Nowadays, dry construction is one of those tangible realities of the Construction Industry, both in terms of building and remodeling.
The advantages and versatility of the dry construction, make it meet strict safety and comfort requirements, and have placed one of its primary materials, the drywall or plasterboard (known in each country by their most representative trade names) in a central position when considering design and productivity.
This is because plasterboard is present in many stones. There is a wide variety of plates provided with attributes that respond to various requirements, such as resistance to humidity, fire, impact, noise, etc., this requires us to choose plate models according to our needs. In addition, we also have to estimate a priori the number of plates that we are going to acquire for our construction. Once acquired, we must install them making sure that they are correctly leveled.
However, the leveling It’s just the first step in installing drywall. Then comes an extremely meticulous stage which is the taken from plasterboard joints, that is, the task of «disguising» the joints between one plate and another, and at the same time granting integrity and resistance to the structure.
In principle, we might think that just by filling the joints with an appropriate paste, the job would be finished. But it is not that simple. If everything were to be solved with the application of paste, the plates would end up loosening, moving enough to form hairline cracks in the joints, which in time would cause the structure to collapse.
For this reason, the taking of joints implies the combined use of paste (also known as «mastic for drywall«) and joint tapes, where the latter reinforce the joint and facilitate the function of the paste. Although each plasterboard manufacturer recommends its specific technique with the use of its specific products, in general we can summarize the task of taking joints in the steps shown in the following figure.
Regardless of the importance of the putty in this task, we must not fail to emphasize the fundamental function that the putty fulfills. headband, since it is on this element that we will focus this article. So let’s start by getting to know her.
What are drywall joint tapes?
They are essentially ribbons designed for the specific purpose of reinforcing joints and corners, as well as repairing cracks and holes in plaster and plasterboard surfaces.
Although today there are several types of these ribbons Built in various materials, the two most used are the following:
a) Paper tape
Until about 30 years ago, it was the only tape available for bonding drywall and is still the most widely used because of its low cost and great versatility for taping joints, cracks and small holes. It is manufactured with high-quality cellulose fibers to provide good resistance, it has sanding on both sides that allows it to increase its adherence to the substrate, and some manufacturers incorporate micro-perforations so that the paper can be better embedded with the paste.
It has a slight center crease, which helps it to be easily folded for use on inside corners, and is available in rolls of varying sizes, but generally 5 cm wide and 75 or 150 m long.
b) Woven tape
It consists of a fiberglass weft that provides an open mesh area, allowing airflow while applying. Its earliest uses were for taping rabbeted joints and for patching cracks and small holes, or for reinforcing gaps between plates or corners greater than 1/4 inch wide.
Later it began to be applied in corners and indoors in general, but since its flexibility makes it difficult to keep it centered and straight, many companies developed a tool that automatically folds and places the woven tape in the corners, so its use in the curbing of interior corners became much more widespread. It is sold in rolls of self-adhesive tape 48, 50 or 65 mm wide and 45, 75 or 150 m long. Unlike paper tape, woven tape it is not prone to developing air bubbles under its surface and this is thanks to its open mesh design.
How are plasterboard joint tapes applied?
As we have just pointed out, there are currently tools that facilitate the placement of the headbandboth paper and hatched, saving a lot of time and causing less user fatigue.
The simplest method is to apply the tape by hand, without any support. This is the situation we see on the left of the figure below. However, if the work to be carried out requires more effort, for example, taping up an entire room with plasterboard, a reel that hangs from the worker’s belt will be convenient, as we see on the right of the figure.
With this reel we can use both hands to work, since it is not necessary to hold the tape with one hand, as in the previous case.
However, for professional work and especially for hatched ribbonsMany prefer to use automatic dispensing guns, which work like a dispenser for packing tape, allowing the tape to be applied directly to walls or ceilings.
Factors to Consider in Using a Woven Tape to Join Plates
First, we must make an important distinction between paper tapes and hatched ribbons. Although they are the most common and simple to apply, paper tapes are essentially not much more robust than conventional masking tape. This means that do not add resistance to the wall, so, to achieve the desired solidity, we will have to rely on screws and joint putty. An incorrectly applied paper tape can lead to adverse results due to the possibility of peeling off and removing the putty. This is not only a cosmetic detail, but also has dire consequences for our drywall wall.
Instead, the hatched ribbons Self-adhesive can help completely eliminate the problem of delamination because they are much more robust, to the point that their function could be compared to that of a reinforcing bar in traditional concrete construction. If they are positioned correctly and with the use of the correct putty, its porous nature allows for an exceptionally robust structure, derived from a strong cohesive bond between the woven tape and the putty, since ultimately, when it sprouts through the holes in the mesh, the putty becomes part of the tape.
b) Other beneficial properties
In addition to robustness, hatched ribbons They have more interesting properties compared to paper tapes:
- They are resistant to moisture and mold.
- They can be purchased in various colors.
- They lend themselves especially for patching jobs.
The first characteristic is key for the installation of plates in bathrooms, kitchens and other places where humidity or steam can favor the growth of mold and mildew. The ability to purchase colored tapes can provide a good visual indicator to stop sanding when it comes to that stage of the tile installation process. plasterboard. On the other hand, carrying out patching work with hatched ribbons It can be cheaper than buying a dedicated kit separately for this type of work.
Despite these clear advantages, many professionals and DIYers still prefer to use paper jointing tapes. drywall. Why? The following are two factors that explain it.
Generally, the rejection of many users to the use of hatched ribbons This stems from the fact that these tapes, especially the high quality ones, are thick and have very strong adhesives, making them unsuitable for corner jointing. In addition, these characteristics not only require the use of ordinary scissors or even pruning shears to cut them, but also require great care, dedication and patience when placing the tapes. For a novice or hobbyist, this task requires a lot of practice, which may not be appealing during the first few jobs. For a professional contractor, the time factor is certainly not negligible, so any material capable of saving hours between one project and another -such as paper tape, in this case- will be welcome.
d) Possibility of cracking
Another of the drawbacks commonly evidenced when using hatched ribbons is the cracking of the joint. Certainly this can occur due to the elastic nature of the framework. However, the main cause of cracking is that the same putty is generally used as for gluing paper tapes, which is a mistake. A special setting compound designed for the use of hatched ribbons of fiberglass, so that it does not shrink when it dries and, therefore, crack.
It is clear that finally, the decision to use hatched ribbons or paper will depend on each user. However, based on the foregoing, the option of the woven tape It is still an attraction if we are looking for more robust walls with good resistance to humidity. The important thing is to observe adequate precision during the placement process, following the manufacturer’s instructions and using the correct kind of putty. This will guarantee satisfactory results that will undoubtedly be maintained over time.