Taping drywall is an essential part of the drywalling process, and although it might look easy, it takes a fair amount of skill and know-how to do the job right. Failure to properly tape your drywall ceiling can lead to separation, but poor taping is not the only reason that could cause this to happen. So, why is your drywall separating from the ceiling?

If you find that the drywall tape is separating from your ceiling, it is most likely caused by one of three problems. The most common reason is that a lack of mud was used during the initial application. The other two possibilities are excessive moisture or a shift in the foundation of the home.

This article will briefly go over how to apply drywall tape for the best adherence possible. We will also discuss the three main causes of drywall tape separation and what may be done to prevent or rectify them. Lastly, we will recommend the best quality mud and drywall tape so that you will not have to worry about separation in the future, so keep reading.

Causes of Drywall Tape Separation

There are three main reasons why the drywall tape has begun to separate from your ceiling.

Poor Adhesion

The most likely reason is that the drywall tape has poor adhesion and can no longer stick down. This is due to a failure to apply it properly.

Whoever performed the taping job initially may not have applied enough mud to stick the tape down stably or may have used a poor product.

If this is the case, the tape will need to be removed, and the job will need to be redone according to the steps explained in the bottom section, ‘How To Apply the New Drywall Tape.’


Another potential cause of drywall tape separating from a ceiling is moisture/humidity.

This is especially common in bathrooms because of the presence of steam and moisture.

Steam from a hot shower will rise and congregate around the ceiling, and over time this may begin to compromise the tape’s seal.

A leak from a pipe or vent in the ceiling may also cause the tape to separate.

Redo the tape job and improve the room’s ventilation to prevent a future recurrence.

Ceiling Shift

The third reason drywall tape may come to separate from the ceiling is due to a shift in the ceiling itself.

Over time, and as a house settles, its frame may shift slightly.

This is relatively common and not usually a cause for concern and may be so subtle that you do not even notice it has happened, but because drywall is installed so tightly and flush, it can become affected.

If this is the case, it may be further indicated by drywall separation where the ceiling meets the wall.

If the shift has been so excessive as to cause the drywall itself to warp, the whole job may need to be redone. If only the tape has been affected, it will suffice to simply replace the tape itself.

How To Apply the New Drywall Tape

Unfortunately, there isn’t a quick fix for drywall tape that is separating from the ceiling. You can try to repair it, but the solution won’t be permanent.

The best thing you can do is replace the tape with a new one.  Luckily, the whole process is quick and easy and it will go smoothly as long as you follow the instructions.

The items you will need to perform a drywall taping job are:

  • Drywall mud/joint compound
  • A drywall taping knife
  • Drywall tape

If you are taping a drywall ceiling, you will also require a stable stool or bench to stand on as well.

Follow these steps for the best drywall taping results:

  1. The first step is to remove the old drywall tape. The easiest way to do that is with a razor knife. You should cut it close to the edges in order to loosen the adhesive, which would allow you to safely remove the tape.
  2. Your next task is to clean that part of the ceiling with a cloth. That way, you will ensure that your new drywall tape sticks to the surface easily.
  3. Once you have prepared your drywall mud as per the instruction on the label, begin spreading it along the entirety of the butt-joint with your drywall taping knife. From there, using the knife, scrape along the mud to smooth it out.
  4. Next, with your knife, poke a little hole into the gap that the mud has now filled, at both ends of the drywall sheet, to create a visual reference point. Use this point of reference to apply your drywall tape directly along the seam in a nice straight line.
  5. Once you have applied your tape, use your knife to flatten and smooth it out. Press firmly, but not so hard as to squeeze all of the mud out from underneath. For the tape to stick, it requires some mud to remain.
  6. Then, you can sand the surface in order to eliminate any marks and spots. You can use a 200 or 220-grit sandpaper and a sanding block.
  7. Now, you can prime the surface if you want. A primer will ensure that the paint is long-lasting and more even, but this step is not necessary.
  8. The last thing to do is to paint your ceiling in order to match the rest of the surface.

Drywalling is a skill that requires not only knowledge but a certain sense of touch and feel. As such, it takes a long time to get the hang of it, and for those who are new or inexperienced, it may seem intimidating.

The most important thing when drywalling is that once you are finished, everything should look flush, squared, the seams should be hidden, and the whole wall should appear perfectly uniform.

Where To Purchase Drywall Taping Materials

Quality tape and mud will make all the difference, so always be sure to invest wisely and never cheap out and buy second-rate drywalling products.

If you are looking for a reliable joint compound, purchase a container of U S Gypsum ready-to-use compound at an incredibly low price.

For drywall tape, we recommend Duck Brand paper drywall joint tape. This product is designed for longevity and, as such, is sure to get the job done.

Final Conclusion

In this article, we sought to determine what may cause drywall tape to separate from a ceiling.

We concluded that there are three main reasons why this can happen:

  • The drywall tape was not applied properly due to poor products or lack of skill
  • Moisture from a shower or elsewhere caused the mud to lose its adhesiveness
  • The frame of the home has shifted while settling and caused the tape to lift

Always ensure that you have done a good job when applying drywall tape, and never skip steps or cut corners.

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