Finishing the patch can be somewhat tedious and time consuming but certain steps just have to be followed in order to reach the final goal of completing a quality patch that blends in with the surrounding area.
Whether the patch is big or small, the first step in the finishing operation is to tape the joints. If you are in a hurry and the patch is relatively small, a fast setting compound can be used. Using a 20-minute mud for example will allow you to move on to the next step quicker and shorten the total time necessary to complete the job. Mix only what you will use up within 20 minutes. If you have the time to allow for drying between coats, an all-purpose compound works best. It will allow you to take your time without worrying about the material drying up too fast during the application process. It is also easier to sand.
The type of tape being used is also selective. There are paper tapes as well as self-sticking open mesh. The difference is cost and ease of application.
Using a 6” wide putty knife, spread the taping compound over the joint and then imbed the paper tape by applying pressure with the knife blade. Do each joint separately, overlapping the tape slightly. If using the self-sticking tape, apply it to the wall first and then apply the compound directly over the top of it. Spread the material over the tape as smoothly as possible taking special care to completely cover the tape but not too thick. Try to keep the edges of the compound flush with the surrounding area. This will help to cut down on the sanding time between coats. After all joints are coated, let the patch cure overnight. Next, lightly sand the patch being careful not to sand so deep that the tape gets torn. At this point, you can switch over to the 20-minute compound for your second and third coats or continue on with the all-purpose compound allowing 24 hours between each coat. Use a 12” putty knife for the second and third coats. Center the knife blade on the joints and feather the edges as you go. Sand between coats and apply the compound as smoothly as possible. After the final coat has dried, lightly sand the main body of the patch. Now check the edges until smooth blending into the surrounding area. Check for small imperfections as you go and touch up as needed.
Now you are ready to apply the texture. There are many different texturing tools on the market, but a favorite for small jobs has to be the electric texture gun. It is light, easy to use and easy to clean. Pre mixed texture compound works best. It is more expensive than powder but it is cleaner with no lumps and won’t jam your texture gun. Always mix the texture and try a sample on a scrap piece of drywall. Thin the mix or change the texture gun’s tip until you are happy with the result. Then move on to your patch. Allow the texture to dry overnight and then lightly blade over the patch with a 6”-12” putty knife. It is very important to do this before painting as it will remove rough spots and will help to blend the patch into the surrounding areas.