Using a Banjo to Tape Drywall Using a Banjo to Tape Drywall

What You'll Need
Ready-mix joint compound
Drill and mixing paddle
Drywall tape

A banjo is a tool designed to perfect drywall taping. It can be a great tool for the do-it-yourselfer because it will speed up the process and prevent the loose and bubbly tape commonly produced by beginners. A banjo can be purchased and sometimes rented from your local home improvement store. They usually cost close to $100 if purchased outright. Rental fees are sometimes as low as $10 per day. Though the banjo offers many benefits, you need to know the best way to use it or you could have a mess on your hands. 

Step 1—Prepare the Joint Compound

When purchasing your ready-mix joint compound make sure to buy an all-purpose product, as opposed to a topping product. Topping is what professionals sometimes use for a finish coat. Mix the joint compound using the drill and mixing paddle. Once it is a smooth creamy texture, add more water. For use in the banjo, the joint compound needs to be thinner. Add more water, slowly, until it is considerably thinner, but not quite soupy.   

Step 2—Adjust the Banjo

The banjo should allow for adjustments. First, you have to add the tape and the joint compound to the banjo. The mouth of the banjo can be opened smaller and wider, depending on how much joint compound you want to adhere to the tape. Before you begin, find a scrap piece of drywall and make a few test runs. Get a feel for the banjo and gauge the amount of joint compound that is being applied to the tape. If your banjo is set up properly, the joint compound will come out of the banjo about 1/8 inch thick. If you find that on your practice run there is too little or too much joint compound on the tape, adjust the machine to your liking. Remember there has to be enough joint compound to glue the tape to the drywall, but not so much that you have a mess.  

Step 3—Add a Layer of Joint Compound on Top of the Tape

As you press the tape into the wall, some of the joint compound underneath will ooze out the sides. This should be run over the top of the tape. You have to make sure that there is joint compound below and above the tape. This makes for a sturdy and professional tape job. If there is not enough excess from under the tape, run a thin layer of joint compound over the tape with your 8 inch knife.

As you complete these three steps over and over, it is best to make sure that your tools are clean. Periodically wipe your tools down with warm water so that little bits of dry joint compound don’t embed under the tape. No matter how good your tape job, crusty bumps are going to make your work look amateur. Also, remember that the banjo has to be reloaded. If you notice the tape feeding from the banjo especially easy it is probably time to add more joint compound.   


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