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Drywall Taping – Taping Walls

If you are hanging drywall yourself, taping is the next step in finishing your rooms. Taping is a skill that can be learned. It requires feeling over brute force. 

Here are the tools you will need for taping. In the upper left is a mud
pan. They come in plastic, galvanized and stainless steel like mine. On
the upper right side is a 6'' mud knife, the work horse of the taping
game. It is used to scoop the mud out of the bucket, and into the pan,
applying the tape coat of mud, corners and spotting nails. It is also
the first call for doing patch repairs, and fixing problems like electric box cutout misses.
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On the bottom right is an 8'' taping knife for second coats and areas
that need a wider knife, such as corner beads, and cover  or second
coats. On the bottom left is a 12'' knife for third or finish coats and
for running butt joints. Finally in the middle of the photo is a hand
sander. A necessary tool that creates the majority of the mess in
finishing drywall. How much mess you create and have to cleanup is a
direct result of your taping efforts.

In a perfect world we have smooth seams, no tears, damage, and the only butt joints are corners. Good Luck with that….

Here we have a wall that has a number of the most common features. We have seam joints,(the long factory edges) butt joints, (the short joints where two sheets meet) cutouts for electric boxes, cutouts for plumbing, a trimless window feature, and some common problems that may  occur when hanging drywall, such as the damage on the seam joint and the damage from mis cutting an electric box opening.
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I have checked my screws by running my 6'' knife down the wall and listening for clicks that tell me that a fastener is not below the surface. I have cut away the loose drywall and paper on my seams and around the electric box. The next step if your walls have any of these problems is pre fill.

Here is our wall with taping compound prefilling the damaged areas of our wall prior to taping. 'Regular' mud/joint compound has a 24 hour drying cycle. You tape today, you cover tomorrow, and the next day you apply your third coat, and if all goes well the forth day is sanding followed by priming. Just because your mud looks dry after a few hours, do not be deceived, it is only the top that is dry.

You can use speed set/hot mud/ to do your prefills and get your tape  coat on in the same day. I show this here. I also spotted the fasteners.

Tapewall2 I have also taped and prefilled the butt joints as there were holes around the plumbing and elevation differences on the wall. 

Having finished my prefill, it is time for the tape coat. I use mesh tape on the flats and paper tape on the inside corners. Mesh tape is self adhesive and almost eliminates one of the worst problems(tape bubbles) with inexperienced tapers, and makes the mudding before tape application unnecessary in the flats, you still need to do it on your inside corners.

From personal experience you should tape the buttjoints first, running the tape within 1/2'' of your inside corner and a 1/2'' over the seam joints. This allows the butt joint tape to be underneath your seam tape and under your corner tape.  After mudding and wiping the butt joints, with the 8'' knife, you next mud and wipe the seams. Then you do the corners with your 6'' knife and paper tape.  Finally you coat any cornerbeads, box repairs, and spot the nails.

Tapewall3The next day brings us to our second coat. For those of you who are just starting the taping game, before you begin the second coat, take your drywall knife and lightly slide it across your seams from yesterday to remove any drywall mud that did not get wiped down or cleaned up from yesterdays taping adventure.

Like yesterday we will tape our butts first, our seams second, box repairs and spot nails/screws and finally one side of our corners.

Getting our walls flat is more about appearance than anything else. The seam joints are easy to make flat as the sheets have a depression from the factory that we are just filling in to make them level.

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Butt joints on the other hand present us with challenges as the edges of the sheets have no depressions. With our tape and mud coat we  already have a bump on our wall. Relax, unless you are using screw blocks this is normal, and will be fixed. What we do is to apply wider coats of mud on either side of our butt joint so the bump gets spread over a much greater distance and gives us the appearance of a flat wall.

The photo below gives you a look at how much wider our butt joint is than our seam joint. This is where we use the 12'' knife.

Tapewall5After your mud dries, and you sand your joints smooth, being careful not to scuff the paper with too vigorus sanding, this is the point where those that desire it get texture applied to the walls.

In either case, after finishing your walls, it is Primer Time! Always Prime Sheetrock. No I do not belong to the primer lobby, I belong to the lazy and easy lobby. Priming drywall seals it, and as an added bonus allows you to see any imperfections that can be easily repaired with a bit of wall spackle. Raw drywall sucks up paint in a major way. Primer is a lot cheaper than that custom finish color that you paid big bucks for.

Also by sealing the drywall, you will need less paint to cover the walls. We fed our thirsty walls with primer,remember?

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After the primer, you are ready to apply your finish coat. 

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Flooring, trim and stuff, you can start living knowing that you did it.