With the right preparation, you can properly finish drywall and create smooth walls within your home. There are a few tricks of the trade that we recommend for getting the results you want.
• Start by inspecting your materials and your surfaces. Make sure the compound you use is blended and smooth, then inspect the wall for any screw heads that need to be driven deeper (all fasteners should be slightly recessed) or loose paper bits that need to be torn away.
• Work with small amounts of mudding compound at a time, since it is fast to dry. Using a five-inch drywall knife, apply and smooth compound until each drywall joint is completely filled in and the screw heads are covered.
• When you start to cover your newly mudded joints with tape, don’t tear off short pieces and place them on the wall. Instead, place the tape on top of the fresh compound and use your fingers to unroll it along the wall. Start from the inside corners and work toward the outside corners. This prevents unsightly cracks where you would have broken the tape.
• Use corner bead to improve the look of corners in the home and increase stability. Try AquaBead® corner reinforcement as an alternative to the traditional metal option. AquaBead® is easy to apply, self-adhesive drywall that won’t blister or crack. If this is the first time you have finished a wall, this product can increase your chances of getting the look you want.
• Finesse is particularly important when you cover the tape with drywall compound. Paul Landry, of P.L. Drywall in Waltham, Massachusetts, tells This Old House that feathering out the compound over the tape to create an imperceptible ledge is a challenge for many beginners.
• Sanding can also be tricky, as homeowners can keep working the drywall until the tape starts flaking off. If you are sanding tape, you’ve sanded down too much and should reapply compound.
• Make sure the compound is uniformly white before you start sanding. This indicates that it is dry. Use a hand or pole sander to apply gentle, even pressure. You only want to sand out raised bumps and rough areas. Avoid sanding the paper face of the drywall.
• Once you have the first coat completed, you can add a second coat of compound. Depending on the desired level of drywall finish, you may add a third layer of compound and a layer of skim coat, which is the highest level of drywall finishing possible. If this process is complete, then your walls are ready for paint, wallpaper, or a spray texturizing treatment.
• To save time, know the level of drywall finishing you need for each part of the house. Garages and attics are often left unfinished because they are made for utility, not design. The walls of the kitchen and bathroom might only have limited finishing until after the cabinetry and tile are installed as there is significantly less to finish once the majority of the walls are covered. Mapping out what areas need to be finished can help you develop a plan to work quickly and effectively.
• If this is your first time mudding drywall, practice on less important walls (like the inside of a closet or along the walls of a garage) first and then move on to more visible surfaces. This will help you improve your skills.
• Finally, if you are a DIY homeowner finishing drywall for the first time, don’t get caught up in making sure every square inch is perfect. You may find that some bumps or lines are inevitable, no matter how much you mud and sand your surfaces.
A little preparation and practice can significantly improve your drywall finishing skills. Soon every room in your house will have the finish you desire.