Hand holding putty knife mudding a horizontal crease on drywall

How To Tape And Mud Drywall

Originally contributed by Ali Carroll • last updated 4/1/2021

Hanging drywall on your own for the first time can seem like a daunting task, but it’s really quite simple if you have the proper instructions and tools.

This guide will show you how to tape and mud drywall in your own home so that by the time you're done you feel like a DIY drywall master!

Let's Make It

Equipment

  • Putty Knife
  • Screwdriver
  • Drill & Mixing Kit
  • Paper Tape
  • Drywall Mud Pan

Materials

  • Unmixed Drywall Mud (Joint Compound)
  • Water
01/13

Check That All Of Your Screws Are Inset

Before you mud and tape drywall you should always check that the screws securing it to the wall aren't sticking out too far.

Take your putty knife and run it over every screw hole, making sure that they are all inset into the wall and that none are poking above the surface. If any of them are too far out, simply use a screwdriver to tighten the screw.  

02/13

Check For Damaged Areas In The Drywall

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Sometimes when hanging drywall you can collect little scrapes and nicks on the walls, or maybe even run into problem areas where whole chunks get gouged out. All of this is a hazard of the trade and is easily rectified.

If you see any areas of the drywall where the paper is damaged and peeling, simply scrape over the area with your putty knife to remove any torn paper and roughness.

If any pieces of peeling paper are left they will show through even after mudding and taping, and be visible when you go to paint. 

03/13

 Fill In Severely Damaged Areas Or Gaps

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If you run into more severe damage like a hole or deep gap, the area may need to be filled with thicker drywall mud (typically un-mixed drywall mud).

Scoop a good amount of the mud onto your pallet knife and press it into the hole, scraping your knife across the area horizontally and vertically until the area is smooth. Fill the hole until it is just below flush to the drywall then let it dry for one day. 

04/13

Mix Together Your Drywall Mud

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Drywall mud on its own tends to be quite thick and hard to mix, which is great for patching large areas like in the previous step, but isn’t as ideal for your smaller dents and scrapes.

To achieve the best result, water your drywall mud down to achieve a thick, frosting-like consistency. Mix the composite together with your drill and mixing kit, adding more water as needed. The great thing about drywall mud is that as it dries you can continue to add more water to maintain the desired texture and mix it together as needed.

It’s always best to add just a little water at a time rather than too much at the beginning!

05/13

Mud The Screws Along The Inside Corner Ceiling Joint

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The first two things you’ll need to have on hand is your putty knife and a drywall mud pan. Fill the pan up with mud and scoop a small amount onto your knife.

Start covering the exposed screws along the top of the wall and ceiling, using a gentle amount of pressure to scrape horizontally and vertically over the screw area. When finished, the indentation from the inset screws should be completely filled and smoothed over with mud. 

06/13

Measure And Fold Your Paper Tape For The Ceiling Seam

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Measure out the length of the top of the wall with your paper tape, and then fold it lengthwise down the center. Set aside.

07/13

Mud The Ceiling Seam

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Scoop up a small amount of mud mixture onto your pallet knife and start applying a thin layer to the ceiling seam from corner to end.

Once you finish applying the layer to the top, do the same to the bottom, working from the end of the wall back to the corner.

This mud is going to be used as adhesive for your paper tape, so don’t worry about scraping off the excess or smoothing at this stage.

08/13

Place The Paper Tape Along The Seam

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Picking up your folded paper tape, start at the corner of the ceiling seam and press the tape into the freshly applied mud.

Press the folded edge right into the seam so that the bottom half of the tape is on the wall, and the top half of the tape is on the ceiling. Cut off any excess tape when you reach the end of the wall.

09/13

Smooth Out The Paper Tape And Drywall Mud

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Going back to the corner of the ceiling seam, place your palette knife against the top of the wall, holding the tape firmly in place with your fingers. Now begin to drag the palette knife horizontally along the bottom fold of tape, smoothing out the mud that’s beneath it. Work your way down the length of the wall, then come back to the corner and go over the tape a second time until it is completely flush. Repeat this whole process with the top half of the paper tape along the ceiling.

10/13

Rinse & Repeat

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Repeat steps 5 - 9 for all of the ceiling seams along the other walls. 

11/13

Mudding And Taping Your Inside Corners

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Now that we’re starting to understand how to mud and tape drywall, we can move on to the inside corners. The process is going to be the same as before, except that this time we’ll be working on a vertical surface rather than horizontal.

12/13

Completing Flat Seams

After doing the ceiling and corners, continue applying tape and mud to anywhere there is a seam between two drywall boards. Since they aren't corners, you don't need to fold the tape first.

13/13

Success!

And that’s it! You’ve successfully learned how to tape and mud drywall to achieve smooth, seamless, professional quality walls.

Now it’s time to show off to the rest of your family and enjoy your success.

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