Can You Use Masking Tape for Drywall?

If you are new to DIY, you may find yourself missing some essential tools to get the job done. 

When this happens, we often look around at what we have in the house already. 

While some things have easy substitutions, drywall tape is not something you want to skip. 

It is specially designed to cover seams between gypsum boards and is very different from other types of tape. 

Masking tape just won’t cut it.  

Do not use masking tape for drywall. It does not have the strength or durability to serve the purpose of covering seams and joints. Drywall tape is specially designed for this purpose and is the only type of tape capable of getting the job done right.  

Some people may think all tapes are interchangeable, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. 

Each type of tape has its strength, texture, durability, and purpose. 

can you use masking tape for drywall

Difference Between Masking Tape And Drywall Tape

Masking tape and drywall tape are very different.

They have different adhesives, textures, strengths, and durability. 

They are meant for very different kinds of projects. Regular masking tape uses adhesive to adhere to surfaces. 

It is usually very easy to pull back up, making it ideal for painting walls and rooms. 

Masking tape is great for making quick repairs, hanging party decorations, and applications where the light adhesive tape is sufficient. 

Drywall tape is a vital part of the drywall installation process. 

It is used along with joint compound to hide seams and joints to create a seamless finish once the wall is painted. 

Without tape on drywall, all the gaps and seams where the gypsum boards meet will be visible and produce quite the eyesore. 

Drywall is done in conjunction with mudding as the finishing steps of installing drywall. 

While some tapes may seem interchangeable, these two are not. 

They serve very different purposes and are designed to accomplish different tasks. 

You wouldn’t want to use drywall tape for painting as you will likely cause some paint to peel when you remove it. 

It’s best to use the tape designed for the project you are tackling to ensure you are satisfied with the results. 

Types Of Drywall Tape

Since you now know you must use drywall tape to get good results during the finishing stages, it’s time to discuss different types of drywall tape. 

There are two main choices for this purpose, and we’ll go over the key differences. 

The main things affecting your choice will be your budget and preference, as both will get the job done. 

Paper Drywall Tape

The most commonly used type of drywall tape is paper drywall tape. 

Paper tape is non-adhesive and requires the installer to apply a layer of joint compound, or mud, to the seams before sticking the paper tape on the wall. 

The joint compound is used to attach the drywall tape to the wall and is often called mudding. 

Drywall pros know to apply a layer of drywall compound before applying the paper drywall tape to achieve a smooth finish. 

If you seek a professional finish, we recommend taking this route as it is a tried and true method. 

Paper drywall tape is specially designed for covering drywall joints. 

It has a seam running down the middle of the tape to make it easier to fold to work around corner beading. 

Paper drywall tape is considered the strongest type of tape for this purpose. 

It should be noted how many people find it difficult to work with. 

It offers added durability, which makes the learning curve well worth it. 

Some people opt for drywall mesh tape to make the process easier. 

We find this to be okay for smaller applications like covering holes. 

However, the additional need for joint compound due to its extra thickness makes it more work in the long run. 

Applying joint compound and creating a smooth and even finish is often one of the hardest parts of drywall installation. 

Using the paper tape makes this step a little easier as you don’t need to apply as much joint compound to get the results you desire. 

Fiberglass Mesh Drywall Tape

The other commonly used type of drywall tape is fiberglass mesh drywall tape. 

This type of tape is significantly easier to use than paper varieties. 

It makes the job a lot easier because it is self-adhesive. 

This means you don’t have to apply a layer of joint compound to get the fiberglass mesh drywall tape to stick. 

Many people find strong fiberglass tape an excellent option for their projects. 

This variety of drywall tape tends to cost a bit more and may set you back if you work with a budget. 

However, the ease of application makes it worth it to many who complete a drywall project. 

In some instances, it’s wise to opt for the fiberglass mesh variety as it tends to work better in certain situations like load-bearing walls. 

It also works well in drywall repairs like covering existing cracks in seams or holes in the wall. 

There are other advantages to using this type of cement board tape. 

The fiberglass mesh makes this tape more resistant to mold as the material has natural moisture resistance, making it an excellent choice for specific areas like bathrooms or other walls where moisture tends to build up. 

Some find fiberglass mesh drywall tape to be a bit more difficult to work with for corners and tougher areas where the tape needs to be bent. 

It does not have the seam running down the middle as the paper drywall tape does. 

This makes it a bit more cumbersome for specific applications. 

Another thing to keep in mind with fiberglass mesh tape is its thickness. 

It is thicker than paper drywall tape, which means you’ll need more drywall compound to even out the wall and make it level. 

How To Use Drywall Tape

how to apply drywall tape to drywall

Covering seams with drywall tape is an essential part of the installation process. 

If you are looking for a professional finish, there are some crucial steps you’ll need to follow. 

To avoid drywall tape challenges, make sure you have the correct tape to cover drywall seams. 

Related: Best drywall banjos for taping.

Step One: Install Drywall/Gypsum Board

The first step towards getting your drywall tape on the wall is installing the gypsum boards. 

These are what you will be applying the tape and joint compound to. 

Step Two: Apply Joint Compound To Seams

Once the boards are installed, it’s time to apply joint compounds to the seams. 

Start with one at a time using a putty knife to smooth it out on the drywall surface. 

If you are using fiberglass drywall tape, this step is not necessary to adhere to it as it is self-adhesive tape. 

Step Three: Adhere Drywall Tape to Joint Compound

Once the joint compound is on the cement board, you’ll cover the seams with paper tape. 

Smooth the paper drywall joint tape down to achieve an even application. 

Step Four: Level Out Drywall Compound

Once the tape is in place on the board, you’ll need to apply a joint compound to even out the tape and create a smooth finish. 

This requires you to level out the joint compound as you apply and make it as smooth as possible. 

Your goal is to hide both the seam from the drywall tape and the joint itself. 

Step Five: Sand It And Even Out If Necessary 

Once the mud has dried completely, you’ll need to sand down the drywall to create an even finish. 

You may notice some areas of uneven surface requiring more leveling out to get it all even. 

If this is this case, you’ll need to apply more joint compound and level it out until you get it to the smoothest finish possible. 

It usually takes a few times applying mud and sanding (after it’s dried) before you get the even surface you need for painting. 

Does sanding get too dusty? Check out this technique for sanding without too much dust in your face.

What Can I Use If I Don’t Have Drywall Tape?

Drywall tape is the best option, so if you don’t have it, you need to go get it. 

But if you have a drywall emergency (not sure what one would be, though), mesh tape, vinyl-paper composite strips, and metal tapes are viable options. 

Can You Finish The Drywall Without Tape?

Mudding without drywall tape isn’t a good idea. 

You’ll never be able to get a clean seam the same way you will with tape down first. 

Of course, if you have no care about how your wall looks, you don’t need it. 

Other Uses For Masking Tape

While masking tape has no place in drywall installation, there are plenty other uses for this handy tape. 

There is a reason we always seem to have a roll or two laying around the junk drawer. 

It has quite a few functions. 

Here are some common uses for masking tape in other projects:

  • Hanging decorations for parties is great for masking tape. It doesn’t pull up paint and won’t leave any pesky residue on the wall when you take the decorations down. 
  • Crafting with masking tape is fun. Use it to make pinatas, displays, and whatever else you dream up. 
  • Painting is an everyday use for masking tape. It is easy to apply to get crisp and clean paint lines and edges when you paint a room. It also pulls up quickly, so you don’t damage the wall. We recommend doubling the edges of masking tape if you use it to paint a wall. This helps reduce the chance of paint bleeding through and causing unsightly drips.