Is fiberglass mesh tape or paper tape better for drywall work? Ask drywalling professionals and you're likely to get some very strong--and very different--opinions. Ultimately, there are pros and cons to each; start with a few guidelines and then form your own opinion.
Fiberglass Mesh Tape: Pros
Fiberglass mesh tape is good for novices, as it requires less care than paper tape does when applying mud over it. Fiberglass mesh tape also sticks in place by itself, so putting up the tape itself is easier. You can use fiberglass mesh for tapered seams and sometimes for butt joints; but, normally, not for corners.
Fiberglass Mesh Tape: Cons
Fiberglass mesh tape can show through an inadequate mudding job more easily than paper tape does. It also sometimes unravels slightly at the edges, leaving "strings" to deal with. It is also somewhat more expensive than paper tape. Some say it cracks more easily than paper tape seams.
Paper Tape: Pros
Paper tape is preferred by many professionals who can get very smooth results with it. Paper tape is somewhat cheaper than mesh tape. It is sometimes used on tapered joints, often used on butt joints and is nearly always creased and used on inside corners.
Paper Tape: Cons
Using paper tape takes a bit of practice. Until you get the hang of it, your trowel may catch and wrinkle, or even tear, the paper tape. Adjusting wrinkled tape or replacing a torn piece, however, is not that big a problem. If you put down an inadequate layer of mud below the tape, it may bubble, requiring repair later.
Most fiberglass mesh tape is self-adhesive, but make sure you don't end up with the nonadhesive variety, as it requires stapling to hold it in place. Also, if you're having trouble using regular paper tape on inside corners, consider using inside corner tape, which has a sharper crease and lies flat against each wall to make a cleaner corner.
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