Tip 1: Mix the compound
If you've just opened a bucket, remove about a quart
of the joint compound to make room for water.
Then add about two or three cups of water and start
mixing the compound. Pros use a powerful 1/2-in.
drill with a special mixing paddle. But a hand-powered
giant “potato masher”–type mixer made for
this purpose works great for the casual taper.
The best consistency for joint compound depends
on its purpose. It should be pudding consistency for
hand taping, and a little thicker for the final coats.
For smaller jobs, transfer some of the joint compound
to another pail before mixing so you can
make custom batches for taping or finishing.
Tip 2: Don't use compound right out of the pail
Joint compound straight from the pail is simply
too thick to apply and spread evenly. So before
you start taping, begin by thinning and mixing
the joint compound.
Tip 3: Prefill gaps with “setting” compound
Setting-type compound is perfect for prefilling
because it hardens quickly and doesn't shrink as
much as regular joint compound.
Start by breaking or cutting out areas of the drywall
that are broken or crushed, then peel away
any paper shreds left around the edges. Then mix
up a small batch of setting-type compound (if you
mix too much, it'll harden before you use it up).
Mix it thick so it'll stick in the holes without sagging.
When the compound sets to the hardness of
soap, scrape off high spots and lumps with the
edge of your taping knife. Also fill gaps between
sheets with setting compound and let it harden
before you apply joint compound and tape.
Tip 4: Cut “V” grooves at butt joints
The paper facing on drywall ends may show
through the taped seam. Avoid this problem by
carving a shallow “V” groove between the sheets
after you hang them. Then fill the “V” with setting-type joint compound before you cover the
seam with joint compound and tape. This will
really help out with the toughest taping challenge—butt joints.
Tip 5: Scrape ridges and bumps between coats
Even experienced tapers leave little globs of joint compound and
an occasional ridge. If you don't get rid of these after they dry,
they'll cause you all kinds of grief. Chunks of dried compound
can break off and get stuck under your taping knife and cause
streaks in your fresh joint compound that you'll have to fill in
later. Avoid the problem by scraping the joints between coats. All
it takes is a quick once-over with a 6-in. taping knife to knock off
ridges and bumps. Hold the knife at a low angle and push it
across the taped joints.
Tip 6: Embed the tape completely
You can avoid a lot of extra work later by making sure paper tape is thoroughly
embedded in the joint compound. Start by laying a thick bed of joint
compound down the center of the seam. Then smooth it down to a consistent
thickness of about 1/8 in. with your 5- or 6-in. taping knife. Wet the
tape and press it into the joint compound. Then, starting at the center and
working toward the ends, press the tape into the joint compound with your
knife. The key to success is making sure joint compound oozes out from
under both sides of the tape as you embed it.
Tip 7: Don't leave dry tape
Paper tape that's not completely
embedded in joint compound
will bubble or fall off
later when it dries. Keep a close
eye on the tape as you embed it
with the taping knife. If you
see sections of the tape where
one or both sides remain dry
with no joint compound oozing
out, pull off the tape and
apply more joint compound
under the dry areas. Then
reapply the tape over the new
Tip 8: Don't mud both sides of the corner at once
It's pretty easy to get a
nearly flawless coat of joint
compound on the first side
of an inside corner. But if
you start on the second
side before the first is dry,
things get tough. That's
because it's impossible to
avoid messing up the wet
compound on the first
side, and you won’t be able
to avoid making a groove
in the corner.
Tip 9: Mud one side of the corner at a time
The trick is to coat one side of
each corner and let it dry
overnight before troweling
joint compound on each adjacent
side. Start by spreading
about a 3-in. band of joint
compound over the tape on
one side of the corner. Then
smooth it with a 5- or 6-in. taping
knife. Press the outside edge
of the knife against the drywall
to create a feathered edge that
won't require much sanding.
Try to avoid leaving too much
joint compound over the
tape—a buildup at the corner
will make it harder to fit baseboard
or crown moldings tight
to the wall.
Tip 10: Tape over metal corner beads
Cracking along the edge of metal outside corner
beads is a common problem. And usually
it doesn't happen until after the wall is painted,
so repairing the crack means repainting
the wall again! There are a couple of solutions.
One method that's become standard
practice for professional tapers is to use special
corner bead that is held on by joint compound
rather than nails. No-Coat Ultratrim
is one such product.
If you don't want to go shopping for special
corner bead, avoid future cracking by applying
paper tape over the metal edge after
you've nailed on the bead. Embed the tape
just as you would on any joint. Then fill the
corner as usual.
Tip 11: Wet the paper tape
Wetting the tape before you embed it in the joint
compound can help eliminate troublesome bubbles
that show up after the joint dries. Keep a bucket of
water nearby and quickly run each piece of tape
through it before applying the tape to the wall.
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Tip 12: Cut out bubbled or loose tape
Even if you're diligent about embedding the tape, you'll
occasionally run into a section of tape that bubbles or
comes loose. Don't try to bury the problem with more
compound. It'll just reappear later. Instead, cut around
the damaged area with a utility knife and remove the
tape. Avoid a divot in this spot by filling the recess with
setting compound and letting it harden before applying
another coat of joint compound.