Repairing drywall is a standard part of home improvement tasks. Drywall installation is an art that may be perfected by following the advice I will give here to complete taping the drywall to a flat, smooth surface.
Knowing the drywall product and how to utilize it properly is crucial. Drywall for homes can be found in various thicknesses, including 14″, 3/8″, 12″, and 5/8″. Some types of multifamily buildings are permitted to utilize a drywall product that is only 1″ thick as a firewall. Drywall comes in many varieties, some more desirable than others depending on the intended use.
14″ drywall is sometimes used to cover a physically sound but visually damaged wall or curving walls due to its flexibility. The 3/8″ thickness is slightly bendable and saw limited application in home construction many decades ago. Half-inch drywall is by far the most widely utilized drywall thickness for single-family home construction. 5/8″ drywall is the standard in Chicago and for any use that requires a high fire resistance rating.
Drywall is typically sold in sheets of 4 feet by 8 feet, though it is also sold in sheets measuring 10 feet and 12 feet in length and in sheets measuring 5 feet by 7 feet in width. When hanging drywall, the length must go perpendicular to the frame members. The drywall should be nailed with ring shank nails. However, glue and screws are preferred for optimal bonding. Drywall can be cut with a utility knife by scoring the face, snapping it, and then cutting the paper on the back. In addition to a Roto Zip, you can use a small, thin saw with a stiff blade known as a keyhole or drywall saw.
When finishing drywall, you can choose between two different forms of “mud” or taping compounds. The first type is available pre-mixed and dries slowly, typically within 24 hours. The second kind is a powder that, once combined with water, hardens after a predetermined time. The only difference between the two is the available time or the time you must work with the product before it hardens. I’m more of a “scene” person.
Having the right equipment is crucial for finishing any task. A metal taping trough, a stiff putty knife with a blade as wide as the bottom of your trough, a 6″ blade with medium flexibility, and a 12″ cement finisher’s trowel are the tools you’ll need to get the job done. There are a few reasons why I advocate using a cement finisher’s trowel. It’s less flexible than a standard 12-inch tape blade and can be used for taping and finishing concrete if kept clean.
USG’s Sheetrock EZ-Sand is a high-quality tape/patch that can be purchased with a setting time of 5, 20, 45, or 90 minutes. The 20-minute and 45-minute versions of the product are the ones I use most regularly. Any of it can be set more quickly if mixed with hot water rather than cold.
A common misconception among novices is that they can apply a thick layer of mud and smooth it off using sandpaper. Especially if you’re taping over a large area, this is a huge hassle and a waste of product and sandpaper.
You should apply the tape so that it covers the seams or holes and overhangs the edge by the width of the tape. Self-adhering nylon mesh tape is what I use because it is the most user-friendly option. Make the “mud” the consistency of peanut butter, and then spread it over the repair area using a 6″ taping blade until it completely covers the tape. Don’t bother blurring or blending out the edges. The first coat’s only real purpose is to hide the tape.
When the first layer of mud has dried, you can smooth down any bumps or loose bits with a tape blade. Prepare another batch of mud with a mayonnaise-like consistency. We’ll be working on smoothing out the edges now. Spread the mud by positioning the center of your 6-inch blade where the tape would be and the other edge on the outside of the tape. Do this around the perimeter of the patch four times.
Once that application has dried, use a 12″ trowel to smooth down any bumps or remove excess material. The mesh tape should still be discernible in some places as a faint outline, provided you haven’t applied the mud too thickly. Make some more muck, please. It would help if you were a little runnier than mayonnaise this time. Use your 6″ knife to apply it evenly on the current patch. Start a few inches outside the patch area and slide your 12″ trowel at a 45-degree angle to the wall across the area. Don’t be tempted to put down the trowel after finishing one side; instead, use a curved motion to go onto the next section. Too much mud on the wall could require you to start over. If you can maintain a constant motion, that will yield the best results. The purpose of this mud layer is to complete the feathering process by filling in any gaps.
The final layer should dry for at least 24 hours before being sanded. Sand the spot down with drywall screen sandpaper of 120 grit. Run the palm of your hand over it once you think you got it smooth. If there are any bumps or ridges, you should be able to feel them. Carefully apply another layer of mud and then sand it down if necessary.
Dust can be removed using a clean, slightly wet sponge or rag when the surface has dried completely. Allow the dampness to dry for half an hour before prime and painting.
Now you know everything there is to know about taking care of drywall jobs. Like many other projects, this requires the steps to be completed for the best results. If you’re interested, my site has a video showing how to fix drywall.
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Contractor John has worked as a builder and remodeler for over three decades. He has passed the NAHB’s rigorous certification exams and received the CGR (certified graduate remodeler) and CGB (certified graduate builder) credentials. He has served as president of the Will and Grundy County Home Builders and Associates and on the educational advisory board for the Midwest Builders Show. As your Home Repair Helper, John is uniquely qualified to offer advice thanks to his varied background.
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