What Is a Level 3 Drywall Finish?

Drywall finishers use mud pans and flat drywall knives.
Drywall finishers use mud pans and flat drywall knives. (Image: drywall tools image by Sherri Camp from Fotolia.com)

A level three drywall finish calls for using joint compound to embed paper drywall tape over angles and joints where drywall panels meet, then coating over the tapes after they dry. Fasteners and accessories receive two coats as well.

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In 1988, the Gypsum Association published “Recommended Levels of Gypsum Board Finish” to help builders and finishers communicate about project needs quickly and without confusion.


Five levels of drywall finishing exist. Level one is the most basic, and is suitable for unoccupied areas like boiler rooms and closets. Well-lit and highly visible areas require the highest level: five.


The Gypsum Association recommends a level three finish for areas that will later receive heavy-grade wallpaper or a spray texture like stucco or popcorn.


In residential homes, a level three finish is only suitable for garages and closets. Other areas should receive at least a level four finish.

Expert Insight

A level three finish is common in large, commercial structures where cosmetic appearance isn’t vital, such as factories and warehouses.

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