Getting a perfect drywall finish is not as easy as it might seem. You can, however, avoid the common pitfalls by following a few guidelines.
Have all the necessary tools at hand. You will need joint compound and joint tape, an application knife, taping knife spreader, corner taping tool, and a bread pan. Running around because of the wrong tools, could complicate things.
Ensure (literally) there are no loose ends. Your measurements must be accurate, and the panels fastened securely. Use nails (or screws) that are long enough to hold everything in place: this is a permanent fixture. You also have the option of using adhesive to hold it in place, only needing screws (or nails) for the edges.
When mixing your cement, or “mud” as it is more commonly called, try to get it to a consistency similar to that of cake icing. Ideally, when you add some to a trowel and turn it upside down, it should stick, yet be soft enough to apply easily.
Consider using mesh tape rather than paper tape. Mesh tape allows the “mud” to seep into it, and this allows you a much smoother drywall finish than you would achieve using paper tape. It just makes it easier the first time around.
Keep in mind, when applying your joint compound, not to apply too much, wanting to sand it off later. It’s much more difficult than it seems. Rather use a wide taping knife to level it off, and leave as little as possible to sand off afterwards.
As long as you keep to these basic rules, you should be able to achieve a good drywall finish. The first attempt might be perfect, but it needn’t look horrible. Just keep your mind on the task at hand.