If you take a close look at a typical 4’-by-8’-foot sheet of drywall, you’ll notice not all the edges are structured the same way.
More specifically, the edges along the length of the sheet are typically slightly tapered or beveled, while the edges along the width of the sheet are more blunted and uniform.
While this looks a bit odd at first, there are some great reasons these uniquely tapered edges exist.
Drywall sheets have tapered edges to make the joints between sheets seamless and invisible when installed. When the tapered edges of two drywall sheets meet, you’ll notice a V-shaped space between the two. This space is meant to be filled with drywall mud and smoothed over.
Keep reading to learn more about the purposes of tapered edges on drywall versus non-tapered edges, why not all of its edges are tapered, and the different kinds of drywall joints.
We’ll also touch on making these joints nice and smooth and why tapered edges are crucial to a professional-looking, seamless drywall installation.
Why Does Drywall Have a Tapered Edge?
While drywall comes in a few different sizes, the most commonly used size sheet for most home and commercial projects is the typical 4’ x 8’ foot sheet of half-inch-thick gypsum board.
Thicknesses vary somewhat, but the average homeowner is likely the most familiar with either ⅜”-inch or ½”-inch-thick drywall sheets.
If you take a close look at them, these sheets are designed to have two different types of edges.
Along the lengths of the board, you’ll notice more of a tapered, beveled, or slanted drywall edge.
However, the shorter sides have a much more blunted or straight edge.
The disparity in these edges looks a bit strange, but it’s designed this way for a specific purpose: to make drywall joints or the edges/spaces where separate boards meet look and feel as smooth and seamless as possible.
Ideally, you don’t want any noticeable drywall seams or joints between your individual sheets of drywall.
There are some ways of combatting this, like simply using larger sheets of drywall when possible, but rooms and halls in homes usually require lots of smaller sheets.
There are many walls of different lengths, edges, and corners to consider when installing drywall in a typical home.
You’re inevitably going to end up with at least a few drywall joints where different sheets of drywall meet.
However, you want these joints to look like one smooth, seamless wall, and thankfully, most drywall manufacturers also have this in mind.
This is where the beveled or tapered edges come in!
When two sheets of drywall with tapered edges are placed or installed next to each other, there is a V-shaped space between them.
This V-shaped divot is designed to be filled with drywall mud or joint compound and joint tape and smoothed over, so the space between them is almost invisible.
This makes the resulting seam installation and entire drywall project look like one nice, smooth wall rather than lots of individual sheets or panels.
Is Drywall Tapered on All Edges?
Interestingly, the typical drywall manufacturer does not design their drywall sheets to be tapered on all of their four edges.
Because drywall is typically formed and cut as a continuous sheet, altering the factory process to taper all four edges would be more costly, and the price for drywall would likely increase.
If we consider an average 4’ by 8’ foot sheet of gypsum board, the shorter, 4’-foot edges are generally more blunt and have a uniform thickness, while the longer 8’-foot edges are tapered or sort of slanted.
As we touched on above, these longer, tapered edges are meant to be installed next to form a tapered drywall joint.
By filling in the V-shaped space with drywall tape and compound, you won’t see the actual edges themselves, giving the finished wall a nice, smoothed-out appearance.
The shorter, more blunted, or “butt” edges are a bit trickier to join together seamlessly, but depending on how and where you’re installing the sheets, you’ll need to join these edges into a butt joint in some cases.
These two different edges of drywall and the joints they create work better for different areas and situations.
It is common for people to create their additional tapered edges out of butt edges or even create tapered edges with a deeper bevel by using a utility knife and tape.
But this is tricky and risky if you are a novice to these types of projects and have not hired a professional drywall contractor.
It’s also worth noting staggering your drywall joints helps to strengthen the entire wall, so it is overall more structurally sound.
However, in most cases, you’ll want to use a tapered joint rather than a butt joint whenever possible.
We’ll discuss these two types of joints (and answer a few more common drywall questions) in more detail below.
Drywall Joints: Butt Vs. Tapered
When installing drywall panels, you’ll inevitably have joints or points where the individual sheets meet.
Like with drywall edges, there are two main types of joints: butt and tapered.
Always avoid joining tapered edges to butt edges, as a tapered butt joint creates a very uneven, weak, and difficult joint to work with.
Improperly installed or otherwise defective drywall joints often present major structural issues.
A butt joint, as you’ve likely guessed, is simply any point where two sheets of drywall with non-tapered edges meet one another.
Again, the butt edges are along the shorter sides of the drywall sheet.
Butt joints typically don’t produce as smooth-looking of a finished product as tapered joints, and they are pretty challenging to work with.
They are, however, preferable for corner applications.
Because of this, aim to use tapered joints whenever possible, though sometimes, butt joints will be inevitable and even beneficial to the wall’s overall strength and stability.
On the other hand, a tapered joint is any point where you have the longer edges of two drywall sheets meeting one another.
This is generally the preferred type of joint in most cases since it creates a triangular or V-shaped recessed space where you’ll be able to fill it in and smooth it over, so the joint itself is not visible.
Related: What is blue board drywall?