Drywall mud is a joint compound made of gypsum. Drywall is one of the cheapest wall coverings. It costs around $15 per 4′ x 8′ panel or around 50 cents per square foot. The average room will end up costing less than $500.
Other options are much more expensive. When it comes to drywall, it isn’t easy to get the hang of it at first. But it can be DIY-friendly after just a little practice. It all comes down to learning how to use drywall mud.
What Is Drywall Mud?
Drywall mud is a material used when hanging sheetrock or drywall. It is used to cover the joints, make indentions flat, and make repairs in drywall after you hang it. It is necessary to use during the process.
We will go over how to use drywall mud later. For now, know that it is a paste that you use to make the wall look good after it is painted. There are many different types of drywall mud and all need tape to perform well.
Types Of Drywall Mud
Not all drywall mud is created equally. The two primary types are premixed mud and powdered mud. The premixed mud is a paste that you don’t have to do anything to. The powder is part of a mix to which you have to add water.
- All-purpose mud – this is a safe, premixed mud to use that can be used for any drywall project. It is versatile, hence the name all-purpose mud. This is a great choice if you are a beginner and don’t know what to get.
- Topping mud – this mud isn’t for every use. It is made for that final top coating. This is not the mud to use for the first coat, but instead is a thin topcoat that dries white and is easy to sand. Topping mud is pre-mixed.
- Powdered drywall mud – this mud is called hot mud and it contains chemicals that react when water. It hardens quickly and shrinks less than all-purpose pre-mixed mud whenever it dries. This is great for those with experience.
- Timed drywall mud – this is a type of mud with many different settings. You can get mud like this that dries in five minutes, fifteen minutes, or longer. This lets you control how you mud and how fast the process goes.
- Sanding mud – there are certain types of mud that harden fast and smoothly. These are used for finishing work and often for spackling. It is similar to topping mud but is specifically designed to look great when sanded.
Types Of Drywall Mud Tape
Although mud is the primary material needed for the mudding process, the tape is important too. Without it, the joints won’t be smooth. Tape is used on the joints after the first coat of mud and before the last.
- Paper tape – this is the most common and cheapest type of drywall tape. It is a simple paper tape that can be cut and adjusted, even folded to fit in corners perfectly. Paper tape comes with a semi-steep learning curve.
- Mesh tape – this type of tape is made from fiberglass threads to create a mesh similar to what you’d see on a window screen though it is flimsier. This type of tape is more difficult to use because it is thick.
- Preformed tape – this type of tape isn’t always tape at all. Sometimes, it is made of metal or plastic and is sold in solid strips. These are corner sections used on the outside wall to get a smooth corner when mudding.
How To Use Drywall Mud
Knowing what drywall mud is and being able to use it are two very different things. Learning to use drywall mud isn’t easy but after you do learn then you shouldn’t have any problems hanging perfectly smooth drywall.
Step 1: Get Ready
Cover your floor with a drop cloth, preferably a cloth one as plastic ones aren’t very safe. They can become slick and cause accidents. So get a cloth one and make sure you wear old clothing that you don’t mind getting messy.
It can also be helpful to wear goggles if you don’t want to get mud in your eyes. Gloves are not necessary as mud is easy to wash off after it dries with nothing but soap and water. But protect your arms and eyes if you can.
Step 2: Mix Drywall Mud
If you are using premixed mud you can go ahead and lightly mix it to get rid of that top layer of liquid. If you are using a powder then you probably want to read the packaged instructions carefully.
It depends on the brand and type of mud, so make sure that you read it carefully. Not all mud is the same. You can also add water to premixed mud if you feel that it is too thick, to begin with. This will make it easier to spread.
Step 3: Start First Coat
The first thing you do is mud the joints and any screw indentions. Start with the screw marks, adding a swatch of mud to each mark. Then, add mud to each joint that is a bit wider than the tape you are using.
You then want to smooth it all out but don’t press down too hard. Use a wide drywall mudding knife or trowel to smooth it out. For the first coat, you don’t need to add a lot, just get the basics covered for later.
Step 4: Start Taping With Drywall Mud
Now, add tape along each joint. Do one at a time as you mud each joint. After you put the tape along the joint over the mud, smooth the tape out with your trowel or mudding knife. It should be flat when you finish.
Step 5: Tape Corners
Corners are rough. You need to apply a thin coat of mud to both sides of the inside corners. Crease the tape and then smooth it out to fit into the corner. This should be fairly easy and it should fall into place.
Then, smooth the paper tape carefully using your trowel. Do one side at a time, alternating as you go in order to get an even finish. The tape should be set in the corner and shouldn’t be floating at all.
Step 6: Tape Protruding Corners
You may think that you can use standard paper tape for the outside corners but this is far too difficult. You will need to get preformed corners for this. Metal ones work well and need to be screwed into the drywall.
If you are lucky, you won’t have any protruding corners to work with. But if you do, do them carefully as you can easily mess this part up. Then, you end up with bumpy corners or metal showing through the mud and paint.
Step 7: Add More Mud
After letting everything dry, you can apply a second coat of mud to everything. Yes, even the tape. Add mud everywhere again. When you get to the tape, add a very thin layer to the tape to smooth it out and hide the tape.
This step is very important. You may need to do a third coat, but not always. If you can’t see any tape or indentions then you are good. But if things aren’t as smooth as you’d like, let everything dry and do one more coat.
Step 8: Sand
Now it’s time to put on your mask and goggles and start sanding. This can get messy, so leave that drop cloth on the floor. Don’t inhale the dust, keep a mask on during this step because the sand can be harmful.
Using your chosen sander, slowly and lightly start sanding. Don’t sand down to the tape or the wall. Instead, lightly sand the surface until it is flat with the wall and there are no bumps. Any imperfections will appear.
Step 9: Stomping With Drywall Mud (Optional)
If this is your first time using drywall mud, you may want to decide to stomp your walls instead of just paint them. This is because stomping covers many more mistakes than just painting the walls does.
There are many drywall designs to choose from and all are fairly easy to accomplish. The easiest way to stomp is to use stomping mud and a stomping brush. Then you lightly stomp the mud in a random pattern, covering the entire wall.
Hiring A Contractor
For best results, hire a contractor to do your drywall mud project for you. It can be trying to make mistakes and have them show up. A contractor can get a seamless job done in no time and your wall will look perfect.
It can be fun to try to do things yourself but if you’re worried about things not turning out right then hire someone. They may be able to help you learn how to do it yourself if you ask them. Then you’ll be ready for next time!
Right now, what is important is learning the basics. This starts with the different types of drywall mud, tape, and the techniques you can use to accomplish the job!