drywall crack

Hi, today I want to talk to you about what is the correct combination of mud and tape to use and also about some of the application processes.

I recently wen to bid a job and I’ve got to give the homeowner credit for trying. He got tape and first coat of mud on and he put a lot of effort into mudding his bedroom.

I asked him what kind of mud and taped he used and when he told me I had to explain to him, that you may experience cracking in your joints with the improper combination of tape and mud you used.

He said he had bought the material (tape and mud) at Menards and that they told him he could use that tape and mud. Naughty Menards. The problem with a place like Menards, and don’t get me wrong, I buy a lot of material at Menards, not all my material, but some…

…The problem with getting advice from a place like Menards is you might get someone knowledgeable about the material and in this case a combination of  materials and their application, or you might get someone that don’t know their ass from a whole in the ground. So consider the source and consider WHO you are talking to.

I then went on to explain his options. I said

  1. “You can take a halogen light around and look for cracks. If you don’t see any I would definitely paper tape over the mesh tape he had on his but joints. And then hope nothing else cracks down the road.”
  2. “Paper tape over everything. This will help so you don’t have to tape over texture and finish paint, in the event that cracks would develop down the road, which they could.”

He decided to paper tape everything. He wanted to do it right and not have issues down the road. Good for him.

So if you are using mesh tape, which is kind of handy for a homeowner to use because the tape is self adhesive and will stick to the wallboard/sheetrock(name brand) on it’s own usually. Sometimes the mesh tape will dry out and if that happens, just like the paper tape, in order to get the tape to stick to the wallboard you can use a little bit of mud to get the tape to stick.

Back to the subject at hand. If you use mesh tape is it recommended to use quick set mud, which is a dry within minutes, chemical mud that reacts to heat. You can’t use quick set mud in -40 below temperature, it won’t dry. The chemicals in it react to heat and then within minutes it will dry and harden.

So if you read the instructions on the mesh tape, it will tell you recommended to be used in combination with quick set mud.

The problem with using premixed mud with mesh tape is that the joint CAN crack later. Doesn’t mean it will, but it can.

I was working on a church years ago for some Mennonites and tried to use the premixed mud with mesh tape for speed reasons (it’s quicker to mix the premix mud than the quick set mud) and one of the joints ended up cracking. Yep right in the ceiling & I had three call backs to fix the crack and had to drive 45 minutes one way to fix this crack. So learned a valuable lesson.

Paper tape is always preferred in the angles(corners). Because if you use mesh tape in the angles they will tend to get rounded. Where the paper tape has a crease in it and conforms better to the square corner.

We, Pro Paint & Drywall, always use paper tape. Well almost always. Mesh tape I will sometimes use for quick patches. There is a new tape out there that some drywallers swear by that is works better than mesh or paper, but I’m comfortable with the mesh and paper tape. This other tape is pretty expensive. It does have it’s advantages like it being so thin. But paper tape is not that much thicker and for the price difference it just don’t make sense to me.

The reason that I like using mesh for quick patches is that you can use it in combination with quick set mud which if you instead use quick set mud with paper tape it and the quick set mud is used as a prefill and then you try to go over top of the prefill with paper tape when the quick set mud has not dried completely, it is possible the paper tape can sometimes curl. The edges of the paper will curl back.

So to avoid this, I just like to use mesh.

Paper tape is stronger than mesh tape. Some people don’t believe this when I tell them. They think paper is not strong you can rip it with your hands easier than the mesh and it just don’t seem logical to them.

However I have seen joints crack when using mesh tape. And I have seen paper tape when put over top of the mesh eliminate the crack. So it is stronger. And can paper tape crack, yes, but rarely if never. The only time I see paper crack is when an act of mother nature.

If a building shifts due to settling or maybe lightning strikes or something along those lines, there is no tape made that will withstand the power of mother nature.

But paper tape is preferred over mesh due to the strength and the less likelihood of it cracking.

The main areas I see cracking of joints is weak areas:

  1. short distance between windows (usually a but joint)(perhaps there is no backer or it’s not properly fastened down)
  2. above or below windows (where stud does not run from floor to ceiling)

So these areas are definitely recommended to use paper tape.

Now do you paper tape or mesh tape a but joint. This is controversial at best.

Pros: Paper tape on but joint is good because

  • it’s stronger
  • it’s smoother for mechanical 7, 10 & 12 box to run on
  • paper tape costs less to purchase than mesh

Pros: Mesh tape. Well like I said earlier if you use mesh tape

  • it is self adhesive so there is less effort of putting the tape on
  • you don’t have to prefill with mud(unless it is a huge crater), because the mud can be pushed through the mesh
  • less chance of air bubbles like you may have with paper tape if you do not put enough mud under paper tape

I know people who do it both ways.

My personal preference is mainly to use paper tape. The only time mesh might be preferred is on small projects where you don’t want the paper tape to curl when you are trying to use quick set mud to get each coat to dry faster. And in those weak spots I would still recommend using paper. Because a call back can take you half a day or more if you have long travel time to get to the job.

The other area you could use mesh would be in a hard to reach angle. This is not common but there are some angles that are just hard to reach. Usually these angles are because of lazy framing. Where they could have made the angle squarer. You can decide if it’s worth the fight to try and wipe paper tape into a hard to reach area. Self adhesive mesh might be the best answer.

Now I will say this about mesh tape. If you are going to use it on but joints. I would highly recommend V’ing out the but joint first. Which means you need to cut both sides out before prefilling with mud. Be sure to remove all loose paper. You want to have a solid foundation for you joints.

If you do not V out your but joints, especially when using mesh tape, they will be more prone to cracking. Even with paper tape V’ing both sides out is recommended (or at least the high side).

Do not tape over a surface that is not solid. If you push on it and it moves, it needs to be removed. The only exception to this is if by removing something large that you give up your fasteners ability to hold, which is kind of a grey area and don’t happen too often.

The only way around that grey area is to either replace the whole sheet or to start patching a piece of rock with backers. This is more advanced type stuff and you shouldn’t have to concern yourself with it too much.

Kind of a long post on a pretty simple subject. But with my years of experience sometimes it’s hard for me not to ramble a bit. I’ve seen a lot and experienced a lot.

Hopefully my sharing has helped you today.

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