Always properly tape and mud drywall joints before you paint. Skipping the step of properly sealing joints in drywall not only will make your painted space unattractive, but unsealed drywall is also often against building code in homes and attached garages. This is because drywall that has not been properly sealed does not have the fire-retardant benefits it’s known for. Your space will look better, be safer, and remain a lot easier to clean if you take the necessary steps to mud the drywall before you apply the first coat of paint.
Why is Drywall Mud Necessary?
Drywall mud covers the seams where pieces of drywall meet. This protects your wiring and the structural supports in your wall from debris and moisture. Sealing your drywall also inhibits pest insects and rodents from invading your walls.
- Sealed drywall protects in-wall elements, such as wiring, plumbing, and studs from moisture and other damage.
- Finished drywall resists invasion from pests.
- Properly finished drywall is a fire suppressant. Unfinished drywall is a fire hazard.
- It may be against the building code in your area to leave unfinished drywall.
Drywall is a fire-resistant construction material. This is because the gypsum that drywall is made of is not flammable. When drywall has been properly taped and sealed, it works to slow or stop fires and protect your home. When drywall isn’t sealed, it won’t work as a fire-stopper. For this reason, it is against building code in many regions to have unfinished drywall in a home or attached garage. If you don’t want to use mud to cover seams, there are other options available.
5 Steps To Properly Mud and Paint Drywall
Taking the time to properly finish your drywall with mud and paper tape before you paint is worth the effort. You will wind up with a more attractive, easily maintained, easily cleaned, safe structure. Taping and floating your drywall may seem daunting and messy, but with the right process, you can get it done right. Soon, you’ll have a smooth finish that’s ready to accept primer and your finishing coats of paint.
Seal Drywall Seams with Drywall Tape and Mud
Once you’ve finished hanging sheets of drywall in your space, it’s time to seal those seams. To do so, use drywall tape and joint compound (also known as mud). While paper tape sometimes leads to a smoother finish, it’s much easier for an inexperienced drywall finisher to tackle the job with mesh drywall tape. Most varieties of mesh tape have adhesive, so they can be stuck in place on their own. This is a lot easier than using joint compound to set paper tape in place.
- Use this self-adhesive mesh drywall tape to make your job easier.
- Apply a moderate coat of mud over the tape—don’t try to do it all in one coat.
- The right putty knife makes spreading joint compound easy.
One mistake most beginners make when finishing drywall is trying to do too much at once. You don’t have to accomplish the mudding job in one coat. Start by smoothly covering the tape you adhered to the seams between drywall sheets. You can build up to a smooth finish in the following steps.
Apply Multiple Coats of Mud
To get a good finish, apply 2–3 coats of drywall mud, waiting 24 hours between coats. Before each new coat of mud, sand the drywall joints with 120 or 150 grit sandpaper. This will smooth out any rough areas, making each coat progressively smoother. Just make sure not to sand too much. You want your mud to cover the mesh or paper tape you applied. If you oversand, the edges of the tape will be visible.
- Create smooth joints between drywall sheets by applying mud in 2–3 coats.
- Wait at least 24 hours between coats of mud, to allow it to dry.
- Sand joints with 120 or 150 grit sandpaper before each new coat.
- Use this topping mud for the final coat.
To create a smooth finish that sands easily, use specialized topping mud for your final coat. Topping mud goes on smoother than all-purpose joint compound and responds better to fine sandpaper. You’ll achieve a better finish this way.
Sand After the Final Coat of Mud
Once the final coat of mud is in place, sand the joints one last time with the best sandpaper for drywall mud. For this step, begin with 120 grit sandpaper to knock down any rough areas or ridges left by your putty knife. Then, use the 150 grit to smooth the joints and blend the mud with the surrounding drywall. Finally, go over the joints with 220 grit sandpaper to achieve a seamless finish.
- Begin with 120 grit sandpaper to smooth larger imperfections in your drywall mud.
- Use 150 grit sandpaper to smooth the seams and blend the edges with the drywall.
- For a professional finish, use 220 grit sandpaper to give all the joints a final smooth look.
- Do not sand so much that you wear through the paper covering your drywall sheets.
It’s essential to be careful with coarse sandpaper on drywall. Each sheet of drywall is covered in paper. If you sand through the paper to the gypsum below, you will need to patch these damaged areas with more mud. Work slowly and keep an eye on your sanding progress.
Prime Your Drywall
Before you can paint drywall with the color of your choice, it’s essential to apply a primer. Proper primer not only hides all the color variations between drywall seams and paper, it also bonds with the drywall and provides a surface for your final paint to adhere to. Without primer, your paint will peel off your drywall.
- Use this high-quality primer to prepare your drywall for the paint color of your choice.
- Prime drywall before painting to prevent final paint from peeling.
- Primer reduces the number of coats of paint needed.
Priming your drywall is a money-saver. Primer is generally less expensive than a wall paint and provides a blank canvas for you to paint on top of. A primed wall can often be finished with one coat of colored paint. Unprimed drywall may take several coats to properly cover with your desired color. Even better, if you are painting a garage or workshop, you may decide you like the look of the primer and stop there.
Paint Your Walls
Paint your sealed and primed drywall with the color of your choice. Whatever type of paint you choose, it will adhere much better to primed drywall than plain drywall paper. In most cases, you can finish the job with one coat of paint.
- Apply paint to your sealed and primed drywall.
- To hide imperfect drywall seams, choose a flat or matte paint.
If you are a beginner when it comes to finishing drywall and are not happy with the look of your drywall seams, opt for a matte finish or flat paint. These low-shine paint types will hide drywall seams better than high-gloss paint.
Can You Paint Drywall Directly?
It is not a good idea to directly paint drywall with a final paint color. In most instances, you will end up with poor coverage and end up applying several coats of paint. Not only that, but the paper layer of your drywall will not bond well to the paint. Most latex, alkaline, and oil-based paints will peel off over time if they are applied directly to drywall.
- Painting drywall directly results in poor coverage and peeling paint.
- Prime drywall before painting for best results.
- Primer is formulated to bond with drywall paper and provide a surface for your final paint color to stick to.
Priming drywall is necessary to get the most out of your paint. Primer covers color variations in your drywall job and bonds with drywall paper. This means your final paint will go on smooth and provide excellent coverage.
Is it Okay to Paint Drywall Without Mudding?
Painting drywall without taping and mudding will result in a poor finish that leaves open gaps into the walls of your home. This can contribute to moisture, mold, mildew, and pests. Painting unfinished drywall also creates a fire hazard that may be against building regulations where you live. Rather than end up with poor finish and peeling paint, take the time to properly tape, mud, and prime your drywall before painting. It’s not as difficult as it seems at first glance, and you’ll be much happier with the result.