Step 3: Wipe it smooth
Photo 3: Trowel the first coat
Smooth the joint compound with the squeegee knife. Start in the top corner and pull down.
Smooth the mud with the squeegee knife. Keep a damp rag and a mud pan handy. Use the rag to wipe the blade after every few strokes and the mud pan to wipe off excess mud that builds up on the blade. Starting at the top corner, set the squeegee knife against the wall and pull it down (Photo 3). Overlap each vertical pass until you finish the section.
You may have to go over some areas a few times. It won’t take you long to get the hang of using the squeegee knife. When you’re done with the top section, roll joint compound on the lower half. Pull the squeegee knife from the bottom up (Photo 4). Touch up along the edges as you go.
Let the first coat of joint compound dry. To speed up drying time, especially if the air is humid, bring a space heater and a box fan or two. You don’t have to sand between coats; just knock off lumps or proud mud lines with a 5- or 6-in. putty knife to avoid streaks in the next coat (Photo 5).