When it comes to drywall finishing, you have a decision to make, drywall mesh tape Vs paper tape. But which type is better? Drywall tape has advantages, but is mesh tape the answer to your taping headaches?
Let’s get into it.
When Should I Use Paper Vs Mesh Drywall Tape?
I’m going to make the case for why paper drywall tape should almost always be used for taping walls and ceilings.
But there are a few times when mesh drywall tape is the way to go.
Why is Drywall Tape Better Than Mesh Tape?
Let’s look at the many reasons paper drywall tape outperforms mesh tape.
1. Paper Tape is Stronger
Drywall tape has higher tensile strength compared to mesh tape, so it won’t stretch, roll, or tear as easily as mesh tape.
Another reason paper tape is stronger than mesh tape is that paper tape requires a layer of joint compound under the tape so it will stick to the wall. The extra layer of mud prevents cracks later on.
The mesh tape product is made in the factory with adhesive on one side, so you can stick it directly to the drywall when installing.
While this is a nice feature allowing faster install, it’s not as strong as paper tape with compound behind it.
The strength of paper drywall tape is also important for butt joints, where cracking and possible irregularities are most common.
2. Paper Drywall Tape is Better for Inside Corners
Although it’s possible to use drywall mesh tape for inside corners, it’s not ideal. Mesh tape does not crease very well, whereas paper tape folds in half with ease.
You will still need to coat the inside corner with joint compound before applying paper tape, but you will have a straight, easily folded paper tape instead of hard-to-manage, wavy, wrinkled mesh.
All paper tape is manufactured with a crease down the center of the tape roll. The reason for the crease is for easy folding when making angles and corners at wall and ceiling intersections.
3. Paper Drywall Tape is Less Expensive
Paper tape is three times cheaper than mesh tape. If you’re on a budget – and I’m not sure there are many construction projects not on a budget – paper tape is the way to go.
It’s one of those materials you never really consider to break a budget, but every little bit adds up.
4. Drywall Tape Can Be Used With Taping Tools
Here’s a big one, and many people forget about the advantage of using paper drywall tape. You can load it into production-type taping tools.
A taping bazooka and a banjo both feed paper drywall tape through the tool while applying taping mud to each side of the paper.
Mesh tape cannot load into a taping bazooka or a banjo. If you’ve ever witnessed someone doing this, please send photos or video. That would be amazing.
Why Would Anyone Ever Use Mesh Tape?
There are a few good reasons to use mesh tape for your drywall taping project.
- There is no bedding coat for mesh tape, the self adhesive sticks the mesh directly to the drywall. You can skip one step in the taping process.
- Small repairs, holes, and patches are perfect for mesh tape. Where paper tape might bubble as it spans a small hole in drywall and requires backing, mesh tape maintains a flat, level surface with much better results because it covers the entire patched area without buckling.
Drywall Mesh Tape Vs. Paper Tape, What’s The Answer?
Paper tape is easier to use and more affordable. Paper tape also lasts longer, prevents drywall cracks, and has a longer shelf-life compared to mesh tape.
The adhesive eventually wears out on mesh tape that has been stored a long time. Paper tape doesn’t go bad.
What Type of Drywall Joint Compound Should I Use for Mesh Tape?
You’ll want to use durabond or quick-set mud with mesh tape, because of its fast-drying properties and strength once it dries.
There are times when fiberglass mesh tape is the better choice. Bathroom and kitchen remodels are one of those places. FibaTape is mold resistant, so anywhere you might have moisture exposure, drywall paper tape is not the best choice.
FibaTape also has a self-adhesive stickiness to one side for easy and quick installation. Once it’s rolled onto the drywall, you can easily cut it with a taping knife and tear it with your fingers.
Should I Use Drywall Mesh Tape or Paper Tape on Butt Joints?
When taping butt joints on drywall, you may be wondering if paper or mesh tape is the better option.
While you may be tempted to stick on mesh tape and feel like you are really making progress, you are most likely going in reverse.
Use paper tape on butt joints. The bedding coat is just exactly what it sounds like. Apply the first coat by spreading a layer of joint compound on joints to then bed the drywall tape on the wall. Be sure to cover the entire area with bedding mud or you might have air bubbles in the paper.
The extra layer of bedded mud, along with the paper tape and additional finish taping coats installed over the top, creates the strength that you want on drywall butt joints and seams.
Drywall Mesh Tape or Paper Tape on Inside Corners?
As we discussed above, paper drywall joint tape is the way to go on inside corners. The crease in paper tape (see below photo) allows for easy folding and installation for a perfect 90 degree straight corner or angle.
Just remember, a layer of taping mud is needed behind the paper tape, even at corners and angles.
How to Sand Drywall Mesh Tape
If you are sanding taping compound and you begin to see mesh tape, you’ve made a mistake. Mesh tape should be completely covered with taping mud, and never be exposed.
Here’s a tip – don’t continue sanding once your sandpaper hits mesh tape. Stop sanding and coat the mesh tape with another coat of joint compound and let dry completely.
For the new coat of mud, be sure not to put too much pressure on the taping knife when wiping off the mud from the wall so the fiberglass mesh stays completely covered in mud.
If mesh tape is showing when you are sanding, it will also show once you paint the wall. It will not “go away” or “disappear” or get covered up with paint. Stop dreaming.
You will see the mesh tape on your finished wall if you try to sand the mesh tape. Not a good look.
Where to Buy Paper Tape and Mesh Tape?
You can find drywall paper tape and mesh tape at Home Depot, Lowes, Amazon, and almost any hardware store. Paper tape is sold in a variety of lengths, but 250′ and 500′ rolls are most common.
Fiberglass mesh tape might be slightly tougher to find at some hardware stores, but wherever there is paper tape for sale, there is usually mesh tape right next to it on the shelf.
Drywall Mesh Tape Vs Paper Tape, Which One to Buy?
I hope I’ve made my case for drywall paper tape in almost every scenario. Other than a small patch and repair job, or a bathroom where lots of moisture might be present, paper drywall tape is the answer.
You can buy an entire 250-foot roll of paper tape for about $3. Nothing costs three dollars anymore, except for paper tape!
Additional Resources –
UL Wall Assemblies – USG Handbook
USG Taping Products – Home Depot