Tools for Drywall Installation and Repair
These are the basic tools needed to tape and finish drywall. Though
there are quite a few "professional" tools, such as combination mud/tape
dispensers, that can speed large jobs along, they probably aren't worth
the cost unless you are taping multiple
rooms, an entire home... or going pro! Buy quality
tools and they may last a lifetime!
A stainless steel mud pan
Don't get the plastic-type mud pan with a metal lip
(that likes to rust) or a metal non-stainless steel pan!
A 4" or 4 1/2 " steel knife
This should be a steel knife (not plastic), somewhat
flexible, and of a good quality brand. It should be no wider than 4.5" so you
can tightly fasten and imbed tape within the recessed area of a joint. A wider
knife will not fit in this area. I believe the knife pictured in the link is an
old Red Devil knife. I love this taping knife more than any other 4 inch knife I
A 10" steel knife
Get a good quality knife with proper
stiffness since this is probably your most important knife for finishing the job
Believe it or not, I found that the cheaper plastic
tool shown works better than its pricier steel counterpart! I use the plastic
tool, even though I also own a "better" steel tool.
Paper joint tape
I don't like the mesh tape - neither
do the professionals I have spoken too. I have found the knife glides over the
paper tape easily (if the mud is thin as it should be), but tends to hang up on
the adhesive mesh.
Bucket of water
Have a bucket of water handy for sponging off tools and for wetting paper tape,
one of my tips to make taping easier. The procedure for
things down is covered on
Mud (a.k.a. drywall compound or taping compound)
I like USG SHEETROCK® BRAND All Purpose Joint
Compound in the "green bucket" as shown to the left. It applies easily and draws off easily. Also, it is probably the
cheapest pre-made mud out there. I don't like the lighter dryer mud in the "blue
bucket" since it tends to leave more air pockets, pinholes, and washboard ridges
(if you are not careful). I see professionals using the "green bucket" mud as
well for some of their coats, however they will also use lower shrinkage mud to
Drywall Specialty T-Square
This is nice to use and doesn't cost that much. One leg is a full 4 feet, designed to reach
across the width of a sheet of drywall. It is very helpful in accurate
marking and cutting. (It's also a great tool for marking any large square object
such as plywood or paneling.)
Tape measure and utility knife
Not much to say here... just about any type of each will do.
An inexpensive driver like the one shown works fine for
installing short drywall screws for smaller home installation and repair jobs. I got this one at a Menard's home store and it cost me less
than $30. You could also use a power drill with a screwdriver bit as I did for many years. If you are
doing a very large job, you may wish to invest in a pricier driver. The
work goes more quickly and you can set the screw depth, keeping you from
accidentally driving the screw through the face paper.
Sandpaper - 100 grit & 220 grit
Also an 8 inch by 3.5 inch piece of wood for
a sanding block. For hard to reach places, a sanding pole as shown in the tool
picture is helpful. If you do this all right, you won't need much sandpaper!
Buying your tools
To purchase drywall tools, stop at your local home store, hardware store or
order online. In checking around, I
found the best prices on drywall tools at the
All-Wall site. As a
bonus, you can view some of the more expensive but totally cool professional
Mike Sakowski of DrywallInfo.com
offers the novice drywaller guidance for that first drywall project.
There are additional articles on repairing holes, types of drywall and
common drywall "myths".