HOW TO TAPE AND MUD
Before you learn how to tape and mud drywall you'll need to buy yourself some tools for mudding the seams and joints where the boards butt up against each other.
Taping and mudding drywall or "floating"
as it’s sometimes called is the process of applying layers of drywall mud (compound) over drywall tape.
After your first application of mud is dry and sanded (if needed) then a second coat is troweled on top of the first.
Below you'll find information regarding the recommended drywall tools
to have on hand
, along with how to taping and mudding instructions.
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The first thing you'll need to know when learning how to tape and mud drywall is cracks and seams where two sheets of drywall board butt up against each other need to be taped over using either a fiber mesh or paper type drywalling tape.
Drywall (sheetrock) has tapered edges on the longest sides of each sheet or board. When the tapered edges of two sheets of drywall are placed along side of each other a dip is created.
The dip leaves a ditch or grove for your drywall tape to be laid into. Once the tape is applied to a seam drywall mud is troweled on over top of the tape.
There are two types of drywalling tape, paper and fiber mesh. Mesh tape is easier for home owners to use due to its sticky back. Having a sticky back helps your mesh tape adhere to the surface of your drywall board. Since it's stuck to the wall your mesh tape can easily be floated (troweled) over with drywall mud.
Paper tape on the other hand is considered by the Pros to be somewhat stronger then fiber type drywall tape. Paper tape does not have the sticky back advantage that fiber tape does though. Since paper type tapes don't adhere on their own they will require a coat of mud between the tape itself and and the drywall boards surface.
Due to the added layer of drywall mud for papered tapes they are considered to be a little more difficult to work with than fiber mesh type drywall tapes.
FIBER MESH TAPE
I have used both paper and fiber mesh drywall tapes finding the fiber tape to be much faster and less messy to work with. If you do use fiber tape it's very important to have a reasonably thick first coating of mud over top of the fiber mesh tape. Without that thick layer of mud (1/8"th to 1/4" of an inch thick or so) the tape will show through your mud resulting in an undesirable painted surface.
Also, when taping and mudding drywall be careful as you sand the mud itself. Fiber tape tends to fray causing problems if you sand through the mud lifting the tape below.
THE PAPER TYPE TAPE
Paper style drywalling tape needs to have mud applied, underneath the tape and into the drywall seam. Mudding the seams first then laying in the tape will glue the drywall tape in place after the mud has dried.
When using paper type drywalling tape, insure the tape is as flat and into the wet mud as possible. Tape that isn’t flush against a surface will leave bumps or ridges causing the drywall tape to poke through the mud.
Since your just learning how to tape and mud drywall chances are good that you'll end up with a bump in your dried mud. If so, cut your bump or ridge out with a utility knife.
After the bump is removed patch any holes you made with some drywall mud. Let your patching dry then lightly sand each patch along with with the mudded drywall seams. To sand use a medium (100 to 120 grit) sanding sponge. Once the sanding is done float on your next coat of mud.
HOW TO TAPE AND MUD DRYWALL SEAMS
Of course the best way to tape and mud your drywall seams is to use a taping machine the Homax 6500 Drywall Taping Tool
will do an excellent job for the average home owner. It is plastic though and can easily break if it falls off a ladder. If your wanting a more durable professional type drywall taper then the Banjo-E-Z Load would be the best choice.
Otherwise, apply tape to your drywall seams according to the type of tape your using. In the case of fiber mesh it has a sticky back were paper drywall tape needs a coat of mud so that it can adhere to the drywall boards surface.
Once the drywall tape is secured onto a drywall seam, place an 1/8"th to 1/4" (or so) of drywall mud over the drywall tape with a 6" to 8" wide drywall knife (float) or trowel. After the next coat is dry lightly sand it if there are ridges or bumps in the mud.
Mud that's sanded smooth can be troweled over with another coat of compound. Each coat after the second coat of mud, should be thoroughly sanded yet not sanded so much that you rub down to the drywall tape. A professional drywaller will apply two coats of compound, you on the other hand should do as many applications as it takes to get the job done.
When your just learning how to tape and mud drywall, start your mudding with the help of a small sized drywall knife then work up to a larger knife for each additional coating of mud. As an example, the first application of mud could be layered on using a "6 to 8" wide drywall knife. For the next coating an 8" to 10" knife will work and last but not least is the 12" to 14” knife.
What your trying to do is feather out your mud so that it looks flat and even with the walls surface. Professional drywall finishers (or knowledgeable handy persons) on the other hand tend to prefer a 14" wide (give or take) trowel (float) and two coats of mud when doing smaller projects. Larger jobs would require the TapeTech Drywall Bazooka or another type of taping tool very much like it.
If you keep laying on coats of mud in one spot without tapering out your mud you will end up with to large of a crown (hump) in the middle of your walls. Adding a layer of wet mud to each side of the first layer of dried mud (crown) and working your way out should leave your mudded area flat, tapered and hopefully impossible to see after painting.
When a professional Drywaller tapes and applies drywall mud to a seam the mud dries flat, level and flush with the wall surface. Also, after they mud over a taped seam it usually ends up with a one and a half or two foot wide feathered out swath of mud on the wall.
To be on the safe side the only thick coat of mud you will need is the first top coat that goes over the drywall tape, all other applications should be reasonably thin. For those who are inexperienced it’s easier to apply five or six thin wide tapered coats than to sand down two thick skinny ones.
The only way to learn how to tape and mud drywall is to practice, practice, practice. Understanding the muds thickness (both in the container and on the walls), knowing how to hold the drywall knife properly and the best process for sanding out drywall compound comes with doing the job over and over again.
Starting with your garage walls, a closet or basement project before taking on that livingroom might be a good idea.
HOW TO TAPE AND MUD DRYWALL BUT JOINTS
A butt joint is when two non-tapered drywall board edges butt up together creating flat, strait, flush seams and the intent is to tape and mud the butted seams.
The secret to having a smooth flat “but joint” is to insure that your first coat of mud is a consistent 1/8" to 1/4" of an inch in thickness over top of your drywall tape. Once the first layer of drywall is dried use a 6" or 8" wide drywalling knife to spread each coat.
Feather each application after the first one (making it wide and tapered). A butt joint can, when done properly, have a two or three foot wide path of mud layered and tapering out from the seam. What that means is start in the middle with your first coat of mud, let the mud dry, then keep building out on either side of your first dried strip of mud using more progressively thinner, and flatter, coats as you work away from the seam itself.
Build out from each mudding application while being sure to carefully sand between dried coats if needed). Your mudding job should when finished looks flat, wide and level.
Once you think your done prime the wall, let the primer dry, then with a bright light in hand (the kind you use under the hood of a car) look for humps, ridges, dents, holes and divots on the walls surface.
Patch any deviations that you see with drywall mud, let the mud dry then re-prime the patches. Keep patching (and priming) until the mudding job is to your satisfaction.
HOW TO TAPE AND MUD DRYWALL CORNERS
Corners are a pain to mud. For the best results start taping your corners by bending the tape in half prior to placing your tape into the corners. With that done use a drywall knife or float that's made specifically for mudding corners.
Once the drywall tape is bent and secured you can mud over the tape in the same fashion as you would for a regular drywall seam. Papered metal (or plastic) corner bead made for both inside and outside corners can be purchased as needed. Corner bead makes the job easier resulting in a more finished look.
Practice, practice, practice is the only way to learn how to tape and mud drywall corners.
PRIMING THE WALL
After you know how to tape and mud drywall you'll need to roll the walls with drywall primer. Priming usually shows ridges, holes and bumps that may have been missed prior to priming.
Use a good light to inspect your mudding job and re-mud as needed. Let the mud patches dry, then sand, and spot prime the patches. Follow up by applying two coats of quality paint. Be sure to pole sand the walls (120 grit) between each coat of primer or paint.
SUMMARY OF HOW TO TAPE AND MUD DRYWALL
Pre-mixed drywall mud (compound) comes in both boxes and pails. I prefer the pail. Buying mud involves an assortment of compound to choose from. All purpose drywall mud works fine for most jobs but you may find that thinning the mud with a little water (be sure to read the label before thinning) helps the mud lays out better.
When mixing your mud you'll need a heavy duty drill and mud stirring paddle mixer. Don’t thin the mud to much, be sure to add a very small amount of water at a time (1 cup of water per gallon of mud maximum). Your compound should be the consistency that works best for you. Drywall mud that’s the thickness of cake icing is my preference.
With that said, thinned mud smooths out onto the wall easier but thinner mud can shrink more than thicker resulting in cracking and extra coats of mud. Even so, when learning how to tape and mud drywall it's best to do what's comfortable for you. If thinner mud is easier to smooth out but requires extra coats it's probably better to go with the extra coats.
I use what’s called a Hawk to hold the mud. You don't want to dip your dirty Taping Knife right into the mud bucket or box, otherwise your clean drywall mud, will become contaminated with old dried out mud and other wall debris. Always keep your tools pail and the pail lid exceptionally clean. If your not wanting to use the hawk try a Mud Pan.
Also, You can buy different coverings for outside and inside corners and drywall board edges which will make your job of mudding and taping a lot less difficult. When mudding corners using a Corner Trowel can make for the best results. With some practice you should easily learn how to tape and drywall in no time. Talk to your local drywall product supplier for help regarding the materials and tools needed for the job at hand.
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