After installing and fastening your drywall, you need to move on to the taping and compound stage. This is an important stage because the final look of your walls will really be determined by how well you apply the mud or compound to your drywall.
Here are three of the most basic things you need to know about mudding drywall.
1. Know Your Compounds and Your Tools
Preparation is the key in anything, particularly in home improvement projects. Take the time to familiarize yourself with products and techniques before you begin a project will save time down the road and will also result in a better-finished project.
Jointing compound comes in both a powder and pre-mixed form. There are also different textures. Taping compound is coarse and should be used for the initial taping layer. Topping compound is much thinner and smoother than taping compound and should be used for finishing the surface.
There is also all-purpose joint compound on the market, which is halfway between taping and topping compound in terms of both texture and thickness.
To apply the mud, you should be using taping knives. These tools come in different lengths and you should use one that is slightly longer than the previous one for each new layer.
At this stage, you also want to make sure that all of your nails and screws are properly sunk in and that none of them are sticking out. You check this by running a taping knife along the edges and seams. If you feel or hear anything against the metal, then you need to go back and sink the nail or screw further into the drywall.
2. Follow the Proper Steps
Mudding drywall is a four-step, four-day process. You need to make sure that you allow at least twenty-four hours of drying time between each application of compound.
You start with a taping layer. At this stage, you apply compound and then insert paper-jointing tape into the joins and then smooth with more compound. You also need to cover up all of the nail and screws with compound (ensuring first, of course, that they are properly sunk in). After completing the taping layer, your surfaces should be all filled and everything should be leveled.
The next step is to apply two layers of compound that will smooth out your surfaces. With each application you’ll want to use a taping knife that is one or two inches longer than the previous one. For the second and third coat, you’ll want to use a taping knife that is anywhere from seven inches to a foot long.
You want to try and apply the compound on the joint and then smooth it by stroking each side and then one last stroke right down the middle.
It can be tricky to apply this compound. You’ll need to apply the mud in different thicknesses and with different pressure in different spots. When doing the side strokes, you want to apply more pressure to the outside of the knife, whereas when you do the center stroke, you will want to keep the pressure evenly distributed. This will take a bit of practice and a lot of patience.
The final coat is a finishing coat. This is where you will have to be most fussy to ensure a smooth finished product. Start by scraping a wide taping knife over the joints to ensure that all ridges and bumps are removed.
You can thin out the compound for this last stage. Some people do and some people don’t it is just a matter of personal preference.
3. Have a Little Patience
When mudding drywall, the key is patience and consistency. Though you may be eager to get through this stage and on to the priming and painting, this stage is crucial and will make all the difference in terms of the appearance of your finished walls. You need to make sure that you leave the proper amount of drying time between coats.
You also want to take the time to check for bumps and ridges between coats and then sand the room after your final coat. This sanding will smooth out any remaining little ridges. This can be a messy process so make sure you lay down plastic to seal off the room and also wear protective gear to eliminate the threat of eye and respiratory irritation.
Photo by Georgia National Guard