Fix a Wall Crack That Won’t Come Back
LESLIE: David in West Virginia has an annoying problem. You’ve got a crack in your wall that keeps reoccurring. Tell us about it.
DAVID: Yes, well the cracks keep coming from right where the bottom of the window is; two places in the section. And each time, it’s been filled, plastered, sanded, repainted over and eventually it recracks in the same exact spot.
TOM: Have you thought about putting a hinge in this place? (laughing)
DAVID: I know. That would work good, right?
TOM: Sounds like it.
DAVID: So I’m not sure how to … what I can put in there to fill to keep it … you know, stop it from cracking in the same place every time.
TOM: Well, look. The place that it’s cracking, around a window, is the weaker part of the wall. So it’s not unusual. When you have patched this, what kind of tape are using? What kind of drywall tape are you using?
DAVID: Well, actually I’ve had people come and do it for me. You know, that they do …
TOM: (overlapping voices) Are they doing it with the paper tape?
DAVID: Yeah, I mean … carpenter guys have come and they’ve used tape and then they’ve also … I’ve seen them use the plaster itself …
TOM: Yeah, well plaster itself doesn’t help you with the crack. The tape … we have found … Leslie and I have found that the fiberglass tape works much better at controlling those cracks because it’s stronger than the paper tape.
TOM: The plaster has absolutely no bonding strength whatsoever.
DAVID: I see.
TOM: However, the fiberglass works pretty well. And to use that, you basically have to pull off the old tape and then use fiberglass tape, which bonds across that area that’s cracked, and then spackle over that. And if you do that and feather out the spackle from there, that makes it reasonably stable. It sounds to me like this is a very seasonal thing and if that doesn’t work, I’d say you ought to give up and just consider this charm (chuckling) of living in an old house.
DAVID: Well, that’s true. I mean I’ve seen it from other people’s houses, in the older houses …
LESLIE: I mean and you might …
DAVID: … and it happens during the winter.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you might be seeing it around your door frames as well.
TOM: Yeah, it’s not unusual. You know, homes expand and contract seasonally and they do develop cracks. I mean in all the years I spent as a professional home inspector, I rarely saw a house that didn’t have cracks. So I know it’s probably annoying to you. The fiberglass tape is probably the best way to control it.
TOM: But if you don’t want to go to that trouble or if it does reoccur even after you do that, I would just chalk it up to good old fashioned old house charm.
DAVID: Okay. I appreciate it very much.
TOM: You’re welcome, David. Thanks so much for calling us at The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.