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Mudder vs Taper vs Plasterer

Helping You Find The Right Professional

By Jud Menshal | Jan 22 2024 | Mudding

Mudder, Taper, Plasterer, Drywaller - What’s the difference?

Can’t my painter just do it?

Several of our clients have asked us what the proper term is and what the differences are between all these. So we’ve decided to address it once and for all and to elaborate a bit on each of these terms based on our knowledge.

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How is Drywalling Done?

Picture of 2 men drywalling a freshly framed room in an ottawa home. Patchboyz Ottawa drywallers

Step one. The Drywaller comes in.

The first step is drywalling. The drywallers come in a crew of at least two. Yes, we know… there are stands that can help an individual put up a sheet of drywall alone. That's not what the pros use, however. It is much too slow and doesn't have the same sense of humour as a good drywaller. So a crew of at least 2 drywallers, often times 4 and maybe more, will come into the home and take care of mounting all the drywall on the stud framing and cut open the openings for sockets and switches as they go, hopefully not forgetting to do so along the way. That's the drywaller. Watching a good crew of drywallers go is pretty neat, they really hustle and can board a house in a day and can become quite proficient at it in little time, depending on competency. Drywalling, is not complicated, however. The gap in this trade is sometimes filled with day labourers from a temp agency as this is something that is pretty straight forward and requires common sense more than anything. A non-experienced labourer can achieve somewhat similar results as a drywaller, it will just take more time. And if mistakes are made, the mudder/taper can fix them… even though they'll complain about it.

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What Is A Taper?

Step two. The mudder/taper comes in.


A Taper is someone that applies tape to the drywall and usually mud as well. Although there are companies that only allow their tapers to apply the tape.


What's the difference between these two terms? Mudder is more of a slang term, for the most part. If you go to the union, they're called "tapers". Let's use that as somewhat of an authority for this purpose. They call them tapers and it sounds good and seems professional. There is one caveat. In the process of taping/mudding drywall there are 5 steps. You first apply your tape to all the joints with mud underneath. You then apply 3 or more coats of mud and then you sand. There are some Tapers that only install tape (usually entry level) and there are tapers that only apply the mud after the tape has been installed. These are sometimes privileges that are given to high status or high production employees by their bosses as a way from keeping them from leaving the company, instead of offering them more money. It makes the job easier and cleaner if the taper doesn't have to apply the tape himself or herself and instead has someone else in the crew do it. So where does the term mudder come from? Well what the tapers are putting on the wall is called drywall compound or mud, for short. So many have adopted the slang term mudder, as can be heard on job sites or on Instagram.

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Day Labourers For Taping

Picture of a broken and extruding piece of drywall that has a bandaid over it.

Are there any day labourers in taping crews? No, not that we've seen. Tapers are very sought after as it is a skill only acquired with years of practice. Feathering out edges of a patch and being able to do a whole house in a day, is not something most people are capable of. Day labourers with little experience could easily double the cost due to their inexperience and the probability of likely having to re-sand and redo the home.


Okay, okay. I got it… but then, what is a plasterer?

Good question - Let's continue...

Ottawa Plasterers - A Dying Breed

Before and after of a plaster repair done in mechanicsville ottawa. This was a big crack in a plaster wall. It had to be removed and redone.

A Plasterer is someone that applied plaster to lathe walls instead of drywall. Before 4x8, 4x10 or 4x12 sheets of drywall followed up by tapers applying drywall compound to the seams, it used to be plaster. It used to be Lathe and plaster, do be more specific. This Lathe that we refer to was usually horizontal slats of wood and sometimes wire mesh that the plasterers would load up and push into the grooves and would then add multiple coats over top of the entire surface of the wall and ceiling. If you've ever seen a taper work and expertly feather out the edges of a join, imagine the skill required to make a full wall completely even, or a ceiling for that matter. It's easy to see you're doing a good job at something when you can do it from a distance, but when your face is a foot away from the product, you have to trust yourself, and hope you have some artistic ability.


Yeah, but my friend calls himself a plasterer. Why?

While there are still specialists that only work on plaster and have amazing skills, the term plasterer is still used as a synonym by certain groups. Italians often call themselves plasterers and are usually very good at plastering and taping. Some French Canadians call themselves plasterers, but for the most part, when you hear this, they're most likely tapers working in new homes or new projects. Only a small percentage out there are doing real plaster jobs.

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My Painter Said He Can Fix The Drywall

If it's a couple small nicks or one hole, a painting crew often has a guy on the crew that can fix smaller repairs in moderation. Sometimes this guy is good, sometimes he isn't. You'll have to wait until the job is complete to find out. But it is often inefficient to the painting company to try and call around for a taper to come fix some holes in the drywall as most companies have no interest in this type of small work… except for PATCHBOYZ, that is! But if deficiencies are found on the day they're painting, they want it to be fixed then and there so they take it upon themselves to fix it. If the Drywall is too rough, they will ask the homeowner to seek someone out that can do a good job as what they're good at, and specialize in, is painting.

Day Labourers In The Painting Industry

4 men all painting one room with many paint cans all over the room and not enough floor and furniture protection.

The painting industry is also one that is filled with day labourers. There are companies that will promise to paint your home in a day in Ottawa and many spots around Canada. The way they do this is by hiring two good painters to do all the cuts, or edges as you might refer to them and then in the afternoon they'll have another 8 to 12 people come in and roll the walls and ceilings. As long as the floors are properly protected and valuables are secured, this doesn't seem to be an issue and can be very convenient for a homeowner. But this is not doable with mudding as the coats need time to dry.


There you have it. We've covered them all. We hope this has been of value to you. If there's a topic you'd like to learn more about, please send us a message below and we'll see what we can do for you.

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Article By

Jud Menshal | 📚

Jud is a 14 year Asbestos Removal Type 3 & Supervisor certified remediation technician with additional experience and certifications in Mold, Lead and Finishing. He holds all mandatory safety credentials important for running a safe project site.

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