How to Fix Cracks in Drywall

Cracked Wall

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Project Overview
  • Working Time: 20 - 30 mins
  • Total Time: 1 - 2 days
  • Yield: Fix 24-inch-long crack in drywall
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $5 to $10

Drywall can crack, especially in key places like doors and windows. While it's easy to fix the crack with a smear of spackle or caulk, these patches usually crack again. A quality drywall crack fix takes a little more time because you need to stabilize the drywall and blend the patch into the wall. But the results will look truly professional.

Before You Begin

Cracks in drywall nearly always develop because of a more serious underlying issue: foundation settlement, green lumber drying out, climactic changes, or poorly installed drywall. Unless these issues are fixed, cracks will develop again in the drywall.

Hairline-thin cracks that extend above doors or windows may not always indicate a serious problem. These are stress points that can crack drywall over time.

Safety Considerations

Wear breathing protection when sanding drywall joint compound. Protect the area with plastic sheeting to prevent the drywall dust from spreading. Using dust control joint compound will minimize the dust.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • 1 drywall knife, 6-inch
  • 1 drywall knife, 12- or 14-inch
  • 1 electric drill
  • 1 foam sanding block

Materials

  • 1 tub drywall joint compound, ready-mixed
  • 1 roll adhesive drywall mesh joint tape
  • 1 can multipurpose spray adhesive
  • 10 drywall screws, coarse-thread, 1-5/8-inch
  • 1 can wall texture (optional)

Instructions

  1. Remove Loose Paper and Obstacles

    Use the 6-inch drywall knife to lightly scrape the crack to remove loose drywall face paper, chunks of drywall, or other obstacles. If the crack passes under or near an outlet or light switch faceplate, turn off the power to that device and remove the plate.

  2. Find the Stud

    With the stud finder, locate the stud closest to the crack. In many cases, the crack will be parallel to the stud. It will often run either directly over the stud or to the side.

  3. Add Screws to Stabilize the Crack

    Drive drywall screws on both sides of the crack, if possible, especially if the crack runs perpendicular to the stud. Drive the screws within about 1/2-inch of the crack until the screw heads are slightly deeper than flush with the drywall surface, but stay clear of the crack to prevent more damage. Be certain that the screws penetrate the stud underneath and don't spin freely in the drywall.

  4. Apply the Adhesive Spray

    Spray the adhesive spray along a 3- to 4-inch-wide strip on the crack. Mesh tape has an adhesive backing but the adhesive can be unreliable, especially in warm rooms. Adhesive spray ensures a tight bond.

  5. Apply the Mesh Tape

    Apply the mesh tape over the crack, centering the tape on the crack. Firmly press down the tape with the drywall knife or by hand.

    Tip

    Work quickly. Adhesive spray dries in about a minute.

  6. Add the Drywall Compound

    Add drywall compound to the wide (12- or 14-inch) drywall knife. Run the knife lengthwise over the crack. Since the mesh tape is thick, it's necessary to smooth the drywall compound into a gentle hump over the mesh tape, feathering out the sides of the hump. The width of the patch should be at least 24 inches or two knife widths.

    Tip

    If a large drywall blade proves difficult to control when applying joint compound, try using a 6-inch drywall knife to apply the first coat of mud over the mesh tape and use the larger-width blade to smooth out the compound.

  7. Add More Coats of Drywall Compound

    After the drywall compound has dried, add from one to three more light coats that further widen the patch. For a patch that visually disappears into the wall, it's necessary to widen the patch up to twice the width of the first patch.

  8. Sand the Patch

    With the sanding block, sand the edges of the patch to continue feathering the patch into the wall. Sand the main body of the patch with a quick pass or two in order to remove ridges or bumps.

  9. Texture the Wall (Optional)

    If the wall has a texture such as orange peel or knockdown, add texture with a pre-mixed texture in a can. For large areas, it's often best to use a paint roller and a wall texture compound.

  10. Paint the Wall

    Let the patch dry. Joint compound can take up to 24 hours to dry, though warmer conditions may bring the time down to 12 hours.

    Roll on two or more coats of paint, or a coat of primer and paint, to help the patch blend in with the wall.

FAQ
  • Can you fix cracks in drywall without tape?

    No, you cannot properly fix cracks in drywall without using tape. Even using paper drywall tape instead of mesh tape is preferable to using no tape.

  • How do you stop cracks in walls from reappearing?

    Cracks in walls can be stopped for good by fixing the cause of the crack and by securing the drywall to nearby studs.

  • Can you just paint over drywall cracks?

    As a quick fix, you can paint over hairline drywall cracks. But this is an incomplete fix and the crack will soon reappear. It's best to properly fix the crack in the drywall for better-looking, longer-lasting results.

When to Call a Professional

You may need to have a professional fix the underlying cause of the cracked drywall before fixing the drywall. Foundations naturally do settle over time, but dramatic sags or heaves should be addressed by a general contractor or foundation repair company. Poorly installed drywall can be removed and replaced by a drywall contractor.