If you’re new to hanging drywall and its subsequent taping and bedding, you may not know about corner bead. Corner bead is a slender metal (galvanized steel or aluminum) or plastic strip that covers the outside corner of a wall. Most pros advise against plastic corner bead due to its propensity to crack or break at some point during installation or maybe in the future.
Metal lasts virtually forever and is easier to install. Knowing how to install corner bead properly not only adds a crisp, clean edge to outside wall corners, it also adds protection against this relatively vulnerable area of your home’s construction.
This area tends to be like the nose on a face: Since it’s out there, exposed, the tendency for it to be battered when moving furniture, banged against with toys, or sometimes simply run into from a miscalculation when negotiating a turn, is great.
Measure, But Buy More Than You Think You’ll Need
Corner bead can be found at almost any hardware store or home improvement center. When purchasing it, be sure to buy enough to accommodate your needs by measuring your outside corners carefully, but also get a little more in the event some of it becomes bent or damaged.
To install corner bead properly, try to cover the outside wall corner using the bead with one, long continuous piece instead of several shorter pieces spliced together. This results in a much smoother, more professional appearance when you mud over it with joint compound.
Which Fastener to Use: Nails or Screws?
Experience in this type of project and the hardware with which you install corner bead makes a difference. At first glance, using nails seems to be the fastest, easiest way and to many skilled carpenters and craftsmen, nails driven ever five to six inches do the job well.
But unless you feel certain you won’t be needing to pull out a miss-driven nail, which poses the high risk of damaging your already-installed drywall, it is a better idea to stick with using 1 to 1 ½ inch screws. Since whatever hardware you use needs to be driven in slightly below the surface of the corner bead (countersunk), a screw driven in with a power drill also provides a degree of control for many newcomers to this type of installation that hammering in nails does not.
Don’t worry about the dimpling that occurs when nails or screws are countersunk; this gets hidden when the corner bead area is mudded (joint compound is applied). Don’t rely on just a visual evaluation to check that the fasteners you use have been driven in slightly below the surface. Make sure they are countersunk by running a mud knife down the length of the corner bead. Any clicking sound indicates that the nails or screws need to be driven or screwed in farther.
Also, when driving in either nails or screws as you install corner bead, it’s important to drive them in so that they anchor into a wood framing piece after going through the bead and the drywall. Fasteners attached only to the drywall eventually will work out and cause the corner to bead to loosen.
Learning how to install corner bead the right way can save you from a potential disaster. If the corner bead comes off because of improper installation, you may end up re-doing the entire section with new drywall and corner bead in addition to having to tape and bed the whole area again. So take your time, follow these tips, and do the job right.