Introduction

finishing drywall tout
Photo: Allen Penn
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Hanging drywall takes a little muscle, but the next step, getting the drywall ready for paint or wallpaper, requires finesse. The goal here is simple: Make the joints between drywall panels disappear so that walls and ceilings are perfectly smooth. The process isn’t com­plicated, either. It takes just a few tools—a small and a large drywall knife and a swivel-head pole sander—to do the job. Here, Paul Landry, of P.L. Drywall in Waltham, Massachusetts, shows how it’s done, using premixed joint compound (a.k.a. “mud”) and drywall tape.

The tricky part is learning how to properly bed the tape and feather out the compound to an imperceptible edge. “First time out, you’ll probably get more ‘mud’ on the floor and on your clothes than you do on the wall,” says Landry, who finished the walls at This Old House’s recent TV project in Man­chester, Massachusetts.

Sanding is the other key skill. Joint compound is soft, so the challenge is to avoid removing so much that you risk fraying or tearing the paper tape. “Be patient,” Landry advises. “Even beginners can do a fine job if they take their time.”

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    Tools List

    • drill
      Drill/driver
      for blending compound
    • drywall tape dispenser
      Drywall tape dispenser
    • swivel head pole sander
      Swivel-head pole sander with drywall sandpaper
      for smoothing first coat of compound
    • sanding block
      Sanding blocks
      for sanding corners
    • mud box
      Mud box
      for holding small batches of compound and cleaning knives
    • drywall knife
      5- and 10-inch drywall knives
    • mallet
      Mallet
    • drywall corner clincher tool
      Corner clincher
    • shop vacuum
      Shop vacuum

    Shopping List

    1. Medium-grit sanding screen or drywall sandpaper for smothing first coat of compound

    1. Fine-grit sandpaper for smoothing second and third coats of compound

    2. Joint compound

    3. Paper tape