How To Tape Drywall

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tape drywall

Taping drywall is the first step in the drywall finishing process, and the first real challenge you will face after hanging your drywall.

There is some real skill involved in successfully taping drywall, and patience is a virtue. The entire taping and mudding drywall process will not happen in a single day. It is best covered over 4-5 days in small steps that allow for dry time and multiple coats of mud.

But enough about the rest of the process. On with our short tutorial on how to tape drywall.

You will find that you have a couple of choices when taping drywall. Drywall tape is available either as a plain paper tape or as a mesh fiberglass tape.

Paper drywall tape does not have an adhesive backing and requires drywall mud to adhere it to the joints. Fiberglass tape has an adhesive backing, making it easier for most do-it-yourselfers.

What do I prefer? Actually, I generally use both types of tape on a room, and that is what the instructions below will assume.

I’ll tell you why I do this. Fiberglass tape is perfect for typical joints –

  • It adheres to the wall without joint compound.
  • It is easier to use on straight joints.
  • It is more effective at preventing drywall cracks.

For more difficult joints such as inside corners and wall/ceiling joints, I use the paper tape because the paper is easier to fold and conform to a nice, tight corner. You’ll find more detailed instructions below.

First, the tools you’ll need to tape drywall:

  • Drywall Tape (both fiberglass mesh and plain paper)
  • 4” Drywall Knife
  • Drywall Mudding Compound (premixed and just slightly thinned out)
  • Utility Knife

Step One – Preparation

The first step necessary to successfully tape drywall is preparation. You want to make sure you’ve taken care of all the necessary steps up to the point before you begin, and ensure that you have all of the tools and equipment you’ll need before you start.

If you have outside corners, you should have corner bead installed by this point. If you do not, go back to our instructions for installing drywall corner bead.

Ensure that all of your drywall screws and fasteners are driven below the surface of the drywall. You can check this by running a drywall knife across the surface of the drywall and listening for anything that catches on the edge of the knife.

Snug up any protruding fasteners with a screwdriver..

Step Two – Tape Drywall Joints

For most straight joints, I recommend the mesh fiberglass tape, which is highly effective and self-adhesive, making it easier for amateurs to use.

Cut the tape to length and run the tape down the seam, taking special care to center the tape over the seam. Most drywall seams have tapered edges, creating a low spot at the joint. The tape should fit easily into this low spot.

You will want to cut the tape about 1/2”-1” short of the corners, to leave room for your corner tape. You do not want to overlap tape with other tape because this creates a slightly raised area that is more difficult to hide later during the mudding step.

Once you’ve placed your drywall tape on the seam and have it centered, run your 4” drywall knife along the entire length, pressing the tape firmly against the joint.

Time to move on to the next step: how to tape drywall corners.

Step Three: Tape Drywall Corners

For the second part of this, I heartily recommend paper drywall tape. This is a plain paper, non-adhesive tape that requires drywall compound to adhere it to the wall.

The reason for this is that paper tape is much easier to fold to conform to a corner than fiberglass tape, which often does not adhere well in a corner nor give a crisp edge.

Begin this step by measuring and cutting your paper tape to length. At the end where the drywall corner meets with other corners, clip off your tape at an angle (to a point). This will allow the multiple pieces of tape that come together at a corner to meet without overlapping.

Second, fold your precut piece of drywall tape in half all the way along its length.

Now that your tape is ready, apply a “bed” of mud to the corner. Hold your drywall knife at approximately a seventy degree angle as you apply the mud. You may want to thin this premixed drywall mud very slightly to help the paper tape embed well into its surface.

Now press your precut piece of paper tape firmly into the corner with your drywall knife, holding you knife at approximately a forty-five degree angle. Some drywall mud will be pressed out from beneath the tape and this is normal. You want to snug this tape firmly into the corner.

Your final step for the paper tape is to remove (with your drywall knife) any excess drywall mud that has accumulated on the edges of the tape. You want to begin your drywall mudding process with as even a surface as possible, as this will mean less sanding.

Now you know how to tape drywall. Your next step in the drywall finishing process is drywall mudding

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