Levels of Drywall Finish When building a new home or renovating an existing one, few home owners get into specifics when it comes to drywall. And why not? From a distance or with paint on it, you can hardly notice the spectrum of levels of finish you can get. That is until your new potlights you installed are shining right on it or you have new drywall right beside existing drywall. This is where it is important to be clear with your project manager and drywall mudders as to what your expectations are so a correct scope of work can be applied to your project. Listed below are the different stages of drywall finishes and a few other tips.

The Five Levels of Drywall

This is the lowest level of finish. All joints and angles are taped and mudded. The mud is left on thick and has trowel marks and ridges. Screws and nails are left uncovered.

Level one finish

This is occasionally found in garages and unfinished basements. All joints and angles are taped and mudded. Excess mud is troweled off wet. Screw holes are mudded over.

Your basic (and most common) level of finish found in homes. All joints and angles are tapped and muddied as are screw holes. Once that mud has dried, a second coat of mud is applied. The drywall is then sanded smooth and made clean of all imperfections. A coat of primer is then added before paint.

A step up from level 3 as a third coat of mud is applied to all joints and angles and is then sanded smooth and primed.

Level two finish


This is the highest level of drywall finish. After three coats of mud on all joints and angles, a very thin skim coat is applied to the entire surface of the drywall. This is to create uniformity in the texture of the drywall. You will find this level of drywall in many art galleries and high end hotels.

Have a conversation with your project manager before the drywallers start. Let this guide help you to be clear as to what you expect, but be aware that with each level of finish, there is a significant increase in cost.

If you are doing a renovation be sure to inspect the current drywall to see its level of finish so you can match it and consider doing a skim coat across any areas where there will be patches to avoid inconsistencies.

Jason Zavitz, Alair Homes Vancouver Project Manager