Repair Drywall Cracks

Drywall cracks and small holes from nails or screws are probably the most common types of damage to drywall. Both are fairly easy fixes.

Drywall cracks are most commonly caused by shifting or movement, humidity and slamming of doors and windows. The most common area cracks occur is above doors and windows or along seams. The most common cause of this is improper drywall installation.

There are several factors during installation that can cause cracking down the road. One cause is piecing together drywall around doors or windows. Full sheets of drywall should always be used above doors or windows.

A second (and more common) cause is failure to properly secure drywall sheets to the wall studs. This causes movement between two sheets and cracking along the joints between them.

The good news is that drywall cracks are fairly easy to fix. The bad news is that if you don’t address the root cause of the problem (for example, if the drywall is not better secured to the studs) it may become a recurrent problem.

  • Necessary Tools & Materials
  • Drywall Mud
  • Spackle
  • 4 or 6” Drywall (Putty) Knife
  • 10” Drywall (Putty) Knife
  • 150 Grit Sandpaper
  • Primer
  • Razor Knife

Before you begin, however, ensure that you have not only the few tools and materials listed above, but also a supply of paint that matches the color of your wall.

After you have completed the repair, you will have a primed white patch in the center of your wall that will need to be repainted to match the remainder of your room.

Tip: Occasionally a newly-painted patch of the same color will appear different from the remainder of the room. In this case it is recommended to repaint the entire wall. Be certain that you have enough paint of the same color to repaint the entire wall if necessary.

Step One – Preparing The Drywall Crack

Take a close look at the drywall crack. Discover where the crack has occurred how deep the crack is and try to discover what has caused the crack.

Now take your razor knife or putty knife and work existing drywall tape off of the wall. Once the drywall tape has been removed you can use your razor knife and clean up the crack.

In cases where tape is not present take your drywall knife and cut the crack a little deeper making a clean straight cut.

Step Two: Securing the Drywall

Now that the pre-existing tape is removed and your broken seam or crack is exposed. You will want to reattach the drywall to the studs with additional screws to prevent any further movement.

Place additional screws on each side of the seam tying the sheet rock to the studs. Ensure that you locate and place the screws into the studs and not simply the drywall itself. Stud Finders are available cheaply at most home improvement and hardware stores to assist in this step.

Step Three – Fill the Drywall Crack

Next, put a small amount of spackle on a putty knife and press it into the crack, filling the entire space so that is flush with existing wall. Let the newly applied mud sit over night until dry. After the mud has dried make sure it is still flush with existing wall sand if necessary. (In some cases it may take two coats as drywall mud has a tendency to shrink.)

Now apply a piece of mesh tape over the existing crack. Next take your putty knife and apply a coat of drywall mud over the tape completely covering it. Do not worry about matching existing wall at this time. On the first pass the knife should be held at a 45 degree angle, to fill the crack.

Wait the appropriate amount of time for the spackle to dry (drying times vary by brand – consult the spackle packaging). Once dry, run your hand across the surface of the spackle to find any raised areas or edges. Once this has been done take your block sander and sand them smooth without going too deep causing the tape to be exposed. You should never be able to see the actual mesh through the mud.

Step Four: Applying the Drywall Fill Coat

Now the drywall fill coat will begin to widen the mud bed that you initially applied to the tape coat. The purpose of the drywall mudding process is to essentially make the seam “disappear” as if it had never been there at all. This calls for subtlety and a light touch.

The key to this subtlety is a tapered (or “feathered”) seam.

The initial coat of drywall mud was 4-6” wide. This second coat will widen that to 6-18”.

You will want to taper while you apply mud, leaving the mud coat slightly thicker along the seams and thinning it out as you move further away from the seams.

Using a larger knife makes this easier. You will want to apply pressure on the back of the knife (the one away from the seam). This will create a natural tapering affect.

When applying this coat we have found it easier to place the mud on the wall thicker at first. Follow up with your drywall knife and smooth it out, cutting off the access to achieve your desired look.

Allow 24-36 hours for the drywall mud to completely dry.

Step Five – Sanding

Now that you’ve patched your drywall crack with spackle, you need to give the area a light sanding with a drywall sanding block. Ensure that you sand any humps or ridges in your spackle flush with the rest of the wall. Be careful not to sand too deeply and expose the drywall mesh tape.

Step Six – Priming

Now, prior to repainting the patch to match the rest of your wall, you will need to spot prime over the area with a drywall primer. If you do not prime the spackled area it will show up as a shinier area of paint on your wall.

Now you are free to repaint the spot. In rare cases, the repainted spot in the middle of the wall may be noticeable, particularly if the paint on the wall is old and has faded. In these cases, the best practice is to repaint the entire wall.

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