You’re finishing up a major project in your home, and it’s time to put the finishing touches on the walls. Before you start to consider paint colors, you need to make sure that you adhere to local building codes and fire tape the walls. This one major action can prevent your home from going up in a blaze of fire in the event of a major accident.

You can install fire tape on your own with a little bit of finesse and some attention to detail. Learn more about fire taping, why it’s necessary, and how you can tackle this project in this short guide.

What is Fire Taping?

Fire tape is a specific product that is installed to slow down or prevent household fires from occurring. It is often used in certain areas of the home such as the garage, the utility room, or the furnace room. You may be required by the building code to fire tape the joints between the sheets of drywall that are hung in these areas.

As you may have already guessed, the tape itself is a fire-resistant building material that makes it less likely for flames to find their way between the panels. Keep in mind that fire taping drywall is not just another building code requirement. It could very well save your home in the event of a major disaster, so you should make every effort to fire tape the walls properly.

Fire tape is designed to cover minor gaps between the boards that comprise your walls. It will not hold a major fire at bay if it is used to cover wide gaps and holes in the sheetrock. Make sure you know all of the proper procedures and protocols before you get started installing your fire tape.

How to Fire Tape Drywall?

The first step to fire taping is to ensure that you have all of the materials you need ready and available. Make a trip to your local home improvement store for several rolls of fire tape and some joint compound.

You will also need a drywall knife and a clean paint tray that can be filled with one to two inches of clean water.

Before you can begin to fire tape, you need to make sure that all of your drywall is properly measured and hung. It is much easier to do all of your fire taping at once instead of doing it sheet by sheet.

  1. Measure how much fire tape you will need to cover the drywall joint from top to bottom.
  2. Cut the tape to the appropriate length and dip it into the water. Dampen both sides but do not submerge the tape completely in water.
  3. Starting at the top of the wall, place the fire tape along the seam and use the drywall knife to smooth it down.
  4. Allow the dampened tape to set for five to ten minutes. You may choose to do another seam while you wait for this particular piece of tape to dry.
  5. When it seems like the tape has dried, you will want to take another drywall knife and spread joint compound directly over the tape. Once again, you will allow this to dry before moving on.

From here, it is much like finishing any other type of tape. You will sand and smooth out the first coat of joint compound before applying a second coat. Once the second coat is dry, you will sand it again to ensure that everything is nice and smooth. At this point, fire taping drywall seams should all be complete.

Keep in mind that you want to get your walls as smooth as possible, particularly if you will be painting over them in the future. Fire taping the drywall in the garage may not require such meticulous attention to detail if you do not intend to finish the sheetrock. If you have any doubts about your ability to get the walls smooth, you should consider hiring a professional to fire tape the walls.

What is the Widest Gap for Fire Taping Drywall?

Knowing how far apart your drywall seams can be is important if you are using fire tape to help protect your home. Many homeowners try to put drywall sheets as close together as possible, but there is definitely some room for small errors. Fire tape can be used to cover normal joints and angles ranging from 1/8” to ¼” in width.

You cannot use fire tape to cover up wider joint gaps or large holes. Make sure to plan accordingly when hanging your drywall or gypsum board to avoid making this major mistake.

Taking Care of Your Home

Fire taping your home is an important precaution for fire prevention. You want to do everything you can to protect your most valuable asset. Installing fire tape on your own doesn’t have to be extremely difficult, but it does require great attention to detail. Consider whether you have the time and energy to devote to fire taping and installing two layers of joint compound.

Thomas Luttrell
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