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Drywall Tapping and Finishing

Drywall Tapping and Finishing

Drywall tapping and finishing refer to the process of covering the installed drywall with mud and make it ready for the paint, Here's a breakdown of each step:


  • Joint Preparation: After installing the drywall sheets on the walls or ceilings, the seams and joints between the sheets need to be covered and reinforced. This is typically done with joint tape.

  • Joint Compound Application: A joint compound, often referred to as mud, is applied over the taped seams. This compound helps create a smooth and seamless surface.

drywall joints are covered with tape.
Joints between the drywalls are covered with tape and compound.


  • First Coat (Bedding Coat): The initial layer of joint compound is applied to embed the tape and fill the seams. This is known as the bedding coat.

  • Second Coat (Topping Coat): After the first coat dries, a second layer of joint compound is applied to smooth out imperfections and create a level surface. This coat is called the topping coat.

  • Sanding: Once the second coat is dry, the surface is sanded to achieve a smooth and even finish.

  • Texture (Optional): Depending on the desired finish, texture may be added to the drywall surface. Common textures include smooth, orange peel, knockdown, or popcorn.

wall texture
Texture sprayed on the drywall surface.

The goal of drywall tapping and finishing is to create a seamless and smooth surface on walls and ceilings, ready for painting or other finishing touches. This process requires skill and attention to detail to achieve a professional-looking result.

Level of Finish

Drywall finish levels refer to the degree of smoothness and quality of the finished surface of drywall after the taping and finishing process. The levels are standardized by the drywall industry and help define the expectations for the final appearance of the walls and ceilings. There are typically five drywall finish levels, ranging from Level 0 to Level 5:

  1. Level 0: Unfinished

  • No taping, finishing, or joint compound applied.

  • Typically used in temporary construction where the appearance of the drywall is not a concern.

  1. Level 1: Fire Tape

  • Joint tape is embedded in joint compound.

  • Used in areas where the drywall is concealed and fire resistance is the primary concern.

  1. Level 2: Taped Joints

  • Joint tape embedded in joint compound.

  • Additional coat of joint compound applied over fasteners.

  • Suitable for areas where the drywall will be covered with heavy textures or wall coverings.

  1. Level 3: Smooth Coat

  • Additional coats of joint compound applied over joints and fasteners.

  • Smooth surface, but tool marks and ridges may be visible.

  • Suitable for areas where a flat or low-sheen paint finish will be applied.

  1. Level 4: Trowel Finish

  • Extra coats of joint compound applied to minimize tool marks and ridges.

  • Provides a smooth and uniform surface suitable for light textures or medium-sheen paint finishes.

  1. Level 5: Skim Coat

  • A thin layer of joint compound (skim coat) is applied over the entire surface.

  • Provides a completely smooth and flat surface suitable for high-gloss paints or critical lighting conditions.

  • Often used in areas where a premium finish is required.

The choice of drywall finish level depends on the desired final appearance, the type of paint or wall covering to be applied, and the specific requirements of the project. Higher finish levels require more time and skill but result in a more refined and professional-looking surface.

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