Drywall Tapers

Joint compound and tape are applied wet by drywall tapers who sand it smooth when dry. It’s a dusty occupation and for many years, drywall boards, joint compound and tape were made with asbestos.

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Drywall is a universal building product. It’s also known as sheetrock and gyproc, but no matter what you call gypsum wallboard you’re sure to have it surround you. Millions of square feet of drywall are hung, taped and finished every year across America.

It’s used in residential, commercial and industrial buildings. But it’s not exactly a dry product like the name suggests.

Drywall Tapers Job Roles and Responsibilities

Normally, drywallers specialize in either wallboard installation or finishing the product. They’re called hangers and tapers in industry jargon. Drywall hanging is a heavy, exhausting job whereas taping requires finesse and patience.

Drywall is hung right after all mechanical systems are installed. It’s called covering-up as drywall sheets hide unsightly wiring, pipes and ducts. Once boards are up, tapers move in and seal the seams with special adhesive tape. Then, tapers apply several coats of joint compound to blend the tape and fill imperfections.

Drywall tapers have specific roles and responsibilities. Their duties are routine and repetitious, but without skilled tapers, the finished product would be a mess.

Drywall taper roles include:

  • Covering gypsum wallboard seams with rolled tape dampened in a plaster solution
  • Filling nail holes and indentations with drywall joint compound
  • Sanding smooth between coats and repeating the filling
  • Fanning or blending joints for an even surface
  • Applying textures to ceilings and feature walls
  • Inspecting for flaws with a high-intensity light

Drywall is a product evolving from the old lath and plaster process. Before World War II, most buildings had their interior wall surfaces finished with wooden lath slats covered in wet plaster.

During the post-war construction boom, drywall became popular because it was cheap, fast and produced perfectly smooth surfaces.

What’s changed significantly is the move away from wood laths to gypsum-based boards covered by paper. Today’s joint compounds are still plaster-based—a mixture of gypsum, lime and cement. Today, polymer additives allow better curing times and mixing ease, but the basic products are still similar.

Mesothelioma Justice Network Brief

From the 1950s to the late 80s, gypsum wallboard, drywall tape and plaster joint compound all contained asbestos. It was an industry standard to add asbestos material to every bit of drywall materials. Asbestos appeared the best substance for manufacturing and applying drywall. It was inexpensive and plentiful. Asbestos made the ideal drywall filler as it was light, fireproof, aided sound control and acted as an efficient insulator. Asbestos was also stable, giving it the right working time from wet to dry.

Drywall Tapers and Asbestos Exposure

Anyone familiar with drywall jobs knows how dusty the environment is. Rooms are filled with drywall dust when wallboard is being cut and hung. Then, clouds or airborne gypsum dust are produced by multiple sanding stages. It’s almost impossible to see and breathe at some drywall stages.

Drywall tapers were in the highest risk group of all construction trades for asbestos exposure. Back when drywall contained asbestos, it exposed every taper to airborne microscopic asbestos fibers. This happened all day long and some workers drywallers worked in asbestos-polluted environments for years.

Tapers got exposed to asbestos off the job site as well as on it. Asbestos followed them home on their clothes, in their vehicles and in their tool kits. Deadly fibers also contaminated tapers’ family members. The same thing occurred with their friends and neighbors.

When asbestos particles detach from a stable product, they instantly go airborne because they’re lightweight. Drywall tapers constantly dislodged asbestos fibers from cutting, mixing and sanding, putting them at risk of inhaling and ingesting the particles.

Mesothelioma and Drywall Tapers

Every drywall taper who worked with products containing asbestos is at risk of developing mesothelioma. The danger increases depending on the amount of exposure and duration they were in an asbestos environment. It also depends on what type of asbestos material they were handling. Chrysotile, or white asbestos, is hazardous for everyone exposed to it, but amphibole asbestos is deadly.

Asbestos exposure can cause mesothelioma in any construction worker working in a building where asbestos drywall was installed. Tapers also became exposed to other asbestos-containing products like cement, flooring, roofing and even cabinets.

Mesothelioma Compensation for Drywall Tapers

Drywall tapers that develop mesothelioma after working with asbestos-laden drywall materials may be eligible for compensation to pay for medical expenses as well as covering lost income. Punitive damages and even wrongful death suits are settled with negligent manufactures who knowing supplied hazardous asbestos products.

For more information on seeking justice for asbestos exposure as a drywall taper, contact our Justice Support Team today.

Author:Stephanie Kidd

Editor-in-Chief of the Mesothelioma Justice Network

Stephanie Kidd

Stephanie Kidd works tirelessly as a dedicated advocate for the vulnerable and underrepresented. Stephanie worked as a copywriter for an agency whose focus was communicating safety procedures on construction work sites. With her extensive background in victim advocacy and a dedication to seeing justice done, Stephanie works hard to ensure that all online content is reliable, truthful and helpful.

Last modified: May 22, 2019

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