Drywall tape: paper or mesh?

wbralickMarch 6, 2006

Can someone give a drywall wannabe some insight as to when it's best to use mesh drywall tape and when to use paper tape? Do the professionals prefer one over the other? On a previous post someone mentioned that you can use mesh tape on the tapered seams as long as you use a setting compound to embed it. Can you also use it on butt joints as well?

At first glance it looks like using pre-folded paper tape in the corners would be much easier than trying to embed mesh tape. Is this correct?



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I'm thankfully not a drywall pro---but I do drywall installing/repair. I tried mesh tape twice and no longer feel the need to try it again. I was told that using mesh tape cut out one application of mud---apply the tape, mud over it, sand the next day and apply the finish coat of mud.

Never saw/heard of mesh tape in corners---nor have I heard of prefolded paper tape for corners. Regular paper tape has a center groove which makes folding a simple matter.

So, I find paper tape much easier to use, even with having to premud, then tape and cover and then having two more applications.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2006 at 10:03AM
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Most finishers use tape for corners,wall to ceiling,and mesh for seams and butt joints. I use tape on all of the above,let it dry, and go over all with mesh.I dont try folding the mesh on corners and wall to ceiling,just run it over the tape on either side.I use a wider mesh to cover the tape on seams and butt joints. Some think that is overkill, but i feel you get a stronger bond and have not had call backs due to weak tape bonds.I also use perforated tape rather than solid.You can see the perforations in the tape by holding it up to the light,as it's usually not stated whether perforated or not. The perforations allow mud to squeeze out during your first tape coat and gives an even bond on the backside of the tape. Just a little easier to work with, imo.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2006 at 10:21AM
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Here's a recommendation from a DIY'er who's learned what works best for me.

Mesh for seams - very easy, much easier for a novice to get good results with mesh than with paper.

For outside corners, corner bead is the easiest to finish.

For inside corners the creased paper with metal "stiffening" pieces - not sure what they call it but if you look you'll find it.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2006 at 11:54AM
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I like paper tape. Way back, when I tried mesh, I found that sometimes the knife would snag on the mesh, making a big mess.

Of all the pros I have talked to, all use paper. For outside corners, metal corner bead that you screw on is pretty much fail-proof.

I am not a pro, but have taped and finished the equivalent of perhaps 2 entire homes over the last 15 years or so. I have learned how to get near professional results by staying away from the sand paper until the very end of the job. Instead I use a taping knife to knock any ridges or bumps off the surface. "Level" is the secret. Hand sanding often produces humps and bumps (and a lot of dust). Check out the technique in the site below.

Here is a link that might be useful: Taping and Finishing Drywall

    Bookmark   March 6, 2006 at 5:13PM
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Paper tape for drywall and joint compound.

Mesh tape for cement board and thinset.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2006 at 5:22PM
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I use metal corner bead on outside corners as well. Prefer bullnose,but some folks like the square edged. Haven't tried the vinyl outside edgings with the built in paper tape. Here's a link for other finishing accessories:

Here is a link that might be useful: Drywall stuff

    Bookmark   March 6, 2006 at 5:47PM
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I've used mesh and paper. I like the paper better as I found it didn't catch the edge of my trowel, or did it leave little mesh marks on my too thin mud. I used the metal nail on corner beads and the paper and metal corner beads. I like the metal and paper ones because whenever I nail on the the metal ones, I inevitably warp the metal and it sticks out and doesn't hug the drywall anymore.

As for paper tape, there is a front side and a back side to it too.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2006 at 6:17PM
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Mesh and 30 minute setting compound are great for small jobs.
Mesh should not be used with pre-mix mud.
I do entire jobs with mesh and type X corner bead (paper faced bead).
In and out in a single day with 3 coats on smaller jobs.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2006 at 9:37PM
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I've never seen professional finishers use mesh tape for anything.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2006 at 11:22PM
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Paper doesn't hassle you with a loose "string" here and there, which mesh does too often.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2006 at 7:23AM
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Paper hassles you instead with having to apply mud to beed the tape, then apply at least 2 and usually 3 coats to finish. All this with premix that takes at leat 24 hours to dry and cracks and shrinks.

Mesh goes up, sticks by itself, gets a coat of setting compound (as short as 20 minutes to harden or up to 2 hours if you need it) then at most 2 more coats for a finished job. If you mix setting correctly it is about like peanut butter and does not shrink appreciably as it sets.

For a large job it ends as a wash since you have a lot of taping and are unlikely to finish the entire job in a single day anyway.
For a small job you can choose a workable setting time and apply multiple coats in a few hours.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2006 at 7:00PM
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Thanks for all the great information.

Just to clarify, when using mesh tape on the seams you don't need to go through the process of first applying some compound, then the tape, and then working the excess compound out from behind the tape? You can apply the adhesive-backed mesh tape directly to the wall and then apply the setting compound over the top of the tape?

If I understand it correctly, this seems like the easiest way to handle the seams. This way, I can tape the whole project first (seams only) and then go back and work in the setting compound afterwards.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2006 at 7:43AM
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yes you can tape the mesh directly on bare drywall and mud overtop that.

this is how it is supposed to be done anyways. and yes, it is a timesaver. But I still prefer paper.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2006 at 12:06PM
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Never use mesh on anything but a small repair. Always use paper tape. As a full time drywaller having finish prob 2 million square feet of drywall in my life, I have had very little sucess with mesh tape. Mesh tends to crack 10 times easier than paper. And dont even think of using it on a inside corner as it is alot more difficult to get a smooth finish.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2006 at 12:21PM
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I tried mesh tape on the advice of a friend one time - it worked out great for him, but with my house almost every joint got a hairline center crack within 2 years. Ended up scraping, belt sanding, and cussing it out and replacing it with paper, which although not flawless, has mostly performed well for 25 years now.

What's the difference? He lives in Santa Barbara, CA, with a moderate climate and a slab on grade foundation. I live in Texas with an extreme climate and pier and beam foundation. Maybe foundation shift or heat expansion caused my cracks, not sure, but I wouldn't use it again.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2012 at 1:52AM
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