After refinishing most of the drywall in my basement remodeling project I decided to try to tackle two little areas of drywall where my drywall tape had “bubbled up”. There was actually a layer or two of dried joint compound over these two spots, but they had popped out from the wall a little bit and when I pushed them in with my finger they flexed a teeny bit, which mean that my drywall tape had not adhered to the joint compound beneath it.
Bubbles can appear in your wall when the drywall tape doesn’t stick properly.
Obviously having drywall bubbles in the wall makes it almost impossible to paint well because if the bubbles flex the paint could crack and flake off after it has dried. And, besides, having these weird bulges in my wall was not exactly attractive.
So I had to somehow get rid of the drywall tape bubbles that were on my wall. Both of my bubbles were in different parts of the room and both were about 5 inches long. Drywall bubbles are usually caused by either not applying your tape to a wet enough joint compound or by squeezing out so much joint compound from under the tape when you apply it that there’s almost nothing left to stick.
I decided to take a different approach to each one and here’s what I found. The two methods I ended up using to get ride of my drywall tape bubbles were the “cut and replace” method and the “just add water” method. Both worked, though I think I prefer one to the other.
Just Add Water Method: The main reason you might have a bubble in your drywall tape is due to the fact that the drywall tape, for whatever reason, didn’t stick as well to the joint compound beneath it as it should have. I was using plain paper drywall tape, which means there was no adhesive, but I was instead relying on the moisture of the joint compound to keep the tape on. Initially I wasn’t dipping my paper tape in water before laying it against the joint compound, but later on I did. I decided to try the minimalist approach: I used a razor and slided a small slit at the lower end of the bubble. I then took a Q-tip dipped in water slid it into the slit, soaking the inside of the tape bubble. I then removed the Q-tip and pressed down on the bubble with my drywall knife and sure enough, the bubble stayed flat! The water had moistened the joint compound just enough to make it “sticky” again and hold the drywall tape down. If this didn’t work I could have also tried pushing some wet joint compound up into the bubble as well. I then slapped across a layer of wet joint compound over the whole area of drywall tape with the bubble and slit and it stayed put and, after drying, was practically invisible.
For this bubble I simply cut off the drywall tape and replaced it.
Cut and Replace Method: I had another drywall tape bubble that was a bit longer and though I tried making a slit, it just wasn’t cooperating. So I took my razor and cut a straight line parallel across the top and bottom of the tape bubble and then I cut another piece of tape that was the same length. I put some more joint compound in over the joint, dipped my short piece of replacement drywall tape in clean water and wiped it off with my fingers and placed it over the joint compound. I then ran over the drywall tape with my drywall knife and just smoothed out that area of tape as though I was putting up a whole new line of tape.
Both methods worked fine, though getting the drywall tape damp before putting it up did help it stick a lot better. The nice thing about making mistakes with drywall finishing is that you can almost rip out what you put in and start from scratch without incurring large costs or making too much of a mess.
After I replaced the tape I just finished the spot just like any other area: I applied some more joint compound, allowed it to dry overnight and then used a damp rag to smooth out the area the next morning. I think I ended up doing the process two more times before the spot where I replaced the tape was completely invisible and looked just like any other part of the finished wall. There is a definite art to working with joint compound and drywall tape and occasionally dealing with drywall tape bubbles is just part of creative process!