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How do You Tape and Float?

Taping and floating is an essential skill for achieving smooth, seamless walls. Start by applying joint compound to the seams, then press in the tape firmly. Smooth it out, let it dry, and apply additional compound layers, feathering the edges for a flawless finish. Ready to transform your walls into a canvas of perfection? Discover the full process in our guide.
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

The process of taping and floating is a common task that takes place during the installation of sheetrock. Essentially, this procedure helps to hide the rough edges of the sheetrock where the sections join, creating a smooth look to the entire wall. Just about any type of drywall finishing project will require at least some taping and floating before the job is finished.

The actual tape and float process is straightforward. The first task is to install the sheetrock, securing it to the area with the use of nails or screws. It is important to make sure the heads of the nails and screws do not protrude above the surface, and it is also a good idea to apply corner bead around all the edges. This will help to create a seal that can then be covered.

Taping and floating is a process that commonly takes place during the installation of sheetrock.
Taping and floating is a process that commonly takes place during the installation of sheetrock.

To start the procedure, measure and cut strips of drywall tape. In most cases, it is better to use the mesh variety of tape rather than paper. Apply the tape to the edges of the sheetrock and also to any seams in corners and where two panels meet along the wall. Use small strips to cover the nail or screw heads. Make sure the tape is applied smoothly, with no wrinkles or bubbles.

Walls may be painted following the completion of the tape and float process.
Walls may be painted following the completion of the tape and float process.

Once the tape is in place, it is time to begin the float portion of the process. Essentially, floating drywall is the application of mud over the taped sections. The mud can be purchased in a premixed compound, but it is intentionally made a little thicker than necessary. Water it down according to the product instructions and mix it thoroughly.

Applying the mud to the tape involves using a taping knife. Use the knife to scoop a small amount of the drywall mud and begin applying it to the seams, including any corner seams. You can then move on to smoothing a small amount of compound over the nail heads. As you go, make sure to even the surface of the application as much as possible. Allow the first round of floating to dry, then apply a second coat. In most cases two coats of mud will be sufficient.

A man uses a taping knife to apply mud over a taped drywall joint.
A man uses a taping knife to apply mud over a taped drywall joint.

The final step in the tape and float process is to sand the dried mud so that the texture of the wall appears completely smooth. Use your hand to make sure the mud and the surface of the sheetrock are smooth. It is a good idea to keep a clean dry cloth handy to wipe away and residue.

After the process is complete, you can then move on to painting or otherwise covering the walls. The end result of your efforts will be a wall that looks and feels smooth and appears to be one solid expanse rather than joined sections of sheetrock. While the finishing process takes a little time, the end result is well worth the effort.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including AboutMechanics, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

Learn more...
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including AboutMechanics, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

Learn more...

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    • Taping and floating is a process that commonly takes place during the installation of sheetrock.
      By: Sherri Camp
      Taping and floating is a process that commonly takes place during the installation of sheetrock.
    • Walls may be painted following the completion of the tape and float process.
      By: petarpaunchev
      Walls may be painted following the completion of the tape and float process.
    • A man uses a taping knife to apply mud over a taped drywall joint.
      By: yellowj
      A man uses a taping knife to apply mud over a taped drywall joint.
    • Professionals typically use hand trowels to mud joints, but a taping knife can also be used.
      By: Kristina Benter
      Professionals typically use hand trowels to mud joints, but a taping knife can also be used.