How to Finish Drywall

What You'll Need
Drywall tape
4.5 inch drywall knife
Bucket of Water
10 inch drywall knife
mud pan

Putting walls up is a fairly simple process until you get to the final step: finishing drywall. This is also the most important step, so it pays to learn to do it properly so you’re happy with the results for a long time.

Step One – Set Screws

Go over the entire wall or room and make sure that every screw is set below the surface of the drywall. You will find you are unable to finish a wall properly if the screws are sticking up and hit the drywall knife.

Be careful that you don’t set the screw too deep, or you will break through the paper covering on the drywall. This requires an additional screw nearby.

Any gaps between pieces of drywall must be 1/8” or less, or they’ll need some special attention in the form of filler. Taping alone isn’t going to provide adequate coverage for larger gaps.

Step Two – Mud the Joints

Place the amply mud supply in the mixing pan, and use your 4.5 inch knife to stir up a slightly thinned-down mud.  

Use the knife to apply the mud to the wall joints with a width slightly wider than the tape. Put plenty of mud up on every surface that tape will touch. It’s better to have a little too much than to have too little.

Step Three – Wet the Tape

This little tip will help your tape adhere to the surface. Using your bucket of water, run the drywall tape quickly through the water so that both sides are wet.

Put the tape up on the wall, and cover all joints. Center the tape so it is centered over the joint.

Step Four – Skim Excess

Get your 4.5 inch knife wet.  Hold the wet tape up at the very top.  Start with the knife at a 45 degree angle to the tape, and beginning pulling down. Mud should spurt from the sides of the tape.

When you have a buildup on the knife, stop and scrape the knife off on the mud pan. Get the knife wet again, then pull down again.

Smooth carefully.

You are done when all the tape is adhering tightly to the joints. Let this surface dry completely, which will take at least 24 hours.

Step Five - Dry Draw Down

Use the 10 inch blade to scrape any offending waste off of the area. It is vital to have a smooth surface to work with so that the upcoming coats start level.

You may need two hands for working with the knife.

Step Six - More Mud

Now spread more thinned mud onto the joint. Make it wider than the joint; about six inches wide.

Step Seven – Draw Down Again

Use the 10 inch knife with a wet blade and hold it at an almost 90 degree angle and put a great deal of pressure on the knife. Make it one, long pass because this tends to get less of a bumpy finish.

Step Eight – Repeat

Let the surface dry thoroughly and add additional coats. Drywall and joint compound shrinks with time, so multiple coats are necessary.Spread them on, draw them down with a wet knife, and repeat – 2 or 3 more times.

Step Nine – Sand

Using a fine grit, 220 sandpaper, lightly sand the area. Then vacuum area thoroughly, fill in holes and gaps, and smooth.

Finishing drywall correctly takes patience, but the finished result is worth the time.