How to tape and finish drywall To tape joints you can use either mesh or paper tape. To apply the tape you start by filling the joint with all purpose joint compound. Apply a layer of the compound using a 6 inch knife. Put the tape on the wall and press it into place using your 6 inch knife. Then put a thin coat of joint compound over the tape. Let it dry overnight and then put a second coat on and start spreading the compound out using your knife. Let the second coat dry and then add a 3rd coat. After the 3rd coat dries then you can sand the surface.