How to Tape and Mud Drywall – 2018 Guide

Mudding and taping drywall is where most people start to get kind of confused on the subject. It’s an essential part of both keeping the weather out and maintaining the proper aesthetic that you desire in the room.

It’s also not nearly as difficult as you’d think.

Harry , Homethods Author


1. Make Sure the Drywall is Hung Properly

Step 1

You’ll need to make sure that you have the sheetrock in place and stable for long term hanging before you begin to get to the mudding. It needs to be screwed off, essentially, and not just at the corners.

You’ll need to run screws into the framing, particularly the studs, in order to ensure that everything is safe and up to code. Screws should be placed every six to eight inches along the studs.

Don’t just go driving screws all willy-nilly, if you hit an electrical or water line you’re not going to have a good time. Instead you’ll probably need to use a studfinder. There’s a way around that, and it can save you the money on an extra tool you’ll rarely use though.

Mark off the studs at the roof or ceiling with a carpenter’s pencil before you start screwing the board in. The 90° edge of the pencil will allow you to make sure you have accurate markings, make the lines a couple of inches long and center them on the stud. Then use a straightedge to mark off the line on the front of your sheet.

You’ll also need to make sure that all of your screws are properly sunk into the board before you begin. Usually all this will take with drywall screws is driving them straight when you get started. In most cases, there isn’t going to be much of a need for an actual countersink, just drive them straight right from the outset.

If you mess up, don’t worry too much about it, but keep in mind that if you have to make more than a couple of attempts you’re going to need to make a new hole. Do this too many times, and you’re going to end up with a Swiss cheesed wall.

Don’t bother with nails. Seriously, don’t. The risk of an amateur putting their hammer through the sheetrock is pretty high and they’re not as accurate anyways.

You will also need to make sure that the pieces you’ve hung are pieced together as closely as possible. Don’t get all worked up and think you have to be an artisan with a razor knife, but any gap over an eighth of an inch or so is going to cause a lot of trouble.

If your wall is hung and all of the above is in order, you’re ready to move on to the next step.

2. Applying the Mud to Gaps

Step 2

Applying the mud is where things get a little bit tricky for most people, but it tends to be more due to people’s need to overcomplicate things than due to any kind of actual issues with the process itself.

Just spread the mud as evenly as possible, then sand it down.

Okay, maybe it’s a little bit more complex than that at the end of the day, but not much.

You’re going to be applying several layers of mud in most cases, so set aside a couple of hours and lay down a couple of drop cloths. The latter is important if you’re working in a finished home: use a drop cloth, you’ll thank us later.

Prepare the surface properly by cutting away any extra material with a razor knife. It’s important not to cut the paper too far back, you don’t want raw sheetrock exposed while mudding, but if you’re careful it shouldn’t be an issue.

Start with the inside edges and use a setting type mud. The compound we’re going to use for the rest of your wall shrinks too much for gaps as it dries. Just keep it flush with the wall, the whole thing is easily done with a putty knife.

Remember what we said about keeping the joints as clean as possible? You’re going to be happy if you followed that little tidbit.

You’ll only be taking care of large gaps right now, anything over 1/8 inch or so. We’ll come back to these joints in a bit.

3. Taking Care of Corners

Step 3

Both inside and outside corners will now need to be properly taped. Run the tape from top to bottom as smoothly as possible. Be especially wary of any air gaps under the tape, and do your best to make sure that the edges are straight.

Inside corners are much easier than outside ones. Place a small bead of mud along the tape, then smooth the corner out working from top to bottom with the putty knife. Place the edge of the knife along the joint for the best results.

Minor corrections will inevitably be needed, but bracing the knife against the other edge of the corner is going to help ensure a smooth, tapering shape for the mud.

For outside corners where you’ll be using metal or plastic bracing, use the same mud you used to fill gaps. Fill in the bead gaps and you’re on your way to a smooth finish. Use a wide putty knife, something like 6 inches should do the trick nicely and allow you to taper the mud off over a longer distance.

Tapering over a longer distance will help create a better finish when you’re creating the wall, and you’ll find it’s a lot less noticeable than the steep “ramp” you’d get using a shorter knife.

4. Finishing the Joints

Step 4

With your corners finished, we’ll be working to make sure that things go smoothly over the joints in the wall. Wherever possible you’ll want to have made sure that the covered ends of the sheetrock are placed together, these joints are naturally easier to connect and there’ll be no loose material.

Unfortunately, the world isn’t a perfect place for anyone, let a lone those of us working with sheetrock, so you’ll have “butt joints” where you had to put two uncovered ends together. Where this is the case, you’ll want to cut off the excess paper and any loose pieces of sheetrock before placing the tape.

Many people do this with by cutting a shallow V along the edge of the joints. You’ll need more compound to work with, but it allows you to make sure that nothing gets caught in the gaps while you’re getting set up.

Get the setting compound in the joints flush with the wall. After this, you’ll allow it to dry and then place tape over the top of it. Carefully roll the tape to the bottom, this is actually where most DIYer’s make errors that will be visible later.

Roll the tape flat from top to bottom. Use the bottom of your putty knife for the best results as you get it on there. This will also help to clear out any excess mud that might be lurking from your application, spreading it out to the sides of the tape.

After that apply another 1/16th of an inch of mud over the tape.

There you have it, you’ve mudded all your corners and joints.

5. Next Coat


Wait a little while, a couple of hours or so, before you get to the next coat. This second coat’s purpose is to make sure everything is as smooth as possible, you don’t want any texture going on.

Inevitably some stuff will occur which doesn’t look quite right, and that’s perfectly fine as you’ll be able to take care of a lot of it when you completely finish the wall. The important thing now is to make sure the entire surface is as flat as possible.

Take a look along the edges of the corners to make sure. The “hillier” the surface the more off your final result will be.

If you need to apply any further coats, then you’re going to have to wait overnight. Don’t overapply the mud, it won’t do any harm but you’re going to have to sand it further when you get farther down the road.


Mudding and taping induces anxiety in some DIY-types. The key here is to go slowly and don’t get too worked up. Drywall mud is remarkably versatile and almost any error you can make is going to be able to be fixed with a little bit of thought afterwards. If you’re new, don’t be hard on yourself, it’s not as complicated as it sounds and you’ll be doing it like a pro by the end of the job.

Once you’ve got your mudding and taping done, then we can get to the really fun stuff like the texture and finish of the final wall. Save some money, do it yourself, and you’ll be surprised at the quality of the results.