How To: Fix A Drywall Crack In Your Wall Or Ceiling
This DIY Home Repair Project Will Save You TIME & MONEY
Once you discover a crack in your wall or ceiling it’s often hard to see anything else in that room! For real estate investors, unsightly cracks can also impact your sale price or potential rental income.
In this article, we share a method for repairing drywall cracks that works well on both walls or ceilings. This article is for a drywall crack, but for larger holes you can use the same approach described here and use a drywall patch. A ceiling crack repair requires a ladder and is a bit more difficult since you’re working against gravity and dripping drywall compound, so we suggest starting with a wall project to hone your skills.
This is an easy, entry level DIY home repair project that can save you hundreds of dollars when compared with hiring a contractor. You’ll also get an immense amount of satisfaction when you see (or don’t see more accurately) the finished product.
If you’re a visual learner, check out the youtube video embedded at the end of the article.
Photo by author
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-Joint Compound (I used the version pictured above that goes on pink and dries white)
-Adhesive mesh Fibatape
-Small to medium sized putty knife
-8” or 10” drywall taping knife
-Sandpaper medium to fine range
-Optional: drywall patch for larger holes
-Primer and Paint to match the wall you’re repairing
Step 1: Expose the Defect
Using a box cutter or knife, carve out the edges of the crack. This may feel a bit counterintuitive since your aim is to repair the crack not make it worse! The idea here is to widen the defect in the wall so that you can more easily fill it in with the joint compound and to remove additional crumbling or broken pieces that will cause future problems.
Photo by author: drywall crack with edges widened and exposed
Once you’ve widened the edges of the drywall defect, try to find the end of the crack (where the crack ends) and make a perpendicular cut at that edge (see photo below). This will prevent the crack from expanding further beyond your repair job.
Photo by authored: Perpendicular cut into drywall at edge of crack
Step 2: Fill the crack with joint compound…
Using your small putty knife, fill in the drywall crack with your joint compound. Use your taping knife to scrape away any excess from the wall. This will also push the compound deep into the drywall defect so that it can repair it from the inside.
Photo by author: filling the drywall crack using a small putty knife
Photo by author: using large taping knife to scrape away excess joint compound
Step 3: Apply mesh fiber tape and reapply joint compound
Apply a layer of adhesive fiber tape over the filled in wall defect. You may need to use several pieces of tape here.
Photo by author: joint compound covered with mesh tape,
Cover tape with another heavy layer of joint compound. Apply a rough layer of the compound over the area with your small putty knife.
Photo by author: mesh tape covered with thick layer of joint compound
Then use the drywall taping knife to smooth over the area. This smoothing step takes a bit of finesse. Try to apply more pressure at the edges to “feather” or fade the compound into the wall, and less pressure in the middle so that you don’t scrape the compound out of your repair site. For visual learners, see the youtube video at end of this article for a demonstration of this method.
Perfect is the enemy of good here, so don’t overdo it with the drywall taping knife. You’ll have another chance to smooth out the edges and any other imperfections when you sand the area in step 4. Once you’re satisfied with your work, take a break and allow the joint compound to dry (dry time depends on the joint compound you used but can take up to 8 hours).
NOTE: If you’re repairing a larger hole, you can skip steps 1 and 2 and begin by applying the adhesive mesh patch to the defect in the wall instead of the mesh tape. Then proceed to apply the joint compound over the patch.
Step 4: Sanding
After the joint compound has dried, sand down the area with medium to fine grit sandpaper. If any fiba tape mesh appears exposed, you will need to do a second coat of joint compound, so go back to step 2 and cover the area with a new layer of joint compound. Once that second layer dries you can sand it down again.
Photo by author: second coat of joint compound smoothed and feathered
The idea with this sanding step is to smooth out any imperfections or raised areas that resulted from your taping knife handiwork. Pay particular attention to the edges where the joint compound meets the regular wall. This area should be sanded flat so you can run your finger over it and not feel a raised edge. This will ensure that the repair will not be visible after painting.
Photo by author: sanded down… difficult to see edges now
Step 5: Painting
If your wall has some kind of texture, you will need to replicate that using a texture spray can from the hardware store. If not, you’re ready for the final step!
After sanding you can wipe the area clean with a dry cloth and paint over the repaired wall. This paint should be matched the the original shade the wall was painted, which you’ve hopefully documented in your home maintenance log book. You may also need a layer of primer depending on the type of paint you use.
Our completed drywall repair is pictured below. A bit of self-critique… we could have done a better job sanding down the edge of the joint compound in the upper right, but we’re still happy with how the job turned out!
Photo by author: finished product after final painting
Do you have a home maintenance log book?
Interested in getting started with our own log book? Join the Citizen Upgrade mailing list and your welcome email will include a link to a google document template you can use to get started. Or get a paper copy of the log book here (available in paperback or hardback). Both versions of the log book include an extensive checklist of maintenance tasks to consider, which you can edit down to suit the needs of your property. Staying on top of preventive maintenance will save you time and money in the future!
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