The Best Drywall Muds and Joint Compounds
As we’ve mentioned before, there’s no single “right way” to do drywall – and every drywaller from pro to DIY has their favorite tools and gear. Add to that the fact that different kinds of materials work well together, and there’s no easy answer to which is the “best” joint compound or mud.
When you’re choosing between different muds, you’ll need to consider what kind of project you’re doing, how fast you can confidently and competently work, and what other tools and tape you prefer to use.
Choosing Your Compound by Tape Style
The kind of tape you use will help you determine what kind of mud is best. You can read more about mud and tape pairings for the details, but in general, you can count on the following guidelines:
If you use mesh tape, setting compound (“Quick Set”) is the best drywall mud – actually, the only mud – to use
If you use paper tape and need lots of time to work, or you anticipate needing to do plenty of sanding (like beginners), pre-mixed mud is your best drywall mud
If you’re a pro who works quickly, uses paper tape, and has enough experience to get a smooth coat in just a few minutes, Quick Set may be the best drywall mud because it can save you time
If you’re using FibaFuse, pre-mixed mud is your best choice
Choosing the Best Drywall Mud by Coat
There are lots of different options out there for drywall muds – including multiple varieties of pre-mixed mud intended for different coats:
Tape coat: the taping compound mentioned above dries harder than other types of mud. It can create a stronger base-layer bond when you’re taping (hence the name) but it isn’t great for other coats because it’s much harder to sand
Filler coats: a lightweight all-purpose compound can be a great choice for the middle coats, especially if sanding is a concern. These muds are easy to work and are still strong, but are easier to sand as you approach your final finish
Skim coat: a special topping compound is designed to be the best drywall mud for top coats. It’s lighter weight than all-purpose and easier to work – and it can save you time on sanding your project to perfection.
Whole project: all-purpose joint compound offers a good all-around mix of hardness, ease of working, and sandability. That makes it the best drywall mud if you want to use one product throughout the project.
Beyond the different types of products (hot or pre-mixed, specialized or all-purpose) there are different brands of mud – and every craftsperson has their favorite. We’ve gathered recommendations from some of our favorite pros on which brands and product they like best:
According to Rick Eisfeller “USG tinted lightweight is great for the last coat because it lets you see flaws.”
Patrick Munroe says “I prefer Proform All Purpose, which seems to contain more adhesive. When it comes to finish mud, I like USG for one coat and Proform for finish. I noticed the Proform is ‘fluffier’ making it easier to sand.”
Dusty Pollard, the @DrywallDude says “my favourite mud is CGC – or USG for Americans.” For doing patches, he recommends their multi-purpose mud as “a perfect blend so you can tape and finish with it. When it’s painted, you rarely get any flashing through the paint.” He rates Certainteed Green as his second choice for patches and “the red mud from Hamilton” in third place.