One conversation that causes a lot of debate regarding mesh tape usage in jointing drywalls is whether we can use it with all-purpose joint compounds. We intend to trash this out. Joint compounds, also known as mud, are important for construction and home improvement, especially in drywall installation and repair. When gaps (Joints) exist between wood or drywalls in a building, be it old or new, an easy way to fix them is to apply joint compounds and tape.
There are different types of joint compounds and drywall tapes. Some joint compounds work better with some tapes than others. Here we discuss if all-purpose is the right type of joint compound to use with mesh tape in drywall installation or repair. Before we dive into our main discussion, we will set the tone by explaining what all-purpose joint compound and mesh tape is.
All-Purpose Joint Compound
Joint compounds are soft paste-like substances that we spread over gaps, joints, and seams in drywalls. As well as covering nail holes, joint compounds smooth out walls and ceilings.
The all-purpose joint compound is versatile and can serve multiple use cases. In other words, it is not a specialized joint compound like other types of joint compounds. Instead, it serves numerous purposes, allowing you to use it in more scenarios than other joint compounds. Essentially, you can use the all-purpose joint compound throughout every phase of drywall finishing.
The stages of drywall finishing include embedding joint tape, filler and finish coats, and texturing and skimming coats. Manufacturers design most joint compounds to work for specific phases or coats. All-purpose is not like that.
All-purpose joint compounds are suitable for filling drywall gaps, holes, and seams. This joint compound is a pre-mixed joint compound that is sold in buckets. Pre-mixed means that an all-purpose joint compound has water already mixed with it and, as such, does not need you to carry out the difficult procedure of water mixing as with dry joint compounds.
All-purpose joint compounds are easy to apply because of their lightweight nature. They also have a slow drying time. As a weakness, all-purpose joint compounds are not as durable as some of the other phase-specific compounds, like the topping compound, which creates a strong bond and is great for the final coat. Also, because it is a wet joint compound, all-purpose spoils faster and can develop mold.
Mesh tape is a self-adhesive material made from fiberglass, used in reinforcing, repairing, finishing, and jointing drywall. It is a thin yet durable material that covers drywall holes, cracks, and spaces. Mesh tape is easy to apply, mold-resistant, and can work without embedding coats. Furthermore, due to its breathable design, mesh tape resists moisture, bubbles, and blisters.
Mesh tape functions as a support system for drywall, holding things together and preventing the expansion of cracks and holes. It is also good on uneven surfaces. Fiberglass mesh tape can help smoothen minor uneven surface areas on your wall. Mesh tape is used with joint compounds and can be placed over holes to create solid surfaces.
Can All-Purpose Joint Compound and Mesh Tape be used together?
There have been concerns by some professionals about such using both of them together. All-purpose joint compounds and mesh tapes can be used together but are probably not the best options you can use. There are better options for your drywall. Some tapes work better with all-purpose joint compounds than mesh tape. Likewise, mesh tape works better with some other types of joint compounds.
Professionals are more likely to use drywall paper tape with all-purpose joint compounds. On the other hand, they use mesh tapes with setting-type joint compounds or quick-setting drywall mud.
The simple reason mesh tape and joint compound combined usage is discouraged is that they were not designed to work together. If you check the manual of any type of all-purpose joint compound, it is highly unlikely that you will find instructions involving mesh tape.
Standard mesh tape requires a setting joint compound which is a quick-setting mud, also known as Hot Mud. The reason is that setting mud is more durable than pre-mixed mud and can counteract the elasticity of mesh tape. Also, air-drying muds like all-purpose joint compounds can suck the tape in as it dries and creates movement. When there is movement, mesh tape cracks and loses strength.
Quick-setting joint compounds expand a bit as it dries; as it expands, it creates tension under which mesh tape thrives. Tension gives mesh tape more resistance to cracking. However, setting mud can be much more difficult than all-purpose joint compounds, especially for beginners. This is why all-purpose joint compounds may be preferred by novices over setting compounds, even when using mesh tape.
We will be more direct in answering our primary question here. Yes, you can use all-purpose joint compounds with mesh tape, even though it is not ideal, typical or recommended. Supposing all you have in your garage or store is an all-purpose joint compound and mesh tape, and you want to fix a hole or crack in the wall, you can get by with them with the correct application.
There are situations where this combination may not be suitable. Small patches or seams are one scenario where mesh tape may not be your best solution.
Drywall paper tape is more suitable for covering small holes as it is easier to apply and does not require you to use any additional tools. Paper tape is very thin, and covering it with all-purpose joint compounds is easy. However, paper tape causes adhesion issues, and bubbles and blisters are more common with its usage.
For working on larger holes and openings, paper tape may not hold up as well. Mesh tape may be the way to go for large gaps that need tougher and more durable materials. Mesh tape is unlikely to suffer damage as the walls contract and expand.
If you must use Mesh tape with all-purpose joint compounds, you can get better results if you use a type of mesh tape known as FibaFuse as against the standard Mesh Tape. FibaFuse mesh tape is an open-fiber type with the similar strengths. Unlike mesh tape that has square-like cut patterns, FibaFuse mesh has a cobweb-like pattern.
FibaFuse does a great job at absorbing the joint compound and eliminates bubbles and blisters. As such, FibaFuse can absorb lighter joint compounds like all-purpose joint compounds. With FibaFuse, you would not need to lather on as much joint compound as with standard mesh tape. Because of the flexibility of FibaFuse, you can avoid the issues with setting joint compounds and work with all-purpose joint compounds.
If the Application technique is right, you can use mesh tape, even the regular type with All-purpose joint compounds. Some reasons why this combination has detractors are not necessarily because they cannot work together at all. Rather, the wrong usage can fail to joint drywall with this combination.
Some reasons all-purpose joint compounds fail when used with mesh tape include improper fastening and a failure to get adequate mud in the joints or seams before applying the mesh tape. Furthermore, another issue that can cause the failure of mesh tape with all-purpose is using the mesh tape in the wrong type of areas. For example, mesh tape is bad for corners because it has no natural crease that can go into a corner like paper tape.
Despite all this, it is better to follow the manufacturer’s instructions to stay safe, especially if you are a professional working on a customer’s wall. Try to avoid using mesh tape with all-purpose joint mud. However, if an all-purpose joint compound is all you have, you can get away with using it with mesh tape with the right technique and sufficient coats on small personal projects. You must avoid this combination for any significant or professional project.
Can we use all-purpose joint compounds with Mesh Tape? Yes. But should we? Probably not.
This article explored the compatibility of all-purpose joint compound and mesh tape in drywall installation and repair. We first carried out a brief overview of the all-purpose joint compound and mesh tape. All-purpose joint compound is a versatile drywall finishing mud usable through different stages of the process. Mesh tape provides reinforcement for covering cracks and holes in drywalls. In answering the central question, we recognize that in some circumstances and with the right technique, you can combine all-purpose joint compound and mesh tape.
However, we also know this is not the best solution for most drywall-related projects. Mesh tape is designed to work specifically with quick-set mud or setting joint compound, and using it with all-purpose mud may cause issues. Also, the all-purpose joint compound works better with paper tape. But if you already have these materials, you can get by installing them together for small personal projects. Drywall professionals should certainly avoid all-purpose joint compounds and mesh tape together. There are more suitable materials.
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