Mesh vs Paper Drywall Tape – What’s the Difference?

Drywall is one of the fastest ways to install new walls inside a home. No matter if you use wooden or steel studding, you can erect walls in next to no time.

The biggest issue with drywall is joints, corners, and edges where you have gaps or rough edges. The seams need strength, or they will move and crack, so tape is the best option.

Walls can move slightly, and the introduction of tape helps avoid large cracks along your walls. For years, professionals have been using paper tape to cover these seams, although, in recent years, fiberglass mesh tapes have been appearing as an alternative.

Mesh vs Paper Drywall Tape

The question facing many people undertaking home improvement projects is the kind of tape to use and the best ways how to drywall taping.

Here, in our drywall tape, how to, you can find out the difference between fiberglass mesh drywall tape and paper drywall tape.

What is the Purpose of Drywall Tape?

When you install drywall, you have edges where the panels butt up against each other. Once you begin mudding your roof, these gaps will fill; however, it doesn’t make for a perfect finish.

Tapes were introduced to span these gaps and offer flexibility. Thus, if one panel moves slightly, the finishing plaster won’t be prone to cracking as easy as without tape.

Do You Have to Use Tape on Drywall Seams?

Every drywall seam needs tape to be embedded under the joint compound. Such tapes deliver more strength to seams along with corners and edges. The joint compound holds the tapes in place while they offer a smooth surface to work with, or in the case of corners a chance to make better angles. (Read Joint Compound vs Spackle)

Duck Brand Paper Drywall Joint Tape, 2.06 Inches x 75 Feet, 1 Roll (282937)

What is Paper Tape for Drywall?

Here are some of the features of paper drywall tape.

  • Paper tape is non-adhesive; therefore, it needs embedding in a layer of joint compound, which acts as the adhesive to stick the tape to the drywall’s surface. Doing so is straightforward; however, you need to be careful to cover all the areas with a compound. After this, make sure you squeeze it out with even pressure to stop air bubbles forming under the tape.
  • While you can use mesh tape on the inside corners, paper tape is easier to use in such locations because it comes with a crease along the middle.
  • Paper may not be as strong as fiberglass mesh in some ways, although it doesn’t stretch or flex as much and does create stronger joints. This is vital for butt joints, which are generally your weak areas in drywall installations.
  • You can use paper tape with either drying-type or setting-type compounds.

What is Mesh Fiberglass Drywall Tape?

Here are the features of mesh drywall tape.

  • You can now find applicators for mesh tape. Using these is like large carton taping dispensers. For corners, you can find angled wheels that fold and push the tape into the corner.
  • Unlike paper tape, a fiberglass mesh tape is self-adhesive; thus, there is no need first to embed them in a layer of compound. It can make the process faster and allows the tape to sit flush to the surface. You can also apply tape before you begin using your first coat of compound.
  • While stronger than paper tape in load tests, fiberglass mesh drywall tape is more elastic; thus, your joints can crack easily.
  • Fiberglass mesh tape needs covering with setting compound, as this is stronger than drying type. It does offer some compensation for the elasticity of the fiberglass. After this first coat, either compound can be used.
  • Where joint strength isn’t much of a concern when compared to full sheet seams, you can use mesh drywall tape for a quick solution.
  • Paper tape is approved for use on paperless drywall, although using fiberglass mesh tape offers better protection against mold.
  • If you have inside corners with gaps larger than 1/4-in wide, mesh tapes and compound layer deliver a suitable gap-filling substrate to then finish with paper tape. You can now find applicators for mesh tape. Using these is like large carton taping dispensers. For corners, you can find angled wheels that fold and push the tape into the corner.

How Do You Use Mesh Drywall Tape?

Here is a quick overview of how to drywall tape using mesh.

  1. Place Tape Edges: Locate the end of your self-adhesive fiberglass mesh tape on the edge of your drywall seam. Push with your hand, so it is centered over the seam between panels.
  2. Unroll to Apply Tape: Begin to unroll your tape and secure it over the drywall seam. Use your hand or a six-inch finishing knife to smooth against the surface. Work along the seam as you unroll and push the tape. Check alignment as you move along. In the end, trim the tape with a sharp knife. Never overlap or you end up with raised sections.
  3. Apply First Joint Compound: Use your joint knife to apply compound from your mud pan over the tape. Smear across the tape in a perpendicular direction of the seam. After smearing along the full seam, smooth using long strokes to remove excess compound. Once smooth, let it dry for 24 hours before sanding smooth with a sanding block.
  4. Apply Second Joint Compound Layer: Apply another thin layer of compound down the seam, but extend two inches wider than your first layer. Remove excess and smooth before drying for 24 hours. Sand with a finer sanding block.
  5. Final Layer of Joint Compound: With new drywall compound, add a little water and mix with your finishing knife. Apply the mixture a couple of two inches wider than the second layer. Dry for 24 hours and sand again with a fine 120 grit-sanding block.

Should I Use Mesh or Paper Drywall Tape?

You can use either tape, and each does offer benefits not found with the other. However, although mesh tape is a new alternative to paper, professionals still lean toward using paper tape as the preferred solution for the best finish and mesh for structural areas before finishing.

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Mesh vs Paper Drywall Tape - What's the Difference

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