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Drywall Tools And The Finishing Stage: Which Method Should You Choose?

Machine Tools or Hand Finishing: Is one better than the other?

That all depends on your needs. This is a big one, so let's get into it.

Drywall tools showing machine and hand finishing tools

Welcome to our latest blog post, where we delve into the fascinating world of finishing styles: Machine Tools versus Hand Finishing. Whether you are a seasoned craftsman or a DIY enthusiast, the choice between using machine tools and hand finishing methods can significantly impact your project. In this post, we will explore the advantages and limitations of each approach and discuss the various applications where one may be preferred over the other. Join us as we uncover the intricacies of using machine tools versus hand finishing and discover which method suits your next project best.

But first things first, what are all these tools?

Machine Drywall Tools:

Drywall finishing machine tools specifically refer to equipment used in the final stages of the drywalling process, to achieve a smooth and seamless finish with increased efficiency. These tools typically include:

  1. Automatic Tapers: These machines apply joint compound and tape simultaneously to drywall joints, ensuring a consistent and efficient application.

  2. Drywall Flat Boxes: A rectangular shaped device with an adjustable control mechanism and a hinged lid. They allow for smooth and uniform application of drywall compound to taped seams in high volume. The adjustable control mechanism allows the user to regulate the amount of compound applied.

  3. Angle Heads and Boxes: Tools for applying drywall compound evenly to both sides of an inside corner on drywall simultaneously. Generally, force is applied to a hinged rear plate, forcing compound through a 90 degree head with blades that cut the compound to a smooth layered finish.

  4. Drywall Sanders: Power sanders designed for smoothing out joint compound and achieving a uniform surface texture. They may be used with or without a vacuum, however this is ill-advised.

  5. Semi-Automatic Tools: Series of tools, for applying mud directly to the walls or tapes, but still require hand tools to finish properly. Most common are the compound tubes, for applying mud directly to a wall, to then add tape by hand, and corner flushers, the wipe down the tapes or spread a coat over dried corner tapes behind the compound tubes.

Hand Finishing Tools:

Drywall finishing hand tools encompass a range of handheld instruments utilized in the final stages of drywall installation and finishing. These tools are essential for achieving a smooth, seamless surface on walls and ceilings. Common drywall finishing hand tools include:

  1. Taping Knives: These are flat, flexible blades used for applying and smoothing joint compound over drywall joints and seams. They come in various widths to accommodate different areas and angles.

  2. Corner Trowels: These tools have a pointed tip and are designed for applying joint compound to inside and outside corners of drywall, ensuring a clean and crisp finish.

  3. Drywall Trowels: They typically consist of a flat, rectangular blade made of stainless steel or other durable materials attached to a handle. Drywall trowels come in various sizes and shapes to accommodate different applications:

  4. Mud Pans: Flat containers used for holding and transporting joint compound or mud during the finishing process. They come in various sizes and materials, such as plastic or stainless steel.

  5. Drywall Hawks: Square and flat plates with a central handle underneath, used for holding compound for distribution to your knives and trowels. Now that we have a better understanding of the tools themselves, we can get into the meat and potatoes.

What's in front of you?

Are you a professional drywall finisher looking to add to your arsenal, are you an operating handyman/general contractor, or are you a DIY person finishing your bathroom renovation? These are the questions you need to ask before you should open your wallet and make a commitment to any tool, regardless of trade or project. While machine tools will undoubtedly increase your production and earnings, the occasion might not call for the investment. On the other side, hand tools, like pans, knives, hawks and trowels are slower, but significantly less costly.

Pro's at work:

Its impressive to watch. A skilled professional in the midst of the action. Drywall Finishing is one of the most satisfying jobs to observe when done correctly. If you fall into this category, you've heard of machine tools. You've seen them and likely own them. If you don't, you are genuinely fooling yourself. The increase in production will pay for them in very little time. As a drywall professional, I prefer and recommend Columbia brand machine tools. But always do your own research. If you're curious about what they look like, check out any drywall finishing pages on Instagram. The tools speak for themselves. As a DIY homeowner, these are unnecessary. Not only will they likely blow your budget, you won't ever use them enough to power through the learning curve. This is also likely true for some handymen and handywomen.

Handymen/General Contractors:

This is a gray area. How much drywall do you finish? How big of a job will you take on before subcontracting to a professional? If you're entirely kitchens and bathrooms, or small scale renovations, look into the lines of semi-automatic tools. There are different size kits available for all budgets that can add a good degree of efficiency to your workload. There is a learning curve, however if drywall finishing is not an uncommon task for you to perform, it is worth the time to figure out. Again, this is likely an area of supplies the average DIY will never need, but some of you tool connoisseurs may take an interest in some small kits.

DIYers, it's your turn:

So, as stated previously, unless you have a passion for adding to an extensive hobbyist tool collection, you're going to want to stick with hand tools. First off, they're cheap. You can get everything you need to finish your updated powder room for under $200.00 and hit the ground running. There's a plethora of You-tube videos providing instruction on how to use these tools if you don't know how. They can be relatively forgiving, and easy on the body. From applying the tapes to sanding the compound, it's slower but you can work your way through with a little bit of determination and focus. Not to mention trusted brands are available in pretty well every home building store across the world. This is your ideal pick for the small projects around the house.

The straight goods:

To wrap it up, both machine tools and hand tools have their own advantages when it comes to finishing drywall. While machine tools can speed up the process and allow for maximum volume, hand tools offer an easier and more cost friendly experience. Ultimately, the choice between machine tools and hand tools will depend on the scale of your project, your budget, and your personal preference. Whichever option you decide to go with, it is important to invest in high-quality tools that will ensure a professional and polished finish. Whether you are a DIY enthusiast looking to spruce up your home or a professional contractor tackling big projects, having the right tools for finishing drywall is essential. So, take the time to research and choose the tools that best fit your needs, and you will be on your way to successfully completing your drywall finishing project with ease and efficiency.

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