With Tape and Mud, Less is More

Technique, experience, and a light touch are essential

Sometimes in the remodeling biz, it seems like it’s an endless stream of either creating holes (digging foundations, framing out doors and windows, cutting spaces for outlet boxes and can lights) or filling them in. Today, we’re doing the latter, specifically taping and mudding our interior walls. The sheet rock has been installed and inspection signed off, so the next step is to fill dimples created by screws, and smooth over gaps formed at butt joints and corners with tape and mud.

The end goal is walls that have the appearance of perfection, but know this: No amount of shimming and trimming behind drywall will smooth surfaces completely, and poorly applied tape and mud can create bumps, grooves, divots, and ridges that only accentuate the problem. Technique, experience, and a light touch are essential.

A few tips from the pros: Mix joint compound thick enough so it “holds” together but  thin enough that it requires minimal sanding later. It will shrink when it dries, so if it goes on too thick, it can pull away from edges and crack, requiring fixes. Allow enough time for materials to dry thoroughly between coats.

If using traditional paper tape rather than fiberglass webbing tape, be sure to apply joint compound, then the tape and then another layer of compound on top of the tape, so the paper is uniformly wet. This will allow it to dry evenly and avoid curling or buckling. In general, it’s better to underapply mud and fill a hole or imperfection on a subsequent coat than to overfill and sand down later. Sanding adds time and labor and increases the chances of introducing additional imperfections.

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