How to Properly Use a Drywall Trowel

  • 2-6 hours
  • Beginner
  • 50-100
What You'll Need
Drywall compound
Drywall trowel
Sanding blocks
What You'll Need
Drywall compound
Drywall trowel
Sanding blocks

There’s an art to using a drywall trowel properly. It’s one of the final steps after you’ve put up drywall and how well you use the drywall trowel helps determine how good the finished wall looks. It takes a little practice to do a really good job but once you master it, you’ll find that it’s easy to use a drywall trowel.

Step 1 - Preparation

You use the drywall trowel with drywall compound (also known as drywall mud) to hide the joints and seams between sheets of drywall. Start by using a sanding block on all the joints on the drywall so they’re smooth, and inspect the surface of the drywall for pits and imperfections.

Step 2 - Applying Drywall Compound

Put some drywall compound on your drywall trowel. You don’t need too much; experiment to find the right amount. Hold the drywall trowel across the seam, pressing the compound onto the seam. Rock the drywall trowel from left to right pushing the compound out from the seam. Lift up the trowel to see that you’ve created a thin, clean covering on the seam.

When you’ve accomplished that, you’ll need to feather the drywall compound out onto the drywall. This means smoothing it out so it blends in perfectly and doesn’t seem raised. To do this, apply light strokes outward from the joint. Let the compound dry, then sand it smooth. Apply more compound and repeat, going around all the seams until you’re happy with the result.

Step 3 - Ceilings

The procedure when using a drywall trowel on a ceiling is very different. You’re not working along the seams, but across the entire surface. The main work with the drywall trowel is removal of drywall compound, not application.

Step 4 - Drywall Compound

You need to begin by applying a coat of drywall compound to the entire ceiling. For this, make sure you’re on a stepladder and have the entire floor covered with a drop cloth. Wear safety glasses to keep the mud out of your eyes.

Use the drywall trowel to apply the compound. It shouldn’t be so thick that it’s dripping on the floor, but neither do you want it too thin.

Step 5 - Using the Trowel

With the compound on the ceiling, now you need to begin smoothing it out. Take your drywall trowel and use wide, even strokes on the compound to smooth it. What you’ll find is that you end up removing much of what you put on. This is the intention. You want to end up with a thin, even coat of mud on the ceiling. This can take some time, and where the real art of working with a drywall trowel comes in. Keep going until you’re happy with the result, then leave the ceiling to dry.

Step 6 - Finishing

Once the drywall compound has dried, sand the entire ceiling until it’s fully smooth. After this, shine a light on the ceiling so you can inspect it carefully. Sand any areas that stand out, and apply compound to dips, then sand later.