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Drywall Taping/Union and Non Union Career Paths
Many people do not realize how much work is involved in being a drywall taper. There is so much more than just slapping on some tape with mud and you’re done. If you want to choose this trade as a career I must warn you that it is a very intense and demanding job that is very hard on the body.
Becoming proficient in this trade takes many years as well as talent. You will need to be organized, committed and be able to handle the stress of great income fluctuation. When the building industry is down, work is hard to find. Tapers do work year round due to it being an inside job which is beneficial as it is not a seasonal job.
Union or Non-Union Drywall Taper
First you will need to decide whether you want to be part of a union, work for a non-union company, and whether you want to work by the hour or as a piece worker. Working on your own or starting up your own company is another option.
In North America to belong to IUPAT (The International Union of Painters and Allied Trades) you will first need to go through a four-year apprenticeship-training program that entails classroom instructions with on the job training, which you do get paid for.
Belonging to a union not only protects your rights while on the job but gives you a pension plan, health and dental benefits, as well as life insurance. With IUPAT, a member can retire with a partial pension at the age of 55, and a full pension at 65. Once finished your apprenticeship training you will receive your ticket and then be considered a Journeyman.
Hourly Drywall Finisher/Taper
Most large buildings, hospitals, prisons and malls hire union companies that in turn will send hourly tapers to work. All taxes are deducted from each persons pay. Supplies such as tape, drywall compound/mud are supplied.
Piece Work Drywall Finisher/Taper
Relating to how a piece worker is paid: It is calculated by the footage of the drywall. Most companies will pay extra for skylights, high ceilings, and cathedral ceilings. If the ceiling is to be painted rather than sprayed this is considered an extra, as the ceiling will take longer to finish.
Houses and some buildings will hire union companies that in turn will send piecework tapers to complete the work. In a house you will usually find either a single taper or a taping crew. There are no tax deductions and the individual has to submit his or her own taxes. In most cases the taper has to supply all materials. The taper is given a time frame in which the house or building unit has to be finished completely.
Tools Required For a Drywall finisher/Taper
Hand taper tools plus the following
Flat Boxes and handle
Angle Head, box and handles
Auto Tapers or Bazooka
Drywall Tools to Get You Started
Assortment of knives ranging from 4 inches to 12 inches
Paddle to mix the mud
Pails to mix the mud in and to wash tools in
A 1/2" drill to attach the paddle to
Mud Box aka banjo or slop box
Using a Hawk and Trowel
Using a Bazooka
Machine or Hand Taper
It is very common to see drywall tapers that use hand tools and machines. When learning how to tape you may find it easier to use only hand tools but you should also try the machine tools as well.
Other Tools That One Should Have
- Ladders, Bakers Scaffold if you are a piece worker
- Mask to wear while sanding
- Construction Hat
- Steel toed safety shoes or boots
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Health And Safety
- When sanding drywall, always be sure to wear a mask or an air purifying respirator as the dust can cause chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
- Keep work area clean so that you are not tripping over anything.
- Always use caution when using electrical tools and working from ladders benches and lifts and scaffolding.
- When working on open stairs make sure that safety rails are installed.
- Always wear safety boots or shoes and hard hat when required.
- Be sure that your WHMIS and Fall And Arrest training is up to date.