How to Finish Drywall

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This article will give a brief, but complete rundown of how to finish drywall. The information and photos will help, but only experience will make you proficient. Keep working at it and you will soon get good. (I will be adding photos as I patch a bathroom in the next several days.)

Things You'll Need

  • Drywall putty knives.
  • Drywall patching compound.
  • Seam tape
  • Metal corners.
  • Stir drywall patching compound before beginning. make certain that all screws are sunk up in the drywall at least 3/16". Apply compound to all screw holes. Don't try to build up too much as it is normal to apply 3 coats total before finishing.

  • Screw metal corners on all outside corners. This gives a hard edge and a place to build putty up to. Don't try to get too wide of a coat. The first coat should only be about 2 1/2' wide.

  • Inside corners, the joint where the ceiling and wall meet and all joints between sheets of drywall must be taped. To do this, apply putty across the joint to be taped. Apply extra as it is better to have too much than too little. Place drywall joint tape onto the putty covered joint and smooth onto the wall with your putty knife. Remove all excess putty and leave it alone. Don't try to apply a coat over top as it will pull the tape off as it dries and shrinks.

  • Allow putty to dry 24 hours minimum before applying next coat. Each layer MUST be dry before continuing on. Make the width of the putty joint wider each coat. This will help in feathering the joint so that when it is finished it won't be a raised bump.

  • Sand after 3 coats are applied and all joints are coated and feathered. Begin sanding with a heavier grit sanding block like 80 grit. Sand lightly to knock off the high places without removing too much. Read the next step before proceeding!

  • Wear a mask. Drywall compound produces a very fine dust when sanded. I have trouble breathing with a regular dust mask. I use a bandana instead. If a dust mask doesn't bother you, use it. I suggest using something with as much filtration as you can stand.

  • Last, take a finer grit sanding block such as a 150 grit and sand all joints removing all scratches and pits. You are now ready to prime your walls. I use Zinsser Bullseye Primer. After priming you will notice any missed places. You can take putty and a knife and apply a skim coat to the bad spots.

  • After priming you will notice any missed places. The slight gloss in the primer will make them more visible. You can take putty and a knife and apply a skim coat to the bad spots. Allow them to dry and sand out like before, then primer. Your drywall finish is complete and ready for painting! (Note: compound may even be used after top coat is on. Just make sure you prime before painting again.)

Tips & Warnings

  • Check the humidity level if your putty doesn't seem to be drying quickly enough. It can be 90 degrees, but if the humidity is too high it may take days for each layer to dry. 40 to 60 percent humidity is normal. You will begin to have problems at 70 percent or more humidity.
  • Wear a good quality mask when sanding. Drywall compound produces a very fine compound when being sanded.

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  • Photo Credit All images taken by the naked Writer
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