A drywall banjo is a handheld tool with a compartment for drywall tape and another for mud. As you pull tape from the banjo, it evenly applies joint compound to the tape.
You then press the tape onto the wall and pull out more as you work your way down the joint you’re covering.
Since the drywall banjo evenly distributes mud on the paper tape, it prevents many common issues, including bubbling and looseness. These tools also significantly speed up drywall installation and can help you achieve professional-looking results.
How Much Does a Drywall Banjo Cost?
Most drywall banjos range from about $40-$200, although some professional versions are much more. If you’re a DIYer working on a home improvement project, you can get a good drywall banjo for $40-$100.
Some professional versions cost up to $1,000 but are high quality and built to last through hundreds of jobs.
What to Consider in a Drywall Banjo
Single vs Dual Wheel
Lower-end models of drywall banjos (also called drywall bazookas) typically come with a single flat wheel. The downside is that they won’t work well for inside corners and tight spaces.
The pro is that they come with a cutter.
You can find other models of drywall taping tools that come with an extra set of dual wheels you can swap out. These wheels make it possible to tape inside corners and tight spaces.
But, of course, the downside is that they don’t have a cutting tool.
Capacity for Drywall Mud
While you might think a banjo with a higher capacity for mud is better, that’s not usually true. Luckily, most drywall banjos come with a standard capacity of 500 ft. of tape and enough compound to coat that tape.
Anything more can make the banjo too awkward or heavy to hold.
Weight of the Drywall Banjo
If you’ve ever held anything in your hand for an extended period, you know how quickly the object becomes a nuisance. While most drywall banjo tapers become heavy from the tape and mud, you’ll also want to look for one with a lightweight body.
Size of Project
If you’re only doing one-off repair work, you probably don’t need a drywall banjo taping tool at all. However, if you’re repeatedly doing small to medium-sized jobs or are an avid DIYer, consider a banjo with a flat applicator and corner wheels.
If you’re only doing flatwork and not corners, a banjo with a standard flat wheel will suit you just fine.
Best Drywall Banjos Reviews
1. Goldblatt G15301 Dry Tape Banjo (Top Pick)
The Goldblatt G15301 is a straightforward, easy-to-use drywall banjo which makes it our top pick. It has a classic lightweight aluminum body and wood handle.
This tool has a 500 ft. tape capacity and holds enough compound to tape 40 ft. before needing to be refilled. In addition, it has a side strap for a better grip and an adjustable knob for drywall mudflow.
There are a couple of downsides to this, though. Although it works well, a few users report it is very messy.
Aside from that, it does not come with a corner wheel.
3. Tape Buddy FreeStanding Drywall Taping Tool (Best for Beginners)
The Tape Buddy works a little differently than a standard drywall banjo but is excellent for beginners and even loved by some professionals.
Instead of carrying the tape buddy with you everywhere, you set it down on a flat surface to pull out your pre-mudded tape. It still works the same – load your tape, load your mud, and then pull the tape out.
Believe it or not, the Tape Buddy is very highly rated with 4.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon with over 1,100 reviews. It’s also the least expensive on this list.
The Level 5 Automatic Taper is for professional use, cutting taping time in half. But of course, with a high-end product comes a high price tag.
The Level 5 drywall taper is a lightweight pole body that automatically applies the proper joint compound and tape to the wall. You glide it over the seams, and as the compound and tape go down, the wheels go over it, embedding the tape into the mud.
This tool also has a quick-release cutting tool built in. The Level 5 Taper is hard to beat for professionals looking to speed up drywall finishing.
Drywall banjos are excellent tools for speeding up drywall installation. However, they do come with a learning curve.
It will take you a few tries to get your mud at the proper consistency for your taping tool.
Try the Tape Buddy if you’re looking for an easy-to-use option for beginners. On the other hand, if you’re an avid DIYer looking for a banjo that will last, go with the Goldblatt G15301 or the Delko drywall banjo.