Mudding is a key component to working with drywall (also known as Sheetrock); it helps create smooth, seamless walls. Because drywall is installed in sheets and pieces, mudding is necessary to fill in the gaps and even out the surface.
What is mudding?
Drywall mud is a joint compound—a gypsum-based paste that performs several functions in the drywall-finishing process: It’s the glue that holds drywall together, patching over any screws, seams, or joints; it binds drywall tape and drywall board; and it helps prepare drywall surfaces for paint. Mudding—the process of applying joint compound—is something you’ll do many times when installing drywall.
Mudding serves an aesthetic purpose as well as a structural one: It provides structural support and smoothes walls so there are no signs of creases or joints. Because drywall is installed in sheets, mudding creates the look of one wall or ceiling.
Types of drywall mud
There are several different types of drywall muds you can use throughout the process.
As its name suggests, these muds come premixed with water. They’re ready to use out of the box and don’t dry quickly. Sometimes, depending on the weather, premixed mud can take several days to completely dry, causing delays. Premixed muds are ideal for taping, use with automatic tools like boxes and automatic tapers, and coating. The most common premixed muds you’ll find are all-purpose, lightweight all-purpose, and topping muds.
Powdered (hot mud)
Powdered mud, also known as hot mud, needs to be mixed with water for application. Once the hot mud is mixed, there’s a limited time to work with it since it’s a quick-setting mud. (It usually takes about 20 to 60 minutes to dry, depending on the mud’s additives.) Hot mud is ideal for coating and pre-filling joints on drywall since it expands as it dries, filling gaps.
There are many different tools you can use for drywall mudding. The ones you select will depend on your level of expertise, the type of mud you’ve chosen, and their purpose, be it taping, coating, or pre-filling.
Hawks are flat, square pieces of metal that hold mud. Commonly used with a trowel, a tool that spreads mud, hawks can also be used with a mudding knife. Hawks can carry large amounts of mud if you’re coating the entire surface of the drywall, but aren’t ideal for thinner muds since they can slide off the surface. Hawks are best for thicker muds, as when pre-filling joints.
These handheld mudding tools with flat, thin metal sheets spread a large amount of mud across the surface. They leave a nice smooth finish and are ideal for texturing and coating. Trowels can move a lot of mud and be used to feather edges or remove excess mud that makes the drywall uneven. Trowels are most commonly used for plasterwork, which requires spreading lots of mud over large surfaces and an ultra-smooth finish.