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Fixing a cracked wall is an easy do-it-yourself project.
Whether found in drywall, plaster or concrete, a crack in a wall is an eyesore. Generally caused by the natural settling of a house over time, you can repair a cracked wall in a weekend. Simple tools and materials from your local home improvement store will have you on your way to a smooth wall. Take note, though; if drywall cracking or surface distortion is severe or there are other indications of significant settling or potential structural problems, have your home inspected by a qualified building professional before repairing the drywall.
Fixing a crack in drywall is the easiest of the three wall types you are likely to encounter in your home. Use a utility knife to cut a 1/8 inch to 1/4 inch V-notch along the length of the crack. Vacuum out loose material. Cover the crack with either mesh joint tape or joint compound and paper tape, followed by a thin layer of joint compound, extending about 2 inches on each side of the tape. Allow to dry. Apply a second coat of joint compound, feathered approximately 6 to 7 inches on either side of the crack. Allow to dry overnight. Lightly sand until smooth. The wall is ready for paint or wallpaper.
Plaster Wall Patching
Treat minor cracks in plaster similar to a drywall crack, with joint compound. However, if the plaster is pulling away from the lath, you first need to shore up the wall with a two-step process that includes a conditioner spray followed by adhesive. Start by drilling holes with a 3/16-inch masonry bit that will penetrate the plaster but not the wood lath, every three inches along the length of the crack. Vacuum the dust and debris from the holes. Spray the adhesive conditioner into each hole. Allow dwell time as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Inject the adhesive into each hole, beginning at the lowest point of the wall. Clean up excess adhesive with a damp sponge. Immediately attach plaster rings with a drill to pull the plaster tight against the wall. Allow to cure as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Remove the plaster rings. Hide the holes and original crack with a coat of joint compound. Lightly sand, then apply a second coat of joint compound. Sand smooth when dry.
To repair a concrete wall you will need an epoxy repair kit. The epoxy will make a watertight seal in the crack. Begin your repair by tapping 3-inch finish nails partially into the crack every 12 inches; these nails will attach injection ports. Epoxy comes in two parts, A and B, which you need to mix just before using. Mix equal parts of the epoxy on a scrap piece of wood with a putty knife. Apply a small amount of mixed epoxy on each injection port tab; attach each port against the wall by covering each of the finish nails with one port. Spread mixed epoxy over the crack, extending 1 inch on either side of the crack. Cover the flange of each injection port with epoxy as well. You can use a paintbrush dipped in mineral spirits to feather the epoxy at the edges. Allow to cure for six to 10 hours. Using a caulk gun, inject liquid concrete repair into the ports, starting at the bottom, until the liquid oozes from the port. Plug each port before moving to the next. Allow to cure for at least five days, then cut the port flush with the wall with a hacksaw.
Repairing Deep Cracks
If cracks in drywall or plaster are deeper than a 1/4 inch, you will have better success if you first fill the the crevice with a filler compound prior to taping with joint compound. Mix the compound as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Fill the crack until it is flush with the existing wall. Cover with tape and joint compound, as outlined previously, to achieve a smooth wall.
Signs of Structural Damage
Concrete walls, especially in a foundation, are load-bearing walls. Although you can patch minor cracks, major fissures can be a sign of poor structural integrity. A horizontal crack that stretches the length of a wall as well as bulging is a tell-tale sign of serious damage. Cracks of this nature should be repaired only by a professional.
Home › Drywall › Drywall Repair › How to Repair a Drywall Crack
Make unsightly flaws in your walls disappear.
By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine
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3-Step wall repair
Cut a V-notch through the full length of the crack, 1/8 to 1/4 in. deep, removing all loose wall material. Protect woodwork with masking tape.
Photo 2: Embed
Embed paper tape in joint compound using a 6-in. taping blade. To avoid trapping air bubbles under the tape, moisten the paper tape with water, lay it over the crack and squeeze excess compound and air from underneath with the blade. Apply an additional thin layer of compound and feather it off 2 in. on both sides of the tape. Let dry.
Photo 3: Apply
Apply a second (and third, if necessary) coat of compound, smoothing it out 6 to 7 in. on both sides of the joint. Smooth the compound to a thin, even coat using long, continuous strokes with a 12-in. taping blade. Allow the repair to dry thoroughly, sand it smooth (avoid exposing the tape) and paint it.
As homes settle, cracks may radiate from the corners of doors and windows. Whether your walls are made of plaster or drywall, you can repair the cracks in two steps over a day or two—and get the area ready to sand and paint. Use paper tape; it’s stronger than fiberglass tape for wall repairs. For cracks more than 1/4 in. deep, clean out the loose material and use a quick-setting crack filler like Durabond to build up the area level with the wall. Then use the steps shown in Photos 2 and 3 to fix it.
Required Tools for this Project
Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.
- Dust mask
- Mud pan
- Painters tape
- Taping knife
- Utility knife
Required Materials for this Project
Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here’s a list.
- Paper drywall tape
- Pre-mixed joint compound
- Setting type compound
The first thing that you need to remember before you begin to repair any crack in the wall is that you need to clean the crack in order to make sure that there is nothing that gets trapped inside the crack that may have an affect on when you repair it. It will look distorted if you do not complete this step.
Next, you need to purchase something that you can use, which will repair the crack or cracks in your walls. Although there are a number of different things which you can choose from, wall plaster patching compounds or spackling compounds is the type of material that is recommended by most builders. The best thing about these is the fact that, as they dry, they turn into crystals which lock into the texture or the smoothness of the wall. They are much easier to match the texture of your wall with. Aside from this, the main benefit of plaster patching compounds is the fact that you can easily fix your wall within a day, while it can take several days to repair your wall cracks when you choose to use other materials.
The main question which you probably are wondering is where you can buy plaster patching compounds, or spackling compounds. Well, the only place where you can purchase them is at a store which specifically sells drywall supplies, or building supplies. Chances are that you may not be able to find them at a home super center store, such as Home Depot. If you are interested in finding out where you can buy them but you are not sure, you should consider asking a local builder where they purchase their drywall supplies.
If you cannot find plaster patching compounds, you can choose to use plaster instead. Although it may take more time to repair when you choose to use it, it is just as effective and will still look good when you are finished.
Once you have your plaster repair solution ready to use, then you are ready to begin. First, you need to apply a coat, or two if needed. You should then let it dry. It is important for you to sand it in order to make sure that the surface will be smooth. Most people tend to use sandpaper in order to do this; however, there are many people who prefer using a sponge instead to avoid dust from occurring. Sanding can leave a mess that needs to be cleaned up. Either way, the important thing is to make sure that it is as smooth as possible.
Once the coat is smooth, you are now able to paint the wall. It is usually necessary to paint the entire wall in order to make sure that it blends in properly. Painting just the repaired area may look awkward. It gives you an excuse to have nice looking and freshly painted walls.
If you follow these steps, you will be much closer to repairing the crack in your wall in the best way possible. Remember that the main key is making it look as natural as possible. Repairing the wall on your own will certainly save you money since you will now only be responsible for purchasing supplies.