Wall cracks. We’ve talked about them. They are one of the first signs of foundation damage. Admittedly however, there are times where wall cracks are just that; the hide nothing sinister behind them; they are not the result of foundation damage, but of other unrelated factors.
So if you star noticing cracks the first thing to do is determine the reasons for their appearance. If the cracks are wider than 25mm or they come accompanied by other foundation damage symptoms then you should call an expert as soon as possible. However if no other signs of foundation damage are found and the cracks are quite narrow then there might be other reasons behind them.
Sometimes these narrow cracks in plaster walls are only cosmetic, caused by the slight contraction and expansion of the framing due to seasonal changes or shrinking of the plaster.
Other times it might be due to minor settling which is a normal process that occurs over time; this is due to the excavation of the soil that was required to build the home. The soil will become compacted and settle over time and this in turn will bring upon wall cracks.
Another reason might be excavation and construction works in the vicinity. The use of machinery, the vibration that it causes, mechanical compaction of soil, heavy vehicles or excavation by explosives can cause wall cracks. The same might happen with tremors and earthquakes.
We also can’t rule out the possibility that sometimes home builders aren’t as careful as they should be and sometimes this translates in poor drywall installation.
In any of these cases as long the cracks are no wider than a hairline you should be fine.
In other cases leaks can also be the culprits of wall cracks as they cause the drywall to soften and deteriorate. In this case, you must make sure to find the leak and repair it. Once that’s taken care of then you can proceed with the repairs of your wall cracks.
Two other things that you have to rule out (besides the usual sigs of foundation damage that we have previously touched upon) are nail pops near the crack. This happens when nails and screws pull away and stick out on the surface. This might indicate structural problems as do dips and bows in your ceiling.
Once you rule out the causes that might indicate potential damage, you can proceed to repair the cracks. It is a very simple process and here we will provide a brief guide on how to do it.
The items are all quite easy to find, and pretty much inexpensive: you will be needing are a small knife, a brush, mesh tape, a taping knife, spackling paste, a sanding block and paint. (Note: you could use joint compound if spackling paste is not available)
To start you have to open up the crack a bit. Remember that these cracks are about a hairline thick, so in order to facilitate the compound getting into the crack, we need to open it up a little bit more. You can do this by running a knife all the way through the crack. Once you are done make sure to scrape away any loose material.
In order for the paste to have a better adherence you have to make sure the crack and its surrounding area are perfectly clean, so after scrapping the crack away, you can use a brush to make sure no dust is left behind in the inside of the crack.
Now you have to put on the first coating of paste or compound; use a taping knife to fill that crack, making sure to push it all the way into the crack until it is completely filled.
Then comes the mesh tape. This generally covers about an inch and a half and should cover the crack completely, from one end to the other and press it down slightly.
In comes the second coating of paste. Use your taping knife and make sure to cover the entire area of the mesh tape until it is practically invisible and let it dry for a bit.
Once dried, scrape away using the taping knife and then apply the third and final coating of paste, tho this time make it wider so the repair will be more easily concealed once it is finished. Let it dry.
Finally, once you are sure it has dried up, use your sanding block and sand away until it is as smooth as possible. (But be careful not to sand away too much as you will reveal the mesh tape and you’ll have to repeat the latter part of the process)
Having done that it is time for the final touch; painting. Just make sure to use the exact same paint as the one on your wall and you should be all set.
Your wall will be nice and flat. And the cracks pretty much invisible.