Drywall Joint Finishing

After hanging your drywall, you're ready for the most critical part of the drywall installation process,- taping and finishing the joints between wallboards, also known as mudding. Although it can be tedious and frustrating, it affects the final appearance of the job greatly, so you need to take your time and do it right.

Finishing drywall has three steps to it

    1) Filler Coat: Applying a joint compound filler coat to joints and nailheads. This is reinforced with paper joint tape. When dry, this is sanded down.
    2) Second Coat: The joints are coated and sanded a second time 24 hours after the first coat.
    3) Finish Coat: After another 24 hours, applying of a watered down, tempered finish coating of joint compound. If done properly, this last coating should have no need of sanding.

Tip: In order to work from easiest joints to hardest, follow this order for applying the joint compound: start with nailheads, then valley joints (the longitudinal joints), inside corners, outside corners, and lastly the butt joints.


Before starting mudding, check to make sure none of the wallboards are loose- some nails may have worked their way out a little during hammering on adjacent nails. Push the centers and edges of all the wallboards and watch for any movements around the nails, particularly on ceilings. Any looseness should be corrected with extra nails.

Also check for excessive gaps between boards. Anything between ¼ inch and ½ inch should be filled with compound and let to dry for 24 hours. Any spaces between sheets of over ½ inch need to be filled with wallboard. Cut a strip of drywall and glue it in place, letting the glue dry overnight.

Pro Drywall Finishing Tips

Here are a few tips that can help you do a good finishing job.

Scrape Your Lid: When you open a bucket of joint compound, clean the inside of the lid by scraping off any compound. Otherwise the compound on the lid dries and crumbles off into the fresh compound in the bucket, causing gouges and lumps in your joints when you try to smooth them out with your knife.

Handle with Care: Your joint knives need to be kept in good condition, so use them carefully and avoid dropping them. If the blades get bent or nicked, the knife will be incapable of properly finishing a joint. After use, they should be cleaned and dried thoroughly. Don't let joint compound dry on the blade, and dry them after washing. You don't want them to rust.

Clean up Spills: Spilled or dripped compound can be cleaned off easily enough even after drying, but a job messy area is an unsafe one, and if you step in a patch of wet compound you could slip and hurt yourself falling.

Now you're ready to begin. See Applying the Filler Coat.