Mudding & Taping

One of the first additions to my new home, was a loft within the loft. How very meta. As it was, the space had a carved out “nook” for a bedroom, but I wanted/needed an office. So Chris (ever the handiest of men) framed in the space, put up the dry wall, and then told me it was time to mud and tape.

I looked at him aghast. The only mud I liked was at the spa and I use tape to wrap presents. Oh, I how quickly I learned.

Mudding and taping is actually not that difficult. While hanging drywall requires a significant amount of brawn, mudding and tapping takes patience and finesse.  Get used to sandpaper, and you’ll want to wear a mask (as with most home improvements), but it’s definitely well within your range.

What You’ll Need:

5 and 10 inch drywall knives
Mud box (for holding small batches of compound)
Medium-grit sanding screen or drywall sandpaper for smoothing first coat of compound
Fine-grit sandpaper for smoothing second and third coats of compound
Joint compound
Paper tape

How to do it:

  1. Make sure your compound is smooth. If so it is ready to use. If not (i.e if there’s water on the top) you will need to mix it at a slow speed.
  2. Before you start laying mud and tape, go over all surfaces to ensure drywall nails or screws are set below the surface. That means no lumps or bump. If you’re not sure, run the 5″ knife over the seams. You’ll feel the heads if they are sticking up.
  3. Apply a smooth coat of mud with the 5″ knife, one seam at a time. Cut the tape and lay it along the mud line, pressing it gently down with your hand. Now lay a thin coat of mud over the tape. Rinse off your knife between coats by dipping it in a bucket of clean water.
  4. Getting the finicky corners right is tricky. Apply a thin coat of mud. Make sure it’s filling in the gap of the corners entirely (sometimes drywall doesn’t match up picture perfect). Cut your tape and wet it lightly in your water bucket. Press it carefully into the corner. Using your corner knife, lay a thin coat down the corner. Remove big globs of excess mud as you work because these are hard to sand down later.
  5. Here’s where you get a break. Everything has to dry for a day. It’s easy to see if the mud is dry because it will turn white. If there are gray areas, it’s still wet.
  6. Take a good hard look the next morning. Where it looks uneven, use your medium grit sanding paper.
  7. Use the 10″ knife for the second layer. Try mud in smooth, wide swathes. Do a second coat on everything you first coated. Wait for this to dry.
  8. Unless you are very skilled, a smooth wall will require a third coat. You’ll want to sand everything at this point. Starting in the morning is key, because you’ll wan to look at everything in natural light. See what needs smoothing and what looks uneven. Wait for the third layer to dry.

Before you know it, you’ve mud and taped and you’re ready to apply a primer coat of paint!

–Arianna Schioldager

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