How to Finish Sheetrock Yourself.
Object: This is an article about how to finish sheetrock yourself without having to hire a professional to do it for you.
Finishing sheetrock is not that hard, but does require some skill with the tools. Here are the steps:
The first step I take is to finish the nail or screw depressions. With a sheetrock knife approximately 3 or 4” in width, spread some sheetrock “mud” over the depressions, leaving it as smooth as possible, without overworking it. If you leave it to dry on it’s own and do not use the fast drying variety, it will be dry the next day. Next the joints must be finished. To accomplish this, spread a thin film of mud along the seam, about 2 ½” in width, filling the factory depression at the edges of the sheetrock. Then, immediately unroll a length of sheetrock paper tape equal to the length of seam which you wish to repair. Start pressing the paper tape into the wet mud at one end (perhaps a corner) and drag the knife along the length of the tape, pressing it into the mud and smoothing out the tape so as to remove all the air bubbles underneath it. The purpose of the tape is to close the gap between the sheets with more paper, so as to prevent cracking at the joints.
Corners must be dealt with the same way. You can purchase a mud trowel, which is bent into a 90-degree shape, which will fit into a corner to smooth sides at one time. Without the special tool, you must finish one side of a corner and let it dry before attempting the other side.
The next day, after the mud has dried, use a special sheetrock sanding tool to sand the surface of the dried mud. Try to smooth it as much as possible. When through, apply another spread of mud with a 5” trowel along the same areas as the day before. When it is dry the next day, sand it in a similar manner. The final application of mud comes on the third day. This time the mud is applied with a 10 or 12” trowel, leaving it as smooth as possible and feathering the edges out to the sheetrock, leaving no ridges, if possible.
When this is dry the next day, sand it thoroughly.
A test to see if you have done a good job is to put a very bright spot or floodlight next to the wall and shine it down the wall, across the surface. Any imperfections in the surface will be obvious in the shadowing of the light. When you spot imperfections, take a 5”: trowel and spread fresh mud over the depressions, filling them for sanding the next day.
When sanding, be careful to feather down the edges and also be careful not to get into the paper tape you placed in the first step. If your sanding gets into the paper, you will have to put more fresh mud over it. Paint will not cover it without it being obvious.
If this is your first effort, the chances are that you will have to re-do several times in order to get a surface that will not show imperfections in the cross light of the spotlight.