The U.S. Gypsum company introduced drywall, which it markets as Sheetrock, as an alternative to lath and plaster in the early 20th century. Although its popularity grew gradually, drywall has become the number one wall covering in America. It comes in 4-by-8-foot sheets that you screw or nail to the framing, but the installation isn't complete until you finish the seams between sheets with tape and joint compound, or mud. When properly finished, a Sheetrock-covered wall looks like a plaster one, especially after the application of a texture, which is an optional procedure.
Use premixed mud or mix your own by pouring the powdered variety into a 5-gallon bucket and stirring in some water. It should be soft enough to spread on the wall, but stiff enough to remain on a drywall knife when you turn the blade upside down. Use taping compound to tape seams and topping compound for finish coats, or use all-purpose joint compound for both purposes.
Transfer a quantity of mud to a mudding tray, which is a rectangular trough with a steel scraping blade affixed to one lip. The blade will come in handy for keeping your application tools clean.
Coat a seam with mud using a 4-inch drywall knife. The coating width should be approximately the same width as the blade. Spread the mud generously and evenly, being careful to avoid leaving voids.
Cover the seam with paper or fiberglass mesh drywall tape. If you use paper tape, moisten it with water before you lay it on to improve adhesion and prevent bubbling and lifting. Scrape the tape flat with the knife, removing excess mud from behind the tape and returning it to the tray. Spread a coat of mud over depressions made by nails and screws while you're taping seams.
Tape inside corners with drywall tape, but use metal or vinyl corner beading for outside corners. Affix the beading with glue or drywall screws or nails, depending on the type you use, and coat the edges with a layer of mud.
Let the mud dry, which can take anywhere from 12 to 24 hours. You can speed up the drying by running a heater in the room. Spread another coat of mud on all flat seams, inside and outside corners and fasteners and scrape it flat with an 8-inch blade. Let it dry, then repeat the process, but scrape with a 12-inch blade. The progression of wider blades will make increasingly wider layers that will gradually feather into the wall.
Sand the final coat lightly with 120-grit sandpaper before you texture. Wipe off the sanding dust with a rag.
Texture the wall by spreading mud with a knife to make a swirl, Spanish knife, knock-down or similar pattern. You can also thin mud to a pourable consistency and apply it with a sprayer or a paint roller to make popcorn, eggshell and other patterns.
Let the texture dry, then sand it very lightly with 120-grit sandpaper to knock down any sharp edges. Cover the wall with wall primer before you paint it.
Tips & Warnings
- Although mud is a suitable texturing material, certain sprayable textures are made from different ingredients. Some combine mud, paint and particulate matter, and some even come in an aerosol spray can.
- Professional finishers avoid the long wait between mud applications by using hot mud. Because it sets instead of drying by evaporation, it can be recoated after one or two hours, but using it correctly takes practice.
- Sanding drywall mud produces lots of dust, so wear a dust mask and cover nearby furniture with drop cloths.
Things You'll Need:
- Drywall joint compound (mud)
- 5-gallon bucket
- Mudding tray
- 4-, 8- and 12-inch drywall blades
- Drywall tape
- Corner beading
- 120-grit sandpaper
- Texture sprayer or paint roller
- Wall primer
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