Tapered edges are a design engineered into drywall panels.

How to Make a Tapered Drywall Butt Joint

by Emrah Oruc

When you're installing drywall, taping and mudding the joints for a perfect, seamless finish can seem daunting. Fear not, because drywall panels are designed to make the process easy. If you look closely along the edges of a panel, you'll notice that it has two full-thickness edges and two tapered edges. When two panels are installed with their tapered edges butted together, they form a trough. You then fill the trough with joint compound and drywall tape. If you learn to do this the right way, the result is a perfectly smooth, undetectable joint with minimal sanding.

Load up the mud pan with joint compound. Don't fill it to the brim, but put enough in it so you can do several joints before reloading the pan.

Apply joint compound into the trough to fill in the seam, using a 6-inch drywall mud knife. Apply a smooth, even coat.

Unroll a length of drywall tape long enough to span the length of the joint. Tear the tape by hand or cut it with a utility knife. Place the tape along the joint and press it into the joint compound with the 6-inch drywall knife.

Smooth out the joint with the drywall knife carefully by squeezing out excess joint compound and air pockets from under the tape. Spread the excess compound on top of the tape and allow the compound to dry. At this point, you are not trying to fill the trough; you just want to get the joint sealed with a first coat. Depending on the type of joint compound -- and temperature and humidity levels -- it can take from several hours to a full day to dry.

Apply a second coat of joint compound over the tape with an 8-inch drywall mud knife. The goal is to fill the trough and apply a smooth layer of compound past the joint. Allow the compound to dry.

Apply a final coat of joint compound with a 12-inch drywall mud knife. This should be your thinnest, but widest coat. Smooth out the edges of the compound as best you can while it is wet -- this it will make it easier to sand later.

Sand the joint with a drywall sanding block after the compound has dried. You should have a seamless transition from one drywall panel to the next.

Items you will need

  • Joint compound
  • 6-inch drywall mud knife
  • Drywall mud pan
  • Drywall tape
  • Utility knife
  • 8-inch drywall mud knife
  • 12-inch drywall mud knife
  • Face mask
  • Drywall sanding block


  • Scrape off dried globs of joint compound with the 6-inch mud knife between coats. This prevents the hardened pieces of joint compound from mixing into the new, wet coat and causing streaks and lines. Make each coat as thin as you can while still covering the joint and filling the trough.
  • Use a large, damp sponge to clean the sanding dust from the wall before applying primer.


  • Be sure to wear a face mask and keep children out of the room when sanding. The fine dust created by sanding is a respiratory irritant. It helps to run a fan, but face it blowing away from the wall you're working on.

About the Author

Emrah Oruc is a general contractor, freelance writer and former race-car mechanic who has written professionally since 2000. He has been published in "The Family Handyman" magazine and has experience as a consultant developing and delivering end-user training. Oruc holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science and a minor in economics from the University of Delaware.

Photo Credits

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