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Tips for Do-It-Yourself Drywall Finishing

Updated on July 20, 2009

Drywall Finishing Tips

If you're a home owner and have ever tried to apply joint compound to your newly installed sheetrock, you already know what a messy job it can be.  And the more mess....the more sanding to smooth out your wall.   Ugh!!

Here are some tips to help your next finishing project easier.

1.  Before starting a finishing job, always mix and stir the joint compound completely.  It should be smooth and free of all lumps.  There is a tool for this that can be purchased at most hardware stores and it actually looks like a giant potato masher.

2. Before spotting nails or screw heads, make sure they are all slightly recessed until there is slight dent in the paper of the sheetrock.  Try not to tear the paper around the dent.  

3. Fill the recess completely by pushing the compound into the dent with the blade of your knife.  Scrape away all excess compound.   If you can feel the knife scrape  the nail head, it's not recessed quite enough. 

4. When taping the seams and joints, it's all right to thin the joint compound with water, then stirring completely.  The compound can be thinned until it's easier to work with, yet should be still thick enough to stay on the finishing knife.  For a 5 gallon container of compound, start with around 2 cups of water, adding a little more if needed.

5.  Always try to apply a smooth even coat of compound to the seams, making sure there is a thick enough coat to avoid air bubbles.

6.  When taping inside angles, pre-cut and crease the tape.  Apply crease-side down into the angle.  This allows it to fit nicely into the angle, and makes the wipe down easier.

7.  Seams and joints need a second "bed" coat and then a final skimming to eliminate scratches and rough spots.  Allow complete drying time between coats including the taping coat. The bed coat is to fill in depressions and cover the tape.  It does not need to be perfect.  

8. This may take some practice but when applying the bed and skim coat, try to feather out the edges of the joint compound.  This will make sanding a whole lot easier and makes for a better finish.  The goal is to make the wall as smooth as possible and to cut down on unnecessary sanding labor.  

I hope these tips will make your next home improvment project easier.

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