Tips for finishing drywall | Pro Construction Guide
Tips for finishing drywall

Tips for finishing drywall for the best results

Pattern layout is a critical step toward ensuring a quality drywall finishFor 15-year veteran remodeler and drywaller Abel Marin of Chicago-based Pro Done, one of the best tips for finishing drywall right is knowing how to order and size the panels. Check the rest of his tips for finishing drywall like a Pro.

Pattern layout is a critical step toward ensuring a quality drywall finish. “I know where to use 8-, 10-, and 12-foot sheets so we’re not paying to throw sheets away,” he says.

Reducing waste on the job also can be a major factor contributing to a company’s profitability, says Marin. “I’ve seen a lot of waste on jobsites,” he adds. “We try to keep waste down around 10 percent to 15 percent by ordering just what we need.”

Proper drywall finishing technique when mudding and taping drywall is the final step and demands attention to detail. “We spend time on the detail work,” says Marin. “I have an eye and know what to expect from my crews.”

Tips for finishing drywall

Because gypsum panels are susceptible to damage from moisture and extreme heat, one of the best tips for finishing drywall is to keep them clean, dry and at temperatures between 40°F and 95°F. Remove the plastic protective covering and stack panels flat until you are ready to use them.

When installing drywall panels, always run them horizontally on wall joists, positioning edges or ends over framing members or other solid backing. Drive fasteners below the surface without breaking the paper. Test by running a mudding knife over the boards. If you hear clicking, the fasteners need to be sunk deeper.

The true test of skill comes after the drywall panels are hung. Follow these best practices in finishing drywall to be sure the walls are smooth and paint-ready.

  • Mix powder compounds and thin premixed materials with water. Do not allow compounds to freeze.
  • Let non-setting compounds dry thoroughly before sanding.
  • Apply compound to the joint first when taping. Then press in the tape and wipe off the excess compound, or use tools designed for finishing drywall.
  • Apply a second coat of compound with tools that extends approximately 3½ inches beyond the center of the joint. Draw down the compound to a smooth even plane.
  • After drying or setting, sand the treated surfaces. When sanding, take care not to raise the nap of the gypsum board paper.
  • Where a third coat is needed, feather the joint treatment edges approximately 6 inches from the center of the joint.
  • Sand the final coat lightly with fine sandpaper or wipe with a damp sponge to leave a smooth even surface.
  • Cover fastener heads with three coats, applied in different directions.
  • Caulk all cut edges and openings around pipes and fixtures with water-resistant flexible sealant.
  • For skim coating, spread a thin layer of joint compound or a material made for this purpose over the entire surface of the drywall panel. Immediately remove excess compound, leaving a thin film covering the paper. Lightly sand or sponge to assure a smooth and even surface.
  • Apply a good-quality drywall primer prior to painting.

Source: Gypsum Association

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