Taping a joint means applying joint compound followed by a strip of drywall tape, then two thin coats of joint compound.

Taping Drywall

The next step in installing drywall is covering the nails and joints, called taping. Here's how:

Step 1: Use a 5-inch-wide drywall taping knife to spread joint compound into the slight recess created by the tapered edges of the drywall sheets. Smooth the compound until it is even with the rest of the board surface.

Step 2: Center the drywall tape over the joint and press it firmly into the compound. Because some compound will squeeze out, make sure that there is still a good bed underneath. When you get the tape embedded into the compound all along the joint, smooth it with the taping knife. At the same time, fill all the nail dimples with compound.

Step 3: When the compound is completely dry (usually 24 hours later) apply a very thin second coat of compound that extends out a few inches to either side of the first coat. After the second coat dries completely, apply a third coat, this time with a 10-inch-wide taping knife, extending the compound about 6 inches to either side. When the third coat is dry, feather all the edges with a sanding block covered with medium-grit sandpaper.

To tape inside corners, including the spots where the walls and ceiling meet, cut the tape to length and fold it in half. After laying the bed of compound, press the folded tape into the compound and feather the compound out at least 11/2 inches to each side. The corners require three coats, and the last coat should extend about 8 inches to each side. Sanding is required here, too.

To finish the outside corners, install a metal corner (from your building-supply store), then apply three coats of compound that taper up to the bead. The last coat should extend the compound on each wall to about eight inches wide. Sand as with other drywall joints.

Let the walls dry for up to five days, following the recommendations of the joint compound manufacturer. Give the surface of the drywall a coat of primer made for paint or wallpaper. When the primer is dry, sand the drywall surface lightly with fine-grit sandpaper on a sanding block. Be sure to sand between each additional coat of paint with fine-grit sandpaper. New drywall should receive at least three coats: a sealer, primer, and finish coat.

Installing drywall may not be the easiest home improvement project around, but it's a lot simpler than it looks, and it can be done with help from the tips detailed in this article.

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