Drywall Finish in 5 Levels

Eddie Shekari
April 6, 2018

You’ve got a hefty drywall project ahead of you so what are you anticipating? Hanging drywall is a pretty easy task, however finishing it is not. Even if the hanging isn’t perfect, mistakes can be covered up, but the finishing, as the final step, must be perfect. There are five distinct levels of the finishing drywall process which professionals have codified to break the work into specific stages and we have listed them below for your reference.

Level 0

This beginning level means that the drywall is fastened to the walls and no finishing has been attempted yet. This is your starting point.

Level 1

The following level is the first real step in the finishing process. It means the drywall joint tape is embedded in joint compound.

Level 2

The next level entails skimming a light coat of joint compound over the tape and covering the drywall screw holes. If you aim to cover it with tile, this will be your last level.

Level 3

Level three has you apply a thicker coat of joint compound to the tape and screws. Walls with a heavy texture, like knockdown, can stop here because the texturing is rougher than level three finish. Otherwise you will want to continue on to level four.

Level 4

This is your traditional drywall finish level. Apply another coat of joint compound to the tape and screws and then sand the dried compound. Note that if you choose to wet sand the drywall it will reduce the amount of dust which flies everywhere during this process. This is more of a joint smudging, since much of the compound remains on the board, not on the sponge. It’s a long difficult process, though, so stick to dry sanding if you are wanting speed.

Level 5

This level is for only the highest possible drywall finishing. The only time this is needed is when the finish will be glossy or light will come from a low angle, highlighting depressions and bumps. Level five involves applying a skim coat in one of three ways: with a roller, taping knife, or spray. To use a roller, you will thin the mud and roll it onto the wall with a thick-nap roller, then scrape it off right away. To use a taping knife, throw on about seven dabs of mud, three to four inches across, and immediately smooth it along the surface. You will also scrape the mud off with this tool. And finally, there is spray equipment to allow professionals to spray on drywall compound. You can rent it at rental yards or select home improvement stores.

Which Areas Need What Finish Level?

Not all walls are created equal. How do you know which ones require extra finish? Level one is often used in garages, since they are rarely seen. There isn’t much point in mudding and sanding a space like that. If you choose to put wainscot (wall treatment made of wood on the lower half of the room) in your home then a premium finish isn’t necessary on the bottom 45 inches of the walls. Areas with many cabinets, like kitchens, don’t need a level five finish on their walls, however ceilings do, since they have natural light coming through the windows highlighting all of the pops. For more information on drywall finishing you can go here: https://www.thespruce.com/the-five-levels-of-drywall-finishing-4120152.

Here at Pro Painters, your Houston painting contractor, we can help you with hanging or finishing your drywall. We have drywall experts alongside our painting experts, so regardless of whether you need assistance with Houston residential painting or commercial work, we are your go to company. Give us a call today to schedule your free quote or request a quote online!

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Eddie Shekari

Eddie founded Pro Painters in 1995 to meet the growing need for high-quality residential and commercial painting needs in Houston. In nearly 20 years, Pro Painters has exponentially grown our client base, serving residents across the greater Houston area. Our core principles have helped us achieve the highest standard of workmanship and customer satisfaction. Our years of experience have allowed us to become an extension to our customers as the all-in-one solution for home makeovers.