It’s week 7 of the One Room Challenge and this week I’ve been learning how to mud and tape the new drywall in our half bath.
I am FAR from being considered an expert on this topic but I wanted to take you along and share our process with you. Hopefully these tips and tricks I’m learning can help you feel a little less intimidated if you’ve been wanting to try this out but have been nervous to give it a go.
Our process for mudding and taping drywall
This is my first attempt at trying my hand at mudding and taping new drywall. Mike is usually the one who tackles any small projects we may need to do around our home.
He’s gotten pretty good at patching smaller holes and when we decided to remodel our upstairs bathroom 4 years ago, he jumped at the chance to learn how to do it on a larger scale.
Mike dove straight into YouTube University looking for the best tips and tricks and to taught himself how to mud and tape drywall. He’s a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to these kinds of things and did an amazing job for his first full room project.
I wanted to be more involved this time around and help out as much as I could. I’ve got the time and it just made sense for me to jump in and try to learn the process. Mike has been teaching me the things he’s learned along the way and I’ve been trying to practice and get the technique down.
Keep reading for the process we’re following and my thoughts on this part of the project so far.
Things to consider when adding new drywall to make the process of mudding and taping easier
Before we get to the how to for mudding and taping drywall, there are a few steps you can take when hanging drywall to help make the process go a little smoother. See what I did there?
When possible, try to hang as few a pieces of drywall in a space as you can. The less seams you have between pieces means the less mudding and taping you have to do.
When hanging drywall, if possible, keep the screws you add to the outside edges of each piece as close to the seams as possible. This way you can skip the step of filling them separately because they will get filled when you cover them with the tape and mud.
Also, make sure when adding the screws to counter sink them into the drywall. This means to screw them in just enough to slightly dimple the drywall so they’re not flush with the surface. This makes it easier to mud and cover them for a smooth finish.
Tools needed for mudding and taping drywall
There are a few things that are a must have in order to get the job done and there are a few others that make the process a bit easier. Before you tackle this job, make sure to have the following on hand:
- Joint Compound or “mud”
- Mud Pan – This makes it easier to handle the mud instead of lugging the bucket around. It also gives you a sharp, straight edge for cleaning off excess mud from your knives.
- Assortment of Drywall Knives – I like the 4″ and 6″ knives for doing most of the work when it comes to adding joint compound to the screw holes and seams. It’s also nice to have a larger 8″ or 12″ knife for smoothing larger areas like the seams. A 2″ knife is perfect for getting into those tight corners and smaller spaces.
- Paper Drywall Joint Tape – To use on the seams where the drywall pieces meet.
- Perfect 90 Drywall Joint Tape Inside Corners – Makes seaming corners much easier and cleaner
- Drywall Sanding Sheets
- Scissors for cutting the tapes
- Ladder – If needed
- Dry and Wet Paper Towel for messes
- Measuring Tape – To measure tape for corners
- Extra Light if needed
How to Mud and Tape Drywall
Once you’ve hung your drywall and have gathered all the necessary tools for the job, it’s time to start mudding and taping your screws and seams.
Adding the mud
First, we added a bit of mud to our mud pan, adding just a tiny bit of water to thin it a bit. Instead of the consistency of peanut butter we wanted it to be more like frosting. Easier to spread and thin out when applying to the walls.
Starting with the screws that wouldn’t be covered by tape, we added a bit of mud to the end of our 4” knife. Run the knife over the hole made by the screw, pushing the mud into the hole just a bit. Make sure to scrap off any excess mud in the process.
You want just a thin layer. Apparently it’s better to do multiple thin layers, building up the coverage rather than trying to do it in one fell swoop with a big scoop of mud. It makes sanding between layers much easier.
Since the room is small and a lot of our screws were close enough to the edges of the drywall, this went pretty fast.
Filling the screw holes in the ceiling was the trickiest part for me. Trying to get the right amount of mud on the right spot of my knife that didn’t have me spilling mud all over myself or the floor was a challenge. It took some practice and patience for me to start to get the hang of it. I was trying to rush through it and I had to tell myself to slow down.
After filling the screws, Mike moved on to showing me how he tapes the seams and the screws near the seams.
taping the seams
There are a couple of options when it comes to drywall tape. One kind is a self adhesive mesh and the other is a paper tape that adheres to the wall with mud.
Mike prefers using paper tape rather than the self adhering mesh tape. After reading a blog post by Young House Love and watching their videos on taping, mudding, and sanding drywall, I saw they prefer this method as well.
They found it easier to work with. If you accidentally sand the mesh a bit too much, it can show through making for a bit of texture on the wall instead of a smooth surface. Apparently, this is also what a lot of pros prefer as well.
To get the tape to stick to the wall, we started by adding a bit of mud to either side of the seam. You need enough mud so the tape will hold, but not too much to where you could get bubbles underneath. I need some more practice with this. Some of my seams are good but a couple seem to have a bubble or two that slipped by me.
Once we had our “bed” of mud, we grabbed our paper tape and cut a clean straight edge Starting on one side, use your drywall knife to kind of push the edge of the tape into the corner. Run the tape the length of the seam, making sure the line that runs down the center of the tape aligns with the seam of the drywall pieces.
You can use a measuring tape to cut the exact size piece of tape you need. We just used the edge of our drywall knife though. Pushing the edge of the knife between the tape and the end of the seam to tear a straight edge.
Next, using your drywall knife, go along the edges of the tape. Making sure to press them into the mud to secure. Use a larger drywall knife to smooth the length of the seam and remove any excess mud and bubbles that may been hiding underneath. You want as flat and smooth of a surface as possible. Don’t worry about covering the tape completely at this point. You’ll do this with your second and third layers of mud as you continue to add and sand until seamless and smooth.
Taping the corners
The corners are a bit tricker and Mike decided to tackle these this time around. I watched and asked lots of questions though.
To get a cleaner, crisper seam, Mike prefers using the Perfect 90 Drywall Tape for Inside Corners. This tape is a bit stiffer and folds a little easier down the center for a nice crisp edge. It also has makings on the tape showing you where to cut the ends for a nice mitered edge at the top and bottom.
This is where we used our tape measure. It was much easier to miter the edges of the tape if we cut it at the exact measurement we needed. We used this tape for the 4 inside corners of our room and for the seams along the ceiling. Following the same process to adhere the tape to the wall as we did with the paper tape.
Sanding and building up your layers
Once you have your initial first coats on everything it’s time to let it dry before moving forward in the process.
We found that if we went through the process in the morning the mud usually had enough time to dry and we could get a second coat on in the evening.
It’s important that you do a light sanding between each layer. Making sure to smooth out any sharp edges left behind by the dried mud.
We grabbed some drywall sand paper for this process but I have seen others use a wet sponge method to try and cut down on the amount of dust. I think for this you just have to do whatever works best for you. I don’t think Mike has ever tried sanding with a wet sponge. He prefers the control he has with the regular sand paper.
Mudding, taping, and sanding drywall
We’re still working through the process. We have a few more layers to do before we’ll feel like we’re ready to move on and paint. It’s a messy and boring process but one that’s super important to take your time on.
Taking the time now to get a nice smooth finish will ensure our walls look amazing when we paint. It’s always the prep and foundational work that makes or breaks a space so try to be patient.
I hope that by me sharing our process and the things I’m learning along the way as a newbie encourages you to try this out for yourself one day. It’s a little intimidating at first. With a bit of practice, you’ll start to get the hang of it and learn what works and what doesn’t.
If you’ve got any good tips for me on how to mud and tape drywall let me know in the comments below! I would love to hear what’s worked for you.
Don’t forget to check out what the other designers are doing! For more inspiration and to cheer the featured and guest designers on, head to the One Room Challenge blog to follow along!