Giovanni Valle is a licensed architect and LEED-accredited professional and is certified by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). He is the author and managing editor of various digital publications, including BuilderSpace, Your Own Architect, and Interiors Place.
Drywall is an excellent element to set up in your interior walls for a smooth surface. However, it requires an elaborate process to achieve a perfect finish. One of the steps in the process is taping and mudding.
Drywall seams must be taped to get a seamless surface and avoid cracking. Taping covers the seams of the drywall and makes the adjoining bond stronger. Your walls may crack or spill joint compounds without them.
In this post, I’ll be detailing why drywall needs to be taped. I’ll also discuss some of the alternatives to taping and mudding.
Can You Drywall Without Tape?
While you can drywall without taping the seals of your wall’s joints, it’s not advised for a proper installation. It is possible to use an alternative to paper tape for sealing the joints, but neglecting it entirely could cost you money and require more effort.
Taping the joint compounds is a necessary step in finishing your drywall. It helps the joints remain in place while hiding the seams for a smooth and even wall surface.
Let’s learn more about why taping is an unavoidable step of the drywalling process.
Taping Hides the Seams of Your Drywalls
Drywalling requires multiple plasterboards to be joined together. While doing so, the seams of each board poke out, creating an uneven surface. Taping the seams can make them invisible.
With the seams covered in multiple layers of tape, your interior walls would look smooth and even all around.
Taping Provides a Marker To Apply Compounds
Sealing the seams of new drywall happens immediately after the installation. The tape alone won’t secure the entire wall, which would need mudding and further smoothing. Nevertheless, drywall tape can be the marker, showing where joint compounds are applied.
Follow the tape while mudding and smoothing your drywall, and it will be finished rapidly.
Taping Keeps the Joint Compounds in Place
Joint compounds are typically made by mixing a white powder like gypsum with water, creating a paste before application. The paste needs time to dry and settle. Applying it without taping will make it squeeze out of the joints before drying or turn into powders too quickly to provide adhesion.
Using paper tape simultaneously with the drywall mud would save the compounds from squeezing out, saving time, effort, and resources.
Taping Helps To Avoid Cracks in the Compounds
When joint compound dries between your wallboards, it shrinks. The shrinkage can cause a hole in your joints, with the cracks showing onto the walls. In addition, it would weaken your wall’s foundation and make it look unpleasant.
Tape works like an adhesive for the joint compound, making the walls stick together, even when the Mud shrinks. It stops the crack from showing.
Taping Enhances the Durability of Drywalls
Most plasterboard houses can shake or creak in windy conditions. Over time, a loaded wall can also shift or settle differently. These little movements can cause long lines of cracks in your walls, affecting their appearance.
You can negate this effect by using proper taping and suitable joint compounds, as the tape will strengthen the foundation of the drywall sheets, helping them last longer.
Taping Improves Insulation and Soundproofing
Installing multiple sheets of drywall may leave thin gaps between the joints. Additionally, as the water evaporates from the drywall mud when drying, it can create tiny holes. These small gaps can leak air and infiltrate sounds, fire, exterior moisture, etc., into your home.
While taping alone won’t make your wall soundproof, it keeps the gaps sealed to protect against air leaks, sounds, and others.
What Are the Alternatives To Taping a Drywall?
While taping and mudding are integral to drywalling, you can avoid them using alternative methods. These alternatives are applicable for specific use and have advantages and disadvantages.
- Horizontal installation: Instead of vertically installing the drywall, you can use a flat installation technique where most of the sheetrock remains parallel to the ground. It will create a single seam across the room at the 4-foot (1.22m) mark, which you can hide using horizontal molding such as a chair rail.
- Crown molding: You can install crown molding in the upper corners of your drywall to hide the seams. Crown molding bonds well with the ceiling and conceals any seams from being visible. It can also improve the aesthetics of your home.
- Wood paneling: Installing a layer of wood paneling can hide the seams of your unfinished drywall. The wood panels are expensive but sure to improve your home’s aesthetics. It will also enhance soundproofing, add extra protection against moisture, and prevent air leaks.
Using inside corner beads is another way to avoid taping the drywall seams. However, it doesn’t negate using taping, as the corner beads come with paper tape already attached to their thin aluminum sheet.
Can Caulking Help Avoid Taping the Drywall?
Caulking shouldn’t be used as an alternative to taping the drywall. It can be a temporary solution to conceal a crack, but not to avoid using paper tape.
Caulk can’t make the drywall bond as strongly as tape. It also doesn’t mix well with paint, affecting the aesthetics of painted drywalls.
Even if a high-quality, paintable caulk doesn’t disrupt your wall’s aesthetics, it will last only a few years in a temperate condition. Hence, you shouldn’t consider it a long-term solution to taping.
One of the most critical steps of drywall installation is taping and mudding. Tape embedded in drywall mud strengthens joints and protects them against cracking. It also prevents external moisture, air leaks, and molds. Your drywall won’t look as appealing or last long if you don’t apply tape to seal the joint compounds.
There are some workarounds to avoid taping the drywall. It includes horizontal installation for chair rail molding, crown molding in the upper seams, wood paneling, etc. However, these methods are more complex and expensive than taping and mudding.
- eHow: Do You Have to Use Tape When Mudding Drywall?
- NewCeilings: Why Does My Drywall Need to Be Taped?
- StackExchange: Caulking a Corner Instead of Taping With Joint Compound?
- PH&G: Do You Have to Tape Drywall Seams?
- theSpruce: How to Successfully Mud and Tape Drywall Yourself
- Mr.Handyman: The Taping and Mudded Process in Drywall
- JLC: Taping Drywall Seams
- EnergySaver: Caulking
- Britannica: Drywall
- StackExchange: What is the purpose of tape when finishing drywall?
- BuildWithBMC: Wainscoting vs. Chair Rail
- FreemanDrywall: Drying Conditions: Dealing With High Humidity
- FamilyHandyman: Taping Drywall Tips: How to Tape Drywall Joints
- Hunker: Alternatives to Drywall Tape
- PH&G: How to Finish Drywall Without Mudding
- HowStuffWorks: How Drywall Works
- Gypsumtools: How to Use Joint Compounds
- TheWashingtonPost: Things that go creak in the attic on windy nights can be silenced
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