- Working template
- Do what you can
- Second coat
- Third coat
- Finishing the project
There is no right or wrong method or approach to where you start your drywall taping project. I personally prefer to start with all inside corner seams because I find that those are the most time consuming and finicky to get right, so I like to get them out of the way first. I generally start at the ceiling and work my way down, this also gets the ladder out of the way when I am working on the seams I can reach from ground level.
I then do the flat seams and follow that with placing joint compound over the fastener dimples. I generally will use the excess joint compound that I have removed from a seam when I am on the ladder to fill fastener dimples that I can’t reach from the floor. That avoids having to bring the ladder back into position after I have completed the taping.
I generally apply the joint compound as far as my reach distance, especially if I am on a ladder. I lay the tape into position, place a thin layer of joint compound over the tape and use the corner drywall trowel to remove the excess joint compound to a point about 4 inches from the end of the tape (the tape is usually dangling down). I then move the ladder and apply joint compound to the new area that I can reach, set the tape in the compound, place a thin layer of joint compound over the tape and remove the excess tape with the corner drywall trowel and continue in the same manner until I have reached the end of the wall.
If I am at floor level I apply the joint compound to the entire seam, set the tape in the drywall compound, place a thin layer of joint compound over the entire tape and then using the drywall knife remove the excess drywall compound.
At points where I must overlap the tape I try to keep the overlap at less than 1/2 inch.
Note: Every time you lift the drywall knife from the surface of the drywall you will see a mark. The longer the strokes you use over the joint compound the fewer lift marks you will make. However, lift marks are basically unavoidable and you should not panic. When the joint compound is dry these marks easily sand off.
If you are using the drywall knives for taping the inside corners you will have to do one side of the corner first, wait for the joint compound to dry and then do the other side.
Note: You should be able to easily cut the tape with the edge of the drywall knife.
If you are taping an entire room, you have a lot of work ahead of you. If, as well, you are a novice at drywall taping it is likely that you will not be able to complete a first coat in one go. One of the mistakes often made by the home handyman is underestimating that amount of work involved in taping. It is hard on the shoulders, arms, wrists and hands. As you get tired you will not be taping as carefully as when you started. Only do what you can! If you force yourself to proceed and you are tired, you will likely end up spending a lot more time fixing the defects in the taping rather than taping additional areas.
Some books and websites will recommend that you apply the second coat of drywall compound before the first coat has dried. If you are very competent at taping, then you can use this method, but if you are a novice at drywall taping I recommend that you let the first coat dry before you apply the second coat of joint compound.
I say this because it is very easy to inadvertently scratch the wet joint compound while applying the second coat if the first coat is still pliable. This just means more work, rather than less.
Once the first coat is dry, apply the second coat, feathering it out farther than the first. The first coat should have been feathered out 6 to 8 inches and the second coat should be feathered out 10 to 12 inches.
Note: A professional drywall taper will leave little bare drywall that does not have a layer of joint compound over it. This is because of the feathering for the fastener dimples combined with the feathering for the joints, basically covers most of the surface of the drywall.
While most professionals can do a very good job of taping with 2 coats, I find that I usually need a third coat for touch-up.
I sand the second coat then I use a damp cloth to wipe down the drywall to remove all of the drywall joint compound dust. Then I do an inspection to identify any areas that need additional feathering or where there may be scratches or other defects in the joint compound. I touch these up with some fresh joint compound and then do a finish sanding and a final damp cloth wipe down.
Make sure that you have vacuumed up and wiped off all of the drywall dust.
In 99% of the cases the finished taped drywall will be painted or wallpapered. You cannot apply paint or wallpaper to the drywall without first applying a proper drywall primer. There are very specific primers made for raw drywall and you should not use any primer that does not specifically say that it has been formulated as a drywall primer.