Repair a Crack in a Plaster Ceiling
LESLIE: Now we’re going to take a call from Mavis in Minnesota, who listens to us on KNUJ, who’s got a plaster problem.
Mavis, what’s going on?
MAVIS: I’m wondering how I can repair a plaster crack in a ceiling. One is smooth plaster and one is textured plaster. And I know that not very many people work with plaster anymore, so I’m wondering if there’s something that you can suggest that is easy for us to do or if you can tell us what type of person we should contact to take care of this problem.
LESLIE: Is it just a crack at this point or has plaster actually started falling away?
MAVIS: Just a crack.
TOM: And how wide is the crack? How open is it, Mavis?
MAVIS: Oh, it’s not very far. And we have had it repaired previously, you know, with a painter taping it. But as soon as, you know, I think because of the weather conditions in the winter and so forth, then it kind of opens up again.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Right. Is it just a hairline crack?
MAVIS: Probably a little bit wider than hairline.
TOM: Alright, here’s what I would do. I would not put more spackle on it because the spackle doesn’t expand and contract. This is an expansion joint in your ceiling. It just wants to act like an expansion joint.
LESLIE: Can you use caulk?
TOM: That’s what I was thinking. Let’s put a good-quality, latex caulk in that crack. It’s going to fill in that black void which is what the eye sees and sort of looks terrible; you see that black line in the middle of the crack. So lets fill it in with a latex caulk.
Now in the textured section, I want you to take a paint brush, get it a little bit damp, and after you put the caulk in the crack, just kind of take the bristles and stab at it to give it sort of that textured effect. And then after it dries, put a coat of paint on it. I think what you’re going to find is because that caulk is flexible and expands and contracts, it’s going to keep that crack in a closed position. It’s going to look like it’s closed. It’s not going to open.
MAVIS: So does it have to be dug out at all or …?
TOM: Probably not. If it’s a clean break, I’d stop right there and push the caulk right into the crack.
MAVIS: OK, and just any kind of caulk?
TOM: Latex. Latex caulk. Don’t use anything that’s butyl or rubber. Just use a latex caulk.
LESLIE: And it’s better to get the white, I would say, than the clear.
TOM: Oh, absolutely. It’s white. You have to be white; otherwise, you’re going to see that dark line. That’s what we want to hide. OK, Mavis?
TOM: Caulk solves all kinds of woes around the house.
LESLIE: It really does.
TOM: Any time your molding is pulling away from a wall or anything like that, caulk it.
LESLIE: And you know what else? If you’re building a piece of furniture – and I hate to say it, sometimes my corners and my shelves just don’t match up quite right –
TOM: Don’t match? Yeah.
LESLIE: – you can fill that with caulk as well.
TOM: Yeah, well that’s the problem. You caulk too much. (chuckles) That’s why we call this caulk radio.
LESLIE: Alright, that’s funny. (Tom laughs) You’re fishing out there, Tom. You’re trying.
TOM: Hey, why don’t we do a segment called Caulk Talk?
LESLIE: Well, there are many uses for caulk that a lot of people don’t think of.
TOM: There absolutely are.
Alright, well we hope we helped Mavis out with her plaster-cracking question. Caulk is the solution.