Saturday, 26 January 2013

Get the mud out

Dear Joe,

I have hung all the drywall in my basement and need to tape all the joints.  I have only done it once before at another home I owned and it didn`t end well.  How can I tackle this job myself and end up with a quality job that isn`t going to look like heck or break my back?  They make it look so easy on television.   Any tips you have would be greatly appreciated.




Dear Robert,

I am glad to hear you are taking it on yourself even if the last one wasn’t perfect.  That’s how we learn by doing, failing and soldiering on.

I certainly have a few tips for you that can help speed things along and make the finishing process much easier on your back and your ego.  Everyone needs to remember that the miracle of editing makes everything look easier on t.v.  Jobs that take a week are done in half an hour and we all want to be that efficient.   Newsflash: it doesn’t work that way!

So here are some tips and tricks that will you give you a better finish with less cursing. 

1.       Make sure all your joints are as close as possible with all tapered edges together where possible.  Any broken corners cut out and peeling paper pulled off.

2.       When applying the tape, lay the tape into a healthy layer of mud and allow it to sit there for a couple minutes before embedding it completely.  This will help hydrate the tape and give you a better bond.  When you come back to wipe it, squeeze as much mud out from beneath the tape as possible.  This will give you a smooth low profile joint and ease your sanding woes later.

3.       Don’t try to use a setting type compound.  I am a pretty skilled taper with many varied projects under my belt and I will not touch the stuff.  It is for experienced production drywallers only!  If you try to use it to speed things up you will end up with a job that you can’t sand and will be cursing yourself and the product.

4.       Apply very thin layers of compound.  Do not glob it on.  4 or 5 thin coats is better than 2 thick ones.  The less you put on the less ends up as dust on the floor later.  Don’t sand between layers:  use the ripples and trowel marks as a screed to dictate the thickness of the subsequent coat.  If you wipe down to them, you’ll end up with a nice even coat and never take too much off or leave too much on.

5.       When you embed the paper tape on a flat seam, make sure the embossed folding seam is facing into the wall.  This will prevent you from having it protrude from the wall after you’ve sanded if you accidentally sand too deep.

6.       When taping corners, do one side of each corner, and then when you do the next coat alternate and to the other side of the corner.  That way you’re not fighting to get a perfect corner with two wet sides, which you’ll never do.

7.       Follow each sanding stroke with a swipe of your free hand to brush away the dust and feel for imperfections.

8.       Use a halogen light held at an oblique angle to the wall to cast shadows on the imperfections that need to be sanded out.  This is extra important on ceilings where light from windows will reveal every little blemish once your project is done and painted.  Then you get to live with it.

9.       Use a trowel to knock down the high points between coats.  A quick pass with a taping knife will prepare you for subsequent coats.

10.   Once you’re sanded and primed, allow the primer to dry. Now inspect your work.  The primer will reveal any areas that need touching up.  Take the time to do touch ups, sand them and then reprime.

11.   Avoid gimmicks.  There are loads of new and fancy tools out there that are supposed to make the job of drywalling easier.  I’ve tried a few and they don’t.  All you need is a 4 inch knife, a 6 inch knife and a 10 inch trowel.  Some smaller knives if you have tight spaces but for the most part I use three tools.  Using a quality mud is important too.  The heavier mud you use the more durable your finish will be.

So hopefully this will help you along in your quest to become a better drywaller.  The only thing that will definitely do it is practice.  Best of luck in all your projects,

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