Whenever we see professional drywall finishers hand-taping a new home or addition, we wonder how the builder who hired them can afford to lose so much time on the job. With modern taping tools—most of ours are made by Columbia (columbiatools.com) — the two of us can tape and finish an entire 2,400-sq.-ft. house in about four-and-a-half days. The same work with hand-taping tools would easily take two or three times as long. So why do some drywallers stubbornly refuse to use automatic tools? Our guess is they’re intimidated by the learning curve — it takes a few jobs to become truly proficient—or they’re scared off by the price of a setup. If you’re not willing to spend $3,200 or more to buy the tools all at once, you can significantly boost your efficiency with a pair of flat boxes and a loading pump to fill them, which adds up to about $1,300. In a second round of purchases, get an automatic taper ($1,300) and an angle box with 3-in. and 3-1⁄2-in. angle heads ($750) for finishing corners. Another option is to rent equipment from drywall tool manufacturers.
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