Review of Studpop® Magnetic Studfinder

I was sent a magnetic studfinder known as the Studpop to test and do a review.
This was a very light weight stud finder, but despite its light weight, the magnet within it was very powerful. The stud finder easily stuck to the wall over a drywall screw. And in fact, I found that this stud finder would even stick on the wall over drywall nails where as a different magnetic studfinder I have would not quite stick. This product worked well over tile walls as well – the little popper was extremely sensitive and easily indicated screws under the tile, although through the tile the stud finder could not stick to the wall like with drywall. The only drawback of this product is that it requires metal fasteners under the surface – if your drywall is glued on or in too small of a space where there are not drywall screws or nails underneath, you will not find a stud. I really like how the magnet sticks firmly to the location of the screw – this takes any guesswork out of determining where the center of the stud is. In the video below I test out this product and also compare to an electronic studfinder.

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Inside Drywall Corners Made Easy!

Many will dread inside drywall corners because of the angle and difficulty of imbedding the tape. Or, perhaps some have unsuccessfully tried to use paper-covered metal inside corner bead. Or they have tried to use mesh tape without much luck. First of all realize that your walls are rarely straight enough at the corners to use the metal corner bead without it popping off, so forget the metal paper-covered corner bead. With the mesh tape, it is just too easy to snag that mesh when over-coating – been there and done that.  So this leaves the last option, paper tape.

Imbedding the Tape

What you need to do to imbed the tape is measure and pre-cut your tape and have a bucket of water ready. Then place a coat of drywall compound on the corner that extends a little farther than your tape. Quickly pass your tape through the bucket of water, shake off extra water, and adhere it in place on to the compound. Then using a 5″ taping knife, use your knife to press down each side of the tape at the corner (one side at a time)  and while doing this squeezing out the excess compound, only leaving a light coat under the tape.  Let this dry. Now, take a look at the graphic below to get an idea of the steps needed to finish this corner.

Overview of the Coats

Drywall Inside Corner Taping Guide

After each step, you will allow the compound to dry completely and then scrape down any bumps that stick up. You want  a level surface before putting on the next coat. Do NOT sand until all coats have been put on, and then only sand lightly right before priming and painting.

This post gives a good summary, but for a better overview and a video, see my tutorial for insides drywall corners at




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Just Say NO To Plastic Taping Knives!

saynotoplasticknifeI had to cut out a square piece of drywall recently for a repair and neatly replaced by fastening the cutout piece into plywood strips, as I show at My regular tools were stored away, so I thought I would try using a plastic taping knife my inlaw bought me as part of a putty knife kit. I thought to myself “I know how to tape and finish pretty well – I should be able to handle this job with this plastic knife OK”. Wow, was I wrong! The first coat went on somewhat OK, but then the whole job sort of turned ugly! This plastic knife can not, at all, be used to knock down the surface after a coat is put on. You can try all you want to “level out” the surface, but the wimpy plastic glides over the top or the plastic itself gets worn down. I did the best I could, and then put another coat on. The result is shown below. What a mess! plasticknife1BNow at this point, when I was a beginner in drywall finishing, I would have gotten out the sanding block and gone to town, turning bumps and ridges into hills and valleys, and creating a big pile of drywall dust. But I now know better! Instead of sanding, I got my regular tools – metal taping knives of 4″ and 12″ width. I started with the 4″ knife, using both hands to knock the surface down, as shown in the photo. plasticknife2What this did was make my surface level. It did not get rid of all imperfections, but rather it gave me a surface where a wide thin coat could fill in any imperfections and give me a fairly level, filled-in surface.

And you can see in the bottom photo how I coat the level surface with a few 12″ wide fairly thin coats. After coating, I again knock down the surface and then coat with very light thinner coats applied with either my 12″ or my 4″ taping knives. As I get toward the end of the process, the coats get lighter and more thinned out. To get a perfect result, I use a trouble light to inspect as I touch up the final product. With this method, sanding is hardly needed, and in fact I have skipped sanding all together at times. But if you want, you can lightly sand after all coats are on with 220 grit using a circular motion and a sanding block. plasticknife3

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Popcorn Texture Repair Fears Gone!

For many years, I advised those that emailed me drywall questions to avoid texture. I still do. Texture is nice, til you get a hole in your wall. Then repair becomes a big issue. Knockdown is not so bad, since one can reproduce the splattered joint compound that is then scraped down when partially dry without any special equipment, or at the worst, with the fairly inexpensive sprayer used. But popcorn ceiling is sprayed on with an expensive sprayer that requires a bit of skill to master its use. You may rent the sprayer if you have one available  (we couldn’t get one near us) but you still need to master the technique. Another big problem with texture repair is that you have a sharp line from texture to no texture – this takes a bit of prep to smooth out into a nice gradual transition. The only texture we have in our home is the popcorn ceiling texture that was on most of our ceilings when we bought the home – we are stuck with it.

Finally, out of necessity, I had to tackle texturing. We remodeled our kitchen and replaced boxed in areas above our old cabinets with cabinets extending to the ceiling – this resulted in an unsightly 5″ gap of no texture in front. I tried home-store spray can products. What a mess! Then it was suggested to try a paint additive. After a good job of prepping, which is described in detail at the main site,  I painted the ceiling with the paint + texture using a special texture roller. It worked like a charm – see photo at bottom!

I still say, however, avoid texture if you can!

Paint Additive & Roller

Paint Additive & Special Roller

Textured Paint Being Rolled On

Rolling on The Textured Paint

Popcorn Texture Repair All Finished!

Texture Repair All Finished!

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Preparing a Recess – Butt Drywall Joint

Many times I have been emailed about what to do when a recess drywall edge is up against a non-recess edge. A photo of such edges is shown below. If you tape this joint as it is, you end up with tape that can not be properly embedded. What needs to be done is to first make the two edges level by filling in the recess. You could use joint compound, but this takes a while to dry and will shrink in and crack a little, so you are better off using a sand-able patching plaster – I use one from DAP. The patching plaster will dry quicker and shrink less. Use a 5 inch taping knife to level the surface, as shown below. Use the higher edge as a guide for the taping knife. After this is all dry, scrape the surface level in case any bumps are sticking up and then tape as using the butt-joint procedure.



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A Great Use For Leftover Drywall Scraps

wall-photoIn my kitchen remodel project, I generated a good amount of scrap pieces. Instead of chucking them in the trash right away, I laid them out along the edges of my wall. A few of them I had to cut, but that didn’t take long since I would only be using these as a tarp. They absorbed the water and compound quickly, so I ended up with a lot less on my feet as opposed to a plastic tarp. Also, they are nice for when you paint since they hug the wall. When finished with them, they can be discarded since you will no doubt generate a whole new batch of floor protectors in your next job. Or store them if you have the space.

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How To Prevent Mold in Your Basement Drywall

drywall mold

drywall mold

Our Basement Functioned as a Dehumidifier!
In our first year in our new home, we had one of the hottest most humid summers of all our years here. And within the first week of the first heat wave, we noticed that the rug in the basement was wet! Also, we could feel a dampness on the floor and the walls. Also, the drywall near the floor (pictured left) accumulated some mold from both this humidity and also some previous water leakage. Since it was early in the season, the floor and walls were very cold, with temperatures in the 50′s. And that drywall near the floor was cold as well. The air, however, had a dew point in the low 60′s. What we came to realize is that the floors and walls were acting as a dehumidifier! Incidentally, I replaced the moldy drywall shown – see my drywall repair article with step-by-step instructions, including how to tape and finish damage like this without replacing all the drywall.

Solution #1 – Seal off the Moisture & Use a Dehumidifier
We very quickly realized what was going on, so we shut all the doors and windows leading to the basement, and started up our dehumidifier. Within a day or two, the moisture was gone from the rugs, floor and walls. The air within our basement now was drier and had a dew point lower than the temperature of our walls and floors, so the only condensation that was occurring was on the cooling coils of our dehumidifier. And there is a lot of moisture in humid air – gallons of it!

Solution #2 – Add an AC Unit
One of the problems of a dehumidifier is that it creates a lot of heat from the compressor used to cool its coils. Through the course of a summer, this can result in a basement that starts getting uncomfortably warm. So we bought an AC unit from Sears made to fit in a basement window. It was rated to cool about 800 square feet, which was most of our basement, and more than the area of the finished half. In addition, the AC unit will also condense out moisture from the air, helping to dry it even more. This combination of the dehumidifier, the AC unit, and closing off the basement, resulted in a very dry basement with absolutely no mold problems.

Make Use of Mother Nature, When You Can!
You will find that when the air outside is cool and dry enough, there is no need for the AC unit and the dehumidifier. Watch the dew point, as shown in your local weather conditions – displays such data. If the dew point is below 50, open up the doors and windows and even place a fan to help push the air through – this can freshen up the basement nicely. Then, as the humidity climbs, shut everything up again and turn your dehumidifier and AC unit back on.

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Skim Coating Your Plaster Ceiling

Recently, I helped a friend with his bathroom project. His home was very old and the walls and ceiling of his bathroom were plaster. He removed some of the walls to put in a new tub, and I taped the new drywall to the old plaster. But the plaster was not as even and smooth as the drywall, so I skim coated. To skim coat this, I placed a layer of joint compound on a low spot and then skimmed it off level. I added coats where ever needed. I did not put one thick coat over everything. The All-purpose compound shrunk in a bit, so I applied additional coats after scraping down.  Then, when I was all finished with all my joint work and coats, I lightly sanded the ceiling as well as the other work with 220 grit sand paper on an 8-inch long block using a random circular motion.

The result was a plaster ceiling that could pass for drywall that did not require all the additional demo of removing plaster. A video of me skim coating is shown below.

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Drywall Info Site Renovation!

I am now in the process of renovating, in response to what you have suggested and for other reasons. Here are changes that will be made:

  • Major drywall taping pages will be cleaned up so the code does not cause problems with alternative browsers. These changes will consist of replacing excessive old code that I put in way back using FrontPage 2003 with up-to-date validated code that uses CSS and is error checked.
  • A more comprehensive top menu so you may find this blog from any page.
  • Videos converted to Flash format so users with Macs can view them. I did not realize this was a problem til some helpful site visitor pointed it out recently.

Hopefully, you find these changes helpful. It will take a bit of time to do all these changes, but I have already completed the drywallinfo home page and much of the the drywall taping joints page. As always, I welcome any input you have. Also, I will gladly help you with any drywall questions you have on your current drywall project. Contact me at .

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Ask This Old House Almost Got Drywall Corners Right

Checking To Make Sure Screws Sit Below The Surface

Checking To Make Sure Screws Sit Below The Surface

My wife called me up from my office to watch Ask This Old House show how to finish  inside and outside drywall corners.

Outside Corners by Ask This Old House
First they showed outside corners. I was happy to see that they recommended using corner brace that was either all vinyl or all metal with no paper. (Paper-faced outside corner bead is to be avoided!) And I liked how they showed the application of coats. They left out several  seemingly-insignificant details however. First you must always, always, always scrape down the surface level before applying the next coat! A pimple-size bump of mud will give you a nice speed bump when you apply the next coat! It only takes a minute or two to knock off any such bumps before applying the next coat and it is essential to do. Another crucial step left out was to check to see that no fastening screws or nails were sticking up, as shown in the photo here – these will also mess up your job! My outside corner procedure includes these crucial steps.

Inside Corners by Ask This Old House
In their procedure, they recommended the paper-faced metal corner bead. Now this bead works nicely on the perfectly square sample mini-wall they demonstrated on but in reality, most walls are not so ideal. If your 8-ft long corner has even the slightest curve or bend in it, the nice perfect metal corner will not want to conform – the result is a pocket of air under part of the corner bead! Been there and done that! Instead, I prefer paper tape, which will follow the contour of the wall, using multiple steps to make a perfectly straight looking corner even if the corner you started out with was not straight, as shown in my inside  corner procedure.

Moral of the story: Don’t trust everything you see on TV!

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