Drywall Finish Levels

Applying and finishing drywall is a difficult process that requires a great deal of craftsmanship, and for that reason, both the gypsum wallboard industry and drywall professionals have set out to codify a set of professional standards that divide up the process into 5 distinct drywall finish levels. Those looking to achieve the most professional look possible should highly consider these five steps when venturing into the world of drywall application and renovation.

5 Levels of Drywall Finish

The 5 levels of drywall finish all dictate various instances in which drywall needs to be applied and finished for specific circumstances. Nearly all of these levels have a distinct role to play in the long run, and carry a number of pros and cons for their intended uses. So what is a level 5 drywall finish, and when is it used? Well, to answer that, let’s start from the basics and work our way up.

  • Level 1 – This level implies that drywall joint tape has been embedded in joint compound, but there has been no further work done. This level is often sufficient for garage and workshop spaces, where aesthetic visuals aren’t super important. The downside is that this drywall finish isn’t nearly as smooth and clean as other levels. Level 1 is also useful for wainscoting, where the lower 45 inches of a wall will be covered.
  • Level 2 – This means that a technician has skimmed a thin coat of joint compound over the tape, and the drywall screw holes have been covered. This level is perfectly fine for those looking to install tile, or once again for spaces like workshops or garages.
  • Level 3 – At this level, finishers apply a coat of joint compound to the tape and screws. For walls that are planning to receive a knockdown texture, level 3 should be the stopping point. Since texturing will produce a rougher finish than level 3, there’s no real need to progress past this point in these instances.
  • Level 4 – This level is often considered the classic drywall finish. At level 4, another coat of joint compound is applied to the tape and screws, and the dried compound is sanded. This is typically used when a wall will be painted or covered with wallpaper. Also, a lightweight texture most commonly an orange peel texture can be applied to the surface Homeowners should also never look lower than level 4 for ceilings, as it is the ideal finish for them.
  • Level 5 – The level 5 drywall finish definition states that a wall has been applied with a skim coat. This is a thin coat of diluted joint compound that can be applied using a roller, a tape knife, by hand, or by being sprayed. Skim coats are an easy way to create flat and uniform surfaces on walls and ceilings so they can be painted or re-textured. The two main instances where this level is used are when the finish will be glossy, or when light is angled low enough as to highlight bumps and depressions in a wall or ceiling. This icing on the cake finish will not be applied by default, and will need to be discussed with a contractor ahead of time.

Planning For Drywall Levels

An important factor to note is that the 5 drywall finish levels are not a normal part of the conversation between homeowners and contractors, numerically speaking. Instead, homeowners should indicate to contractors what their intended goals and visions are, so they can properly translate your requests to a drywall technician.

Sunshine Textures Inc.

As one of South Florida’s leading drywall and popcorn ceiling removal contractors, Sunshine Textures offers a wide range of professional interior and exterior services, including drywall finishing, for any residential or commercial property. With over 20 years of combined experience, Sunshine Textures is the company Florida residents call first when looking for no mess, no stress drywall finishing services. 

As a licensed & insured professional drywall installation company, we promise exceptional results at your convenience. Contact us today for any questions or comments regarding our services, or to receive a quote, so you can get the exceptional drywall level you desire.

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