From Plat to Place
The Step By Step Home Construction Site
Step 43 - Stop The Cracking
How to Stop Drywall Cracking - Once and For All
It is expected that a house, or any other structure for that matter, will gradually deteriorate as time goes by. If you find that some of your walls are cracking after just a year or so after it was erected, don't immediately think that this is a sign of structural deterioration. This is a normal thing that happens to most structures during its first year. Your house will settle for up to a year, sometimes longer down onto its structure. The pillars and walls will adjust with the stress of carrying structural weight, the wood will be drying out, and gravity will be weighing everything down.
The problem here is that cracks on drywall are very unpleasant to look at. Plus, even if we do accept that it is normal for them to appear a short while later, it doesn't remove the impression that the house is structurally unstable.
Things We Learned Along The Way
The solution is to perform wall repairs that will be effective for a long time-perhaps even permanent.
Evaluate Cracks and their Causes
The first thing you need to do to get rid of your drywall cracks permanently is to evaluate the causes of the cracks. Other than the expected "settling down" of the structure, are the cracks caused by a flaw in the structural design? Did they appear after a minor earthquake? Were they caused by sudden unevenness of the ground, perhaps due to large tree roots pushing up your floors? If any of these are the causes, then the following tips on drywall repair will only give you a temporary solution. If you're willing to settle on making your walls look good for the meantime though, here's how you can stop your drywall from cracking even more.
Repairing Small Cracks
If you're dealing with hairline cracks that nevertheless carve obvious patterns on the wall paint, you don't have to do something large-scale. You'll only need to cover up the flaws using simple tools and basic materials.
You can use silicone caulking to fill in these tiny cracks on the walls. Caulking is often packaged in portable press tubes that you can use like toothpaste. Spread the caulking between the cracks and smooth them over with a moist fingertip. Allow the substance to dry before covering the patched area with paint primer, and later the actual wall paint.
Repairing Large Cracks
For these situations, you'll need to have a roll of drywall tape or more preferably fiberglass mesh tape. The latter has an adhesive side, is sturdy and much easier to deal with. You'll also need drywall compound or putty, a spackle knife, sandpaper, paint primer and wall paint.
First you have to clean out the cracks and remove the loose dust and plaster. Next, cut out a length of tape and completely cover the crack. Give a couple a couple inches allowance on both ends of the crack. Then you can begin spreading the drywall compound over the tape. Make three coats, adding each one after the previous has completely dried. Dry time can vary from 1-4 hours per coat for most repair jobs. Each successive coat has to be wider than the first so that you don't end up with a noticeable bump on the wall. Use the sandpaper to further smoothen the surface. Finally, cover everything up with primer and wall paint.
Hopefully these techniques will help solve your cracked drywall problems, not only in the short term but for the life of your home.