spread the mud out an inch or two past the last coat making sure to keep a nice feathered edge.

spot the nails: Apply another coat of mud to the nail heads with the 4" knife. You may notice that the first coat of mud on the nail heads shrinks and sinks in a bit. Apply a little more mud than the first coat and skim over it with the knife to keep the bump to a minimum.

step 4 Third coat

joints: Using the 12 inch knife you will apply a coat of mud over the joints just like you did for the last coat only it will taper out an inch or two farther away from the joint more than the last coat.

inside corners: Using the 4 inch knife apply a coat of mud to the other side of the tape on the inside corner.

corner bead: Using the 12 inch knife apply another coat of mud to the corner bead taper it out an inch or two past the last coat.

step 5 Sanding

Use the sanding pole to lightly sand the joints and corners. Then take the sanding sponge and sand the mud over the nail heads. Be careful to not sand the paper facing on the drywall. The paper face will lift and ball up, making it hard to paint and look nice.

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