Cracks in drywall are unsightly. Often, people try to hide drywall cracks by using special primers designed to camouflage imperfections or by applying multiple coats of paint. For certain types of drywall cracks, however, no amount of painting can fix the problem. The only solution is to repair the cracks and then repaint the area.
After installers place boards of drywall next to each other, drywall finishers embed paper drywall tape over the seams where boards meet using a paste-like substance called joint compound. If the finishers do not use enough joint compound, the tape can lift away or crack. These types of cracks are typically thin and straight, and may run the length of an entire wall or ceiling.
To repair long, thin cracks, use a utility knife to gouge the crack and remove loose material. Then apply a generous coat of joint compound over the crack, pushing it deep into the opening and covering roughly 3 inches on either side of the crack. The easiest way to do this is to use a 6-inch drywall knife. Install paper drywall tape over the crack by laying it on the joint compound and then wiping it flat using your drywall knife.
Sometimes long, thin cracks occur because the drywall installers did not use enough screws to keep the boards stable. To determine whether your wall or ceiling has this problem, press hard on either side of the crack. If you notice movement of roughly 1/8 inch or more when you apply pressure, use a stud finder to locate the wood studs so you can install more drywall screws to stabilize the area. After you add more screws, the drywall should be stable enough for repairs.
If you notice jagged, thick cracks, you may have a structural problem. These types of cracks typically occur over doors, windows or archways. Homes shift over time due to seasonal temperature changes and materials settling. As they shift, the weakest areas tend to break first. Drywall cracks easily, so structural problems may reveal themselves first in your walls and ceilings. If this describes your drywall cracks, hire a professional contractor or home inspector to analyze the problem. If you try to repair the cracks without addressing the underlying structural problem, the crack will reemerge at some point.
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