5 Beginner Tips for Mudding Drywall With Very Little Sanding

5 Beginner Tips for Mudding Drywall With Very Little Sanding

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These 5 tips were game changers for me as a beginner in the drywall mudding world. I've done a bit of drywall patching, but never a whole room. This guest bath was a first for me and I learned so much!

Drywalling and mudding has always intimidated me, but not anymore! I was always under the impression that it didn't matter how you applied the joint compound (mud), you were always going to have a massive sanding mess! Boy, was I wrong!

The right tools and technique is everything! Which leads me to tip #1.

Drywall mudding tools

1.  Use the right tools.

- Adhesive mesh fiberglass joint tape
- 14 inch trowel
- 10 inch taping knife
- 4 inch putty knife
- 5 gallon bucket opener (This bucket opener was life changing! Why have I not had one of these for the last 10 years! For $3.50 get yourself one of these!!!)

One of the best things I did was use the adhesive mesh tape. I tried one corner with the paper tape and it was so frustrating! I felt like I was racing against the clock trying to get into place, making sure there was enough mud for it to stay. Then you had to cover it with the right amount of mud. Uh, no thank you!

Paper Tape Corner

Make your life easier and use the adhesive mesh tape! Some say it was hard to use in corners, because it would make the corner round and not square. I found if I used the putty knife to bend the mesh tape while applying it, I could get a crisp inner corner. Another nice thing is you can take your time with it.

Adhesive mesh tape

It's also great for patches. You can see here, I used it when we moved our light boxes and outlets over.

mesh tape for patches

moving outlets over

The 14" trowel I used to hold mud, while using the 4" putty knife to put mud onto the wall. Then for seams, I would load the center of the 14" trowel with mud, and spread it on the center of the seam with the trowel. That worked so nice!!

Mud on 14" trowel

The 10" taping knife, I used for the 3rd coat of drywall. It really finished the last coat smoothly.

10" taping knife to smooth drywall mud

The 5 gallon bucket opener! That has made my life so much easier! I used to struggle opening 5 gallon buckets! Why?!?! Not anymore!!

Also, wash and dry your tools after every coat! If not, your tools may begin to rust.  I learned the hard way...

2.  Take your time!

Slow down... The technique of mudding drywall takes time to master, especially if you don't want to do a ton of sanding! It's important not to leave a bunch of lines or glops. Take the time to smooth out as much as you can.

4" putty knife smoothing out corners

Also, before each coat, take your 4" putty knife and run it gently over the dried mud. Scrape off any high spots.  This will help your next coat be even smoother.

3. One side of a corner at a time.

This was eye opening to me! I thought you had to do them at the same time. Which is sooo hard, because it's so difficult not to mess up one of the sides while doing the other!

Mud one corner at a time

I mudded all of the right sides of each corner, then waited for them to completely dry. The next day, I would mud all the left sides. Then the same thing with the ceiling. Yes, it's time consuming, but I reminded myself of the time and mess I'll be saving by not having to sand so much!!

You can see here, some of the drywall mud isn't dry yet.

letting drywall mud dry

Btw... the 2nd and 3rd coats dry MUCH faster than the first one.

4. Clean your blade.

Clean your blade

If you clean your blade before your 'final swipe', it will be free of anything that can leave a line or mark.

The littlest piece of dried mud can make a huge line and you have to mud it over again. Yes, it takes more time to wipe it, but you'll be happier that you did!

5. Thin your 3rd coat of joint compound.

I had never heard of this before, but it made the last coat super smooth and filled in all the little bubble holes. 

This is regular mud consistency. It's much thicker.

Regular mud consistency

I didn't measured the amount of water, but just a little, enough to make the mud feel like pancake batter.

Thinned mud like pancake batter

This is where I used the 10" taping knife to hold this compound, while applying it with the 4" knife, then would smooth all of that out with the 10" knife.  It worked so nice.

10" and 4" knives for 3rd coat of mud

10" trowel smoothing out 3rd coat of mud

After the 3rd coat dried, I went over the walls and ceiling looking for any imperfections. I ran my hand over everything to see what I could feel. I also shined a light on the walls. If I found anything I went over it with more of the thinned mud.

The last step was sanding. I only sanded once, and very lightly. Some areas required a bit more, but not too much. I believe because I took my time, it made a HUGE difference in the end.

I was really concerned about the ceiling... there was a large seam, it was over my head. I actually had hubby do the 2nd coat, because he had better leverage. It came out beautiful!

Ceiling mudded smooth

Once I painted with drywall primer, I was shocked at how well it looked! I couldn't believe it! Yay!

Yay! I did it! I drywalled a whole room!

I'm no longer intimidated by drywalling. It's really not that bad.

I learned the most from this drywall mudding video series. I Build It Home.



  1. Great job Lori. You did really so brilliant and adorable job. The tips and experience you shared regarding the mudding drywall was awesome and super effective to try for any home. Yeah, the right tools and technique can bring any desired shape and beauties you want. I appreciate you did the project very perfectly that might be able to drew any home fanatic's attention. All the tools and steps you explained were so much helpful for me. Thank you very much for sharing such a magnificent job.

    1. Why thank you so much! I appreciate your kind words.

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