Traditional metal corner bead is tedious and time consuming to install, and if you don’t cover it with tape, it’s likely to develop cracks along the edges. Luckily there’s an alternative that’s simpler to install and won’t crack. If you’re an old-school carpenter like me, you’ve probably dismissed paper-faced corner bead as an inferior DIY product, but trust me, once you try it, you’ll never go back.
You’ll find paper-faced corner bead alongside standard metal corners in home centers and drywall supply stores. It costs a little more, about $3 for an 8-ft. length vs. $2 for metal bead. But it’s worth every penny.
Pros use a special hopper to apply joint compound to the corner bead and an expensive rolling tool to embed the bead, but you can get the same benefits using a 3-in. stiff putty knife, a 5- or 6-in. flexible putty knife and a spray bottle filled with water. Here’s how to install paper-faced corner bead, including a few tips to simplify the job and avoid problems.
Spread a thick layer of all-purpose joint compound on both sides of the corner and smooth it off with a putty knife. Avoid lightweight joint compound because it doesn’t adhere as well to the corner bead. Strive for an even, consistent layer of joint compound about 1/8 in. thick. Don’t leave any thin or dry spots.
A perfectly positioned corner bead protrudes slightly at the corner to allow a void for joint compound. After you place the bead, check for a void by setting your 6-in. putty knife against the corner to make sure there’s a space under it. Check both sides in several places along the length of the corner. Slide the corner in or out to make adjustments. Use staples to hold the corner in place if it won’t stay put.
After the embedding coat of mud is dry, apply another coat of joint compound and smooth it. Do a final coat after the second coat dries. Sand the corner with 150-grit drywall sandpaper mounted on a drywall sander. Sand carefully and only enough to blend the joint compound into the drywall and remove high spots. If you sand too much, you’ll damage the paper face on the corner bead. If you do sand through the joint compound and create a fuzzy area, cover it with a thin layer of joint compound and resand when it dries.