How Thick Should Drywall Mud Be?

Tackling your first drywall installation project tends to be intimidating. 

There are many factors to consider, especially when it comes to drywall mud. 

Applying joint compounds or multiple coats of drywall mud often leads to thick applications. 

While it is possible to sand this down, you may wonder how thick drywall mud should be.  

Drywall mud should be applied in multiple coats, usually two to three or more. The drywall compound should be thick enough to not be dripping off your knife but also wet enough so it sticks well to the wall. The pre-mixed joint compound is the key to success for first-timers.  

Figuring out the thickness of the setting-type joint compound often comes with experience. 

Let’s look into some advice from well-seasoned drywall installers to set you up for success when it comes to the thickness of your coats of drywall compound. 

how thick should drywall mud be

What Thickness Should Drywall Be?

In most installations, drywall compound should be applied in two to three coats, but you will need more to get a smooth finish on some occasions. 

Having a consistent thickness is key to achieving smooth walls. 

So what thickness should drywall be?

The average thickness for drywall applications is usually about ¼” inch per coat. 

While this is the typical average thickness, most first coats will be thinner than this. 

You want the drywall to be thick enough to cover cracks, gaps, seams, drywall screws, and drywall tape. 

You also want it to be thin enough to dry evenly and isn’t a nightmare to sand. 

One of the keys to success when applying drywall mud is to use a quality utility knife and make sure the setting-type compound is a good consistency. 

Thick drywall mud doesn’t usually stick well and ends up being thicker than ¼” inch. 

Watery or thin drywall compound will not cover well and may need many applications before its sufficiency covers seams, cracks, corners, and screws effectively. 

How Much Drywall Should I Put On Walls?

Most drywall experts agree applying drywall takes lots of practice to get right. 

Most drywall experts will achieve a smooth finish with 2-3 drywall coats. 

However, first-timers may need a few more to get a professional-looking finish. 

Don’t fret if you need to sand and reapply. It is all a part of the learning process, and you will improve each time you attempt the drywall mudding process. 

Use a drywall knife to apply mud to drywall seams and cracks in drywall to get a smooth finish. 

It is also essential to sufficiently apply mud onto paper drywall tape as it needs the drywall mud to properly adhere to the wall. 

So the answer to how much drywall to apply is enough to create a seamless finish over the drywall panels. 

You’ll need to apply a coat of mud a few times over to get the best results. 

Where Do You Apply Drywall Mud?

If this is your first time tackling a drywall project, you may wonder where to apply this bucket of mud. 

To achieve a smooth and flawless wall, the answer is anywhere you need to. 

This means wherever drywall repairs are necessary or wherever two drywall panels meet. 

The goal is to make it look seamless and to hide: 

  • Cracks 
  • Seams 
  • Corners 
  • Screws
  • Tape strips 
  • Holes in drywall 

Related: Does drywall mud stick to Kilz?


A joint compound must be applied to all drywall corners to achieve a flawless wall. 

Often there is a small gap, usually ⅛” inch, between corner edges. 

This must be filled to create a seamless look. 

There are special drywall corner tools like this to help make applying a flawless coat of mud easy. 

Seams and Butt Joints

Applying a drywall coat for butt joints is arguably the most difficult part of using joint compound. 

It is difficult to achieve a smooth finish on drywall seams but not impossible. 

A butt joint refers to wherever two edges of drywall sheets meet. 

To get a good result, you must apply paper drywall tape setting-compound to these seams. 

It is sometimes difficult for amateur tapers to get them all level and smooth, but you’ll get amazing results with a bit of practice. 

Over Tape

Drywall installation requires paper tape or self-adhesive drywall tape. 

The paper drywall tape needs compound to properly adhere to the wall. 

Tape is used on all seams and corners to create a flawless finish. 

It takes a lot of experience to become a professional taper, but even a casual taper will get good results with a bit of patience and focus. 

Related: Could you use masking tape for drywall?


Sometimes life happens, resulting in cracks and holes in the drywall. 

It is easy to repair the drywall with tape and mud for small cracks and holes. 

The process is similar to a full installation. 

Apply tape and mud to the crack or hole until it is sufficiently covered. 

Proceed to sand and reapply drywall mud to create a seamless finish. 

How To Get The Correct Thickness For Joint Compound

Even pre-mixed joint compounds sometimes dry out. 

If this is the case, you’ll need to add some water to get it to the right consistency. 

If you must mix drywall on your own, it’s vital to adhere directly to get the right consistency carefully. 

It helps to use an electric mixer or mud mixer to properly mix drywall mud and water. 

Settling often occurs during transport, or if the compound has been sitting on a shelf for a while, so proper mixing is key to getting the right consistency. 

It takes some experience to properly identify drywall compounds’ best consistency and thickness. 

As a general rule of thumb, you don’t want the compound to be dripping off your drywall knife. 

You also don’t want it to be so dry it falls off your knife in clumps. 

The proper consistency is somewhere in between. 

You’ll recognize the best consistency as it will stick well to the wall and dry flawlessly.