Levels of Finish
The first thing to know about drywall finishing is that there are levels (0 through 5) of finish taping. These are not to be confused with the Texture of the wall. The Texture goes on top of the finish taping. Here are brief definitions of the different levels. For in-depth information, please refer to “Reviewing 5 Levels of Gypsum Board Finish” provided by National Gypsum.
0 – Bare drywall, this is the temporary construction stage that is before any taping is applied.
1 – Drywall tape applied to joints with drywall mud and no other treatment. This is used mostly in attics or other areas that will not be seen to meet code requirements. It is also known as “Fire-Tape”.
2 – The same as level one except that all nails and screws are covered with drywall mud and the excess mud is wiped away. This is also used in areas that won’t be seen or in areas where the look is not a concern.
3 – The same procedure as a level 2 finish, but with an added second coat of drywall mud to the joints and screws. This is used for walls/ceiling with a more heavy texture. It is not recommended for a more smooth or light texture.
4 – This is a more refined finish for walls/ceilings that will receive a smooth/light finish. It requires two coats of drywall mud over the drywall tape and three coats over the screws.
5 – The highest level of finish requires all of the same procedures as level 4, but also adds a “skim coat” or thin layer over the entire surface to eliminate any imperfections. There is a higher cost and time requirement associated with this level and is recommended for critical areas that receive a lot of lighting.