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Which kind of joint tape should I use - paper tape or mesh tape?


Question: Which kind of joint tape should I use - paper tape or mesh tape?
When you're installing drywall, you need to do something about those seams between the sheets. You can't just force in a bunch of drywall compound (mud) and let it harden. Thick chunks of dry mud will eventually crack. So, you need tape. There are two kinds: paper or mesh tape. But which to use?

Fiberglass Mesh Joint Tape

Don't automatically assume that the fiberglass mesh tape is better. For one thing, mesh tape is more expensive. For another, mesh joint tape is more difficult to work with. You cannot just rip off a piece with one hand, as you might do with paper tape (more on that below) and its unique wax-like adhesive eventually gums up your hands.

But that adhesive is probably the best thing about mesh tape, at least in terms of installation. You can apply the tape before you even start mudding the drywall.

Finally, strength is another selling point for mesh joint tape. There is simply no way that mesh tape will rip.

Paper Joint Tape

All that said, you'll still notice that professional drywallers use paper tape. Yes, price is one factor. But with paper joint tape, you can move quicker, tearing off strips with one hand while the other hand holds the drywall knife.

Also paper joint tape has no adhesive, so you need to stick it down with the joint compound itself. This can be a good thing, because it forces you to combine the two steps (taping and mudding), and thus work faster.

The Answer is...

When combined with drywall compound, paper tape provides a perfectly adequate joint. Some points to keep in mind:
  • Consider whether you are working on a tapered seam or a flat seam. Tapered seams are where the two tapered edges of drywall meet, forming a shallow "valley." The thicker mesh tape will fall below the level of this valley, and can be covered with drywall compound.
  • However, if you are working on a flat seam (also known as butted seams), you absolutely need to use paper mesh tape. Otherwise, the thicker mesh joint tape will stick out too far and look lumpy.
  • If you have joints that will be subjected to some stress (such as near to doors), you should use the fiberglass mesh tape.
  • Inside corners need paper tape. It is virtually impossible to apply mesh tape to inside corners.
Some shopping considerations. Buy multiple rolls of paper joint tape, because you go through the stuff pretty fast. And it doesn't matter how many you buy, because it's dirt cheap. Buy Direct - Ace Paper Joint Tape - 20 Pack.
Related Video
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