How to Finish Drywall

Once your drywall is hung, and you’re able to set aside a chunk of time to finishing the drywall project, there are three separate stages you’ll need to go through to be able to finish your drywall and get it ready for adding primer and finally paint. Here’s an overview of how to finish drywall without complications or leaving your walls in a mess.

What you’ll be doing is applying mud, or joint compound, onto your drywall in stages. Mud tends to need three coats to compensate for its tendency to shrink and crack, and you’ll need to leave at least 24 hours drying time in between each layer of mud. Each layer might also need some sanding after it has dried, depending on your previous experience, but you should always do sanding after the final coat, regardless.

How To Finish Screw and Nail Indents

Using a 3-inch drywall knife, spread mud into the spots where screws or nails have left indentations in the wall. With the knife, scrape away the excess mud, and easy as that, you’ve covered the indentations. This should be the easiest part of finishing drywall, since the knife will generally scrape away just enough mud to create a nice, flush covering. You should only need one coat for this.

How To Finish Room Joints

Using a 3- or 4-inch knife, apply mud onto any tapered joints in the room. Let this coat dry for a day, and then use a 6-inch knife to repeat the process, and allow it a 24-hour drying period as well. Make a third application of mud with a 10-inch drywall knife, and once this has dried, you can sand away any excess mud.

In order to finish ‘butt joints’, you’ll need to feather out your mud on either side of the joint, possibly as far as one to two feet away. This is the only way you’ll be able to make your wall look flat, but it’s what you need to do to avoid a bulky, awkward-looking wall.

How To Finish Corners

To finish outside corners, position a metal bead with drywall nails or screws about every five inches. Make sure your nails hit studs, or else the whole process could come apart at the seams – literally. Take your 3-inch knife and spread a very thin layer of mud over the bead, and feather it out if necessary to even out the wall surface. Let this dry and do any preliminary sanding that might be needed. Then, repeat the process with your 6-inch knife, and after it has dried, do it a third time with a 10-inch drywall knife. Feather the mud as required after each layer.

To finish your inside corners, spread a thin layer of mud just wider than your joint tape inside the corner. Fold the tape along its natural crease and put it in place in the corner. In order to get rid of the excess mud, use the 3-inch drywall knife by placing the blade flat against the tape and pulling down. Do each side of the tape in sequence, but move quickly lest the mud begin to harden and cause problems when you try to remove the excess.

A second, very thin layer of mud should go over the tape and be allowed to dry; after this, you can add more mud to even out the surface, should it be required. Finally, don’t forget to sand the whole thing after it has fully dried.