Taping Drywall Tips: How to Tape Drywall Joints

Get the tape coat just right and you're sure to have smooth drywall joints

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Introduction

Improve your drywall taping skills and increase your speed with this drywall taping tutorial, which will help you achieve invisible joints and perfectly smooth walls.

Tools Required

  • Mud pan
  • Taping knife
  • Utility knife

Materials Required

  • Drywall tape
  • Setting-type joint compound

Properly taping drywall is a fine art but fortunately, you don’t need to be naturally gifted to get the hang of it. These tips and step-by-step tricks of the trade will help you achieve invisible seams and smooth walls.

Video: How to Tape Drywall

Project step-by-step (10)

Step 1

Fill Wide Gaps with Setting-Type Compound

  • Mix the powder setting compound with water in your mud pan to a paste consistency.
  • Press the compound into gaps, especially those wider than about 1/4 inch.
  • Keep the fill level even with, or slightly below, the surrounding surface.
    • Pro tip: Don’t overfill. Keep the fill flush with the drywall surface.
    • Pro tip: Work quickly, because the water activates a catalyst that causes the compound to harden. Setting times vary, depending upon which mix you buy. Start with a 90- minute setting compound to give yourself plenty of working time so it doesn’t harden in your pan.

Setting Compound vs. Regular Compound

When dry and hard, setting compound (top photo) completely fills the void, preparing the joint for the tape and next coat. Setting-type compound comes in sacks with various hardening rates printed on the bags—20, 45- or 90-minutes. Buy ‘lightweight’ setting-type compound, because it’s sandable in case you overfill.

Regular compound (bottom photo) shrinks as it dries and results in a weak joint that you have to refill. It also takes hours to dry and harden.

Step 2

Spread the Compound Over Joints

  • Spread enough setting-type compound to fill the joint pocket.
    • Pro tip: Tapered drywall joints have special edges that provide a pocket for joint compound and tape. They’re deceptively easy to fill because there’s plenty of space for both tape and “mud.” However, the trick here is to completely fill the joint, flush with the surrounding surface, on your first coat.