The rigidity of the plastic backing in the wider UltraFlex
makes the tape ideal for use with off-angle inside or outside
corners, particularly in cathedral ceilings where the least bit
of waviness is quickly picked up by even an untrained eye.
I’ve watched seasoned drywall finishers struggle with the
joints formed at intersecting roof planes, and they generally
devote a lot of time and energy to achieving a straight, crisp
line. With UltraFlex tape, the plastic backing forces a
straight and true joint, and reduces finishing time (Figure
3. Gaps in drywall joints, like these at the
peak of a cathedral ceiling (top), can cause bubbles or
wrinkles in ordinary paper tape. UltraFlex’s
plastic backing not only bridges these kinds of gaps,
but makes it easy to get a clean crisp line at the
Splicing, Cutting &
UltraFlex comes in 100-foot rolls,
theoretically eliminating any field overlaps, but long lengths
can be difficult to handle, particularly when working solo.
It’s much like trying to extend a one-inch tape measure,
unsupported, beyond 9 feet or so. To create a field splice, the
plastic backing is scored and peeled off about one inch from
the end. This creates a flap of finish paper that is bedded in
compound and feathered over the previously installed piece,
much the same way conventional paper tape is spliced.
Three-way corners in flat-ceilinged rooms are treated
conventionally, with the UltraFlex bedded in the ceiling
corners first, followed by the vertical run. But the splicing
technique is useful at cathedral ceiling intersections. Where
the wall tape overlaps the ceiling tape, the plastic backing
can be scored and peeled off, and the paper flap bedded and
feathered out with compound.
Wrapped posts. With
standard corner bead, a 6x6 post wrapped in drywall would be
finished by filling the entire space between each pair of beads
with compound. While you could use the same technique with
No-Coat, all you really need to do is fill the area between the
parallel plastic strips of reinforcing. This might require a
4-inch or smaller taping knife, but it eats up a lot less
Cutting. Unlike regular
paper tape, No-Coat tapes can’t be torn — you have
to cut them to length. With a razor knife, it takes about three
passes to score the plastic strips on UltraFlex, which then
break easily by bending the tape back and forth a few times.
UltraFlex can also be cut easily with scissors or shears, but
the preformed corners are best cut using shears, just like
standard corner bead.
No-Coat tape is designed so that just the 1/4-inch-wide flanges
need to be covered with compound, it’s a cinch that some
mud will end up on the finish tape. One advantage of these
tapes is that you can use a damp sponge to spot-clean the
surface before the compound dries. If you wait to sand until
the mud dries, the rules are the same as for regular tape. If
you never use sandpaper coarser than 180-grit, you won’t
rough up the No-Coat paper any more than the drywall paper
What’s It Cost?
UltraCorner costs about 34¢ a foot, UltraFlex runs about
50¢ a foot, and UltraFlex Lite, 28¢ a foot.
That’s pretty steep when compared with 11¢ a foot
for metal corner bead, but the reduced finishing time more than
makes up for the higher cost of the material. For example,
using UltraCorner for 100 linear feet of outside corners would
add $24 to the price of the job, but the corners will be crisp
and straight, and will probably be ready for paint by the end
of the day. Plus, because very little if any sanding is needed,
there’s virtually no dust — I won’t even try
to put a price tag on that.
Word on the Street
be difficult (and costly) to schedule drywall subs for smaller
jobs, so to keep the job moving, remodelers often become
reluctant tapers. The remodeling contractors I talked to who
take on "part-time" taping chores spoke highly of UltraFlex.
The reduced sanding combined with the ability to tape and paint
in 24 hours provides these semi-skilled drywall finishers with
a real advantage.
One seasoned taper I talked with has used UltraFlex for
tricky off-angles and liked the results, but when working with
standard inside and outside corners, he wasn’t convinced
that he’d save any appreciable time over conventional
finishing methods. As in most trades, old habits die hard, and
I wouldn’t be surprised if it takes a little longer for
veteran tapers to form an objective opinion of the
As for me, I plan on keeping a roll of UltraFlex handy. When
it comes to finishing drywall, I need all the help I can
Carl Hagstrom is a builder and remodeler in Montrose,