Any number of books on the subject at the home centers.
It requires practice and patience.
The correct tools and correct mud and tape will make a
large difference. (there are many different muds)
Read and ask lots of questions.
Do a little reading on the subject:
It is not rocket science but it is an 'art'. No amount of advice in a
newsgroup or reading a book will teach you as much as watching a
professional do it for 5 minutes. I learned that the hard way by trying
to tape from a book, finally hired a pro and saw my mistakes right
off. Can now do an acceptable job (except on ceilings). Books are good
for the 'what' part, only seeing it done and practice gets the 'how'.
Couple of things not mentioned but I found useful. If you do sand, the
Sanding Sponges are awesome in my opinion. Come in different grits, sizes
and shapes. Last a looooong time. Can wash them. Available everywhere
from HD/Lowes to Wally World.
Once you sand, before putting on the next coat, brush the wall down and
wipe it very lightly with a damp (not wet) drywall sponge. I've found
that the drywall dust from sanding causes the next coat to cake vs being
smooth becuase the dust quickly absorbs the moisture in the mud you are
The final coat of mud is often thinned SLIGHTLY for smoothness. May sound
silly but adding a bit of Dawn dishwashing detergent makes it nice and
Don't whip the mud with like a high speed paint mixer. If you do you will
find a zillion tiny pucks on the wall from where minute air bubbles pop.
Those are the tips I can think of right off...or a history of my screwups
if you prefer:-)
I use this exact one:
It folds the mud nicely without introducing air. Makes a big
difference in the quality of the texture when you go to apply it.
There are two different blue lid buckets of compound commonly found on the
shelf/pallet at your local home center: light blue and dark blue, which
represent Topping Joint Compound and AP Joint Compound.
Pay attention to the name of the product. The light blue lids are on the
buckets of Topping. You don't tape with the light blue lids. It says so
right on the bucket. It is for finish coats only, and sands nicely.
You tape with the green lid, also known as all-purpose or "AP", or the
darker blue lids, which signify Joint Compound. If you get confused, read
the back of the bucket.
As for the mesh tape, it is self-adhesive. There is nothing wrong with
using it for the flats, but you'll want to use paper for the corners
(including the wall-ceiling joint). With *paper* tape, you lay a bed coat
of mud first. Stick the *mesh* tape directly to the drywall - there is no
bed coat application until *after* the mesh tape is stuck to the wall.
There are red lids on some ceiling texture and plaster products as well.
There is a big difference between the ready-mixed compounds and the
setting-type compounds. The latter dries mostly as a matter of a chemical
reaction, while the former dries mostly as a matter of evaporation, and is
referred to as "drying-type". The setting-type compounds are stronger, and
are used by many for the bed coat. They do dry faster. They come in powder
form, but be aware, there is also a drying-type compound that comes in
powder form, though I've yet to see it on the shelf.
Another important thing to consider is how the room is lit.
Harsh recessed lights with reflector floods are the most unforgiving as
far as bad finishing.
With 2x4 fluorescents, as used in offices and basement gamerooms, you
can get away with a lot more errors.
I have done drywall once before, when I re-did a bathroom. That was my
first big DIY project, and I'd do it again.
I bought both paper and fiberglass tape, and I preferred the paper to
One thing you might check into, depending on the size job, is if you
are able to rent a tool the pros use. I have seen professionals use a
tool that applies mud and tape simultaneously. It's a long stainless
steel or aluminum box that you fill with mud. Somehow paper tape is
fed through the box with the mud. (picture a hand held spool of
correction tape, only on a bigger scale).
The tool allows the proper amount of mud to be applied to the tape, and
also saves steps by applying tape and mud to the wall all at once
instead of one at a time. The pros use this tool because it adds
effeciency to their job.
I know that i bought a corner trowel, but i can't remember if i liked
it or not. I halfways think I ended up using a one inch putty knife to
do the inside corners instead of the corner trowel.
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