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Published: October 2, 2020

Hanging Drywall Part 3: Finishing

Finishing drywall is one of the most straightforward projects in the construction industry. The basic tools needed for this type of project is under $100 and the materials like mud and tape needed to finish a large area like a garage is under $100 as well. The largest reasons most do-it-yourselfer’s fail at mudding is a lack of knowledge and a lack of patience. Here we’re going to cover topics such as the recommended tools and materials needed for a professional job, how to tackle corner beads, and proper sanding techniques to give your walls an ultra smooth surface.

Mudding Tools and Products

You need to know which tools are best for completing a drywall finishing job. There are basic and advanced tool sets. The beginner tool set covers most light drywall mudding like touch-ups, fixing cracks and holes, and covering small areas. The advanced tool set is great for an add on and can be used to cover large rooms, ceilings, and hard to reach areas. The advanced tools are great for small projects as well. Get both sets of these tools to make the job go quicker. As far as materials are concerned, we are listing fibra-mesh tape, metal corner beads, and pre-mixed joint compound. The reasoning behind this is because they are more user friendly and easier to apply than other alternative materials.

Basic Tool Set

Advanced Tool Set  

Taping and Mudding 

Taping

The number one problem you notice when looking at novice drywall jobs is poorly bedded tape. There is either cracking, bubbling, and/or overlapping tape. Here is a step-by-step process on doing that perfect taping job:

  1. Make sure that the mud is slightly thinned. Somewhere around peanut butter consistency is perfect. Use the mixing paddle, a sponge/washcloth, and clean/drinkable water. Wring one sponge or washcloth full of water into the mud and mix with the paddle until you get what you are looking for.
  2. Add a thin amount of mud over the drywall joint. Do this before adding the fibramesh tape.
  3. Add the fibramesh tape over the joint. Run your 4 inch taping knife over it to bed it into the mud then add a thin layer of mud over it. Feather the ends and let the mud completely dry before sanding and adding another layer.

Mudding

A certain level of finesse is needed when finishing drywall, especially when figuring out how heavy… or light to apply mud. In general, a 1/16″ layer at the thickest point is about right. You want enough mud on one layer to coat the surface, do some light sanding, and nothing more. If you coat too much mud per layer, your mud will crack and you will have to sand much more than usual and most likely fix the cracks with another layer of mud. On the other hand, do not scrape on the mud. Sanding will remove that layer.

The trick to super-smooth walls is to feather and using increasingly larger taping knives. Feathering is a technique where after a layer is applied on the taping knife one edge of the knife is pressed against the exposed drywall and the other edge is raised slightly above the mud and a clean pass is made through the entire drywall joint. This should make a clean, almost invisible transition between the drywall and the edge of the mud. You do this to both sides of the joint.  There should be at least three layers of mud. The first layer is the mud that was applied under the tape. After the first layer, apply a second layer of mud with a four inch knife and a third layer with a 8 inch taping knife. Sometimes you apply a fourth layer a 12 inch knife. This is overkill unless you plan to apply a skim coat or a high gloss paint.

Sanding

Sanding is another critical technique when finishing drywall. When sanding, use a 120 grit sandpaper or higher and go over the edges of the mud and any hills and valleys that are in the way. Avoid scuffing the paper face of the drywall. You will need to cover it up with another layer of mud so it doesn’t show in the paint job. Avoid sanding the tape because this will create the same effect as sanding the paper face of the drywall. If there are any gouges or craters in the mud, touch them up with another layer of mud before sanding.

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