After working half the weekend to put a friend on the right track, I thought I might take a moment and give a few tips to the other novice tapers.
My friend gets an A+ for effort, but should have done a little more research before getting started. Joint compound, or drywall mud as I’m used to calling it comes in 3 main categories:
- All purpose – Typically premixed and in a white bucket with green writing. Think of this as being similar to glue. It takes a while to setup, and it is best used for the “bed coat” behind the tape. It dries pretty hard and has a little shrinkage.
- Lightweight all purpose – Typically premixed in a white or gray bucket with blue writing. This stuff is smoother and less dense than the true “all purpose”, meaning that it doesn’t smooth over inconsistencies quite as easily. It shrinks a little more too. Sands off pretty easily, so it easier to take off extra.
- 5-210 minute - Only comes in powered form, and uses a chemical reaction to setup in the time stated on the bag. Allows for more coats to be applied more quickly. Think of this stuff as plaster, or almost really smooth cement. Don’t get more on than you want, because it doesn’t sand off easily. Can be difficult to work with for some, and be sure to only mix up an amount that you can use before it starts to set.
Choose the right one for your job, the smallest knife that will still bridge the valleys, and only put a bit on. The method that I use is to fill the joint with extra compound, then in one fluid swipe, try to “take off everything that you put up”. If you have the right size knife, it will leave up the correct amount of mud in the joint. Don’t go crazy and put tons of mud up or you’ll be sanding forever and it still won’t look good. If you’re still interested, a quick google search will walk you through the paces.