Aug 22, 2011

Drywall cracks - how to fix and then STOP them.

Like a squeaky floor, even the smallest drywall crack or nail pop can be cause for concern.You can explain them as a result of “normal settling,” which may in fact be true, but they are also red flags for poor construction quality and perhaps something much more problematic and costly. 

Cracks and Pops
Drywall cracks and nail pops occur at framing joints, primarily around openings and corners. Causes range from foundation or soil settling to lumber components reacting to seasonal climate changes and misaligned or improperly installed framing members, support, fasteners, and/or connectors. Deep-seated reasons, often indicated by diagonal cracks (as opposed to straight along a framing joint) may indicate a failing (or failed) foundation, improperly engineered framing loads, and truss uplift.

Fix It

Use a utility knife to cut a narrow V-shaped groove along the length of the crack. Blow out debris and drywall dust to create a clean cavity. If the crack is along a framing member, drill screws on either side of the crack into the solid wood behind it, each set about 6 inches apart along the crack, with the heads countersunk. Bridge the entire groove with a fiber-mesh joint tape, and apply a hot-mud compound with a 10-inch taping knife on either side of the tape, covering it and leaving a 20-inch “patch.” Feather and sand/texture to match the surrounding finish.
Credit: Harry Whitver

Stop It
Cosmetic cracks and pops are almost inevitable, but you can go a long way to reduce or even prevent them by using high-quality, straight framing lumber that is allowed to acclimate before being installed or covered by sheathing, making sure framing and drywall joints are aligned, tight, and properly secured (the latter not allowed to bridge framing members without blocking), removing shims around windows and doors (allowing them to shift a little in their openings), and properly installing  metal framing connectors, as needed.