Drywall: The Homeowner’s Guide

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Written By Jim J Neal

An expert in drywall shares his top tips and tricks to help you do the job right.

Drywall can seem intimidating but it doesn’t have to be. You can transform heavy sheets of mud and mud into beautiful walls if you have a better understanding about the tools and materials. With Josh Risberg, our resident drywall expert, I was able to review some basics and discover some new methods. Family Handyman

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Understanding the Joint Compound

Drying type

Drying compounds are well-known to most people. They can be found in a container or a box and dry when the water content has evaporated.


  • All-purpose compound

    • This is the strongest drying compound with the highest level of glue.
    • It can be used as a primer coat for embedding paper tape.

  • Dust control compound

    • This product, which is relatively new, is targeted at DIYers.
    • It is ideal for repairs and greatly reduces the mess that comes with sanding drywall compound.

  • Plus 3 lightweight compound

    • This all-purpose joint compound can be used for second coats or as a topping material. It is easy to sand and has a good open time.

Type setting

You can think of setting-type substances like cement. All you have to do is add water. These compounds set by chemical reaction, unlike the drying types. These can set at different times and are named such as DuraBond 90, Easy Sand 45.


  • Regular setting compound

    • The compound is fast drying. This compound is difficult to sand. Your skill with a knife can make a huge difference.
    • Apply it right away. Although it’s not recommended for beginners, skilled drywall professionals appreciate the quick drying time and can apply a second coat quickly.

  • Lightweight

    • Lightweight setting compound (5) is the perfect choice for DIYers, as it trades some toughness for sandability.

Different types of Drywall Sheets



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1/2-in. drywall

  • For most applications, half-inch drywall is the recommended thickness.
  • Choose lightweight or ultralight drywall whenever possible. It is about 25% lighter than the standard 1/2-in. It is easier to use and more rigid than standard 1/2-in sheets. It can span ceiling joists up to 24 inches in the center.

Sheets that resist fire

  • While gypsum board standard is fire-resistant by nature, Type X is fire-rated. The core contains additives that slow down the spread of fire.
  • Garage ceilings and walls that are adjacent to living areas are often required.

1/4-in. Sheets

  • You won’t often need 1/4-in. It’s great for curved walls and arches, however.

    • Josh recommends skipping the screws when using this thin material. Use construction adhesive instead. Apply one layer of glue to the surface. thickness.

Types of Top Tape



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Paper tape

  • Although it is the most popular type of drywall tape, paper drywall tape can be difficult to use. To become proficient, you will need to practice.
  • There are some advantages to paper tape: It is inexpensive and it is stronger than fiberglass mesh. Most paper tape is creased so that you can bend it into corners.
  • Some tapes made of paper have micro-perforations that help to prevent blistering.

Fiberglass mesh

  • Fiberglass mesh is a great drywall tape. Just stick it on the wall and then trowel your mud.
  • However, the ease of use comes with a caveat. The first coat must be of setting type mud — it will provide a stronger base. When used over mesh tape, dry-type compound can crack.

Corner tape

  • Corner tape is designed for use in corners and at wall-to-ceiling joints. It has metal or plastic strips on the back.
  • It acts as a guide to your knife when you want to create straight corner joints.

Drywall Pro Tips

Bend your blade



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  • Your blade should not be perfectly flat. You can bend your blade to create a curve. Mark the concave side of the blade so that you know which side it is. Josh will use the convex to feather the edges of the joint and the concave to float over it.

Mix the compound



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  • You have a new bucket of compound, and you are ready to mud. Wrong. Make sure you have enough compound removed to allow for at least two to three cups water. Use a paddle mixer to mix the mixture thoroughly. Mix until it resembles yogurt. You are now ready to go!

Look out for clickers



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  • Before you spread any mud on your walls, make sure to check for “clickers” or screws that didn’t go deep enough. You’ll be able to locate all of them quickly, so you don’t have a knife in your hand and a hawk full mud.

It’s easy to make butt joints



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  • The edges of drywall sheets are depressed to account for the thicknesses and amounts of tape and mud. This edge is lost when you cut a sheet. Josh makes a concave cut on one end of a pine piece. The table saw blade is set at two degrees. This allows the edges of the drywall to be pulled in and creates a valley for tape or mud. This allows for seamless connections between the studs.

Make sure to keep your corner bead in place



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  • Staples are a great way to attach corner beads in a more efficient manner that is strong, easy and doesn’t damage the profile. The pneumatic stapler is quicker than screws, more efficient than nails and less likely to cause damage to the corner bead than other methods.

Tape your metal corner beads



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  • Tape your corner bead to strengthen corners. Although it will take some extra time, you’ll be glad that you did. Taped corner joints will last a lifetime.

Tearaway bead to expose edges



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  • You need to finish the edges of drywall that meets other surfaces like brick, stone or paneling. The tearaway bead gives you professional results with minimal effort. It attaches like corner bead but the compound is only applied to the back edge. After drying, the tearaway strip can be easily pulled off leaving a neat, finished edge.

Make sure you use the correct fasteners



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  • Use drywall screws and not nails. There are two types of drywall screws: No. 6 and No. 6. 8. The No. 6 screws is the best choice. 6 screws, they won’t damage the edge of your drywall. The length is determined by the sheet thickness and 3/4-in. For wood stud walls, use coarse-thread screws and fine-thread metal studs.

Josh’s Toolbox

Josh has a huge collection. These are his top tools for drywall.



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Mud mixer

  • This tool can be used in conjunction with a power drill to mix compound. These tools can be purchased at your local home center for around $15

Blades 6-inch and 10-inch

  • These sizes can cover almost every need.

Mud hawk

  • This can be loaded with mud while you work. An average 12-inch hawk will run about $15

Pneumatic stapler

  • It is difficult to attach corner beads with a hand-powered stapler. This job is made easier by a pneumatic stapler.



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Utility knife

  • You can’t do drywall without a gypsum board or tape!

Automated drywall drill

  • An automatic drywall drill increases your drywall skills with its automatic depth setting and continuous feed of screws.
  • This drill is fast and precise, so it can reach the ceiling faster than regular cordless drills.

Cordless drill

  • A cordless drill is lightweight and makes it much easier to screw drywall sheets.

Mud mixer

  • This can be used with a power drill for compound mixing. This tool is available at most home centers for $15.

Jay Cork

Jay Cork
Jay began his career in remodeling with trim carpentry. He then moved on to custom cabinetry. He learned about custom architectural accents and low voltage wiring. HVAC, siding, siding, and other things. Jay enjoys building, repairing, and refinishing musical instruments, and also dabbles with audio recording.

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