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Is it considered acceptable in drywall / sheetrock work to use caulk to finish an interior corner instead of using tape with joint compound?

This is not my own DIY idea – this was suggested to me by a drywall contractor.

In this specific instance it was a wall-to-ceiling corner which is about 26' long.

My sense of things is that this would be a shortcut, and if caulking was a high quality substitute for taping then no one would ever use tape. I'm pretty sure caulk would be more prone to cracking over time, especially since caulk shrinks and the joint would have no reinforcement.

But there could certainly be methods and/or products I'm not familiar with!

  • 4
    I have never heard of a drywall guy using caulk in a corner. Caulk is expensive compared to mud and tape, I like to use pretaped corners they cost a bit more than tape but look awesome. Corners are cheaper than a quality caulk. – Ed Beal Mar 6 at 20:11
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    Is there something about this particular corner that calls for alternative solutions? I suspect that there's more to the story. – isherwood Mar 6 at 20:23
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    @isherwood that's a fair question but I don't think there is anything special... the ceiling does follow the roof slope so the angle is > 90. its about 10' up. That's all I can think of. – DaveInCaz Mar 6 at 20:42
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    Oh, that explains it. Your taper wants to use his hand-dandy corner trowel. Tell him to bend it. – isherwood Mar 6 at 20:47
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    @isherwood I see - you mean that he's not confident to tape a non-90 degree corner without that tool. got it, thanks – DaveInCaz Mar 7 at 12:16
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First I would not even have a conversation with that contractor. Gone instantly. If he is cutting corners here, what else would he do without you knowing? Bye.

Caulk in corners - I have had to do this as a temporary fix but here are your issues:

  • your corner isn't really a corner. Corners look good because of the sharp angle. You can for sure see if a corner has been caulked and it looks off to the eye. If you don't care about aesthetics then no big deal.
  • paint does not adhere to caulk like it does drywall/mud. No matter if you use the most paintable caulk in the world, the caulked part will look off. Paint will chip, paint will be more easily discolored, and touching up painted caulk will look lumpy.
  • caulk will not last unless the home environment is both well conditioned and very stable. So you might get away with caulking an inside wall on the first story of a two story house with a basement that is always set to 68F. Might last you 7-10 years if you don't touch it. Doing a wall on a ranch in a temperate climate, the drywall will shrink and expand, make the best caulk pull or get brittle within a year or two and you will have to constantly have to recaulk. Simply not a long-term solution.

But the fact that this topic was breached with a home owner is a huge red flag. No normal contractor that does drywall would even have this thought in their head.

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    Cutting corners... I see what you did. – JPhi1618 Mar 6 at 21:09
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    @JPhi1618 - I am glad someone caught the pun. – DMoore Mar 7 at 1:25
  • Find a capable drywall guy that knows about Strait-Flex P90. (If it isn't clear, the "drywall contractor" you found wasn't actually one.) – Aloysius Defenestrate Mar 7 at 3:37
  • I once used spackle to repair a really bad corner, to the point of having to reshape a good 2 feet of it. It is fiddly, hard to get the sides both straight at the same time. It is also prone to "sagging" so you need to stretch the job over a few days with sanding in between. It is not especially fun, and had I known then how big a job it was I would have cut half a foot of each drywall, install new on each side and done the corner with a premade tape corner and the joints with straight tape. And that was spackle. Caulk, not at all. – Stian Yttervik Mar 7 at 11:50
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No. Caulk might look great for a short time (if it doesn't shrink to oblivion right away), but it doesn't bond to the cut end of the gypsum panel at all. Eventually it'll crack loose.

You need tape in most cases to create a solid bond (tape-on-paper, essentially), and to add structure and continuity to the joint.

That said, I have used caulk to repair poorly-taped corners, just as an aesthetic tool.

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    Having a 26' long joint done well enough that caulk only would be acceptable would be a feat in itself. – JPhi1618 Mar 6 at 19:29
1

In a tiled shower yes, the corners are usually caulked rather than grouted like the joints; but drywall? no, it is a bad idea. Frank

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