How Difficult is Taping/Mudding Drywall?

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Hello,
We're about to remove some paneling that has sheetrock underneath. Our guess is there was never any taping done to it or it will need major repair from the paneling coming off. I've never attempted this before and although everything looks fairly straightforward on TV, is this something a DYI'er could accomplish fairly easily?
Thanks,
Cindy
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I've never done anything like this before either, but I have repair holes all over my house trying to get the plumbing replaced. I plan on tackling it today and then I'll see how tough it is.
Just do it, ain't gonna hurt anything by trying you'll just make it take longer.
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Hey Cindy, You are right the basic premis of Drywalling is not tough, but out of most projects I leave this one alone (and sanding floors ugh!). It is just a pain in the behind. The amount of time it takes a pro to get it done and looking great is worth the few bucks for me. I rather spend my time on one of my other bazillion projects. I can find drywallers in my area very cheap and it just isn't worth my time.
However you gotta try everything once to know if you like it. I would recommend not buying the self adhering tape, just regualar old mude and tape with a two different knife sizes. cover all screw holes and apply a genrous amount of mud over seams. You need enough mud so the tape is secure at all points otherwise it will bubble and peel once it starts drying. Remove all excess mud since you'll just make a mess snading later and it is tedious time consuming work. Let it dry for a day have some lighter grit sandpaper and buff over any previous work. Use a larger knife say 8-10 inches for the second coat and feather out the area so that the taped edges to not look dimpled or raised. You might even have to do a third coat depending on how it goes.
If this is going to be direct line of sight then take your time, if it is your first attempt three maybe even four shots of muding/sanding may not be out of the question. If you are doing outside or inside corners the process is more or less the same. If you are doing an outside corner i would recommend some corner bead so that the edge of the drywall has some sort of protection and will not get bumped and dented over time.
Drywalling is a skill learned from practice and patience. Just review the online pages for DIY'ers and role them sleeves up! Good luck
Cindy wrote:

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Not that hard. Biggest mistake most people make is rushing it. They try to glob the mud onto the drywall and do it all at one time. This doesn't work because if you cannot get it smooth, you will spend hours sanding off the blobs and trowel marks. Put it on in thin layers, trowel it as smooth as you can. When it is dry, next day, sand off any bumps or trowel marks lightly, just level out the highest spots. You could use a wet sponge. Repeat until it is smooth. Don't skimp on the number of layers needed to get the coverage and width to the joint. With practice one can do a better job and do most of it with the standard 2 to 3 coats used by the pros.
Remember, a good pro will make a job look so easy that any amateur could do it.

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No expert but I've done it a few times. If the paneling is glued and there is much damage to the sheetrock paper after pulling the panel out, its better sometimes just rip all the sheetrock off rather than repairing it. My guess is there will be taping under the paneling - non finished wall yes, but never came across a none taped wall. It looks easy on TV but it will take some practice to get is right. I'm at the point where you couldn't tell where the taping or any of the repairs were was but having the various textures match is still a challenge for me.
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# Fred # wrote:

I second this. If the paneling was glued the cost of new sheetrock at around $7 / sheet is well worth the aggravation avoided and time saved trying to repair the extensive damage that will occur when removing the paneling.
As for the taping/mudding, the two top things to remember are to use a wide taping knife, not a little putty one and to apply each coat of compound *once*, do not go over it multiple times trying to get it perfect, this only creates more defects.
Pete C.
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Cindy wrote:

Doing drywalling is not hard. Doing it good is tough. But take your time. Don't rush anything, esp. drying times.
A few things to think about. First, get up close to a wall and look down it. It isn't flat. So don't expect your taping to be flat. It sticks out a little bit. That is normal.
Patching holes is much easier than taping large areas, so you might get lucky and just have a bunch of nail holes to deal with.
If it was pointed, etc. before paneling, texture will be an issue. The newly taped areas will be smoother. Use a nappier roller when you paint and it'll cover pretty well.
Go look at some on-line resources on how to do it.
Sometimes, using a damp sponge on the final coat is easier than sanding. Sometimes it's not. But it's an option. If you are just patching nail holes, a damp sponge is sometimes easier just because you don't generate as much dust.
Expect to put lots of compound on and sand lots of compound off. That's normal for someone just learning. Don't worry about it. Just geta good vaccuum.
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Cindy wrote:

Don't rush it and you'll do fine. Here is a good resource: http://drywallschool.com /
Maybe you'll get lucky like I did and the paneling wasn't glued to the wall.
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Your best bet is to get someone with experience in the field to help you. You won't get satisfactory results going in blind, unless you have very low standards. Keep in mind that once you have paint and light on the wall, you will see every imperfection.
Without experience, you will be clumsy with the knives, you'll have little concept of how much mud to use, or even how to sand. You may scoff at that, but sanding requires one to be very conscientious, and sanding drywall is one of the most reviled tasks in all the trades.
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Cindy wrote:

I drywalled, taped and mudded my basement because I'm a DIY kind of guy. Everybody told me to hire out the taping and mudding, but I always want to do something at lease ONCE. Well, that's the total amount of taping and mudding I'll ever do in my life, ONCE.
It's certainly not brain surgery, but it is a skill that is learned over time, and while my taping and mudding looks great, it took a hell of a lot of time. If I were to pay myself, I probably made 5 bucks an hour. I finally got pretty good at it... right about at the time when I was finished!!
HIRE IT OUT.
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Cindy wrote:

Okay, here's my $0.02.
Do it yourself. It's a good skill to have. I'm not a pro, but I've done a ton of it. With that said, be prepared to have it not come out perfect.
When you do your own mudding or anything for that matter, you will always see your own flaws. It's the curse of the DIYer. Even if your work is better than the pros, you'll eye will still shoot directly to your mistakes every time you enter the room. Drywall work is especially bad in this regard.
{OPINIONS FOLLOW} This is from my experience, other will probably disagree with me. You need to find what works for you.
Use fiberglass mesh tape. It's a godsend to us DIYers. Last time I checked, the pros are still divided on it, but I personally wouldn't use anything else. If you don't have the moisture right with paper tape it won't bond correctly and will eventually delaminate. Fiberglass is very strong, but creates a slightly thicker joint.
Buy 6" and a 10" blades. Also, get an aluminum hawk - it's much better than using a pan. If you're doing corners then I would personally recommend a corner trowel, but I'm in the minority on that.
Keep the mud moving. Whip it, turn it, and stir it as you go. If you get little dry crusties, toss it and get some fresh mud. Those mud boogers will leave highly annoying tracks in your work.
Buy the premixed stuff. If you're not experienced with mud, you'll never get the right mix. USG sells stuff with a green lid (stronger) and a blue lid (easier to sand). I like the green for the first coat and the blue for all coats after that. If you don't want to drop the money on two, just use the blue.
Stir the premix with a drill stir until it's "fluffed" up a bit. This gets a lot of the air out of it.
When using the large trowel, put a little muscle into it. The corner of the blade away from the joing should be slightly bent. This is how you get the coat to taper.
Try to avoid hitting drywall paper with the screen. That will rough it up.
Wait for the mud to FULLY dry before trying to sand, scrape, or overcoat it. A first coat can take as long as 24 hours depending on humidity and thickness. You can't speed it up with a heat gun. I've tried. Dehumidifiers work pretty well, though.
You don't have to sand between every coat. Use your 6" blade to knock off the bumps. Try to be careful not to gouge.
Your hand can see irregularities much better than your eye. Use it to examine the wall when sanding.
Only use fine sanding screens. Course screens leave tracks behind.
There's no shame in a DIYer having to use more than three coats. Conversely, you should be proud if you can do it in two.
A damp synthetic car-washing sponge can be your friend, but don't go overboard. You get two - maybe three swipes before the mud takes on too much water and you need to move on.
Sand high spots, not depressions and divots. You *can* sand them, but you'll save a lot of effort just spot hitting them with more mud.
When you think you're done, use an oblique light (halogen or a good flashlight) and your hand to do a final inspection. Mark everything you find with a pencil and go over it that one last time. You'll be glad you did.
Joint compound dust makes a MESS. Wear a mask when sanding. Put a box fan in a window blowing out and another one at the entrance of the room blowing in. Cover everything else with plastic. Try to avoid using a wet/dry vac for cleanup. Unless it's HEPA, the dust tends to pass through the filter material. They sell some kind of water-bong setup to catch the dust at HD, but I've never tried it. That seemed like overkill.
Wash the wall with your damp sponge before you paint it. Joint compound dust sticks to vertical surfaces and will show in your final coat.
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I hear that you have to be careful with fiberglass tape. You should use the quick-setting drywall compound for the first coat. See the 3rd paragraph of this website:
http://www.usg.com/ShowNewsArticle.do?destination=investor.usg.com/newsite/releaseDetail.cfm?ReleaseID &182
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Didn't read your article but read once from fairly reliable source that the fiberglass tape actually makes a weaker joint with regular mud.
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I read that too. However, I have both paper and fiberglass tapes but for a DIYer like me fiberglass is the way to go and there is also no need for quick setting compound either if you're not in a hurry like the pros who need to get out and get paid fast. Never had problems with either paper or tape in the last 20 years. I've repaired many holes where the tenant slams the doorknob into the sheetrock with fiberglass tape without problems. Further, lets be realistic: at high contraction and expansion stress points even steel reinforced tape is not going to help.
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-snip-

-snip-
Most of it I agree with-- I'll snip that and add my own comments-
First off, someone above said your best bet is to watch someone else do it. I agree. If that is possible, spend a couple hours watching a pro. It is deceivingly simple looking, but you can see how little compound is needed to get a good job. Most folks use too much compound and end up making a royal mess sanding.

I think all fiberglass tape sticks to the wall by itself-- but be sure what you get sticks.

I prefer to do one side of a corner-- let it dry and do the other side. That means overnight for the first coat.
-snip-

My brother-in-law did my last job and asked for the red top for his final coat. Then he did the whole thing with the green. Go figure. Oh-- and buy it by the 5 gallon bucket-- don't try to do anything with a gallon. Gallons go fast and by the time you buy 3 you've spent more than the 5gallon bucket costs--- and the buckets are handy.
-snip-

That's why I use a damp washcloth. Rinse often-- add a couple drops of dish soap to a gallon of water. It smooths, lowers high spots, and fills low spots. No dust. Leaves a final surface.

Bears repeating.
-snip-

And if you're going to sand- get one of the sanding attachments for your shopvac. It might not be perfect, but it keeps the dust local. Drywall dust will coat everything in your house if you don't.

I usually end up with a dozen--- but then I'm like that. It also takes me a week or two because I never put more than a coat on in a day. [that's why my brother-in-law got my last job. It was a bathroom that we wanted done. He took 2 days.]
-snip-

Harbor freight has some really bright halogens for about $20. Use them. Paint will highlight the imperfections. Find them first with a bright light.

I use a good sears vac and it seems to catch the dust. YMMV.
Good luck. Some folks are naturals and enjoy taping. Others [like me] find it a challenge, but enjoy the end result. The more you do, the easier it becomes.
Jim
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Thanks for the comments, Jim. I'm always looking to improve my knowledge and welcome well thought out contradictions.
On the topic of Green vs. Blue lid, this is what the USG site has"
The green lid is referred to as "All Purpose Joint Compound". http://makeashorterlink.com/?Y2D011BAD They mention that it's good for all coats, but I know from experience it's tough to sand.
The blue lid is "Light Weight Joint Compound" http://makeashorterlink.com/?E6F035BAD It is much less dense than the green lid stuff. If you go to the store and lift both buckets, you can really feel the difference. It's very nice to work with, but I would only top coat with it.
The red lid is "First Coat Primer". http://makeashorterlink.com/?X10115BAD I've never seen this one before, but from the description I get the impression that it's simply a latex primer and not a joint compound. Could be I'm looking at the wrong thing.
After this, there are the setting type compounds. I think their main advantage is speed. I understand you can finish a job in a day, but you need to be able to work fast. I've never tried using them before since I'm never in that much of a hurry.
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Setting compound has other advantages too. It's stronger, I believe. Also works in colder, damper weather, especially when you have to work "outside", like in a garage or unfinished house.
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-snip-

I guess I've never seen primer. BIL sent me to the big box store and said get the little bucket with the red top right near the green lids. I still have the bucket so I went to see what it was.
Turns out it is DAP, not USG. [my green lids are USG] "Dap Professional Grade, Smooth Finish, Sands Easily"

That's what I enjoy most about getting older. Much easier to stick to the Shaker philosophy of treating each job as your last, and time as if it has no limit.
Jim
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Taping/mudding requires some skill. I've done many times but it takes me 2 or 3X longer than someone with the skill. Read up on the procedure and take your time. Use the metal tape or metal channel for outside corners. A work light helps to inspect the work and locate the bumps/mistakes.
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It is "easy", but like anything else, takes time to figure out how to do it. If you are patient and don't try to finish it all in 2 hours, you'll be fine. Get a book, take your time, do a little bit each day for a 4 day period (you can speed it up but it's easiest to let each coat dry overnight anyway.)
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