finishing drywall tout
Steps // How to Finish Drywall
1 ×

Finishing Drywall Overview

 
Step One // How to Finish Drywall

Finishing Drywall Overview

Finishing Drywall
Illustration by Gregory Nemec
 
2 ×

Stir compound and prep surfaces

 
Step Two // How to Finish Drywall

Stir compound and prep surfaces

drywall installation
Photo by Allen Penn

• Cut band on top of the bucket with a utility knife or tin snips and pry off lid.
• If there's water on top of the compound, chuck a mixing paddle into a ½-inch drill. Mix at slow speed until water is blended and compound is smooth. If there's no water, the compound is ready to use.
• Look for any screwheads poking above the drywall surface and drive them until slightly recessed.
• Tear away any loose or torn paper from drywall (especially at corners and cut edges) to prevent bits from ending up in the compound.

 
3 ×

Cover joints and screwheads

 
Step Three // How to Finish Drywall

Cover joints and screwheads

installing drywall
Photo by Allen Penn

• Using 5-inch knife, fill mud box halfway with compound.
• Load the edge of the knife blade with about 2 inches of compound.
• Starting in one corner of the room, force the compound into the joints between sheets. When they're completely filled, hold the knife at a 25-degree angle to the surface and smooth out the compound in a single pass.
•Scrape excess compound off knife and into mud box.
• Fill screw holes with a swipe of a compound-loaded knife.
• When all the joints and screwheads on a wall or ceiling are filled, go to Step 4.

 
4 ×

Apply paper tape

 
Step Four // How to Finish Drywall

Apply paper tape

Installing Drywall
Photo by Allen Penn

•Unroll 3 feet of tape from dispenser, but don't tear it off.
• Center tape over seam and, using fingers, gently press into the fresh compound.
• Unroll and bed tape into rest of joint.
• At the end of the joint, place the knife edge perpendicular to the tape face and tear.

 
5 ×

Smooth tape

 
Step Five // How to Finish Drywall

Smooth tape

Installing Drywall
Photo by Allen Penn

• Starting halfway along the joint, hold the 5-inch knife against the tape at a 25-degree angle to the wall.
• Pull knife to one end of the joint in a single stroke, smoothing the tape and pressing it firmly into the compound.
• Scrape excess compound from the blade into mud box.
• Return to the starting point and repeat in the other direction. (This technique prevents tape from pulling off wall.)
• Repeat Steps 3, 4, and 5 on remaining walls or ceiling.

 
6 ×

Tape Inside Corners

 
Step Six // How to Finish Drywall

Tape Inside Corners

Installing Drywall
Photo by Allen Penn

• Using a 5-inch knife, fill the seam and cover 2 inches on either side of the corner with compound.
• Cut a piece of tape the full length of the corner; crease it in half lengthwise. With knife, gently push into corner.
• Starting in the middle, draw the knife along the drywall, smoothing the tape on one side of the crease. Skew blade 45 degrees to squeeze out excess mud.
• Run knife in the same way on the opposite side of the crease. Finish by smoothing back to the starting point.

 
7 ×

Cover outside corners

 
Step Seven // How to Finish Drywall

Cover outside corners

Taping the inside corners while installing Drywall
Photo by Allen Penn

• Make sure the metal corner bead on outside corners is nailed or clinched every 10 inches. Straighten bends, if necessary, with corner clincher (see "Tools List").
• Using the 5-inch knife, smear one side of bead with compound. Repeat on the other side.
• Holding the blade against drywall and bead at the same time, run the knife down the corner, smoothing the compound in a single stroke. Repeat on the other side.
• Let compound dry overnight.

 
8 ×

Sand the first coat

 
Step Eight // How to Finish Drywall

Sand the first coat

Sand the first coat
Photo by Allen Penn

• Check that compound is uniformly white, which indicates that it is dry. (Wet areas appear darker.)
• Sand inside corners with corner sanding block.
• Sand all other surfaces using a pole sander with medium-grit abrasive. Apply gentle, even pressure. Sand only enough to smooth rough areas; don't sand down into paper tape.
• Feel for rough areas and sand as needed. TOH TIP: Don't try to sand out indentations or craters; these will be filled by subsequent coats of compound.

 
9 ×

Apply second and third coats

 
Step Nine // How to Finish Drywall

Apply second and third coats

Sanding te first coat when installing Drywall
Photo by Allen Penn

• With the 10-inch knife, scoop up 2 inches of compound. Then scrape off 2 inches worth at each end of the blade.
• Apply compound to all joints and screwheads, then smooth it in a separate pass. Allow to dry overnight.
• The next day, sand with fine-grit drywall sandpaper.
• For third coat, load entire edge of 10-inch knife with compound and apply to joints and screwheads as before. Smooth to an imperceptible, feathered edge.
• Let dry overnight, then sand as before. Wipe all surfaces with a damp cloth to ready them for priming.

 

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