Pneumatic Drywall Finishing System

A pneumatic drywall finishing system allows you to avoid hand finishing drywall with flat and corner "mudboxes.”


Finishing drywall using traditional mudboxes requires lots of effort and repetition. Your body is forced into awkward positions that can lead to serious wrist, shoulder, arm, and back injuries.

Working with bent wrists, and with your back bent or twisted, is common in hand finishing. You repeat certain difficult hand, arm, and back movements over and over. Some tools used in this work (such as flat and corner "mudboxes”) may also cause problems because you use a lot of strength to push on them.

The combination of pushing and working in an awkward position causes fatigue as well as tired and sore muscles. Eventually it can increase your chance of developing a muscle or joint injury.

The photo on the left shows the problem, while the photo on the right illustrates the solution.

worker using a pneumatic drywall finishing system  pneumatic drywall finishing tool
(Photo courtesy of NIOSH)

A pneumatic drywall finishing system allows you to avoid hand finishing, and you won’t have to use flat and corner mudboxes. Although the work will still require some awkward positions and motions, you will not be exerting high forces at the same time or for as long a time. An air compressor gives enough pressure to force the drywall compound through the flat- and corner-finishing heads of the pneumatic system.  This pneumatic assist reduces the tight grip and force exerted to squeeze mud out of unpowered bazooka-style finishing tools.

Risks Addressed:

Injuries associated with repetitive bending and force exerted in awkward postures when finishing drywall joints.

How Risks are Reduced:

The pneumatic system requires much less physical effort than hand finishing, and it cuts down on the repeated wrist, arm, and back movements. It also takes less effort to use than these automatic tools. You do not need to push with the same strong force used with mudboxes. You only have to guide the powered tool down the corner or flat joint.

Reducing forces required to perform the task will reduce the probability of musculoskeletal strain injury.

Effects on Productivity:

These systems should reduce a worker’s chance of developing muscle and joint injuries. In one study most workers who tried the pneumatic system liked it better than the regular tools. Workers reported that their muscles were not as tired, and they did not have as much pain after using the pneumatic system.

There can also be an improvement in productivity. Workers in the study said the pneumatic system is faster than the older fnishing boxes. Some workers said that it took a while to learn the new system. Although using the system was slow at frst, it became faster within two months.

There are some drawbacks to the pneumatic system. The air and electrical lines may restrict your movement while you work.  The new system also takes longer to move, set up, and clean than hand finishing equipment. Therefore, it may not be as practical for small finishing jobs.

Additional Considerations:

The large mud resevoir and hose may increase the use-weight of the tool in comparison to unpowered options.  There is likely to be a learning curve for workers not familiar with this tool to work at optimal performance.

Hazards Addressed:


Apla-Tech Inc. Pneumatic Drywall Finishing Systems
To obtain information, visit or contact 1-800-827-3721

NIOSH Workplace Solutions Sheet
The National Institute of Safety and Health (NIOSH) has published a series of “Workplace Solutions”, which are easy-to-understand recommendations from NIOSH research results. Related to this Construction Solution, please find more information on: Preventing Injuries from Installing Drywall

Return on Investment

To calculate the return on investment (ROI) for your specific application, please visit our Return on Investment Calculator. While a specific ROI example has not been developed for this particular solution, the ROI Calculator provides a useful tool and guidance on how to generate your own on investment analysis.