A smear of joint compound can cover faint cracks and subtle dimples in drywall, but you’ll have to perform some cut-and-patch surgery on holes and larger drywall problems. Here are the tools you’ll need.
1. Utility knife: Your main drywall cutting and scoring tool, this razor blade-in-a-handle also is good for straightening edges of damaged drywall for easier repair. Cost: $1 to $15.
2. Keyhole saw: This long and thin drywall saw looks like a barracuda, with interchangeable blades for precision and tight radius cutting. Cost: $6 (includes 2 blades).
3. Mesh or paper tape and patches: These hole cover-ups provide a flat surface for joint compound. Purists use mesh; others prefer paper tape, which they claim provides a smoother surface. Cost: $7/300 ft. for mesh tape; $4/150 ft. for paper tape. $5 per 6” patch.
4. Try square: This L-shaped instrument is good for marking and measuring drywall cuts. Cost: $9 (hardwood) to $25 (rosewood).
5. Putty knife: This flat knife, usually 2 to 6 inches long, is used for applying joint compound or putty for small repairs and nail pops. Cost: $2 (plastic); $6 for 6-inch steel.
6. Drywall knives and trowels: These are flat tools—4”, 6”, 8”, and up—for taping drywall and applying, spreading, and feathering joint compound. Cost: The larger the knife—say, 12 inches—the more compound it will hold and the better it will feather the edges of joint compound patches. Cost: $4 (plastic set 6”, 8”, 10”); $40 (13” steel trowel).
7. Mud pan: This mini-trough holds joint compound, aka “mud.” Pros like a stainless steel mud pan because it’s durable and won’t rust; plastic pans are cheap enough to throw out for easy clean-up. Cost: $4 (plastic); $14 (stainless steel).
8. Sanding block: This rubber block holds the sandpaper that smoothes and blends drywall patches. Cost: $5.
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