Bubbles in Drywall Tape

“Ummmmm…honey, why are there bubbles in the drywall tape?”

It was that dreaded moment when Cully and I realized our DIY drywall installation wasn’t going as smoothly as the videos made it seem (go figure!).

Since week 6 of the One Room Challenge is all about drywalling our soon to be master bedroom, I wanted to focus on the main issue we ran into.

I chose to focus on this specific topic because, quite frankly, as a DIYer you are likely to run into issues of your drywall tape bubbling up, especially if this is your first time drywalling an entire room. We sure did!

We found some amazing blog posts and videos that taught us how to hang and tape drywall. But few focused on what issues we might run into as a DIYer with little experience drywalling.

Most of the videos were created by professionals, which is awesome to learn from… but they don’t always address the things that less experienced folks may run into.

So let’s address the number one drywall installation mistake that DIYers make…dreaded bubbles in your drywall tape.

Drywall Tape

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Why is My Drywall Tape Bubbling?

Why is it that drywall tape bubbles?

The most common reason is that there’s simply not enough joint compound behind the tape to allow it to stick to the drywall.

As the joint compound dries, the area(s) that lack ample joint compound bubble up, leaving an uneven look on your walls.

A professional drywaller may say this is due to “poor installation practices”…and I’ll admit, there is obvious truth to that.

I also like to think it is simply a part of the learning curve that any DIYer or new drywall professional may experience.

And, if we were to hire this project out to drywall professionals, you bet we would expect the tape to be smooth and bubble free!

But alas, we wanted to learn the process and save a buck, so the lessons along the way are part of the process and are well worth it.

Are Bubbles in Drywall Tape Bad?

Bubbles in drywall tape are not necessarily a bad thing as it relates to the structure of the drywall. In other words, the drywall will not fail and fall off simply because there are bubbles in the tape.

However, if left unaddressed, the bubbles will produce a very unattractive look that even wall texture likely will not cover up.

It’s best to fix the bubbles after the initial layer of joint compound is applied (or as soon as you see them).

Don’t be fooled into thinking that putting more joint compound on top of the bubble will solve the issue; it won’t.

This will just make it more challenging to fix later since you’ll be working through more layers of joint compound.

Tools Required for this Project

For this project you will need:

  1. Utility Knife
  2. Joint Compound
  3. Putty Knife
  4. Patience (wish we could just buy this!)

Steps to Fix Bubbles in Drywall Tape

  1. Cut above and below the bubble
  2. Cut a slit down through the middle of the bubble
  3. Fold open the drywall tape
  4. Spread joint compound into the space
  5. Close up the tape flaps
  6. Resume applying the joint compound as instructed

Cut Above and Below the Bubble

Using a utility knife, cut two slits; one above the bubble and one below the bubble.

Bubbles in Drywall Tape

Cut a Slit Down the Middle of the Bubble

One the first two cuts are made, cut a slit down the middle of the bubble, connected the two cuts you just made.

Bubbles in Drywall Tape

Fold Open the Drywall Tape

Fold open the drywall tape flaps. You will likely see that there is no (or too little) joint compound.

Fix Drywall Tape Bubbles

Spread Joint Compound into the Space

Using a putty knife (or your clean finger), spread a fresh coat of joint compound onto the drywall and under the tape folds.

You may use a quick drying compound (these come in powder form and need to be mixed with water), or use whatever all purpose joint compound you’ve been using throughout the project.

We just used the all purpose joint compound we’d been using.

DIY Drywall Hanging

Close the Tape Flaps

Close the tape flaps, making sure the flaps are as flat as the rest of the tape.

You may still see the lines from the cuts at this point. That is OK. They will be covered up with the next layers of joint compound.

Resume Applying the Joint Compound as Instructed

Resume applying the required coats of joint compound as instructed by the product you purchased.

Allowing proper dry time and sanding in-between coats will be critical to how well your bubble fix looks in the end.

Note: If you have large bubbles, like almost the height of the tape, it will be better to cut that section of tape out and re-tape it with a new piece and with the appropriate amount of joint compound.

Drywall Tape has Bubbles

Avoiding Bubbles in Drywall Tape

Take it from me, drywall tape repair can be one of the most frustrating parts of hanging drywall.

The best way to avoid bubbles in the future is to ensure there is enough joint compound behind the drywall tape.

While it takes some practice to get it right, it really is as simple as that.

Assuming you catch the bubbles before you’ve gone too far into the project, fixing them will take minimal time and will be well worth the effort.

Have a question or additional tip?  Leave it in the comments section below!

Check out the other posts related to our DIY garage conversion:

Planning a Garage Conversion

Garage Demolition: The Step by Step Process 

Building a Garage Partition Wall

Wiring the New Garage Bedroom

Insulation Installation

Installing & Finishing the Drywall (you are here!)

Final Reveal! 

Until next time,

Krista