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Taping and mudding is the process that joins pieces of drywall into a single solid wall. Drywall tape and coats of drywall compound are applied to reinforce joints and conceal screws and nails. When taping and mudding are done correctly, the wall is flat and smooth and the seams underneath are hard to see.
This guide details how to tape and mud drywall, the types of mud and tape to use for the tasks, and how to protect the floor and area where the mudding and taping is applied.
Types of Drywall Mud
There are different types of joint compounds used for mudding drywall. The choices of mud come in either “dry” or “wet” varieties.
- Dry mud is the quick-setting powdered form of mud that is sold in plastic-lined bags. Powdered mud requires mixing with special tools. This timed drywall mud hardens quickly and takes several hours to dry between coats. It is often used as a strong base coat.
- Pre-mixed or “wet” mud is ready to use and requires adding water to thin the mud to the right consistency to apply to the drywall.
- All-purpose mud is commonly used as a first coat because the bonding agents in the mud cause the drywall tape to hold better. All-purpose mud is harder to sand and not often used as a finish coat.
- Topping mud is a form of dry mud that is lighter than all-purpose. It is best used for final coats.
- Lightweight all-purpose drywall mud is lighter in weight and easier to sand than all-purpose joint compound used for mudding drywall. It can be used as a first and second coat for seams and corner beads and is almost always used as a finish coat.
Types of Drywall Tape
The choices of drywall tape come down to paper, fiberglass mesh and preformed. Knowing how to tape drywall enables you to conceal holes, indentations and imperfections on the drywall.
- Paper tape: Paper tape is non-adhesive and must be set within a layer of compound to stick to the drywall surface. It is nonelastic and can create stronger joints in the weakest areas of drywall.
- Fiberglass mesh tape: Fiberglass is self-adhesive and sticks flat to the drywall surface. Fiberglass mesh also resists mold.
- Preformed tape: This type of tape is used on outside wall corners and can be made from paper, plastic, thin metal or other materials. The preformed tape creates a smooth, consistent appearance.
Prepare to Mud and Tape Drywall
Drywall mud can harden in as little as 15 minutes. Sanding and finishing drywall creates a fine dust that can be harmful if inhaled. Follow these preparation steps before mudding drywall.
- Assemble the supplies needed to the side, such as the mud pans, joint compound and paint buckets.
- Wear appropriate protection such as coveralls to keep drywall mud off clothing and a mask or respirator mask to avoid breathing in the dust.
- Apply plastic or canvas drop cloths or tarps to prevent the sanding dust from damaging nearby furniture or spreading beyond the immediate work area.
Mud the Joints and Screw Spots
The long edge of each drywall sheet is beveled and purposely thinner than the rest of the sheet. The drywall edges are put together to create a joint. Use a utility knife or paint scraper to apply about an inch of mud to fill the joints and cover the spots where screws attach the drywall sheets to the studs. Wipe away any excess mud.
Apply and Smooth the Tape
This task of how to tape drywall creates a smooth surface for mudding the joints.
- Place a piece of paper drywall tape over the mud in the joint, pushing it in every foot or so to hold the tape in place.
- Pull the utility knife along the tape, embedding it into the mud and pushing out air bubbles along the way. Start at the center of the tape and work the knife down towards the corners until the ends are embedded in the mud.
Apply Mud and Tape the Corners and Edges
These steps detail how to tape drywall to the inside corners and edges.
- Apply mud with the utility knife to both sides of an inside corner. Place a creased strip of paper drywall tape in the corner over the compound.
- Pull the utility knife along the tape, embedding it into the mud and pushing out air bubbles. Use light strokes to push the tape into the corner. Wipe away any excess mud.
- Place strips of preformed tape on the outside corners and edges. Apply mud over the taped corners and edges with consistent vertical strokes. Wipe away any excess compound.
- Allow the mudded and taped areas to dry overnight. When completely dry, sand the areas with 100- or 120-grit sandpaper for a smooth finish to complete the first mudding drywall task.
Apply a Second Coat of Mud
The first task of how to mud drywall focused on taping and mudding the joints and corners. The next step is to apply a second coat of compound to these areas.
- Apply a thin layer of mud with a 10-inch drywall knife, using consistent strokes. No paper drywall tape is needed for this step.
- Wipe away the excess mud and allow the second layer to dry overnight.
Apply a Final Coat of Mud
The last mudding drywall task is to apply a third coat to cover any remaining imperfections on the drywall. Lightweight all-purpose mud or topping mud is suitable for the final coat.
Sand the Taped and Mudded Drywall
Sand the surface smooth to complete the tasks of how to mud drywall. This requires a pole sander and 120-grit paper.
Start by folding the paper around the ends of the pads and tightening the wing nuts on the back to clamp it in place. Run the pole over the joints to get a smooth surface with no lines between the edge of the compound and the drywall and with no ridges or pinholes elsewhere in the compound.
Learn how to tape and mud drywall to achieve the desired results in your next DIY room renovation project. Download The Home Depot Mobile App to find the products you need for mudding and taping drywall.