Can beginners really do drywall? Should you just go ahead and texture the walls in your basement to cover up mistakes? How hard is drywall really?
Drywall is one of those things that sounds SO intimidating. And it makes sense—we’re creating walls out of nothing here!
But when you get down to it, drywall (specifically mudding and taping it) doesn’t have to be so scary. If I can learn how to do it, you can too! So, today, I wanted to share how I taught myself to mud & tape, how it turned out, and some helpful tips.
How I Taught Myself to Mud & Tape
We debated having someone else do the drywall for us (at least in the bathroom), but budget and timing concerns pushed us to go for it and learn to do it ourselves.
Our general rule when we’re working on DIY projects is that Dustin does the behind the scenes while I do the finishing work, like painting, since I’m more patient and detail-oriented. That put the hanging of the drywall in his court, but the mud and tape in my arena (or at least in a grey area).
So, what’s a girl to do? Turn to Youtube, of course!
Here is the playlist I would recommend: Home RenoVision DIY Drywall Installation Guide A-Z DIY
I watched all of these drywall videos before starting to get a feel for what I was doing, and then right before I went to work on the walls, I’d rewatch the relevant video again.
I continue to do this as I do more mud, too, rewatching videos I’ve now seen 3 times just to be sure I’m not missing anything.
While I was working, I felt so proud that I was figuring it out and doing it myself! But, of course, I was still anxious about how it would turn out in the end.
One thing that really helped me chill out was when Dustin pointed out that there are already places in our house where you can see drywall imperfections, like a hint of a seam or a screw hole. I started to see them, but I’d never noticed them before!
The moral of the story? Although I’m aiming to do a good job, its really not that noticeable if there are minor imperfections—and you’ll be the most critical since you’re the one that did it.
When my mom came to look at the basement, she didn’t see any of my imperfections until I pointed them out to her.
Beginner Drywall Tips from a Fellow Beginner
- It might be a lot for your hand/wrist if you’re used to sitting at a desk not working with your hands all day. (Doing the basement was a lot for my wrist!) Try to schedule enough time for the project that you can take a day or two off if you need some recovery time for wrist soreness.
- In the Youtube videos I suggested, they use paper tape for everything, but I found it really hard to keep it from bubbling. The fiber tape doesn’t bubble, so I preferred that. In inside corners, I used Perfect 90 tape.
- You don’t need all the tools. I basically just used the Hawk, a 6 inch knife, and a long 14 inch knife. You don’t need the wheel thingy to hold your tape or the corner knives.
- Clean your knife and edges of your hawk with a wet sponge frequently. This prevents dried chunks in your mud that will lead to indents or bumps.
- Water down your mud! It’s crucial that it be thin so you only have to sand once. I sanded with a radial sander, as recommended in the videos I referred you to.
- Speaking of sanding: it’s no joke. Just wear the dorky goggles that completely cover your eyes and a mask, it’s not worth messing around with breathing drywall dust or getting it in your eyes.
- Be sure to sand after priming! It creates minimal dust but makes a real difference in the way your paint goes on.
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Those are all of the tips that I can think of right now, but since I’m working on drywall again this week, I’ll be sure to update this list as more things come to me.
Let me know in the comments if you have any specific questions!
Want more DIY content? Read about my experience Painting Our Exposed Basement Ceiling.
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