Although there are some instances where you can use inside corner bead to properly finish drywall seams without tape, using drywall tape is typically the best method. To make your job easier, use self-adhesive mesh tape instead of paper tape. It’s much easier for beginners to work with. If you are willing to sacrifice safety, durability, and appearance, you can use caulk or trim to cover some drywall seams, but this is not advised.
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What Happens if You Don’t Tape Drywall Seams?
Drywall seams that are not properly sealed with both tape and joint compound are prone to cracking. In the short term, you will waste joint compound by applying it to seams without tape. Excess compound will ooze through the seams, into your walls, causing you to use far more joint compound than necessary. Second, as the large amounts of joint compound used on untaped seams dry, they will warp, sink, and form cracks. You’ll have to add several coats of joint compound to correct this.
- If you apply joint compound to drywall seams without tape, the compound will squeeze through the seams, wasting your time and resources.
- Joint compound used to fill seams between sheets of drywall will shrink and crack as it dries.
- Joint compound without tape will crack and fall out over time.
Finally, drywall joints without proper tape will form cracks in the long term. As temperature changes and age cause your home to settle and shift, long cracks will form in the drywall compound you used to cover drywall joints. This will destroy the smooth finish of your walls. By using drywall tape, you prevent all of these negative outcomes.
5 Materials You Can Use Instead of Drywall Tape
If you’re tired of battling paper tape and drywall mud, you may be considering ways to finish drywall without mudding. However, not all alternatives to paper tape are created equal. Below are some good fixes, as well as some DIY hacks you’re better off avoiding.
Inside Corner Bead
Inside corner bead makes finishing drywall corners without tape a breeze. This product is made of a thin length of aluminum bent at a right angle to fit corners. Then, paper tape is glued onto the aluminum. Because it’s already made to fit corners and it retains its shape, you can easily use inside corner bead to finish drywall. Here’s how:
- Purchase inside corner bead from your local hardware store.
- Measure the length of the drywall corner.
- Cut the inside corner bead to length.
- Use drywall screws to attach the corner bead to the wall.
- Apply joint compound.
This process is fast, durable, and much easier than using paper tape to try to make a crisp corner. Many contractors use inside corner bead because it provides the most professional finish and meets building code.
If your paper tape is tearing, wrinkling, bubbling, or pulling free from your drywall joints, it’s time to switch to mesh tape. Most mesh drywall tapes are self-adhesive, which ensures they stick without a hassle.
- Use this self-adhesive mesh drywall tape instead of paper.
- Press the adhesive side of the mesh tape along the joint of the drywall sheet.
- For added adhesion, use drywall screws to attach the mesh to the drywall at the studs.
- Apply drywall compound over the mesh tape.
Just like paper tape, mesh tape can easily be cut to length with a drywall knife. Although the mesh may be visible after the first coat of compound, keep in mind it takes multiple coats of compound to create drywall seams that won’t show through paint.
If you are not overly concerned with the appearance of your drywall, you can use elastomeric caulk to seal drywall seams. This is not the preferred method of drywall installation, so it is not advised for use in homes. However, it can be used in garages or other spaces where appearance is not the top priority.
- This elastomeric caulk can be used to seal drywall seams in some cases.
- Tape or inside corner bead are better looking and more durable than caulk.
- Caulk will not achieve a smooth or long-lasting finish.
- Paint may not adhere well to caulk seams.
Although elastomeric caulk will work decently for sealing seams between drywall panels, it is not as durable and long-lasting as taping and mudding the joints. Caulk also does not take paint as well as joint compound, so drywall seams may be apparent through the final coat.
You can hide drywall seams where the ceiling meets the wall by simply installing crown molding over the seam. However, this is not advisable. A drywall joint that has not been sealed allows for infiltration by water and pests. Unsealed joints also reduce the fire-resistance of drywall and may be against local building code. Professional drywallers tape and seal all drywall joints before any molding or trim is installed.
Similar to crown molding, quarter round can be used to seal drywall corners in place of tape or inside corner bead. This quarter round is only ½ inch (13 mm) wide and is adhesive on its two flat sides. It can be pressed into corners to create a low-profile bond between one drywall surface and another. However, it also reduces the durability and fire-resistance of drywall. It is best to use tape and joint compound for all drywall seams.
Can You Use Masking Tape Instead of Drywall Tape?
Masking tape should never be used to seal seams between sheets of drywall. Not only will the masking tape be destroyed by the moisture in joint compound, it will also lose its adhesion as soon as it gets wet. Drywall tape is engineered to hold up to joint compound application, sanding, and painting. Whether you use paper tape or fiberglass mesh tape, it will produce far better results than masking tape.
Can You Seal Drywall Seams Without Tape?
There are several methods to seal drywall seams without tape. Some are better than others. The best methods are:
- Use inside corner bead in corners—it’s much easier to work with than tape.
- Self-adhesive fiberglass mesh tape is simpler to use than paper tape.
- Elastomeric caulk can be used to seal drywall seams in spaces where appearance is not the priority.
- Crown molding can be used to hide drywall seams, but it reduces the safety of your walls and may be against building code.
- Quarter round can be used in corners instead of drywall tape, but it suffers from the same drawbacks as crown molding.
If you are determined to finish drywall without tape, take a look at these alternatives. The best solution is to use a combination of inside corner bead and mesh tape. If you really want to cut corners in a garage space, elastomeric caulk can be used. Avoid covering drywall seams with wood trim in your home, as it increases fire risk.