Most people use drywall tape whenever they need to cover joints where two drywall panels meet. While this rugged paper tape is designed for this job, there are many other suitable alternatives. But since some options are only applicable for specific purposes, it’s crucial to determine whether your tape will work for your project before applying it.

Different types of drywall tape include paper drywall tape, fiberglass mesh tape, vinyl-paper composite tape, and metal drywall tape. While they are all ideal for covering your drywalls, each is best suited to specific cases and comes with its advantages and disadvantages.

In this article, you will find out why drywall tape is popular for wall and joints repairs. You will also find detailed information on the various types of drywall tape, their pros and cons. Finally, we will provide helpful tips on the best option to go for. Let’s get started.

Why Drywall Tape Is Popular for Joint and Wall Repairs

If you were to embed a joint compound alone into the seam between two sheets, the sheets would become loose over time. They would then start moving and developing tiny cracks within the joints. Eventually, the joints would begin to crumble. And this is where drywall tape comes in. 

You see, drywall tape reinforces joints, thus allows the joint compound to work effectively. By forming a physical bond between the two adjacent sheets, it minimizes their movement and resultant cracking. It also makes the seams invisible. Bear in mind that if you only use joint compound to fill in the seams, they will become visible again once the compound dries out. Besides, unlike joint compound, drywall tape doesn’t shrink.

Mesh drywall tape for repairing bigger cracks.

Different Kinds of Drywall Tape

There are 5 types of tape that you can use for drywall installation. They include:

Paper Drywall Tape

Many drywall finishers like paper drywall tape because it is extremely durable, easy to install, and resists tearing. It also sports a slightly rough surface that allows it to adhere to the drywall joint compound or mud holding it in place. In addition, it contains a seam at the center that makes it much easier to fold long tape for use in corners.

Paper drywall tape consists of long paper strips rolled into about 75 feet (22.9 m) rolls. The tape comes with a lengthwise factory-made center crease, which allows you to fold it in two and makes it easier to use inside and outside corners. Using paper tape requires a bit of skill; you need to embed it in a layer of the joint compound since it is non adhesive. This helps it stick to the drywall. But first, you will need to prepare the wall with a strip of drywall mud. 

After embedding it in mud, paper tape firms up and becomes quite strong. This makes it particularly fitting for butt joints, which tend to be weak in drywall installations.

U S GYPSUM 382198 Dry/Wall JNT Tape, 500', White
  • Item Weight: 2.5 lb
  • Country of Origin: China
  • Color: White
  • Brand name: U S GYPSUM

Paper tape works well with both drying and setting-type compound. However, you want to be careful about covering the entire surface with compound, then squeezing it out evenly to prevent air bubbles from forming underneath the tape.

Pros

  • It’s strong.
  • It’s affordable.
  • It’s versatile.
  • It’s widely available.
  • It resembles drywall.
  • It’s best for use in joints and corners.

Cons

  • It’s challenging to use.
  • It doesn’t stick very well.
  • It could bubble and bulge if incorrectly applied.
  • It’s prone to punctures and wrinkles easily.

Metal Drywall Tape

Metal-reinforced paper drywall tape is a niche product specially designed for inside corners. It’s also very ideal for covering wide-angled outer joints. Metal drywall tape comprises two metal strips glued to a paper drywall tape. It comes with a crease, so it’s easy to fold lengthwise. This drywall joint tape makes it very easy to cover corners, making them extremely strong. 

Pros

  • It’s strong.
  • It’s easy to install.
  • It works well on corners.
  • It’s excellent for wide-angle joints.
  • It’s more affordable than newer drywall tape options.

Cons

  • It requires tin snips.
  • It’s not easy to hide with a drywall compound.
  • It’s not suitable for outside corners or flat surfaces.

Fiberglass Mesh Drywall Tape

Fiberglass threads laced into a tape-like formation make mesh drywall tape incredibly strong. Much thicker than paper joint tape, mesh drywall tape sports a tacky backing, which allows it to self-adhere to the wall. And since it doesn’t require embedding into the compound, it speeds up the taping process while ensuring the tape lies flat.

Duck Brand 282083 1.88-Inch by 180 Feet Single Roll Self-Adhesive Fiberglass...
  • 100 percent fiberglass mesh
  • No need to pre-apply a joint compound
  • Self-adhesive and repositionable - great for difficult...
  • Quickly repair holes and cracks in drywall

Fiberglass mesh tape reinforces the drywall joint compound well, but its bond is not as cohesive as the paper tape one. Its shelf-life is also much shorter. Still, it resists mold better than paper tape, making it an ideal choice for bathrooms and other surfaces that get in touch with water. To prolong the shelf life, store your fiberglass mesh drywall tape in a sealed plastic bag.

Pros

  • It’s easy to use.
  • It’s self-adhering.
  • It’s air bubble resistant.
  • It resists moisture well.
  • It’s effective for repairing joints and holes.
  • It lends itself well to oddly-shaped surfaces.

Cons

  • It shreds easily.
  • It might leave a bulge.
  • It’s challenging to handle.
  • It leaves behind a sticky residue.
  • Its criss cross texture requires substantial joint compound amounts to cover it.

The below video explains the differences between mesh drywall tape and paper drywall tape:

Ultra-Thin Fiberglass Drywall Tape

Ultra-thin fiberglass drywall tape is a fine mesh quite similar to fabric. It’s a lot thinner and much easier to handle than regular fiberglass mesh drywall tape. Besides, the tape consists of more threads with more intersection points between them, making it way more robust than the mesh drywall tape.

Pros

  • It’s self-adhering.
  • It’s perfect for single-spot repairs.

Cons

  • It’s pricey.
  • It’s not ideal for corners.

Vinyl-Paper Composite Tape

Vinyl-paper composite tape makes it considerably easier to finish difficult angles. There’s no more need to draw a chalk line across tough angles or crooked corners since it forms perfectly straight lines, leaving all tough angles clean. However, because the tape is stiff, any changes in temperature or moisture levels could cause it to crack, thus separate from the joint compound.

Pros

  • It’s ideal for crooked corners or tricky angles.
  • It leaves corners looking sharply clean.

Cons

  • It is incredibly pricey.
  • The tapes tend to dislodge with time.

Which Type of Drywall Tape Is the Best?

Most professional drywall workers prefer to use paper tape in all their applications. This is because when they combine it with drywall compound, it provides a remarkably fitting joint. Besides, mesh tape is not typically used with regular joint compound but with a setting compound. This dries firmer, provides additional strength, and tends to be more resistant to cracks.

Nevertheless, several factors determine which drywall tape is ideal for you to use:

  • If you are working on a tapered seam rather than a flat seam, it’s best to use the thicker fiberglass mesh tape.
  • If the seam is flat, both paper tape and thin fiberglass tape are ideal. Mesh joint tape, on the other hand, tends to stick out thus looks lumpy.
  • For stress joints such as door and window corners, consider using fiberglass mesh tape.
  • Paper tape and metal-reinforced paper tape are both ideal for use inside corners.

Drywall Tape Sizing

Thus far, we have spoken at length about the different types of drywall tapes and their intended uses, but we have yet to mention anything about the size or dimension of said tape and how to determine what you will need in this regard.

Drywall tape is available in various sizes, and it is always important you select the adequate size for the repair you will be making.

Drywall tapes are typically available in four sizes.

These sizes are based on the most commonly available widths of drywall tape and are as follows: small (1 ⅞ “), medium (2 – 2 ½”), large (6”), and extra-large (36”).

One of the most important, obvious, yet, all-too-often overlooked things to do is to measure the cracks and/or holes that need repairing before purchasing any drywall tape.

Often customers will unfairly express dissatisfaction toward a particular drywall tape because the roll was too small or too narrow. This is, in fact, not a poor reflection on the product itself but the buyer.

Never make the mistake of assuming drywall tape is a one size fits all type of thing, and never attempt to eyeball a job, assuming that precision is not a big deal. Take the time to measure and size everything with accuracy.

Drywall tape is always available in an incredibly wide range of sizes so that no crack is ever too big or too small to be repaired, provided that you have done your homework.

Related: How to Fix Issues With Drywall Tape After Painting

Joint Compound

Above, we touched on the fact that paper tape, the most common type of drywall tape, relies on using a joint compound to adhere to the wall properly. Without joint compound paper, drywall tape can not be applied.

Selecting a quality joint compound is equally as important as choosing a quality drywall tape.

For a reliable yet affordable joint compound, get this US Gypsum’s All-Purpose Joint Compound.

Final Thoughts

Cracked walls make your home’s interior appear rather unsightly. As such, drywall repairs should be a top priority when you are looking to spruce up your house. While the best drywall tape alternative depends on your particular application, the most important factors to consider are:

  • The type of adhesion.
  • Moisture resistance.
  • Strength or flexibility level.

While paper drywall tape is stronger and more versatile than the other options, mesh tape offers better moisture resistance and a user-friendly learning curve. Ultimately, your choice depends on where you want to use the drywall tape, the type of installation, and personal preference. 

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