TMA Your Drywall Technique

Ive owned and renovated houses for 25 years, so Ive had to do my share of drywall, but its been a lot more small jobs than large, and I do it so infrequently that even though Ive learned how to do it passably-ish, it just seems like its never the same twice and I dont have a great repeatable process, and certainly dont have much in the way of tricks and philosophy. Drywall is one of those things where the difference between how fast AND good a pro and a hobbyist are is big. One thing I noticed is that Ive never seen a pro use premixed mud. Is it just because its more expensive, or is the powder mix better for some reason?

Anyway, I could probably hit up youtube for videos of guys talking about drywall, but thats even more boring than finding out about it from OGers, so please learn or bullshit me about how to do drywall finishing well…

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  1. Apply too much mud
  2. Sand too much away
  3. Apply too much mud again
  4. Repeat until I tell myself, the paint will hide that

The paint never hides it.


The premixed mud is much weaker. It cures by drying and takes a long time. You’re looking at a day between coats. Hot mud cures via chemical reaction and cures very fast. I think you can get 20 minute hot mud. I used 90 minute when finishing my basement and I had to mix very small batches given how slow I work.

I used hot mud for my first two coats for the strength and then an easy sand premix for the top coat.

We may be roughly in the same league here! Ive gotten better about it, but I have to go over stuff way too many time.

I feel like I should start learning to use the powder stuff, though. Most of my projects arent time sensitive. Or at least I try to convince my wife of that.

This exactly.

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Use full sheets, don’t try and nickle and dime every cut off trying to save a few dollars. Much less joints and better factory edges. Don’t try and cut out windows and doors. Just screw in place and use a roto zip to cut out the opening.


Good stuff, keep it coming! Personally, I been using adhesive back mesh style tape and not the paper kind because i figure Id rather not have any thingness associated with mud under the tape, even if pressed flat. After smoothing over the top of the tape, do you just go the width of the tape, or do you go a couple inches wider and lay it on thicker, then build out and feather the edges?

Best taper I know (NYC fireman, former union taper) uses premixed mud exclusively. Only the green–no other colors. He mixes plaster of paris into the compound if he needs it to dry quickly. Might be just a New York thing. The mafia wants the job to go nice and slow.

No mesh tape. There is a saying among pros: mesh is what you use when the port-a-john is out of toilet paper. Only exception is for a repair that you need super flat.

Stainless tools exclusively. USG Matrix is nice. My friend uses only a 6" and a 10".

The knives are not flat. They have a slight curve. Use the correct side against the wall.

THREE COATS MINIMUM on factory new drywall. Minimum. A repair will be four or more. Possibly with a build up coat (50/50 plaster) under the first layer of tape.

First coat, you knock things off with a knife. Second coat should be your only substantial sanding if you do it right. Third coat. Lightly sand. Prime with good primer. There will still be imperfections you need to touch up.

Don’t fuck with hot mud until you get better skills wise. That shit dries fast. You can put a drop of white vinegar in it to slow it down. Also, mix in the pan with a knife. Drill mixer will cause it to set super fast. As will being old in the bag.

And finally. SPEED is the difference with a pro. I’ve gotten to the point that I can do good, clean work with minimal sanding. But my friend could do the floor or building before I had one room done.


This is great info, thanks! The speed difference is really crazy.

The part on the knife being curved is huge. Close one eye and look at it from the side. The convex side is what you want up against the wall. The center of the knife should be closer, and the edges slightly up.

Here are the knives you want:

In general, there’s never anything wrong with putting a ton of mud on the wall. I’ve seen my friend to it a lot. Trick is not to leave it there.

First coat, you can put a whole bunch behind the tape. But use the knife like a squeegee hard against the tape. Pull it all back off into the pan, leaving only what is behind the tape. Now, let it dry. NO mud on top of the tape. First coat is just underneath.

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Boston Globe article that talks about the benefits of mixing drywall compound with plaster of Paris. This is huge with pro drywall guys, at least in the Northeast.

Just bought this. No justification for it, but I did. The light is a fucking game changer.

35 yrs in the trade all purpose (green bx ) to embed paper tape ,plus 3 light weight for 2nd and 3rd coat ,hot mud only for small time pressed jobs ,extra mud in the middle can be sanded easily with light wt mud ,it’s the edges where the mud meets raw drywall paper that leave lines that show after paint. A damp tile sponge lightly on that edge works ,don’t over sand and burn the paper. You can always piss coat all the edges with a slightly watery mix