There is nothing like standing back and looking at your first drywall project. The fact that just a few days ago you were standing in a half-finished room of joists, studs and exposed insulation that you have since transformed into something that actually looks like a room is very satisfying.
The most important part of the project, though is still staring you in the face, because now you are looking at finishing drywall screws. While you yourself may appreciate the efforts you have put into constructing this masterpiece, the only thing that anyone else will notice is the flaws and imperfections that are the result of poorly finished drywall screws.
When finishing dry wall screws, the first thing you want to do is make sure that all of the screws are sunk below the surface of the drywall. The easiest way to do this is to this is to run a utility knife over the screws. If you feel a click, then you have a screw that needs to be sunk deeper into the drywall.
Remember, though, don’t sink the screw too deep or you will crack the dry wall. The best way to sink the screws to the right depth is to use a Phillips screw driver or give them a tap with a drywall hammer. Also, look out for broken-off screws and screws that were drilled in crookedly. They will either have to be removed or sawed off.
Taping the Joints
Once you have inspected all of the screws, you are ready to start the taping process. This first coat you will apply to the joints is known as the “tape coat.” This means applying joint compound to the seams of the drywall and embedding paper joint tape into it to cover the seams. You can buy joint compound in a powder form or premixed.
In any case, make sure that you don’t stir it too often or you will work air into the mixture which will cause bubbles to appear on the surface of the wall. Start with the ceiling, and generously spread the joint compound or “mud” over the joints with a taping knife. To make the application of the mud even, hold the knife vertically when it is full of mud and then horizontally as it runs out.
Take a piece of the joint tape and gently pat it into the joint compound so that it sticks. Then go back and work the tape further into the mud, starting in the center and continuing out to the end of each joist. Put enough pressure on the tape so that it is embedded, but make sure to leave enough mud between it and the drywall to form a bond.
Scrape the excess off with your knife and scrape your knife on the side of the bucket so that the joint compound can be reused. When you are finished, apply a very thin coat of mud over the tape, being sure that the paper can be seen through the mud. Try not to use any excess, but don’t worry if you have a few streaks. They can be sanded down later. Repeat this process until the room is finished.
Mudding Fastener Heads
The last thing you have to do for the tape coat is to cover all of the screw and nail heads. It just takes a small amount of mud to cover these, but start by applying more than you need.
Don’t cover each screw head individually. Instead, cover an entire row of screws with one stroke. Gently scrape off the excess mud with the taping knife almost perpendicular to the surface. This will leave a very thin layer of mud all the way up and down the wall. At this point, you are finished with the screws and the drywall taping and ready to apply your wall treatment.