In order to repair a bubble in drywall tape, first chip off any hardened joint compound on top of the bubble. Then, cut out the bubbled section of tape and remove it. Next, use a putty knife to spread joint compound onto the drywall seam and place a new piece of tape over the gap where you removed the bubble. It’s essential to ensure the new tape overlaps the existing tape at both ends. Apply a layer of joint compound over the tape and smooth it with your putty knife. All that’s left is to allow the joint compound to dry before sanding and applying additional coats of compound.
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Is it Normal for Drywall Tape to Bubble?
Even professional drywall installers sometimes encounter bubbles in their drywall tape. So, if you spot some bubbles in your drywall tape during a home repair, your situation is not uncommon. However, bubbled drywall tape will ruin the look of your walls if it is not repaired. So, it’s important to make the fix as soon as you spot a tape bubble.
Can You Paint Over Bubbled Drywall Tape?
Do not paint over bubbles in drywall tape. Flaws such as bubbles and mounds in drywall tape may seem minor when they are unpainted, but they will be far more noticeable after you paint your walls. In order to make sure your drywall job looks as good as possible, it’s essential to correct bubbled drywall tape before you begin painting.
Can You Sand Down Drywall Tape?
You cannot “sand down” bubbled drywall tape. Drywall tape bubbles are caused by air trapped behind the drywall tape. Sanding these bubbles aggressively will sand through the drywall tape. This leads to drywall tape that no longer does its job of covering seams in drywall. The uncovered drywall seam will shrink, warp, crack, and provide a bad finish to your wall or ceiling. Instead of sanding drywall bubbles, follow our steps for a perfect fix.
7 Steps for Fixing Bubbles in Drywall Tape
Repairing an air bubble in drywall tape takes just a few minutes. Following these steps ensures a seamless finish, which leads to a beautifully remodeled room once you’ve applied the final coat of paint. Even better, you only need a few simple tools for the job. Here’s how to do it:
Chip Away Hardened Drywall Compound
If you have spotted a drywall bubble while your joint compound is still wet, you can skip this step. But you may not notice bubbles in your paper tape until after the first coat of joint compound has dried, or even until you have begun painting. If this happens:
- Use one of the smaller scrapers in this set of joint compound putty knives to chip away the hardened drywall mud.
- Remove the hardened joint compound until the bubbled portion of the tape is exposed.
- Continue removing joint compound until you have exposed the bubbled portion of tape and 1 inch (2.5 cm) of tape on either side of the bubble.
It’s okay if you do some damage to the bubbled section of tape during this step. We’ll be removing and replacing this section in later steps. Just take care not to do damage to the surrounding areas of the wall since this will make the patching job more extensive later on.
Cut Out the Section of Bubbled Tape
Once you’ve found a section of bubbled tape, use a utility knife to cut a straight line through the tape on either side of the bubble. Then, remove the section of tape you’ve cut out. You can throw this piece of tape away—you won’t be needing it.
- Use this utility knife to make a vertical cut through the paper tape on either side of the air bubble.
- Make your cuts ½-inch (1 cm) away from the bubble. Do not cut through the bubble.
- Remove the section of tape you have cut out and discard it.
- If you have several bubbles in a single piece of tape, it’s best to remove the entire section instead of cutting out each bubble.
If you have a single piece of paper tape with multiple bubbles, it’s best to remove several feet of tape at once and replace the entire section. It’s faster to remove 6 feet (2 meters) of tape and replace the whole section than it is to cut out 4 or 5 smaller portions with bubbles.
Spread New Joint Compound on the Area
Use a putty knife to spread a thin layer of joint compound on the area where the paper tape was removed. This layer of joint compound should fill the seam between pieces of drywall. It also makes the perfect bed for the new tape to adhere to.
- Use a putty knife to spread a new layer of joint compound on the area where the old tape has been removed.
- The layer of joint compound should be ⅛-inch thick (3 mm).
- If the joint compound thickness does not match the surrounding area, you can build it up when you add future coats of joint compound.
You do not need to spread a thick layer of joint compound over the seam. It’s even okay if the joint compound isn’t as thick here as in other areas. To hide drywall seams with paint you will need to apply several coats of drywall mud. It doesn’t have to look perfect after the first coat.
Cut a New Piece of Drywall Tape to Length
Once your new layer of joint compound is in place, cut a new piece of tape to cover the seam. The new tape should be long enough that it overlaps the existing tape at either end by ½ inch (1 cm). This ensures that there are no gaps between pieces of tape, which can lead to a bad finish.
- Cut a new piece of paper tape to cover the gap where you cut out the bubbled section.
- Make sure the new piece of tape is long enough to overlap the existing tape by at least ½ inch (1 cm) at each end.
You can measure and cut your tape to length if you wish, but it’s often easy enough to judge the required length without a measuring tape. As long as the new piece of tape overlaps the existing tape at both ends, it will work to patch the gap.
Apply the Drywall Tape to the Area
With one hand, press the new piece of tape over the gap where you cut out a section of tape. Take special care to make sure the new tape overlaps the existing tape. Then, use your putty knife to smooth the tape firmly over the bed of joint compound.
- Press one end of the new piece of tape to the gap, making sure it overlaps with the existing tape.
- Use your putty knife to smooth out the tape so that it lays flat over the drywall seam.
Make sure there are no bubbles in the new tape. It should lie flat and smooth on top of the joint compound. If there are small wrinkles, don’t worry. The next step will help.
Spread Joint Compound Over the New Tape
Scoop a small amount of joint compound onto the edge of your putty knife. Then, apply the joint compound over the new piece of paper tape. Think of pulling the joint compound from one end of the new piece of tape to the other (such as left to right). The goal is to have a smooth, thin layer of joint compound that covers the new tape section.
- Use your putty knife to scoop up a small amount of joint compound.
- Spread the joint compound over the new piece of tape, to cover the tape and provide a smooth finish.
- Make sure there are no bubbles in the tape.
- Visible tape edges showing through this first layer of paper tape are fine—you’ll cover these up when you add more coats of mud to the drywall joint.
Inspect the tape to make sure it is flat and has no bubbles. It is fine if you can see the edges of the tape or if there are small wrinkles present in the tape. These will be hidden by future coats of joint compound.
Allow the Joint Compound to Dry
Wait 24 hours after repairing so that the joint compound can properly set up. Then, you can use the correct sandpaper for drywall finishing followed by additional coats of drywall mud. Once you have applied 2–3 coats of joint compound, the area where you removed the air bubble will be completely invisible.
- Allow 24 hours for your initial coat of drywall compound to dry.
- Sand all your drywall joints and apply additional coats of joint compound.
- By applying 2–3 coats of joint compound and sanding between coats, you’ll get a professional, air-bubble-free finish.
This process only takes a few minutes total and can transform a warped drywall finish into smooth, professional walls. It’s always worth the time and effort to remove air pockets from drywall tape.
How Do You Fix Bubbles in Drywall Tape After Painting?
If you don’t notice bubbles in your drywall tape until after you’ve painted a room, you can still use the steps in this article to fix the problem. To make the fix easy, sand the paint off the area where the air bubble is present. Then, chip away the hardened joint compound using a putty knife or scraper. After that, you can cut out the bubbled portion of the tape, replace it, apply joint compound, and repaint.
How Do You Fix Bubbles in Drywall Tape?
Fixing unsightly bubbles in your drywall tape is fast and easy. With just a putty knife, utility knife, joint compound, and a roll of paper tape you can complete the fix. Here’s how it’s done:
- Use a putty knife to chip away any hardened joint compound over the air bubble.
- Cut through the drywall tape on either side of the bubble and remove the bubbled portion of the tape.
- Spread fresh joint compound on the area where the tape was removed.
- Cut a piece of tape to cover the gap where the old tape was removed—make sure it’s long enough to overlap with the existing tape at either end.
- Use a putty knife to smooth the new piece of tape over the bed of joint compound.
- Spread fresh joint compound over the tape to ensure a smooth, bubble-free finish.
- Wait 24 hours for the joint compound to dry, then sand and apply additional coats of joint compound.
With these steps, you’ll be able to make the fix as well as any professional contractor. By the time you’re finished, you won’t even be able to tell where you replaced the bubbled tape with new drywall tape.