Drywall Tape vs. Masking Tape: Is There a Difference?

You may be under the impression that ‘tape is tape’ — but that’s not true. When it comes down to masking tape and drywall tape, the differences in design and purpose make all the difference. If you’re struggling to decide which is best to use for your home improvement, you need to understand each’s properties and applications.

Masking tape is designed to be pressure-sensitive, utilizing an adhesive that is easily peeled from surfaces, often used in conjunction with painting. Drywall tape utilizes a more rugged and durable adhesive that’s both water and tear-resistant, most commonly used on drywall to cover visible seams. 

The uses for drywall tape and masking tape are endless, but they are not interchangeable. If you’re painting a room in your house and unwittingly use drywall tape, you’ll have a hard time peeling it off again! Use our breakdown to understand what each can be used for so that your home improvements are as seamless as your drywalls will be – with the correct tape.

The Many Uses of Masking Tape

Masking tape can be used in quick and easy home renovations like painting a room, but it can also be used in more intricate decorating around your house. Chances are, you probably have a roll of masking tape lying around somewhere, and it has some surprising uses!

Using masking tape while painting a wall or ceiling should be done with caution. Always make sure your surfaces have been cleaned before applying the masking tape to tape around any edges. Use longer masking tape strips and make sure they overlap to avoid any paint seeping through!

If you can use masking tape to paint within the lines of your wall, you can also use it to safely hang party decorations up for an event or even to put up a movie poster. Instead of using putty adhesives that leave oily stains on your walls, use masking tape that won’t leave a mark.

Masking tape can also be a surprising quick fix! Do you have broken prescription glasses broken but haven’t gotten around to booking an appointment with the optometrist? Masking tape could be the solution to your broken glasses and any number of broken items lying around the house.

Due to the design of masking tape’s adhesive that allows it to peel easily from surfaces, you can use it on almost anything. You could use your roll of masking tape to label any number of items, from organizing your pantry to the toolshed. Masking tape can be written on by anything from a pencil to a permanent marker, so get labeling!

While you’re labeling, remember to mark the drywall tape because it has very different uses, and you don’t want to get them confused!

What Is Drywall Tape Used For?

Drywall tape plays an essential role in the finishing stages of the drywall installation process. Often referred to as ‘taping,’ this process refers to applying drywall tape (there are two main types) to the joints between drywall pieces. When this process is correctly carried out, any joints and seams will no longer be visible, and the wall’s surface will be completely smooth.

In order to cover visible joints, drywall tape is engineered with a seam lined down the center of the tape. This makes it easy to manipulate while covering non-flat areas of the walls, such as corners. Depending on which type of drywall tape you settle on, for areas like corners, you can use an inside angle trowel, which is a unique knife designed for use in these tricky regions.

The use of drywall tape is crucial to the taping and mudding of your drywall. Mudding refers to the application of multiple coats of a drywall compound or setting mud to newly installed drywall. It is important to both tape and mud your drywall. You cannot do one and not the other! When you don’t use drywall tape, you risk the seams becoming visible after the compound dries. Taping your drywall properly beforehand prevents this.

When it comes down to actually taping your drywall, you’ll need to settle on a type of drywall tape. Each is differently applied and will change the last steps of the drywall installation, so make sure to pick wisely!

The Two Types of Drywall Tape

Paper Drywall Tape

Paper drywall tape is a non-adhesive variant of tape used in the drywalling process. This tape is applied to the drywall only after a layer of joint compound has first been applied to the drywall. Paper drywall tape comes standard with the seam crease down the center of the tape, allowing it to be folded into any relevant right angle.

Paper tape is far stronger than its counterpart, but it requires more effort to install. Due to its increased strength, paper drywall tape is often preferred for certain drywalling areas, such as butt joints. While getting the hang of using paper tape may take a little while, the added strength it offers could be worth your while!



Fiberglass Mesh Drywall Tape

Fiberglass mesh drywall tape simplifies the application process due to its self-adhesive properties. The tape’s adhesive backing saves time in the drywalling process by removing the need to use a layer of joint compound that is necessary with paper drywalling tape.

While you will be saving time applying fiberglass mesh tape to your drywall, it will set you back more than its counterpart. The extra cost could be worth your while if you’re looking to tape a load-bearing wall or covering seams that have already begun to crack.

Smoothing fiberglass mesh tape will be harder without the crease common in paper drywalling tape. For smoothing your self-adhesive mesh tape, you will need to use an inside angle trowel, which can be found online or at your local hardware store.

Given that the mesh tape is made out of fiberglass, it offers benefits that paper tape cannot. Fiberglass mesh tape offers mold resistance due to it being waterproof, making it the best choice for any at-risk areas exposed to water. In fact, you’ll even use your fiberglass mesh tape when completing tiling projects at home due to its waterproof benefits.

However, fiberglass mesh tape is thicker than paper tape.  You will need to apply a slightly thicker layer of drywall compound after you’ve applied the self-adhesive tape to give the wall a smooth appearance. Depending on where you’re using the drywall tape, you can decide which variant is best suited to your project – and don’t knock a combination of both!

Can Masking Tape Be Used as Drywall Tape?

Masking tape is a lightweight tape that is easily removed from surfaces and is unfit to be used as an alternative to drywall tape. It would be best to stick to one of the two drywall taping variants when completing your drywall installation – let the drywalling tape do what it was designed to.

While masking tape cannot be used a substitute, there is a new tape on the market that can be used as a drywalling tape alternative – but it’ll set you back a few pennies. Vinyl-paper composite tape has revolutionized the way in which angles are finished in the drywalling process. However, the cost makes it a far more expensive alternative than just merely settling on one of the drywall tapes outlined above.

Final Thoughts

When it comes down to choosing between masking tape and drywall tape, the distinction is clear cut. There can be no confusing these two tapes! You’ll need to settle on either a paper or fiberglass mesh drywall tape when installing drywall, and follow the relevant procedure depending on which you pick. However, when the time comes to eventually paint those walls, you can use masking tape to help you paint within the lines. Once those walls are painted, you can use masking tape in a vast number of ways around the house, from labeling to putting up decorations safely. Just make sure not to get your tapes confused or settle on improper substitutes!

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