How to Finish Drywall Corners Without Tape [4 Methods]

The best method for finishing drywall corners without paper tape is to use inside corner bead. Inside corner bead is an angled piece of metal with tape already glued to it. It fits easily into the corners, screws in place, and can then be covered with joint compound. If you do not wish to use inside corner bead, you can use crown molding to hide gaps between the walls and ceiling. Alternatively, you can use quarter-round trim to cover these corners without using tape and joint compound. Finally, you can use caulk to finish corners quickly.

Do You Need Drywall Tape in Corners?

As a rule, you should always use paper tape and joint compound at all drywall joints, including corners. However, there are a few techniques for finishing drywall without mudding. Keep in mind that these techniques will often not give you the same clean, finished look that properly taped drywall joints have. For best results, use drywall tape or a similar product, like inside corner bead, for all your drywall corners

What Happens if You Don’t Tape Drywall Corners?

Drywall loses some of its fire resistance when drywall seams are not properly finished with tape and joint compound. A gap in your drywall—even if it’s hidden behind trim—is a greater fire hazard than sealed joints. It may even be against the building code in your area. If you’ve had difficulties finishing drywall before, check out our guide to properly hiding drywall seams with paint.

4 Ways to Finish Drywall Corners Without Tape

If you’re tired of struggling to get drywall tape to work properly in corners, there are alternatives to taping and applying a coat of compound. You can join drywall sheets without any tape by using these methods:

Inside Corner Bead

Inside corner bead is perfect for finishing corners without the hassle of folding and smoothing tape. It creates a crisp corner that provides fire resistance and a professional finish. Inside corner bead is a length of thin aluminum that is angled to perfectly fit a corner. It has a layer of paper over the aluminum so it simulates paper tape, but is far easier to work with. To use inside corner bead:

  • Try inside corner bead for interior walls.
  • Measure the height of the corner.
  • Cut the inside corner bead to fit the height of the corner.
  • Press the corner bead into place.
  • Secure the corner bead to the drywall with drywall screws.
  • Apply several coats of joint compound over the corner bead until you achieve a smooth finish.

This is by far the best way to finish a drywall corner without using tape. It is also the only technique on this list that is commonly used by professional builders. We highly recommend this solution.

Crown Molding

If you are determined to install drywall without tape or a single coat of mud, you can simply install crown molding where the wall meets the ceiling. When installed, the molding will hide the upper corners of the room entirely. Beware, this method reduces fire resistance and makes it easier for moisture and pests to invade your walls. It’s always best to use tape or inside corner bead before installing crown molding.

Quarter Round

In order to avoid taping corners during drywall installation, you can install this self-adhesive quarter round in corners. Quarter round is a small piece of trim that is flat on two sides, so it can be seamlessly pressed into a corner. Because it is ½-inch wide (13 mm) it is relatively small and unobtrusive. You can simply paint over a quarter round when you paint your walls in order to hide it further.

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In order to save time and materials, some builders will caulk drywall corners with an elastic caulk, like this one. This is faster than drywall taping and applying several coats of drywall mud, but the finish won’t be nearly as smooth. Additionally, most caulk does not take paint nearly as well as joint compound does. So, caulk is a quick fix, but produces a lower-quality result than using inside corner bead or tape.

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Can You Finish Drywall Corners Without Tape?

The best ways to finish drywall corners without using tape are:

  • Use inside corner bead for a clean, professional finish.
  • Install crown molding over seams where the ceiling meets the wall.
  • Use quarter round to cover corner seams where two sheets of drywall meet.
  • Fill drywall corners with an elastic caulk.

Of these methods, using inside corner bead in place of drywall tape is the best choice. Corner bead is much easier to work with than paper tape and it meets building code. We recommend this method if you’re tired of the hassle of taping corners.

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