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Guide and Tips on How to Tape and Mud Drywall

Guide and Tips on How to Tape and Mud Drywall

Guide and Tips on How to Tape and Mud Drywall


As a homeowner, you want to have walls that are smooth and seamless. One of the ways to achieve this is by mud drywalling. However, while professional drywall tapers make mudding look easy, do-it-yourselfers find that it takes practice, skill, and—of course—the right gear (in this case, the mud itself and the tape that prevents cracks from appearing in the seams). This guide to how to mud drywall outlines the materials required for the job, and walks DIYers through the process step by step. With this guide, you can achieve a wall so flat that you cannot spot the seams. 

Types of Drywall Mud 

There are two main types of drywall mud: premixed and powdered. Within this category, you will find all-purpose mud, topping mud, and lightweight all-purpose mud. All-purpose mud goes on smoothly and usually begins to harden in a couple of hours, depending on the temperature and humidity in the room. It is suitable for all mudding applications and is the best drywall mud for beginners. Topping mud is used as a final top coating. It dries to a bright white and is easy to sand, making it an excellent choice for walls that will be painted a light color. Lightweight all-purpose mud also dries to a lighter hue, which makes it suitable for walls that will be painted a light color. 

Powdered drywall mud, also called “setting mud” or “hot mud,” contains chemicals that hasten hardening time when water is added to the powder. This type of mud tends to shrink less than all-purpose premixed mud, but it hardens very quickly. Quick-setting mud works well for pre-filling large gaps in walls or smoothing over crushed drywall corners before starting the actual mudding process. Setting mud is labeled by the maximum amount of time you have to work with it before it hardens. You can choose from 5-minute mud, 20-minute mud, or longer-hardening times, depending on your needs. If you use setting mud, mix only as much as you need, and wash your tools frequently as you work. The chemicals in some types of hot mud harden into rock-like ridges on your walls, and you can spend hours trying to sand them smooth. Avoid this by choosing an easy-to-sand variety. 

Types of Drywall Tape 

During the mudding process, drywall tape acts as a bond to keep the finished wall from developing cracks along the drywall seams. The different types of tape are paper, mesh, and preformed—and all three have their pros and cons. Paper tape is used almost exclusively by the pros because it’s very thin, which helps create imperceptibly smooth drywall joints. Mesh tape is made from fiberglass threads in an open-weave pattern and comes with adhesive on the backside. Preformed tape, also known as preformed “corners,” may be made from paper, plastic, thin metal, or a combination of materials. 

Drywall Mesh Tape

Drywall Mesh Tape being applied to a seam. Mesh tape's self-adhesive properties allows you to apply the tape straight to the joint. Drywall mesh tape is also mold and mildew resistant making it a great option in places with high humidity.

How to Tape and Mud Drywall 

Here are the tools and materials you’ll need to mud drywall: 

  • Canvas drop cloth 
  • Safety goggles 
  • Respirator mask 
  • Drywall mud 
  • Drill 
  • Paddle bit for drill 
  • Large plastic bucket 
  • Mud pan
  • 6-inch drywall taping knife 
  • 10-inch drywall taping knife 
  • Inside-corner taping tool 
  • Drywall pole sander 
  • Power drywall sander 
  • Nylon bristle brush 
  • 5-gallon water bucket 


Now, let’s get started with the process of mud drywalling: 

Step 1: Protect the Floor and Prepare the Room 

Lay a canvas drop cloth on the floor to protect it from any spills or debris. Remove any furniture and wall fixtures. Put on safety goggles and a respirator mask to protect yourself from dust and airborne particles. 

Step 2: Mix the Drywall Mud 

Using a drill with a paddle bit, mix the drywall mud in a large plastic bucket. If you're using powdered mud, add water according to the manufacturer's instructions. For the best results, use mud mixing tools to achieve a smooth and lump-free consistency. 

Step 3: Apply the Tape 

Apply the chosen drywall joint tape along the seams of the drywall panels. If using mesh tape, press it firmly onto the seam so the adhesive sticks properly. For paper tape, apply a thin layer of mud on the seam first and then press the tape onto the wet mud. 

Step 4: Apply the First Coat of Mud 

Using a 6-inch drywall taping knife, apply a thin layer of mud over the tape and seams. Feather the edges of the mud, creating a smooth transition from the mud to the drywall surface. Apply mud to any screw or nail holes as well. 

Step 5: Apply the Second and Third Coats 

Allow the first coat to dry completely. Then, using a 10-inch drywall taping knife, apply the second coat of mud, extending the application area to create a wider and smoother surface. Let the second coat dry, and apply a third coat if necessary, again extending the application area to achieve a seamless finish. 

Step 6: Sand the Surface 

Once the final coat is completely dry, sand the surface using a drywall pole sander or a power drywall sander. Be sure to wear a mask and goggles to protect yourself from dust. Start with a coarse grit sandpaper and finish with a finer grit for a smooth finish. 

 Sand after drywall mud has dried

Step 7: Clean Up 

Use a nylon bristle brush to remove any dust from the sanded surface. Wipe down the walls with a damp cloth to remove any remaining dust. Clean your tools and dispose of any debris. 

By following these steps and using high-quality tools and materials, you'll be able to achieve a professional-looking, smooth, and seamless drywall finish. Remember, practice makes perfect, so don't be discouraged if your first attempt isn't flawless. With time and experience, you'll become more skilled at taping and mudding drywall. 

Tips for a Successful Drywall Taping and Mudding Project 

Now that you've learned the basic steps of taping and mudding drywall, here are some additional tips to help ensure your project is a success: 

Tip 1: Use the Right Tools 

Invest in high-quality drywall taping and finishing tools to make the job easier and more efficient. USG Sheetrock Tools is a trusted manufacturer for Drywall Finishing and Taping Tools, offering a wide range of products designed for both DIYers and professionals. 

Tip 2: Be Patient 

Don't rush the process. Give each coat of mud ample time to dry before applying the next coat or sanding. Rushing through the steps can lead to a poor-quality finish that may require additional work to correct. 

Tip 3: Maintain Consistent Mud Thickness 

Avoid applying too much or too little mud. Aim for a consistent thickness throughout the entire application, which will help create a smooth, seamless finish. 

Tip 4: Keep Your Tools Clean 

Regularly clean your tools to prevent hardened mud from building up and affecting the quality of your work. Use a 5-gallon water bucket to rinse your tools as you work, making sure to dry them thoroughly afterward. 

Tip 5: Practice on Scrap Drywall 

If you're new to taping and mudding drywall, consider practicing on scrap pieces of drywall before tackling an entire room. This will help you develop your technique and build confidence in your skills. 

Tip 6: Inspect Your Work 

After sanding and cleaning the surface, inspect your work closely. Look for any areas that may need additional mud or sanding to achieve a smooth, seamless finish. Address any issues before moving on to priming and painting. 

By following these tips and the step-by-step process outlined earlier, you'll be well on your way to mastering the art of taping and mudding drywall. With patience, practice, and the right tools that can be found at Timothy's Toolbox, you can achieve a professional-looking finish that will make your home look and feel brand new.

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