Tapers, or Drywall Finishers prepare the panels for painting by taping and finishing the joints and imperfections in the drywall surface. A Drywall Decorator will provide a decorative finish to the installed and prepared drywall panels. Drywall consists of a thin layer of gypsum between two layers of heavy paper. It is both faster and cheaper to install than plaster and is, therefore, widely used today in most buildings on both ceilings and walls.
A Drywall Finisher Apprentice is expected to do the following jobs: Tape joints and touch up nail holes, scrapes, and other imperfections; Install corner guards, conceal openings around pipes; Perform mathematical calculations and read blueprints; Estimate the cost of installing and finishing drywall; provide decorative wall coverings to finished drywall panels.
Once the drywall has been securely installed, Tapers fill the joints between panels with a joint compound. Using the wide, flat edge of a hand held trowel, Tapers spread the compound into and along each side of all joints and angles with brush-like strokes. Immediately after spreading the compound, a paper tape is pressed into the wet compound to reinforce the drywall and to smooth away excess compound material. The same compound is also used to cover nail and screw depressions in the panel caused by the installation of mechanical structures.
On large projects, Tapers may use automatic taping tools that apply the joint compound and tape in one step. Of utmost importance in drywall finishing is drying time since drywall compounds require water or vinyl binders that require time for application and cure time to dry. The choice of compounds will affect drying time and finished effect.
Tapers apply second and third coats of the compound, sanding the treated areas where needed after each coat to create a smooth, clean surface on which paint or other wall coverings can be applied. The process for finishing drywall has evolved over many decades and is an overlapping process in which each step or application has an effect on the next step.
When the job requires it, the Taper will apply textured surfaces to walls and ceilings using various finishing techniques and drywall tools such as trowels, brushes, or spray guns. Drywall Finishers and Decorators sometimes work with materials that are hazardous or toxic, such as when they are required to remove lead-based drywalls. In the most dangerous situations, Drywall Finishers work in a sealed self-contained suit to prevent inhalation of or contact with hazardous materials.
The Finishing Trades Institute Drywall Apprenticeship Program also includes Stud Framing – making frames of metal or wood studs attached to the floor and ceiling as tracks to attach drywall; Suspended Ceilings – installing framework following plans or blueprints and inserting tiles to the frames; Partitions and Curtain Wall – a non load bearing wall to separate or divide a room made to specifications; Raised Access Flooring – an elevated structural floor above a solid substrate to create a void for passage of mechanical or electrical services.