Drywall finishing

I am in the process of installing a new kitchen.

I installed a pocket door and added a small partition between the kitchen & dining rooms.

I am a ametuer at drywall finishing. The final coat looks bad with numerous blemishes.

What is the trick to a perfect or near perfect final drywall finish?


Painting 005 (Small).jpg

Painting 002 (Small).jpg

Painting 001 (Small).jpg

whip up the mud to get it creamy and smooth, then get a minium 8inch blade, then a 12 inch blade, for the final coats. lightly sand and hit it again (and what it really takes is alot of practice)

Hi David,
did you mix the compound or use directly out of the bucket?

sometimes you can get air bubbles if you don’t mix it

the pictures don’t look too bad.


No drywall surface is “perfect” or flat. The trick in drywall-ing all has to do with an elution that it is flat. A good finisher knows this well. You need to mud at least three times, and feather out all the high points (i.e. seams as far out as 6 to 8 to even 12 inches.) and then sand, sand, and sand. Prime, paint and the wall will “look” flawless if done right. If it doesn’t and it bugs the heck out of you, you can always add an orange peel finish (usually comes in a spray can) and repaint. Good luck!

  • The seems in the 1st picture need to be feathered out alot more. Remember your creating an illution that it is flat.
  • That beam in the 2nd pic. can be covered in all mud. Make sure you use a wide blade to scrap it near flat.
  • The top corner in the 3rd picture can be feathered down alot more.

Hire it out. That’s the ONLY way to do drywall finishing as far as I am concerned.

That is what I am in the process of doing. A realtor that has been in the painting business says he would charge me about $100 to do for me. Give or take a few dollars after he looks at the job.

It would be worth the money as a professional will be able to do a whole lot better than me.

I am a good painter but I have painted so many times it is hard to get motivated.

For flat joints use an 8"or 10" knife for the bed coat and a 12" for the skim coat. Use a 6" knife for the corner bead and angles. It doesn’t look to bad you just need to keep working with it. If you haven’t done so already use some 45 minute mud. Then you can finish it in one day. Try not to sand it to much as you will rip the paper.

I’ve had some success with a almost dry sponge, as a final job after sanding.


Can I use tape as a finished edge? I hope so. I used the mesh tape on the small partition wall. I probably should of used the metal edge.

The partition wall is only about 4-6 inches wide. How would you finish this? No way for me to use a large knife. A pro would breeze thru this.

I have better luck using a wet rag then sanding.

I think it will prove “very” difficult to get a flat looking surface using any of the damp finish approaches. I have never seen any “pros” do it this way. The better finishers do very little sanding. The trick is in the trowels/knives used. I find that the wider the trowel the better, and doing many thin coats is a better approach. You should never have huge amounts of sanding to do----if you do it is an indication that you are not applying it properly:D

If you use the mud directly out of the box ,(Magnum product) ,or bucket (USG product around here) you need to add water to it and mix.
The trick is in the mix.It goes on quite smoothly this way and you will have less sanding to do.I usually use an automated sander for sanding but when that isn’t an option I use sanding screen rather than paper for hand sanding.
When you sand , be sure to wear a mask.
Metal corner beads are much better than tape. Since this is a DIY you probably don’t have the tool to install these corners but nails or ,even better ,screws will hold it in place.
Also if you use Topping on your final coat rather than all-purp. compound it sands quite a bit easier.It too should be mixed with a little water.

just have fun

Also, don’t try to get going over it again and again to get it perfect. The more you spread it the worse you’ll make. Just spread it out try to feather and smooth it out a little and walk away, let it dry, sand it and start again.


Smooth walls, a man after my own heart. I’ve been a drywall finisher and drywall contractor for the last 21 years. We work exclusively on high end homes and have perfected the art of smooth finishing.

As with any trade, if you’re new at it, it’s not going to be perfect because you’re just learning. Just have fun and make it as nice as you can.

We like to use Hamilton All Purpose mud (not the light mud but the heavier version) for the final two coats. Stay away from the light joint compounds as they scratch easily when sanding and tend to absorb prime and swell. If you haven’t already purchased a broad knife, buy a 10" Goldblatt; make sure the edge of the blade is flat and stiff with the tips slightly bent to avoid scratches when applying mud. Build up your mud on the seams in thin layers so that you do not have to oversand between coats. I also recommend that you skim the whole surface of the new board. This is known in the trade as a Level 5 finish. The paper on the board is sometimes made from recycled cardboard and will absorb primer differently then mudded surfaces. This ugly effect is referred to as “photographing” or “flashing.” You can avoid this by skimming the entire surface of the board and sanding with 180 grit sandpaper. The mud for your final coat should be thinned down to pancake batter thickness and applied with your 10" knife (we use 12-14", but that’s too hard for a beginner). We make our final coat so thin that we can pump it through an airless paint sprayer and a commercial grade power roller and 2 guys will wipe it down just as fast as a guy can push that roller. We can do thousands of board feet in a day this way. Keep your blade about a 45 degree angle from the wall and pull all of the mud off on your final coat. You should only see a thin film of mud on the board, then sand it smooth when it dries. The mud should be so thin on your final coat that you can still see the gray color of the paper on the wallboard after it’s been applied. Before you do your final coat sand any bumps or imperfections in the wall so that you don’t get any chattering. Everything should be flat and clean.
Use a full-bodied primer sealer for your first prime coat. Avoid the cheap PVA’s as they are worthless.

Extra information: I couldn’t tell what type of tape you used but fiberglass tape should never be used with drywall joint compounds. Fiberglass tape is a plasterers product that is OK to use with Hot mud or quick set type muds but not the kind of drywall joint compound that comes in a box or a bucket. Many homeowners uses fiberglass tape with regular drywall joint compound and can’t figure out why the joints keep cracking.

Good luck, I hope you enjoy the sanding more than we do!

Semi wet spong instead of sanding… no dust problem.
Texture a little and paint… you will love it.

There you go, and I can back up those statements of fact.

Could not have said it any better.

Thanks for helping.

Marcel :slight_smile: :slight_smile: :smiley:

If you were in a warmer place I would say fly me in for a few days and I would do it for no charge!

Mix your compound up and while doing this add a few drops of liquid dish detergent, it breaks the surface tension of the water and really helps to keep the bubbles to a minimum.

Lay it on thin, smooth and as many times as needed…your goal is to not have to sand it smooth but rather to have to sand it out to knock down any edges and feather it out.

Another trick is to sponge it instead of sanding it. I usually use this as my last finish prior to painting, cleans off the dust and fills and smooths.

Paint on a guide coat…if you are looking for a perfect finish use this technique from the car painting business. We used to spray on a guide coat once we thought it was sanded enough. This coat covered the surface enough to give us a glimpse of what the true finished product was and allowed us to focus our efforts on the areas that showed imperfections. Once sanded and or compound is knifed on after the guide coat you should have a dang fine finish worth at least $1.03.98!

This has worked very well for me…plus holding a work light at an angle to the wall helps show imperfections. :wink:

Hi neighbor–sub it out as i do, or have fun. You can make more on one good inspection as it is going to cost you to have a pro do it.