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In a recent windstorm, a couple of shingles blew off my house. I had some water drip into my attic and seep through the drywall in my bedroom ceiling. As a result, a definitive section of seam tape came off.

I have included some photos below. What is the best way to repair this, please?

I suspect there will be a number of ways to go about this. If so, then my priorities in order of preference would be: simplicity, short repair time, cost, perfection of end result. (In other words, I would rather have a simple fix that looks good, than a complicated fix that is absolutely perfect.)

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There's really only one right way to do this. It takes a bit of time, but it's not difficult or complicated.

You'll want to replace the tape to ensure that the seam doesn't propagate through the paint. Pick up some premixed topping compound (available in gallon or smaller buckets), and a short roll of joint tape (cheap enough to not bother experimenting with other types of paper).

Cut a length of tape just shorter than the repair, then cut 1/4" or so off one edge so it fits comfortably in the depression. Fill the depression with mud using a taping or putty knife, then lay the tape into it. Drag the knife over it to embed it in the mud.

At this point you can opt to walk away and let it dry, or try and skim over it now to save time. By letting it dry first you eliminate the risk of pulling the tape around or wrinkling it.

Skim once or twice more, dragging the knife at a low angle and pressing firmly. There should be very little sanding to do if you do this properly.

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    +1 But also make sure that the leak is fixed and the area is really dry. Also check to see if the remaining tape and compound at each end of the missing section is firmly attached. If not remove back until you reack solid. – bib Apr 10 '16 at 10:57
  • @Isherwood - thanks. I asked for "premixed topping compound" at the local hardware store, and they pointed me to spackling (the stuff normally used to patch up small holes, etc). Is this the same thing? From a quick online search, they look a little different so I am not sure. – Roberto Apr 10 '16 at 14:24
  • @bib - thanks for the good points. Lead was repaired same day (I called in a roofing pro for that part), and no sign of water over a couple of rains since then. When removing the damaged tape, I made sure the cut the tape back far enough to get to sound material. So I should be good on these points. – Roberto Apr 10 '16 at 14:34
  • Spackle, in my experience, is much lighter (fluffier) and softer. I would not use it. – isherwood Apr 11 '16 at 13:14
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I much prefer to use the mesh tape that has a sticky back on it. Cut your tape to size, press it in place, and then spread your compound over it. The paper tape is messier, harder to work with, and can slip around. Also, my experience with spackling vs premixed drywall compound is that the spackling is dryer. It makes filling larger holes easier. It doesn't sag as much and plop on the floor if you're trying to put on lots. But if you're spreading over a larger area for a smooth finish, I think the drywall compound works better. (Spackling, however, comes in the smallest size container.)

  • I agree that mesh tape would work well here, where the void is vairly deep. For surface repairs mesh seems to want to emerge during sanding much easier than paper. – isherwood Apr 13 '16 at 13:14
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Get yourself a small bucket of pre-mixed tape compound in the Sheetrock section of Home Depot/Lowes, and 2 sizes of putty knives if you don't already own some. You would then put a thin coat or two overlapping the missing piece. Let it dry and sand lightly. It may take a few coats and sanding sessions to get near perfect.

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