Fix a Recurring Wall Crack
LESLIE: Joanne in Virginia is dealing with some walls that are cracking up. Tell us about it.
JOANNE: Hi. I’m really glad that I’m on here. You know I thought it was a figment of my imagination (Tom and Leslie laugh) but it’s wonderful. It is so wonderful to know that you all are out there willing to help.
So this is the deal. I have a two-story home. It has a family room off of the kitchen and that family room has a skylight. It also has a door that leads out to the back patio. Over the door there is a crack in the wall and it’s where two beams join. I have routinely scraped out the crack, wet it, repatched it, done the plaster thing, sanded it. It looks good for a while and then the creeping crack starts again and a couple of months later it’s the same thing over and over again.
TOM: And Joanne, this is an intersection between the wall and the ceiling, was it?
JOANNE: Somebody said it might be like just the house settling but how many times does it have to settle?
TOM: Well, it’s not exactly settling but it is the house moving. The house is expanding and contracting and there’s going to be – the wall and the ceiling are going to move at different rates. And simply sanding and spackling it is not addressing the problem. What you want to do is the next time this happens and you get good and ready to do it, sand it down really well and then put a piece of perforated drywall tape over it.
LESLIE: Fiberglass tape.
TOM: Yeah, the kind that looks like fiberglass. It’s sort of – and it’s sticky-backed.
JOANNE: (overlapping voices) OK. OK.
TOM: And then spackle through that and that will bridge the gap between the ceiling and the wall …
LESLIE: And you want to do like three thin coats over it. You want to put a coat on, let it dry, sand it, then go again and this way you can feather out the edges and you can really – I know it looks like you’re not going to make that tape disappear but you will.
TOM: Yeah, the drywall is just not elastic, so it doesn’t stretch and therefore, the next time the house expands and contracts it cracks again.
JOANNE: That’s wonderful news because I was doing all the things you said except for that magic tape. So if I put the tape in there …
TOM: It’s always one thing. Joanne, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.