How to Install a Corner Bead

Updated: Jan. 27, 2023

Paper-faced corner bead makes taping outside corners a snap

drywall corner bead wall beading drywall paperFamily Handyman
Outside drywall corners have traditionally been protected with nail-on metal corners, but paper-faced corner bead is simpler and resists cracks and chips better. All you need to install it are taping knives and a spray bottle filled with water.

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Overview: Corner Wall Beading

Traditional metal corner drywall bead is tedious and time-consuming to install, and if you don’t cover metal corner with tape, it’s likely to develop cracks along the edges. Luckily there’s an alternative that’s simpler to install that metal corner and won’t crack. If you’re an old-school carpenter like me, you’ve probably dismissed paper-faced drywall corner bead as an inferior DIY product, but trust me, once you try it, you’ll never go back.

You’ll find paper-faced drywall 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 the metal bead. But the wall beading is 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.

Step 1: Cut the drywall paper beading with tin snips

wall beading drywall paper

Cutting to length

If you need to cut pieces to length, simply hold the wall beading in place, mark the cut, and cut the bead with tin snips. Where pieces run to the floor, cut them about 1/2 in. short. The baseboard will cover the gap.

Step 2: Mud the corner


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.

Step 3: Mist the wall beading

wall beading

Damp drywall paper bonds better

Wetting the paper covering on the corner bead helps create a better bond and better adhesion and cuts down on wrinkles. Do this by spritzing the corner wall beading before you stick it to the wall. You don’t have to soak the corner bead; just dampen it a bit.

Step 4: Position the drywall paper bead

Push into place

Press the dampened corner bead into the joint compound with your fingers. Run your fingers up and down while pressing evenly on both sides to embed and center the corner bead.

Step 5: Embed the tape

First pass

After positioning the wall beading, wipe and smooth off excess joint compound with a 5- or 6-in. putty knife. Press the edge of the tape with the knife blade to ensure a tight bond with the drywall.

Step 6: Use staples to align corners

Fastening tip

Beads that intersect at corners have to align perfectly where they meet. But without nails to hold them in place, the beads can slide out of position. The solution is to slide the corner bead into alignment with the adjoining bead and hold it in place with a few staples.

Step 7: Check the corner with your blade

Leave a void for compound

A perfectly positioned corner bead protrudes slightly at the corner to allow a void for joint compound. After you place the drywall paper 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.

Step 8: Scrape away excess mud before it hardens

Don’t gouge dry corners

Scraping dried joint compound from the corner can damage the paper tape. Remove excess joint compound before it hardens. Carefully slide a putty knife along the outside edge to knock off excess joint compound.

Step 9: Finish up with two more coats of joint compound

Final passes

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 wall beading. 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.

Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

  • Stapler
  • Taping knife
  • Tin snips
You’ll also need a spray bottle

Required Materials for this Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here’s a list.

  • All-purpose joint compound
  • Paper-faced corner bead