The rigid plastic backing in UltraFlex prefinished
drywall corner tape provides crisp corners, especially for
One of the saving graces of drywall is that given enough
tries (and enough dust masks), most carpenters can produce an
acceptable finish. But taping drywall is something of an art,
and those of us who tape only a few seams once in a while have
to do a lot more sanding than the pros. On a remodeling
project, the dust created during the final sanding is often
what sends edgy clients over the edge.
To help reduce the amount of sanding required, No-Coat
(Grabber Construction Products, Concord, Calif.; 800/477-8876;
www.grabberman.com) has developed an innovative line of
prefinished drywall tapes that streamline the process of
finishing inside, outside, and off-angle corners. The No-Coat
tapes — UltraFlex, UltraFlex Lite, UltraCorner, and
UltraBull — also reduce the "wait to paint" time, often
making it possible to paint the drywall the same day it’s
taped. In this article, I’ll explain how these new
drywall tapes are used, and the benefits they offer to
Corners Just Got Easier
Conventional inside corners typically require at least three
finishing steps. First, a bed of drywall compound is troweled
on both sides of the corner; paper tape is cut to length,
creased in the center, bedded in the compound, and troweled in
tightly. Second, after the first coat has dried, compound is
applied to both sides of the corner, covering the paper tape.
Finally, additional coats of compound are applied and sanded
until an acceptable surface is achieved and ready to paint. The
number of "feathering" coats required depends on the skill of
Finishing inside corners has always been frustrating work
for me. When it comes to bedding the tape, any large gaps where
the sheets of drywall meet will often cause the tape to
wrinkle. If I fill the gaps with compound to build a solid
backing for the tape, it adds an extra step and drags out the
job, because the filler has to dry before I apply the tape.
Applying the second coat is also problematic. No matter how
hard I try, making a pass on one side of the corner always
seems to ruin the nice pass I just made on the other side of
the corner. The more I fuss with the corner, the worse it gets.
Corner trowels help, but tend to leave a hefty ridge of
compound at the outside edges.
Outside corners are no picnic, either. The corner bead has
to be nailed or crimped in place just so, which can be
difficult if the drywall doesn’t make a tight joint at
the corner. If the corner bead is skewed slightly to one side,
or if a nail head stands proud of the bead or goes in at a
slight angle, it wreaks havoc with the finish coat. And when it
comes time to run the baseboard, the metal bead can get in the
way of a tight miter.
Drying time is also an issue with both types of corner
joints. The thick layers of joint compound applied to corners
dry slowly — in low temperatures and high humidity, it
can take 48 hours or more for the compound to dry completely.
I’ve used quick-setting compounds like Durabond, but I
don’t like having to mix the mud on site, and it’s
nearly impossible to clean off my tools and buckets after
it’s set. Durabond is also harder to sand.
tapes address all of these issues. Unlike conventional paper
tape or corner bead, which get completely covered with
compound, No-Coat tapes are made with a heavy, smooth paper
that accepts paint as well as the drywall surface itself. The
finish paper is reinforced with two thin strips of flexible
plastic, one on either side of the centerline, backed with two
strips of regular paper tape. Because the paper surface will
accept paint, only the edges of the finish paper, which
overhang the plastic reinforcing by about 1/4 inch, need to be
blended or feathered into the surface of the drywall.
The basic No-Coat tape is called UltraFlex (see Figure
1. No-Coat corner tape is made by sandwiching strips of
rigid plastic between regular paper tape on the back side and a
layer of heavy finish paper on the front that can accept paint.
Shown here, backside-up, are (from left): UltraFlex, for inside
and outside corners of any angle, and the narrower UltraFlex
Lite, for inside corners up to 9 feet long, both of which come
in 100-foot rolls; and UltraCorner and UltraBull, two preformed
outside corner tapes that come in 8-, 9-, and 10-foot lengths.
At right, a piece of UltraFlex is shown finished-side out and
creased to fit an off-angle inside corner.
It’s 4-1/4 inches wide — nearly twice as wide as
regular tape, comes in 100-foot rolls, and can be used for
inside and outside corners of any length. A narrower
2-5/8-inch-wide version called UltraFlex Lite is suitable only
for inside corners up to 9 feet long. A preformed 90-degree
outside corner called UltraCorner is also available in 8-, 9-,
and 10-foot lengths, and costs about 25% less than UltraFlex.
(A bullnose corner tape called UltraBull is also available in
the same precut lengths.) The plastic backing on all of these
tapes is rigid enough to bridge any voids or gaps in the
corners that often cause regular paper tape to wrinkle or
pucker. The result is a crisp-looking corner that is easier to
achieve — particularly in remodeling situations where
corners are often wavy.