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Benefits of Using Vinyl Corner Bead Over Metal

In the drywall finishing industry, there’s a long-running debate — vinyl or metal corner bead? Of course, drywall corners need more than just a little protection to withstand the impacts of daily life, which is why corner bead is so important. But what material do you choose to provide that protection? (Bonus points if you can save some money and some labor in the process.) We’ve been manufacturing vinyl corner beads for over 50 years, so we might be a little biased on this debate. But talk to a lot of drywall pros, and they’ll tell you there are definitely many benefits of using vinyl corner bead over metal.

In this article, we’ll dig into just a few of those benefits, and why they should matter to you and your business.

SAVING SOME GREEN (and going green)

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Though vinyl and metal corner bead are similarly priced, you’ve got to look a little deeper than the surface-level price tag, and take a look at your corner bead’s true overall value.

Since vinyl doesn’t dent, rust or scuff during storage or transportation, each project requires less vinyl corner bead, saving you money. By contrast, extra metal corner bead is always needed on the jobsite —metal corner bead dents and deforms very easily. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to bend metal corner bead back into its original shape without additional damage. A whole box of metal beads can be unusable by the time you get to the jobsite, just by jostling in the back of your truck.

"Ever since using vinyl, I've noticed a cost and convenience savings," says Ralph of 4-G Plastering in Suamico, Wisconsin. "I won't go back to wasting time and money with metal bead."

Gary Johnson c nletter

Especially if you’re using a product like Trim-Tex's Fast Edge® (pictured above) — it installs faster than any other corner bead out there, while using the least amount of material — you’ll also have to look at the cost of labor you’re saving. Trim-Tex’s catalog is chock-full of solutions designed to save finishers time on the job; minutes saved turn into hours saved turn into entire days saved on the job. How much money are you really saving on a cheaper product if you’re finishing in half the time?

Beyond the financial cost savings, vinyl bead also has environmental savings. Every vinyl bead that Trim-Tex manufactures is made from at least 70 percent recycled materials. When working on a LEED-certified structure, it can be beneficial to use recycled products to build credits towards LEED certification. In addition, since vinyl bead doesn't bend or dent, less jobsite waste results — resiliency like this is another important consideration for green and LEED buildings.

ENDURING, DURABLE WORK

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When it comes to long-lasting performance, the benefits of using vinyl corner bead over metal are quite clear. Vinyl is built to last and can take a much harder impact than metal while still remaining undamaged. Most vinyl corner bead never needs to undergo a repair. On the rare occasion it might need fixing, the problem is commonly the drywall compound — usually no more than a five-minute mud patch will fix that. If the drywall compound blisters and falls off the wall, it's an easy fix: just remove the blistered drywall compound, spackle and paint.

"Durability is one of the primary reasons I switched to vinyl corner bead," Ralph said. "I was impressed with vinyl's impact resistance after seeing the smash tower."

comparing vinyl corner bead installation methods -  extreme impact 1

As for metal, it doesn't take a very hard impact to ruin metal corner bead. Hit one with just enough force, and you’ll need to rip the whole thing out of the wall, since it has to be replaced instead of simply repaired.

Something we haven’t touched on here yet is vinyl’s adaptability and bendability — not only does vinyl hold up better over time, but it also easily curves. Unlike metal corner bead that only bends on weak points, many vinyl beads were specifically designed to bend while holding strong; some solutions can even bend down to a 10" inside curve. This makes vinyl a superior choice when you need to work around curved walls, archways and similar architectural details.

tapetech korea - archway bead bending

A MATTER OF ATTACHMENT

Some old-school contractors will still attach metal corner bead using nails or screws to the stud framework. The problem with this technique is that, when the building settles, the corner bead settles with the studs rather than the wall, which causes the Vinyl over Metal (1) corner bead to pull away from the wall. That’s going to require some extensive repairs, and will probably cause a callback for you.

Many drywall professionals agree that attaching corner bead directly to drywall helps prevent problems when the wall settles or moves with the structure. With our standard corner beads, that’ll be as easy as a quick coat of 847 Spray Adhesive and some half-inch staples.

But if mechanical fasteners aren’t your thing, vinyl corner beads offer other installation options to get the job done. Trim-Tex’s Mud Set Beads and Fast Edge, for instance, don’t require spray adhesives or staples — just run them through a hopper, or apply mud directly onto the corner with a knife or compound applicator tube. The mud locks featured on both these solutions dig into the compound like hooks, attaching the corner bead with extra strength. The paper-covered Fast Edge, meanwhile, has an added layer of attachment provided by its laminated paper coating.

TO RUST OR NOT TO RUST

If you spend any amount of time talking with drywall professionals, there is the invariable problem with metal bead: rust. Rust stains, often appearing through light paint and discoloring deeper tones, leave an unsightly appearance and an upset customer. Especially if you’re working in a moisture-rich environment — a bathroom, say, or an entire house if you’re working in a humid area like the Florida coast — rust is going to become a major enemy for work that stands the test of time.

Rusted Metal Bead

Rust is common in fast-track construction projects where time is at a premium and materials don’t always get a chance to dry before the next piece is added. When this happens, rust is likely to occur. However, vinyl corner bead does not and will never rust, providing peace of mind and a reduction in return-calls.


Working in drywall can be difficult, but installing corner bead shouldn’t be. With the wide variety of options available, vinyl provides a versatile, cost-effective and durable material for corner bead. Today we've looked at just a few benefits of using vinyl corner bead over metal, but in our book, this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Many suppliers offer a variety of vinyl corner bead with samples available — hit the button below to locate a drywall supply dealer near you. Spend a little time learning how to work with vinyl corner bead and you'll see why so many professionals have made the change from metal to vinyl.

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