Are you wondering if drywall tape is really necessary? Maybe you’re installing fresh drywall or repairing a crack and asking – is this really worth all the extra time? In this guide, we’ll talk about the reasons for drywall tape (and what can happen if you don’t use it).
Drywall tape is necessary to hide gaps, improve the adhesion of drywall compound, and help raise the strength of patches and repairs. Without drywall tape, it can be difficult to hide the transition from one sheet of drywall to the next, and the compound is more likely to experience cracking.
Drywall tape can seem like a pesky thing, but it’s actually quite useful and easy to use – once you get the hang of it. Let’s talk in more detail about the functions of drywall tape, and then we’ll talk about some of the places where drywall tape is needed the most.
Let’s jump into it.
What Does Drywall Tape Actually Do?
We will begin by talking about the purpose of drywall tape. As you’ll see, drywall tape provides essential functions when installing drywall and making repairs. As we go through these various functions, keep in mind that there are several different types of drywall tape, and each will perform its functions a little differently.
The two main types of drywall tape are paper and meshed (also known as fiberglass tape). While similar, these two types of drywall tape will function in slightly different ways.
Here are the main functions of drywall joint tape:
- To hide seams To hold the plaster in place
- Reduce cracking
- Reduce the transition between drywall sheets
- Improve Strength
- Make Repairs
Alright, let’s look at these functions in a little more depth. If you’re curious, you can check out this article to learn more about the difference between the different types of drywall tape.
Drywall Tape to Hide Seams and Screws
First, drywall tape helps hide seams and screws in the drywall. If you’ve ever seen drywall before it was plastered and finished, then you know that it’s not pretty! Not only do the seams stand out, but there are about a thousand little drywall screws.
While you could just cover these with drywall compound, there is a chance that the compound will fall out, or that it won’t it fully cover the screw indents in the first place.
By placing tape you allow these unsightly parts of the drywall to be adequately covered. Not only does hiding the gaps make the wall look nicer, but it also helps with insulation and protection from pests.
Let’s talk about another reason for drywall tape.
Drywall Tape to Hold the Plaster in Place
If you’ve ever used cement or poured cement, then you might know about rebar. Rebar is steel or iron mesh that’s placed in the cement to help improve the strength and prevent the cement from cracking over time.
In the same way, drywall tape also helps hold the drywall compound in place. The tape gives the compound something to hold onto, particularly the mesh tapes. While drywall compound doesn’t require high strength like a road or bridge does, the drywall tape does help hold the compound in place.
On top of improving adhesion, drywall tape also helps in other ways.
Drywall Tape to Reduce Cracking
On top of improving the adhesion of the compound, the drywall tape will also help reduce cracking in the drywall compound around the joints. As you may know, it’s common for walls to change slightly. It could be that the foundation of a house is settling, it could be that there are seasonal changes in the frame, or there is a change in moisture content in the room.
Regardless of the sources, drywall will crack from time to time. While you can’t always prevent the cracks, drywall tape can certainly help. This might be a good time to go over the fiberglass and paper drywall tapes.
Paper drywall tape is more likely to bubble; however, it might provide a little more strength. On the other hand, mesh tape might be less strong, but there will be fewer bubbles.
Note: much of the strength of the joint depends on the skill of the installation. It’s not all up to the drywall tape. In many cases, the cracking will depend on the conditions of the house and wall.
Drywall Tape to Reduce the Transition Between Drywall Sheets
You might be used to perfectly smooth walls, but they don’t always start that way. Sometimes, there is more than just a small gap between drywall, there are also small imperfections in the leveling of the drywall.
This means that, in some cases, a corner of the drywall will stick out further than others. If this were to be covered with a just compound, it would be very difficult to hide this minute slope. However, with the use of a good drywall tape, you can smooth this transition and make the wall appear perfectly smooth.
Drywall Tape will Improve the Strength of Some Joints
In some cases, the drywall tape can improve the overall strength of the wall. This is most likely with the paper tape, which can help protect the drywall against cave-ins and breakage. Of course, the tape doesn’t provide a significant increase in strength, but it’s enough to help protect the wall from minor stresses.
Now let’s talk about the role of tape and repair.
Drywall Tape Can Help Make Repairs to Cracks
Drywall tape can also help in the event that you need to make a repair. How? Well, just like you need to seal joints that when you install drywall, you also need to seal the edges of a repair. For example, if there was a large hole in the wall – from some form of damage – then you’d place a patch and use drywall tape at the edges to make the repair.
For small holes, you might use mesh tape to create a small patch. You place the mesh over the hole and then fill everything in with drywall compound.
Alright, now we’ll look at a few of the areas where it’s most important to have some drywall tape.
Areas that Require Drywall Tape
Let’s talk about a few areas that require the use of drywall tape. In some instances, if you don’t use proper drywall tape, you’ll end up with major problems. Not only that, but drywall tape also plays a role in sealing some of the seams.
Here are a few times to use quality drywall tape:
- Vaulted ceilings
Let’s look at these in more depth.
Vaulted Ceilings and Drywall Tape
Whenever there is a high ceiling, it’s critical that the joints are well sealed and protected with drywall tape. The drywall tape will ensure that you don’t notice any transitions between the sheets of drywall. The tape also helps with the transition from the wall to the ceiling. You wouldn’t want big gaps in these areas.
Also, in high ceilings, there will be more moisture and heat, so it’s important that the drywall tape is well installed. Finally, vaulted ceilings will be difficult to repair, so it’s smart to install the drywall the right way the first time.
Drywall Tape for Archways and Doors
Drywall tape is also used to smooth the wall transitions of archways in doors. These areas can be tricky to make smooth, so the drywall tape works with the compound to bring everything together.
Let’s talk about the importance of drywall tape around corners.
Drywall Tape Used for Wall Corners
Corners can be a tricky thing when it comes to drywall. They must be taped off to help them transition and to hide the screw heads, but there can be problems if you’re not careful.
In the corners, it’s common for paper drywall tape to be used, as this tape often has a little seam down the middle that helps the tape cover inside or outside corners.
The trouble can start if the tape isn’t properly applied. For one, the paper tape is prone to bubbling in the corners – this can be unsightly and difficult to repair.
For two, drywall tape can be hard to sand down smooth in the corners. This can make the corners stand out. While drywall tape is essential for good corners, make sure you take the time to install the drywall tape properly!
Alright, now let’s wrap everything up and go over a few final thoughts.
Conclusion: Do You Need to Use Drywall Tape?
So, should you use drywall tape on your next project? Well, if that project involves hanging or repairing drywall, then the answer is a resounding yes. Without drywall tape, it can be very difficult to finish a wall correctly.
Drywall tape helps hide the seams of the drywall. Not only that, but the drywall tape protects against cracking and works well by providing support to the repairs. Be sure that you learn how to properly use drywall tape – and ensure that you have the right tape for the job.