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Drywall Hairline Crack Repairs

When those mysterious little cracks begin to appear along your walls, it is time to make some repairs

Sooner or later, most homes will suffer through the natural process of settling. Damage to or shifting of the walls allows for a range of cracks, from hairline to larger gaps that require additional expertise.

The average homeowner can repair most drywall cracks, especially if they are small. If, however, you suspect foundation damage, then a professional should be consulted immediately.

First, you should understand how these cracks occurred and have a basic knowledge of the underlying structure. Walls and ceilings are created from sheets of drywall, which is also referred to as gypsum board, wallboard, or plasterboard. It is this base on which paint, stucco, and wallpaper are applied (with the appropriate protectors and sealants). Greenboard is resistant to moisture and is, therefore used in bathrooms. Backerboard is strong enough to withstand foot traffic.

Drywall sheets are connected by nails at studs and followed by a tape-and-bed procedure that creates a smooth seam. This is often an area that will show cracking and as shifting occurs and the drywall sheets move, nails and tape may begin to lift. Poor preparation can also cause the tape to lift such as when the compound covering the tape did not dry properly before painting.

In the case of more drastic house settling, cracks may appear elsewhere on walls, in corners, or at door and window trim.

Hairline cracks can be repaired quickly, but may reappear as more settling occurs. You will need a putty knife, fine grit sandpaper, and joint compound - preferably pre-mixed and labeled flexible. If the crack is in the bathroom, be sure the compound is rated for water resistance.

Stir the compound and, with a putty knife, force the mix into the crack. Use back and forth motions to push compound as far into the space as is possible. Follow manufacturer's instructions for drying time - this is a critical step in the repair. Next, sand until smooth. If necessary, a second layer of compound may be required. Allow to dry thoroughly and re-sand.

The wall can now be retextured and/or painted.




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