Home Improvement Tips: Finishing Dry Wall Part 2 – Taping

Are you ready? Me too! Ok, like I told you before finishing is just a matter of doing a few steps and doing them in the order they should be done in. Simply put you tape, bed, and skim, then the inevitable “Sanding.”

How you are holding your knives is also very important. I have seen people hold the knife like they are grasping a baseball bat, hold on tight; not !!!!!!! Holding a knife like that puts more pressure on the blade and more importantly your wrist.

Remember what I said about placing your fingers? This is going to be the most comfortable for you and is going to help you turn out a much nicer job: the 6″ knife should have one finger on the back of it and the other larger knives all will have two fingers on the backs of them, control is what a good job is all about. Hold the knife very similar to how you would hold a kitchen knife but not even as tight as you would it. By having your fingers or finger on the back of the knife, will almost make the rest of your hand fall right into place And I want to emphasize that these knives can be very sharp and very dangerous. I have one that is so old and worn down to about the thickness of a razor blade or thinner, it will cut you and you don’t even know you have been cut till ………, so please be careful with these knives. Oh and that one I don’t use anymore, got tired of being cut. Guess I should hang it on a wall.

Now the actual finishing/taping. There is going to be a certain order that everything should be done in. This order is from experience with what works best, but you can do it the way you want.

This is also where you do want to thin your mud slightly or at least mix it before you try to use it. You can add some water but not much.

First you are going to apply the tape to the butt joints and flats. Did you decide which type of tape to use? Ok with the mesh tape, it has a sticky surface on it and it should stay on the walls long enough for you to get some mudd over the top of it. Apply it to the butts first then to the flats. And when applying it, as with the paper tape also, use your 6″ knife to help you guide the tape over the seam and you can cut the tape with it, also.

The paper tape is going to give you more problems. With it you will have to apply mudd over the seam without having any voids or real thin amount of mudd. This is where, if you are going to get blisters, this will be the time to get them, and you can come back later and cut them out and reapply the tape. But, doing this weakens the joint and makes it more likely to show up on the finished product, because of a build up of mudd. So, try not to have any blisters, use plenty of mudd. When applying the mudd, keep in mind that the seams are not always even, these places are more susceptible to blisters due to not enough mudd over the high part.

Ok applying the actual mudd. To do this you are going to have mudd in your pan, then you are going to scoop it out onto your 6″ knife, maybe start with a small amount til you get use to it, otherwise you will have a mess all over you floor. Now that you have gotten mudd on your knife it might be a good idea to wipe the corners of the knife, to relieve how much mudd is going to be spread over the seam. Remember this, you do not need a real wide amount of mudd, this is just more you have to wipe off and more likely to end up on the floor. This is where I cannot really explain the technique of spreading the mudd, it is just going to take “practice.” Here there are so many variables: the angle of the knife ,how much pressure you are using, how much mudd is on your knife. One thing I can tell you, when you start out have the handle more straight out from the wall and as you are spreading the mudd gradually let the handle move closer to the wall. “Practice, practice, practice.”

Now you have the mudd over the seam, now you need to apply the tape over the mudd and exactly where the two boards meet. To do this you can feel the joint with your finger/thumb through the tape, and this is where having a tape holder comes in really handy. It is just something to hang on your belt to hold the roll of tape while you are applying the tape, it frees up your hands.

Ok the tape is on the wall/ceiling joints and you still have a lot of mudd under the tape. Grab your 8″ knife and use it to wipe down the tape starting in the middle of the joint and working both ways. Never try to start at one end , it just does not work like that. Before you start wiping it down though, slap a little mudd over the top of the tape. This will act as a lubricant and help you glide over the tape easier. And here again I can’t tell you how much pressure to apply, it is just going to take practice. Also the straighter you apply the tape the easier it is going to be to wipe it down. If the tape starts going crooked Stop! And cut the tape to get it going straight again or remove the tape and start over, it has to be put on straight. Also, while all this is being done the mudd is actually starting to dry so you are going to have to work fast. And you didn’t think finishing drywall was easy; oh what fun!

Ok we have how to apply the mudd and how to apply the tape. Now the order is very important, and here with the mesh tape you get more relief as the order is not so important; do it how you want, with the exception that the corners need to be taped first then the flats/butts. With the paper tape, the order is almost a must. So you don’t want to tape the corners first because when you tape the flats and are wiping them down when you get to that corner you will wipe that tape off as the flat tape goes on. So follow this order.

Butt joints should have the tape applied to them first. If you look at the way everything comes together, you will see where the seams and butt joint meet looks like a “T” with the tail being the butt joint. If you study the “T” you can see if you apply tape to the flat/seam first then the butt that when you go to wipe down the tape you will be pulling the knife across a large part of the seam and more of a chance you will pull the tape right back off. So run the butts first then when you are taping the flats and are wiping them down, and get to the butt joint you can slightly life up on that corner of you knife to keep from pulling the tape back off. Knife control remember!

When you go to wipe down the tape, especially on the butts you will want to remove as much mudd from behind the tape while leaving enough behind the tape to help it stick to the wall. “Practice, no blisters!”

With the tape on the butt joints now you can tape the flats, with the corners/angles next. Yes even with the corners there is an order. It is best to tape the verticals/corner first (the up and downs), then you can tape the ceiling angles.

But, before you can add the tape you have to apply mudd. Sorry there has to be mudd behind the tape and this is one place you really should not use the mesh tape, although it can be done with the right kind of special finishing tools.

There are different ways to apply the mudd: use your 6″ knife and try to get enough mudd on the wall without spreading it out to the full width of the knife. In other words try to just have mudd on one corner of your knife and spread it into the corner.

Or you can buy a corner tool to apply the mudd. Foam rubber that you see in a lot of stores is no good. You need something that will hold up. A little trick we did when I was first starting out, was to tape a 3″ paint brush to a stick and use It to put lots of mudd in the corners, but here again you have to be careful and make sure you have a lot of mudd where the actual tape is going to be.

You will notice in the middle of the tape there is a crease. This crease helps to fold the tape. And is very important to fold the tape as straight as possible. Everything in drywall has to be straight, otherwise it aint gonna look good. It might even be a good idea to fold a lot of tape before trying to add it to the corners. Folding the tape while applying it to the corner takes a lot of “practice.” There’s that word again.

Ok with the taping done you will at sometime “spot the nails.” use your 6″ knife and put mudd on the nail head filling in where the hammer made an indention. It is a common practice to spot the nail sidewise then pull you knife straight down the remove the excess mudd. This is where if you have mudd on the back of your knife you are going to leave little bits of mudd on the wall, and at some point it has to be removed. So, better not to get it on there to begin with. “Think clean.”

Next we need to bed and skim everything and I will cover that next time.

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