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The Home Depot

How to Finish Drywall

Pro Referral > Home Guides > Drywall > How to Finish Drywall
How to Finish Drywall

Drywall is a panel made of gypsum plaster and is usually used to finish building interiors. After the process of hanging up the drywall is completed, it has to be prepped for paint or wallpaper. This step is known as ‘finishing’ the drywall. There are many techniques and tips that can speed up the drywall finishing. The final aim should be to camouflage all the joints in the drywall with the help of taping compound and some sanding.


Organizations like the Drywall Finishing Council and the Wall and Ceiling Bureau (WCB) offer information and technical support to people tackling, or attempting to at least, drywall and plaster projects. They offer solutions to commonly encountered problems during this kind of home improvement attempt.

  1. 1.Attention to Detail

    Preparing yourself well and knowing your limitations is crucial when embarking on home improvement projects and this applies to drywall finishing too. With the right guidance and technique, your finished drywall is bound to carry a professional touch.

  2. 2.Preparations

    Organizations like the Drywall Finishing Council and the Wall and Ceiling Bureau (WCB) offer information and technical support to people taking up drywall and plaster projects.

    There are a few things you need to get before you can set about finishing the drywall. Drywall knives are essential and some people feel that the wider the blade, the better the result. Other tools necessary include a screwdriver, mud pan, dust mask, and sander. A quality compound is also required which is known as joint tape. The compound could be a setting or a drying one. The ready-mixed version of the drying compound is popular with a lot of people. Joint tapes are again available in two varieties—paper and self-sticking fiberglass mesh tape. Your choice of tape will depend on the type of compound used as well as your convenience & predilections.

  3. 3.Finishing Method

    The first step would be to ensure that all the nails and screw heads are under the surface and well-tightened. Corners must be given a second look because they are the problem areas. You can also cut off any visible torn paper edges of the drywall. Then fix the tape on the drywall joint with a layer of compound below and over it. Then smooth the surface and the edges as much as possible. Once you have finished all the joints along the flat surface area, you must concentrate on the inside corners. Here you will first need to fill the seam with compound and apply about two inches of compound on either side of the seam too. Any excess compound must be wiped off. Then cut the required length of tape and place it into the corner and smooth it down. After all the taping is done, dab some compound over each nail head and smooth it down. You can let the compound dry overnight before sanding it to remove any bumps that might have formed. Make sure only the rough spots are sanded, or else you may sand down to the tape which you do not want to do.

  5. 4.The Last Coat

    A proper drywall finishing will need a total of about three coats of the compound. You will have to repeat the process used when applying the first coat and cover all the joints and nail heads. Once this dries overnight, the rough spots have to be sanded down before the third and final coat is applied. After the last coat, it is again allowed to dry and then again sanded down. However, if you are not happy with the finish, you can choose to apply yet another thin layer of compound. Finally, all the surfaces must be wiped down with a damp cloth in preparation for the priming.

  6. 5.Some Useful Tips

    When trying to affix the tape with compound, first put some compound in a pan and mix it well. It should be smooth and contain no lumps to ensure a clean and neat job. Always try to keep the coats smooth; this will help minimize the time and effort spent on sanding down the drywall after compound application. Once you are done with all the coats, allow the walls to dry for a few days based on how long the manufacturer has recommended. Only then should the primer be applied.


    Being meticulous in following the techniques and paying attention to the details can help even an amateur complete this drywall finishing episode with flying colors and a touch of professionalism.

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