How to Apply Paper Drywall Tape


When looking at a smooth wall, it may be hard to imagine that it is composed of numerous drywall panels butted together and attached to the studs with screws. After installing the drywall, the contractor carefully fills the seams with wet joint compound that dries to a smooth finish. Using drywall paper tape is an important part of taping out a wall.

Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure
  • Utility knife or scissors
  • Premixed drywall compound
  • Drywall knife, 6-inch
  • Drywall knife, 10-inch
  • Drywall sander
  • Work on one joint or seam at a time. Do the vertical seams first, then come back and do the horizontal seams.

  • Cut a strip of drywall paper tape a couple of inches shorter than the length of a vertical seam. This allows for slight movement during the taping process.

  • Fill the first seam with drywall compound, using a 6-inch drywall knife to scoop up the wet compound and smooth it into the seams. Smooth off excess compound, leaving only a thin layer.

  • Center the paper drywall tape directly over the seam and position it with your fingers before using the drywall knife to smooth it into place. Use long, even strokes to smooth the tape.

  • Switch to a 10-inch drywall knife and pull it over the seam with the paper tape. The wider blade spreads the wet compound over a wider area, making bulges less apparent.

  • Repeat the process with the rest of the vertical joints, then start on the horizontal joints. When cutting the paper tape for horizontal joints, make sure the edges do not overlap the edges of vertical tape.

  • Sand the seams smooth with a drywall sander after the compound is completely dry. Apply one or two more coats of wet drywall compound, using the 10-inch knife.

  • Sand the entire wall smooth after the final coating of compound dries before painting or hanging wallpaper.

Tips & Warnings

  • Wash splatters of drywall compound off your skin as soon as possible. The compound is very drying and quickly draws moisture from skin.
  • Additional thin coats of compound are necessary because the previous compound shrinks slightly as it dries.
  • Keep the lid tightly closed on the bucket of fresh compound until you're ready to scoop it out.

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  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/ Images
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