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Builders’ Tip: How to Make Invisible Drywall Butt Joints




Click for larger image.

During my 40 years in the trades, I’ve had a number of high-end drywall jobs that required dead-flat ceilings — no telltale bulges allowed where the ends of the drywall sheets abut one another.

The method shown in the accompanying drawing is my solution to the problem.

I’ve inspected some jobs that we did 25 years ago using this method, and you still can’t see where the butt joints occur.

This drywall trick starts with a sheet of plywood. The plywood should be the same thickness as the drywall.

  • First, trim an inch off the width of the sheet, and then crosscut it into 10 equal strips. They will be 9-1⁄4 inches wide by 47 inches long.

  • As shown in the drawing, we next staple strips of 1⁄16-inch thick poster board to the long edges of the plywood strip.

  • Before raising a drywall panel for installation, we screw one of the plywood strips to the end of the panel. The poster-board strip goes between the plywood and the drywall.

  • As the drywall goes up, the butt ends are arranged to fall between the ceiling joists. When the adjacent drywall panel is screwed to the plywood strip, a shallow dip is created where the drywall bends over the poster board. This shallow dip creates a hollow for the tape.

  • We tape our joints in the usual manner, beginning with the butt joints.

  • Once that joint compound has dried, we tape the long edges.

Incidentally, a 20-inch long piece of 1-1/2-inch aluminum angle is a handy tool for leveling the finish coats of joint compound over the butt ends.

Using this technique, we never had a joint show up on a punch list at the completion of a job.

— Tim Hanson, Indianapolis, Ind.

Tips & Techniques provided by Fine Homebuilding.
©2005 The Taunton Press

To request a reprint of this feature, e-mail Christina Glennon at Fine Homebuilding.

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Free NAHB Kit Gives Builders Back-to-Basics Tips in Cooling Market

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To access the “Back to Basics” toolkit, you must be an NAHB member and have a login to www.nahb.org. To create a login, go to www.nahb.org/login or click on the log-in button on the main menu bar on the NAHB Web site.

For assistance, call the NAHB Member Service Center at 800-368-5242.

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