Faster Drywall Finishing
Automatic tools produce better walls in less time.
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.
Automatic taping tools all require thinned mud to work properly, so we use a sopping-wet grout sponge to add water to lightweight all-purpose joint compound. Then we mix the thinned mud for a few minutes with a heavy-duty drill and a mud paddle. Mud for the automatic taper gets 5 to 6 sponge squeezes, mud for angle boxes gets 4 to 5 squeezes, and mud for flat boxes gets 2 to 3 squeezes.
Better tape- Though it costs more than paper joint tape ($5 vs. $2 per 250-ft. roll), FibaFuse tape bonds tenaciously and doesn’t bubble.
Just add water- Compound must be thinned and thoroughly mixed before you can use it in automatic taping tools