We’ve all had that pesky drywall crack that keeps returning. The first step is to determine what is causing the cracking and to treat the underlying issue before repairing the cosmetics.
When drywall is hung, it is installed in large sheets, and then the seams are covered with drywall mud and tape. Although the seams will be invisible on a finished wall, this is the most vulnerable spot for cracking to occur.
When there is any stress on the drywall due to structural issues, changes in temperature, settling, etc., this is where it will crack first.
Why Is Your Drywall Cracking?
The first step is to determine why your drywall is cracking. If it is a new construction building, it is prevalent to have drywall cracks and nail pops in the first year, as the brand new lumber dries out and the house settles a bit. Put the nail pops back using a nail gun.
A touch-up with drywall tape and compound after the first year should resolve these cracks. All buildings move and settle somewhat over time. However, if there is substantial movement, it may result from improper framing or a structural issue that needs to be resolved before patching.
Another reason that drywall can crack is if the joint compound is not appropriately applied. The trick to a smooth, seamless wall that does not crack is to apply several thin coats of compound, using a faster-setting compound for the first coat and lightweight mud for the final coats.
If the compound is applied too thickly, then it will dry from the outside in causing it to crack. Regardless of the compound application, changes in temperature and moisture levels can also cause the drywall to expand and contract.
This causes cracking at the seams, so it’s vital to keep the temperature within a certain temperature range at all times for a building’s health.
How To Fix An Existing Crack For Good
1. Clean off any material
To fix an existing crack, the first step is to clean off any loose pieces of drywall, paint, or previous patching materials. If it is on a seam and the paper tape has come loose, use a razor knife to carefully cut and remove that section, doing your best not to damage the paper face of the drywall.
2. Add Joint Compound
Fill the crack with a new joint compound and apply a very thin coat to the area around the crack.
3. Add Drywall Tape
When patching a deep crack, it is essential to use tape to hold the two sides of the crack together and prevent it from expanding further. While the compound is wet, apply a fiberglass mesh drywall tape (which has an adhesive backing) and center the tape on the crack, using your putty knife to flatten any wrinkles and set the tape into the compound you applied.
4. Add Compound Over Tape
Once this initial coat of compound dries, add a thin layer of compound over the tape, covering it and expanding the area a bit to feather the edges. It is imperative to use extremely thin layers of compound, as thick layers will crack as they dry from the outside in.
5. Smooth It Out
Once the second coat is dry, use a drywall sanding sponge to smooth it out before applying your final coat of compound. This final coat should be super thin and used to smooth out any imperfections in the seams.
6. Sand Then Apply Primer
Once this dries, lightly sand the area until it is smooth, and then apply a primer before repainting the wall.
For homes in which there are inevitable changes in moisture or temperature, there are also additives that can be mixed into your compound to give it more flexibility, which can help prevent cracking.