Drywall corner beads are used anywhere the ceiling and walls form a corner. They protect the corner from damage, hide gaps and imperfections, and create a clean edge that looks professional.
There are many types of corner beads, so which one is right for your project?
Metal corner beads are the traditional and most common choice, and vinyl corner beads are their plastic counterpart. L-beads and J-beads are utilized when drywall meets with other materials, and archway corner beads are best for archways. Bullnose corner beads create rounded angles, expansion joints allow for the expansion and contraction of drywall, and paper-faced corner beads prevent cracking.
In this article, we’ll discuss all the types of drywall corners and their specific applications.
What Are The Types Of Corner Beads?
Below is a description of each kind of corner bead and its uses.
1. Metal Corner Bead
The most common and traditional form of corner bead is the metal corner bead. It also happens to be the least expensive and the easiest option for inexperienced DIYers to master.
Metal corner beads are made of galvanized metal, which is simply metal with a protective coating of zinc.
This protective coating makes them resistant to rust, and in general, metal corner beads can stand up to minor to moderate wear and tear.
This type of corner bead is quite sturdy. It’s great for covering up flaws in the edges of drywall, and it can create a perfect 90-degree angle, even when the drywall isn’t hung perfectly straight.
There are many ways to apply metal corner beads, from adhesives or joint compounds to staples, screws, and nails.
One drawback to metal corner beads is that they must be handled carefully because they’re prone to bending and twisting during transportation.
2. Drywall L-Bead
L-beads are used in situations when walls meet up with other materials, like countertops, windows, fireplaces, and paneled walls.
This type of corner bead gets its name from its shape. It has two flanges, one of which is longer than the other, which makes the bead look like a letter L.
The short edge of the L-bead goes in between the drywall and the neighboring material, while the other edge is finished with joint compound.
L-beads are usually attached after the drywall is already in place, making them easier to install than J-beads, which are described below.
3. Drywall J-Bead
When drywall doesn’t end in a corner and instead meets with a shower stall, a window or door jamb, a grid for acoustical panels, or a pull-down attic access in the ceiling, you’ll need to use a J-bead.
J-beads come in different thicknesses and are typically installed before drywall is hung or once it is loosely attached.
Some types of J-beads only need to be screwed or nailed to the wall, while others require the use of a joint compound.
4. Vinyl Corner Bead
Vinyl corner beads are the plastic version of the traditional metal corner bead, and they come in many sizes, styles, and shapes.
They’re less susceptible to damage during transportation, so that’s one advantage they have over the more common metal corner beads.
You can install vinyl corner beads with the same variety of techniques as metal ones. However, if you’re not using mechanical fasteners like staples, nails, or screws, you’ll need a special adhesive or compound product.
The most common recommendation for the installation of vinyl corner beads is to use a spray adhesive and then staple the beads to the drywall board.
5. Archway Corner Bead
Archways don’t have corners, but the drywall on either side of the archway still has to meet, and that’s where archway corner beads come into play. The special thing about these corner beads is that they’re highly flexible.
This type of corner bead is most often made of vinyl, but some are also made from metal and composite materials.
6. Bullnose Corner Bead
When your drywall requires rounded corners rather than sharp angles, you’ll want to use bullnose corner beads. These have an elegant look, and they’re easy to install.
They come in numerous radius profiles so that you can create arcs of different sizes.
Bullnose corner beads are made of either vinyl or metal, and they’re installed the same way as traditional metal and vinyl corner beads.
Unlike their traditional counterparts, they create a more modern design that creates a sense of openness.
7. Expansion Joints
Like most other materials, drywall expands and contracts when temperatures and humidity fluctuate.
For this reason, drywall installers typically leave quarter-inch gaps every 30 feet or so on large walls with lots of surface area, and expansion joints are embedded in these gaps.
Expansion joints are shaped like a letter U or V, and they’re usually made of metal or vinyl. They bend with the drywall movement and maintain a professional finish even as the drywall expands and contracts.
These joints are filled with flexible caulk and prevent buckling and cracking.
8. Paper-Faced Metal Corner Beads
These corner beads have a paper face with a metal core, and they’re rigid and easy to install. They’re available in bullnose and square shapes and are good at preventing cracking.
However, in comparison to traditional metal corner beads, they’re not as good at hiding imperfections.
9. Paper-Faced Composite Corner Beads
Similar to paper-faced metal corner beads, paper-faced composite corner beads have a paper face. However, they have a plastic core and are very thin.
While they’re good at preventing cracks, they do show flaws in the drywall and should only be used when it has been hung perfectly straight.
They come in square, bullnose, and baby bullnose varieties and are easy to install.
What Is The Best Drywall Corner?
The best drywall corner really depends on the specifications of your project.
Of course, if you’re working on an arch, you’ll want to use archway corner beads. Other specific applications may require you to choose an L-bead or J-bead.
When in doubt, we recommend selecting metal or vinyl corner beads. Metal is the most common and traditional choice, and vinyl comes in many varieties and is less susceptible to damage during transportation.
Either one is a suitable choice for the vast majority of drywall projects.
When choosing the best drywall corner for your project, you can’t go wrong with metal or vinyl corner beads. Metal beads are the most common choice, and vinyl corner beads are similar but come in more varieties and are less prone to damage during transportation.
When your drywall meets with other materials like a countertop or fireplace, you’ll need to use an L-bead or J-bead. Archways require archway corner beads because of their flexibility.
If you want to create rounded angles, then bullnose corner beads are perfect for that purpose. Meanwhile, expansion joints are a good choice for large walls that may otherwise be prone to cracking as they expand and contract.
Paper-faced metal and composite corner beads are both good options to prevent cracking. Each of them has a paper face and a core of either metal or plastic.