How Serious Are They
When you see cracks in your drywall, there are a number of reasons that could be causing them…but most are not good news. If left unattended, these cracks can grow into a major problem that could lead to a weakening of the structure.
- Foundation settling
- Poor drywall installation
- Framing shrinkage
Determining the severity can be tricky:
To determine how serious a wall crack might be, it’s best to examine the shape of the crack and the direction it runs on the wall. If the crack is vertical and starts near the apex where the wall and ceiling meet, it might be a sign that it was created when the foundation settled after construction. Vertical cracks run the same direction as drywall, generally making them less serious. If the crack is horizontal or runs at a jagged 45-degree angle, it might mean there’s a more serious problem such as severe foundation shifting or water damage. Surface-blemish cracks can often be repaired with drywall putty, sanding tools and a fresh coat of paint. More severe cracks usually require professional help to determine the exact cause and might include some reconstruction to prevent further damage.
Fixing a Drywall Crack
Depending on the crux of the issue, it is possible to remedy these matters if they are discovered in time. As mentioned above, the direction the crack runs can predict the severity.
Cracks seem to appear around windows and doors but contrary to what many people think, it isn’t necessarily foundation settling that causes them. The root of the problem many times lies in the wood used to frame the openings due to opposing grains of the header and the studs in relation to temperature and moisture gradients.
Can these cracks be fixed? Here is a video of a contractor managing a sheetrock crack:
The narrator makes the process look pretty easy but if you have ever tried to tape and mud a room, especially corners and ceiling joints, it takes some practice to get good at the proper technique.
Applying Mud to a Corner
Having a variety of sizes of taping knives is a must so that you can feather out past the previous layer. For inside corners, a corner trowel is a handy tool to own, although it isn’t easy to get used to without some sheetrock installation experience.
It takes a steady hand to embed tape in inside corners with a standard drywall knife. One little slip of the knife and you’ll gouge one side while you’re smoothing the other. An inside corner knife not only eliminates that problem but does the job faster. Outside corner knives are also available, but we don’t recommend them, since corner bead makes smoothing outside corners almost foolproof.
Apply compound and place the tape as usual. Then load some mud onto the corner knife to lubricate the knife and leave a thin coat of compound over the paper. Start at the top of the corner and drag the knife down to about 16 in. from the floor. Then start at the floor and drag upward. Ease off when you reach the area that’s already smooth. You may have to repeat this process two or three times to fully embed the tape and create a smooth, straight corner. A corner knife doesn’t ensure straight corners, so reinforced corner tape is a good idea. Use a corner knife for the first coat only; after that, coat one side at a time, allowing one side to harden before you coat the other.
If you ask any contractor in Denver, they will tell you the sooner the better to fix a drywall crack. If you see multiple cracks, then it might be time to consult a qualified structural engineer.