When I first started taping drywall, I was told that the less I sand, the better! That was way back in 1973 when, as a college graduate in search for a career, I was handed drywall tools. I’ve come a long way since then! Taping and finishing drywall is pleasant work, provided one has strong wrists, and one does not mind getting “muddy.”

A good finishing job is made easier if drywall is hung and fastened with care. There are many kinds of taping and finishing compound on the market, and each serves a particular need.  Daniel and I work with three types of compound, thin set mortar, and various tapes. Thin set mortar is normally used for tile work, but we have found that, when mixed with taping “mud”, a very strong joint (bevel joints only) can be achieved.

The most essential thing to keep in mind is that a finished joint must be “just right” relative to the plane in which it rests. Natural and artificial light are very unforgiving of sloppy workmanship. I test my joints by holding a straight edge against them.

We use 12” diameter Velcro sanding discs with 80, 100, and 150 grit paper. These sheets attach to a large, flexible sanding disc, which is either hand-held or mounted on a pole. I like to do a quick sanding between coats. Most tapers sand after all mud coats are applied. My daughter gave me a 9” wide head wrap thingee, that serves many useful functions – dust mask, sweat band, neck and ear warmer in winter, and protection against the sun in summer. It’s so fashionably cool that I wear it each day.

Inside corners are finished one side at a time. Sometimes trouble spots require us to spread mud over a large area. The idea is to gradually work out of a high spot.

Metal corner bead is applied after the taping has been completed. This prevents the corner bead from becoming distorted during installation. Corner bead is applied with care, so that the edge is raised slightly beyond the plane of the wall. I always apply tape to both side of corner bead. This prevents cracks from developing as time goes on and the house settles.


Even after sanding is completed, I find that I’ve often missed small imperfections. Not to worry! Once the wall is primed, minor imperfections are more easily seen and can be dealt this before the final coat of paint is applied. It’s a good idea to have a brilliant work light on hand. I set it up on the floor so that its upward beam clearly shows any imperfections.

We encountered a bit of a problem with the living room ceiling. Windows on both ends of the house allow lots of light to flood in, exposing even minute imperfections! We tried to remedy the situation, but eventually we resorted to a very flat “knock-down”, orange peel texture.  I should note that most contractors spray on ceiling texture in order to “mask” minor imperfections. I truly don’t like such “popcorn” textures! We are pleased with what we accomplished, though it required hard work and persistence.


Typically we prefer to roll or two of finish paint onto ceilings and walls. The final thin coat of paint goes on after all work is done and the house has been cleaned. This allows us to repair minor dings and scratches that occur in the normal course of construction.

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