Even if you have the right supplies, finishing drywall is a task that you might be dreading. If you enjoy DIY home improvement projects, you’ll find yourself doing this task at least once. It’s not uncommon for homeowners to call a drywall company to do the finish for them. The idea is to achieve smooth, neat joints, which is easier said than done.
Still, it doesn’t have to be too challenging. With the right tools and helpful resources, you can finish drywall with neat joints.
Here are a few tips:
- The selection of tools and drywall supplies is obviously very important – especially when it comes to knives. You’ll need a knife with a flexible blade. The width is a matter of personal preference. Decide which compound and tape to work with. For many homeowners, the pre-mixed compound is more convenient. Fiberglass tape is usually preferred over paper tape. Other supplies you’ll need include a bucket-opening tool, joint compound pan, respirator for dealing with dust, electric drill, drywall screws, 180 or 220-grit sandpaper, mixing paddle, and corner bead.
- Always keep the knives clean. After each pass is completed, wipe the excess compound off the knives on the edge of the pan. Never, ever let any debris – including dried compound - into the fresh compound. Keep in mind that the surface of the compound is only as smooth as the stroke used to apply it. Make an effort to lengthen the strokes as you begin applying the compound. The knife should always be aligned with the direction of the joint.
- Even if you have ready-mixed compound, take some time to mix it to smooth it out. Load up a 5-inch knife starting at a butt joint. Work as smoothly as possible, as you apply the compound starting at one end of the joint. After the compound is applied to the joint and smoothed out, cut a piece of tape the appropriate length and embed it using your fingers. The middle of the tape should be aligned directly over the middle of the joint.
- Once the tape is in place, take an 8-inch knife to cover the entire joint with additional compound. Some installers prefer to wait until after the compound is dry before applying the second coat. The next step is to work with the tapered joints. They are a bit easier to finish due to the depression formed into the long edges of the panels.
- Work on the inside of the corners first, then the outside. Don’t try to finish both sides at the same time. When finishing the outside joints, attach a metal corner bead to the joint with the drywall nails or screws. With the 8-inch knife, fill the area over the bead with compound.
- When everything is dry, take the 5-inch knife to scrape off any excess compound. With a 10-inch knife add an additional coat, following the same joint sequence, and then a third. When the third coat is dry, use the grit paper to sand the surface. Since you’ll be dealing with a lot of dust, where the respirator and goggles. A dust mask alone isn’t enough.
Make sure you have the right drywall supplies ahead of time. Follow these guidelines for finishing drywall installation.