Get step-by-step instructions on how to patch cracks in a plaster wall or ceiling. Find out a method for repairing cracked plaster walls and ceilings that will prevent cracks from spreading.
LESLIE: Jane in California is dealing with some walls that are cracking up. Tell us about it.
JANE: I have tried a couple things where, often, the cracks are in the ceiling  and they’re just hairline cracks. But then, when you first walk in the front door, there are two arched openings to two rooms and parallel to the floor are bigger cracks. And whatever I’ve tried hasn’t worked. They open up.
TOM: Well, what have you tried, Jane? Have you simply tried to spackle over those cracks ?
JANE: Yes, I’ve – somebody suggested fix-all then drywall compound on top.
JANE: And they opened and …
TOM: Have you tried to retape them?
TOM: Have you tried any type of drywall tape  over them?
JANE: No, because this is all plaster.
TOM: Right. Well, I understand that. Plaster does form a lot of cracks because of the expansion and the contraction in the wall, but a solution is to use a fiberglass drywall tape. You want to sand the wall first. You’re going to apply a fiberglass drywall tape; it’s perforated, sticks to the crack.
LESLIE: It’s the one that looks like a mesh netting.
JANE: Oh, OK.
TOM: And then you’re going to apply spackle on top of that. You want to use two to three coats, build it up, and that will bridge the gap across the crack and, hopefully, stop it from opening up again. When you simply plaster or spackle on top of a crack, it’s not going to hold because the wall is moving; it’s always expanding and contracting and the crack is going to show right back up again. So you have to tape over it with a drywall tape first and that should fix it once and for all. OK, Jane?
JANE: Thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.