Can You Paint Over Drywall Tape: Smooth Wall Solutions

Drywall is messy, but once it’s all put up and painted, the sense of accomplishment you get from seeing all your hard work come to fruition is exciting. Unfortunately, drywall tape can be confusing, and the directions don’t always tell you what you need to know like, can you paint over it directly? After years of home upgrades and repair work, I have used drywall tape more times than I can count. In the process, I’ve learned a lot about using it for the best results, and I am happy to share what I learned with you. From application tricks to sanding and painting over it, the process is easy once you know how it works. I’ll explain how it works and how to get those seams and joints painted over the tape, so it looks great. 

Can you paint over drywall tape? You cannot paint directly over drywall tape. The tape is not the outer layer but rather a base for the mud. So, in a sense, you do paint over it, but only after your mud is smoothed, dried, and then sanded. The tape is not a structural element. It just prevents you from wasting more of the joint and seam compound and allows more flexibility between sheets. 

Choose Your Drywall Tape to Paint Over

So your walls are in place, and you’re looking at bare drywall with seams, but you know you can’t simply apply drywall tape and then paint. Now, what should you do? Whether you only used a partial panel to repair an area where there was damage, or you just finished drywalling an entire new DIY home, the next bit is straightforward. 

Naturally, you will need drywall tape. This seems pretty obvious, but there are several types of drywall tape. Typically, it comes in different widths and lengths, but that’s not the only difference. You have to decide whether you want self-adhesive, fire retardant self-adhesive, or non-stick drywall tape. 

Self-adhesive tape is fairly self-explanatory. You stick it to things using the included adhesive with no additional steps. That said, I do not recommend using this style of drywall tape unless it is actually a specialty type of self-adhesive drywall tape you are choosing for a specific purpose. Regular self-adhesive tape simply doesn’t work as well or last as long in my experience. 

Flame retardant drywall tape has a bonus that most self-adhesive tape does not possess. Especially if you are working on an area of the home with higher than average fire risks, such as the kitchen, or an attached garage, this can be a brilliant upgrade. If you use a pre-glued tape, it should be for a valid reason, rather than laziness. 

Flame Fighter Fire Retardant Drywall Finishing Tape comes with its own easy taping system to help you apply it smoothly. Furthermore, it bonds well with the gypsum board, but that’s not why I recommend it. This unique drywall tape is fire-resistance-rated for an hour on steel and wood-framed assemblies. Plus, it is also rated for two-hour fire-rated vertically hung wall systems. Learn more about Flame Fighter on Amazon by clicking here. 

Finally, there’s the standard, not self-adhesive drywall tape. You apply this by laying down the joint compound first. The tape sticks to and becomes embedded within a thin layer of the compound as you work, so it holds where it needs to be without additional adhesive layers. Most professional and skilled amateur drywall work is done using this style of drywall tape. 

Drywall Tape Tips and Tricks

The biggest secret to perfect tape application so you can paint over it seamlessly is patience. Taking time to apply and sand down your tape and mud properly is the key to smooth, pristine walls. However, the list below has a few more tips and tricks that can help you get superb results every time. 

  1. Don’t pre-fill seams. Doing this creates problems down the line because there’s no room for the panels to expand. If you insist on trying it anyhow, please let them dry fully before you tape over them.
  2. Dampen your non-self-adhesive tape to avoid bubbles. You don’t need drippy, wet tape, but a lightly damp tape will bond more easily, and it’s simple to smooth out any trapped air. 
  3. Use more joint compound than you think you need. Laying it on thick is a good idea. Additionally, try not to have any lumps or large globs, making the compound uneven. 
  4. Push hard when you are applying the tape to the joint compound. You want to press it out near flat, and the compound should squish out both sides all the way down the line. You don’t want to leave any tape unattached. Ultimately the goal is to have it stick up about an eighth of an inch or slightly less before sanding.
  5. For a long, straight, non-corner application, use a tape setter. This ingenious product will save you a lot of time and get you a smooth, straight line of tape.
  6. Fix it afterward with more joint compound. Anywhere the tape doesn’t have enough compound under it, press some under. You want a wide, thin layer of your mud over the top as well. You’ll sand it out later.
  7. The compound should be bubble-free and look a lot like pudding or soft-serve ice cream. You can thin out smaller amounts as you work, but the overall consistency should begin a little thicker.
  8. Feather it out about a foot. It is okay and advisable to spread out a layer of mud well beyond the tape’s edges when covering it. Doing this allows you to slowly feather and flatten the taped seam as you sand.

Using a TapeBuddy Drywall Taping Tool will help you cut down the work time and give you professional-looking results. This durable, lightweight, easy to use tool has a place for the tape and compound so you can apply it all in a single smooth, mess-free motion. Best of all, the Tape Buddy works on corners, and it’s made right here in the USA. To see the outstanding Amazon reviews, click here

What Happens When You Don’t Use Drywall Tape

Regardless of when you paint over the drywall tape and mud layer, you need drywall tape. Although the tape itself doesn’t create structural support, it does serve a crucial purpose. Yes, it provides a base for your mud, but it’s doing something else as well. 

I don’t recommend filling your seams with joint compound because it interferes with the tape, making it harder for that drywall tape to do its job. Your drywall tape is there to bridge a gap, and filling the gap instead can mess with the integrity of your walls. 

Having a more flexible layer of drywall tape and mud at seams prevents cracking later. When the weather changes the temperature, and when it becomes more dry or moist outside, this affects your homes’ internal structure subtly. Though you don’t see it, the walls of your home are expanding and contracting. Visually you won’t see it because the process is extremely slow, like paint drying or plants growing. 

Your eyes can’t perceive the slow shifting, but it is there nonetheless. As a result, there’s tension within those walls. There needs to be a small amount of space for expansion and contraction. By using multiple sheets of drywall rather than a single solid piece, it serves two purposes. 

The first and most obvious is the fact that a single sheet of drywall weighs less. you can transport it and work with it far more efficiently than trying to haul in one giant piece that won’t fit through most doorways to slap in place. However, the second, less obvious reason helps keep your walls from breaking every time the weather changes. 

The small gaps at the joints leave room for every panel to get just a little bit bigger. As you can see, filling that space is a bad plan. It will result in cracks along the seams. Yet when we use tape, there’s more flexibility, and those pieces can press together and pull apart by a couple of millimeters without crushing each other or tearing apart. 

A pack of Adfors FibaFuse Paperless Drywall Joint Tape from Amazon will fuse perfectly with the joint compound because of the open fiber weave. Not only does this tape come pre-creased for easy corner installation, but it is also mold resistant. Have a box delivered to your door by clicking here

Final Thoughts

Drywalling is relatively straightforward. From the cutting and installation to holding it up, taping your seams, mudding, sanding, and painting, it’s messy, but not hard. Getting your work clothes clean without destroying a washing machine is the difficult part. 

Once you have the knack for getting your tape in place, and sanding the dry mud, your walls will be smooth and beautiful. it will get easier with repetition. Although it takes a little time to perfect the skill, keep at it and after a couple of tries, you should have a beautiful result. Remember that you can always sand more, but never less, so stop to inspect your work periodically. 

If you can see the tape after you sand, then you did not use the mud properly, and you should apply more before you paint. It’s important to apply it right, dry it completely, and then sand everything flush again to prevent this problem from happening. 

Aron Blake

I am the lead copywriter on Homezesty and the Webmaster. I have a lot of experience in home renovations and the creation of style. I enjoy writing and sharing my tips on how to create the best living environment. My Linkedin Profile, My Twitter Account

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