Drywall Compounds

This story covers the various types of compounds used in drywall construction and repair.

Drywall compounds, commonly called "mud" in the trade, come in such an astonishing variety that it could easily confuse a beginner. Here's a quick rundown:

You'll sometimes see drywall joint compounds named for the function they perform. But excelling at that one purpose often means a compromise of other characteristics. For example, a taping compound is usually a setting-type that achieves high strength but is extremely difficult to sand. As a result, you'll want to make certain that subsequent coats will completely bury it.

Professionals know that compounds that are easy to sand, such as a topping compound, also have a texture that spreads more easily. But topping formulations, whether ready-mixed or setting type, lack the strength for taped joints. Save the topping compound for the final coat.

All-purpose compounds represent a compromise between strength and easy sanding. If you use one of these formulas, you'll sacrifice a bit of strength in the first coat and some ease of handling and smoothing in later coats.

Setting-type and ready-mixed joint compounds produce similar results but achieve them in different ways. A setting-type compound is a powder that you add to water. The addition of moisture begins an irreversible chemical reaction that causes the ingredients to harden. Ready-mixed joint compound hardens as the water in it evaporates.

If you can buy only one type of mud for your project, premixed all-purpose compound produces good results.For repairs, choose a nonshrinking surfacing compound or purchase drywall compound in a tube.


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