I'm finishing a small area of drywall, using the joint compound you mix with water, 20 minute open time.

I believe my second coat was too dry, as it didn't go on smoothly.

Can I just add the next coat on top? Maybe sand a little first to get off the big bumps. Any tips for consistency to mix it too?


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  • Corner beads take quite a bit of mud to fill anyway, and they should be tapered out at least 10-12". Give it a quick scrape and carry on. Lots of good tips below.
    – isherwood
    Commented Apr 5, 2016 at 16:27

5 Answers 5


It looks like you have enough joint compound on that to sand it down already... but I can't be sure from a picture. Yes, if you are going to apply more joint compound (I like to call it mud), you should probably sand that, or at least use a damp towel to knock down the really rough spots.

If you aren't familiar with the right consistency, buy some fresh mud and compare your consistency.

Also, a couple more tips: don't scrape your putty knife (trowel or whatever) off into your bucket of unused mud, just throw it away, because inevitably, you will put little chunks of stuff back into the fresh joint compound, making it difficult to apply smoothly. And you generally want to apply joint compound in an upward motion whenever possible... it just helps.


its hard to tell from the photo and description, but your mix looks poor (bubbles and chunks). always add cold, cold water to the bucket first, then powder. mix to a thin slurry and then add a little more at a time until you get the consistency you want (a little thicker than cake batter - should be just stiff enough to not slump on its own, but right at the edge of flowing). dont mix at too high of a speed and keep the mixer head inside the mud to avoid pulling air bubbles in to the mud. and dont add powder after the first mixing session. like ben said, put your mud on a hawk or hand pan and never scrape off into the clean mud to avoid trapping debris. also, try to apply your mud with a sharp edged trowel or knife (with hooked edges if possible). do not use the 2x2 concrete slab you obviously used here to apply the mud.


It is hard to tell if your mix was even poor. I would guess it is but honestly you put the layer down so unevenly that it is hard to tell. If you say it was too dry then go with that - should have the texture like moist, fluffy mash potatoes.

Two tips here:

  • if your mud look like this after it dries it isn't the end of the world. This is basically what I get when I hire a new kid doing drywall. You simply grab your putty knife and scrape the hell out of this. This corner would take 15-20 seconds - you need to scrape off any high points, bumps, and if the drywall-to-mud is too thick. You would not sand this by any means.

  • after you need to lay a smooth coat down. I think you may be using too small of a knife for this layer. To me it looks like you are trying to make two swoops with a 6" knife when you should be doing one with a 10-12" knife.


Looks like you are ready to sand a little and continue. Especially for small areas, I just buy premixed joint compound. And as Ben said, never, ever put the working mud back in with the new mud. Take some clean compound out, put it in a mud pan (or at least something with a sharp edge), use it and then throw the remainder away.


100% Agree with all these answers. Never put, what I like to call dirty mud back in the bucket, always use cold water, Or I use Dawn liquid soap along with water, It really makes it glide on smooth. And with any mixture when spreading mud, you want it a little thicker than pancake batter. The longer you mix it the better. No clumps and as you use the mud scrape the residual mud left on the bucket walls back down into the bottom so it wont dry up and mess up the entire mixture. use your sheetrock trowel or scraper and run it across and knock down any big hunks that are dry, sand it down even if its not perfect, drywall mud is made to be done in multiple steps, to much will result in cracks. Less is always more and it will dry so much quicker. you can use a heat gun or a fan to speed up the dry time if you're in a hurry to get it done. Hope this helps..

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