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Also commonly known as a taping knife, a drywall knife is one of the essential drywall tools useful for spreading mud. This mud is also called the joint compound and is applied to the internal corners where walls tend to intersect. For this, usually, a right-angled knife is used.
The knife features a wide blade that performs the spreading job over the nail and screw indents in applying new drywalls. It is also useful for covering seams using fiberglass or paper drywall tape.
A few more common uses of this knife include creating artistic wall finishes, smoothing coverings on walls, and patching holes. Read on to know more about drywall knives.
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|Top||Warner 12" ProGrip Blue Steel Drywall Taping Knife||Check Price on Amazon|
|Top||Red Devil 4218 Flexible Taping Knife, 6"||Check Price on Amazon|
|Top||10" Blue Steel Soft Grip Taping Knife||Check Price on Amazon|
Overview of Drywall Taping Knives
Drywall usually consists of a gypsum core and smooth paper on both the coarse and finish sides on the rear. Available in varying thicknesses, a drywall forms holes or gaps at the time of installation in between the adjacent boards.
The drywall taping knife, mud, and tape fill these holes and prevent them from breaking and coming apart. Using a drywall knife, mud is filled into the joint, and a layer of tape is then applied over it.
Again, an extra layer of mud is applied over the tape’s surface. Doing so makes sure that the joint is sealed and paves the way for light sanding and finishing once the mud dries completely.
A drywall knife usually has a handle made using plastic, metal, rubber, or wood. At the handle’s end, a thin metallic sheet or the blade extends outward to have a wider look than the typical taller appearance.
3 Best Drywall Taping Knives in 2023
It is the quality of tools in use that distinguishes a smoothly running, on-time, and on-budget project from the lagging, overbudget, and upsetting one. A project does not always require the best tools but instead, the right ones for its smooth execution.
It’s essential to have the right drywall knife, which is one of the tools required for hassle-free execution.
Unfortunately, getting one such knife while shopping online is likely to be a tedious task, especially for first-time buyers. However, each buyer should be able to get the right drywall knife for the targeted project without any hassle and with confidence.
For this purpose, the following are the top 3 drywall knives to consider. Each of them is detailed with its pros and cons. We hope our list will help you find the right knife at a great price.
Warner 12″ ProGrip Blue Steel Drywall Taping Knife
Consider this sturdy drywall knife, especially if you are not a professional. The first reason for this lies in the brand name, Warner, which has been there for over 90 years for winning the hearts of both professionals and ordinary consumers with its quality, innovative products.
The brand is known for its soft grip taping knives and ProGrip putty knives. This knife is just a testimony to its quality and build. This is the second reason to try this taping knife.
The 12-inch drywall knife is useful for mixing some uneven drywall with a joint compound such that the unevenness does not get noticed at all. It’s also helpful in scraping old paint off the drywall and adding plaster for filling holes, texturing walls, and applying finishing coats to drywall joints.
For using the knife for these tasks, there is no need to be seasoned drywall professional. As the knife’s sharp blade measures 12 inches, it is more suitable for applying finishing coats.
The ProGrip collection of Warner’s taping knives is known for its perfect blend of blue steel blades, ergonomic handles, and soft grip. This ensures perfect safety to your palm and fingers that will never move while the knife is in use. Its stiffness is ideal, yet it is sufficiently flexible to finish off a board.
The blade receives sufficient support due to aluminum backing. It also flares out at the edges to access the corners. This is undoubtedly a sturdy design.
- Sharp and sturdy
- Stiff yet flexible
- Soft grip
- Ergonomic handle design
- Subject to rust when cleaned with water
Red Devil 4218 6-Inch Flex Taping Knife
Consider this taping knife if you are on a tight budget and are looking for a versatile tool for completing different projects. Red Devil is an esteemed brand name that is known for its quality and cheaper tools.
This knife is just one more addition to that collection. Although made in China, this knife looks well made, is rightly sized for most hands, and comes with a handle having a metal end to thump anything that is sticking while scraping or painting.
A great feature of this knife is its versatility. You can use it for stripping caulk, scraping paint even off a glass, doing small mud work, and feathering. Thus, it is a must-have knife in the arsenal of home tools.
Designed by the makers of a diversified collection of hand tools for professional and home improvement, this taping knife seems to be of professional quality. The black nylon handle, being resistant to solvents as well as shatterproof, is made using propylene. It is designed for its utmost safety and reliability. The handle is also easy to clean.
Similarly, the precision-ground blade made up of high carbon steel is made to be rust-resistant as far as possible and lengthens through the handle. The nail setting head is made up of solid steel and is plated with brass, which proves itself useful for placing drywall nails and performing other hammering jobs.
The brass head is highly useful for those areas that require a tap. The multiple edges add to the overall smooth performance regardless of the usage purpose and the targeted spots such as rounded surfaces, cracks, nooks, and corners.
The big curve is ideal for stripping paint, while the hook’s inner curve is perfect for ripping old caulk from the corners due to its right sharpness level. The blade comes with a good level of flex but is not very thin and yet possesses a sharp edge. The solid edge does not flex at the time of applying pressure to it, yet the blade is flexible for feathering.
- Nice weight
- Easy to clean
- Resistant to rust in most cases
- Safe handles
- Most affordable
- Risk of rusting when exposed to water
- A bit flimsy handle
- Difficult-to-remove sticker
LEVEL5 8-Inch Blue Steel Soft Grip Taping Knife
This is another branded knife whose brand has a good reputation in the market. The drywall tools from Level5 are known for their premium-grade builds that are ideal for both home improvement and professional DIY tasks.
The most reliable aspect of this taping knife is that it is made using almost 20 years of input from expert finishers. This is perhaps the reason why it is one of the most ergonomically engineered drywall knives in the market.
The blade of this knife is sturdier, thicker, and wider than the most conventional designs. It is made using blue steel of high quality to ensure the desired flex level.
Unlike the other drywall knives, this knife has a blade that is coated using a rust-protective substance. However, this is likely to come off when you use it to make it susceptible to rust. Proper care and storage can prevent it from rusting, though.
The handle possesses an ergonomic, lightweight design ensuring a comfortable grip to eliminate fatigue and keep you working longer. Thus, you can use the knife throughout the day without any hassle.
Further, the handle is made using a glass-reinforced nylon core. As a result, it is resistant to impact and solvents. It is also double riveted to the blade with the help of rivets made up of rust-resistant stainless steel.
One more useful feature of this knife is its hammer end made up of alloy metal, which helps reset drywall nails. It also plays a role in ensuring protection when the blade gets dropped. You also get a big hang hole for easy storage and carry.
- Solid feel
- Good weight
- Good grip
- Sharp blade
- Impact resistance
- It may not be that flexible as you may expect
How to choose the Best Drywall Taping Knife
Size is one of the essential features to consider when it comes to buying a drywall knife because it determines the construction phase for which the tool is suitable.
The size range for these knives is 3 to 14 inches. The smaller ones, meaning 6” and smaller, are ideal for the initial drywall project phases. Due to their small size, these models are capable of penetrating smaller corners and crevices.
They also tend to use more pressure to make the mud go inside the seams and the holes that the screwing procedure has left behind. However, these smaller drywall knives are likely to make marks and result in uneven surfaces.
It is okay to have them during the initial stages, as adding another coat will make them intangible. On the other hand, larger models that are 6” and above are ideal for finishing, because they enable you to cover a greater area with lighter pressure.
The larger knives are also apt for leveling the tracks that the smaller knives may leave and feathering mud. Finally, they result in a clean surface towards the end phases of the project once detailing is over.
The most popular sizes are 6, 8, and 10-inch knives for usual drywall work, while the commonly used sizes range from 5 to 12 inches (5 to 30 cm wide). The smaller versions are known as spackle knives that are useful for patching small holes. The handle is well-balanced to facilitate clearance for fingers.
The 5- or 6-inch knife is worthy of your special attention, as it is middle-sized and is a part of a special niche. It is suitable for applying mud as well as performing detail/finishing work. As of now, it is the most-used size. Thus, many professionals prefer to have an array of 6-inch knives for any drywall project.
A 6-inch taping knife is of great significance, especially for drywall finishers. It is reserved for scooping drywall mud, coating angles, installing mesh tape, mixing hot mud, and cleaning many things such as buckets and boxes.
Although a 6-inch knife is more common than a 5-inch one, you will admire the benefits of the latter if you can get your hands on it. The 5-inch one is a general-purpose knife.
The sides of 5- and 6-inch knives are likely to curve smoothly from the edge to the handle. Unlike the larger knives of 8, 10, and 12 inches, a 6-inch knife typically does not feature square corners projecting from the handle before reverting to the edge.
In simple words, it has the shape of a half-circle instead of a rectangle. To be more precise, it is the shape of half ellipse and not an isosceles trapezoid. This shape was introduced originally to coat the internal drywall corners or angles. Further, the curved edge prevents gouging into the angle’s opposing side while coating the angle’s one side.
For getting the best 6-inch knife, you should look for flexibility, as it is the most important factor. For an experienced tape, a certain level of flexibility is desirable for using the knife. A more flexible knife is preferable while coating angles and adding a layer of tape, while a stiff knife is ideal for scraping the material.
The former, however, needs more pressure to press the mud from the pear tape’s rear. Only an experienced finisher will be able to feel it. A few finishers go for a stainless steel model, but it is usually stiffer. For some, it is too stiff.
Most of the 4-, 6-, and 8-inch drywall knives are preferred for applying the mud, taping, and removing surplus mud. A 6-inch knife is for scooping and smoothing wet mud into the seams. A larger version is for feathering the same over a wider area to make seams less tangible post-wall finishing and painting.
Thus, a 12-inch model is kept reserved for feathering areas wherein a ceiling or a wall could be bumpy or inclined. This is because its larger surface facilitates a slow surface transition due to which sloping becomes less visible.
You will also come across corner taping knives, which are commonly called drywall corner trowels. They feature a characteristic 90-degree angle in the center for use on the drywall’s internal corners where the tape is to be applied.
90-degree angle presses tape and mud into both sides of the corner together to render a more consistent and even edge. Trowels have a blade with a larger surface area than normal to ensure quickness.
It is usually beneath an offset handle due to which there is no way to leave indentations or finger marks. However, trowels can ake your practice more than usual, especially for feathering, so that you learn to use them well.
Further, they are not meant for application in small areas. Hence, professionals prefer a mix of drywall knives and trowels to execute projects. Unlike knives, the trowels of professional grade are made only of stainless steel, because trowels need not be as flexible as the knives.
Drywall Knife Blades
The blade of a drywall knife is usually made up of stainless steel, blue steel, or carbon steel. The carbon steel models are fairly uncommon, and you will see them in use occasionally. Let’s understand the pros and cons of these materials to know the differences and choose the right blade material.
- Carbon Steel: It is more flexible than stainless steel. Hence, it is suitable for fine tasks such as smoothing and feathering. Nevertheless, it is susceptible to rusting due to which it is challenging to maintain it. Thus, it is not so famous as a drywall knife blade material.
- Blue Steel: This is typically carbon steel but is processed to ensure rust resistance. This is evident with a dark, blue-black surface due to which this material gets its name. The resulting material is more flexible than stainless steel as well as more resistant to rust than carbon steel. Generally, this material is what more experienced drywall experts prefer, as they make the best use of its flexibility. These experts have infallible skills and the experience to use the flexibility for making very fine tunings. However, blue steel needs a bit more maintenance than stainless, but applying a light oil coat in between uses keeps the material in good shape.
- Stainless Steel: This is an exclusive form of steel that is resistant to rust and contains not more than 10.5% chromium. It is used for making taping knife blades due to its durability; it is hard and long-lasting if the user maintains it properly. A stainless-steel blade, due to this reason, can last for several years. On the flip side, the same hardness of the material makes it less flexible than other knives. Thus, a drywall knife having a blade made up of stainless steel will make you face a tough time while feathering mud and reaching the corners. It is also susceptible to permanent leaning than other types of blades. Moreover, stainless steel is tougher to restore to a new edge than softer steel assortments.
A drywall knife’s handle is commonly made using rubber, plastic, or wood. Each of these materials has its pros and cons. Which one is suitable for you depends on factors such as comfort, durability, and price.
Wooden handles are conventional as well as famous amongst those whose top priorities are longevity and comfort. They look pretty, hold up to the diverse task demands, and are comfortable to handle.
However, they are costlier as well as bulkier than other handle materials. Thus, although beautiful, they can be heavy enough to make carrying difficult for you.
On the other hand, plastic is more affordable and durable due to which it is an ideal choice for those on a strict budget. With minimal cost, a plastic handle lasts for a long time. On the flip side, hard plastics are usually considered less comfortable than a few other options.
For those who want the right balance of comfort and durability, rubber is a great option. You enjoy a better grip with a lighter hand while working with the drywall mud. Thus, knives having a rubber handle are perfect for feathering and finishing tasks demanding maximum precision.
Apart from the material, a drywall knife handle is available in more than one design. The design tends to influence the comfort or use of the knife. You choose from offset, long, or coated handles.
The offset design does not have the handle in line but outlines with the blade. This paves the way to more clearance for fingers and brings down the likelihood of inadvertently marking the mud using knuckles. It also enables you to take the flatter to the wall so that getting an ideal finish is easy.
On the other hand, a few drywall knives come with an extended handle. It becomes easier to reach areas close to the ceiling or those that are hard to access. However, you also have to carry more weight than other handles, which negatively affects the ease of carrying.
A few drywall knives have plastic handles that come coated with another material, which is usually a soft-to-touch material such as rubber. Such handles provide the comfort, grip, and light touch without making you spend lavishly and while ensuring you the durability advantage.
Drywall Joint Knives vs. Taping Knives
A few makers tend to differentiate between taping or drywall knives and joint knives. Typically, joint knives are smaller being six inches and below; whereas, taping knives are bigger.
Further, joint knives are usually analogous to putty knives in terms of shape, which is rounded, sloping sides to the handle. However, sharpening mechanisms are not the same.
On the other hand, drywall or taping knives are usually more rectangular. Although exchangeable in a few applications, the shape variance stems from the requirement for a knife that can go inside corners.
A smaller size combined with a rounded shape easily fulfills this requirement without scraping or damaging the surface. However, these days, many professionals are getting inclined towards a trowel specially designed for this task.
Given below is one of the best drywall joint knives available in the market.
Kraft Tool Kraft DW733 6″ All Stainless Steel Joint Knife
Looking for a genuinely non-rusting blade is a time-consuming job when it comes to investing in one such drywall or taping knife. However, with this tool of a 6-inch wide blade, your search is likely to come to an end.
This Kraft tool drywall knife is as light as a feather. However, do not be fooled by its lightweight design, as it is seriously strong as any other professional-grade knife. Although its blade is made up of stainless steel, it is resistant to rust due to the anti-rust polish on it.
Both the blade and handle are designed using a single sheet of stainless steel. Such a build ensures both strength and longevity.
The 8-inch wide polished blade is useful for different drywall applications such as scraping and painting. The size is ideal for repair, taping, and patching tasks.
The handle has a flat and strong end for the nail setting. It is contoured and free of rivets to ensure comfort as well as keep fatigue away at the time of handling it. There is also a hang hole to provide you with easy storage.
- Polished blade
- Easiest to clean
Drywall Taping Knives vs. Putty Knives
Many consider these two knives to be the same and interchangeable. However, this is not true. Both putty and drywall knives have a flat blade and a handle.
Despite this, although you can intermittently use them for akin tasks, it is impossible to replace one with the other. As per their sizes, drywall knives have distinct purposes. Still, both types tend to save time and labor.
A putty knife is made to spread putty into dents without fingers. It is typically smaller than a taping knife. This knife is usually lightweight and has a blade whose width varies from 1.5 to 6.0 inches.
The blade can be rigid. It is likely to have a beveled edge for scraping or a bit flexible for spackling or spreading putty. Blades made using stainless steel, or other metals are usually an integral part of the toolbox and workshop.
However, for fast tasks, there are disposable plastic putty knives that are inexpensive. The handle is typically short that is around a palm’s width due to which the tool is easy to hold and control in tight areas.
On the other hand, the drywall taping knives are trade tools for contractors who keep more than six such knives for spreading and smoothing joint compounds. Both knives are considered ideal for scraping.
The rigid, beveled blade of a putty knife slips easily underneath loose and peeling paint to scrape it away before repainting. The drywall blade scrapes bits of dried mud from taped walls and even removes old wallpaper.
The drywall knives are exclusively used on walls at the time of mudding. Their blades may feel too wide at the time of re-taping and repairing small spots such as a narrow wall strip between the corner and a door frame. This is where putty knives are useful for smoothing compounds and scraping away thin wallpaper strips.
Cleaning Drywall Knives
Cleaning any knife is essential if you wish to increase its lifespan and preserve its quality of life. Water and elbow grease are enough to clean a taping knife.
It is essential to clean your knife as soon as possible. This is because allowing the drywall mud to stay on the blade will harden it. It will be difficult for you to clean the knife after.
The accumulation of this hardening is also likely to impair the blade’s use until you remove all hardened mud. You may also see rust on the metallic surface of the knife.
A drywall taping knife is an essential part of the toolkit of any drywall DIY enthusiast or professional. It is designed for applying a joint compound or drywall mud, applying the tape, and finishing.
These knives are available in different sizes, blade and handle materials, and handle designs. Consider these factors for choosing the most suitable one for your project. There are many overwhelming options when it comes to buying drywall knives. Of all the sizes available, the 6-inch version is the most versatile size.
Still, it is not wise to stick to this standard size, as each project shall dictate its size requirements.
Hi, I am Jay. I am the creator of Knife Guides, your one-stop site for everything related to knives. I am a computer engineer by profession, knife aficionado by passion. Here I work with a group of people who’ve always had a passion for knives and blades. Over the years we’ve kind of become experts and decided to share our knowledge and ideas. I am also an avid hiker and enjoy offshore gamefishing.