If you’re getting ready to paint a room in your home, one of the first things you should do is look around and see if you have any stress cracks in your drywall. If you do, there is not necessarily anything to worry about. Cracks can result from several things, and most of them are common problems that won’t require major renovations. Unfortunately, many of the reasons that cracks form are things that commonly happen over the lifetime of a house, so even if you repair cracks now, chances are you will find more over time. However, it is important to fix your existing cracks before painting your room to ensure an even, professional look.
What Causes Cracks?
As we mentioned, there are many reasons you may have small stress cracks in your walls, and most of the time, they are not indicative of major problems. Consider some of these reasons you may have stress cracks in your walls.
- House settling. You’ve probably heard that houses settle over time, but may not have known what the term meant. Although there are various ways that homes “settle,” most people are referring to the fact that the ground your house sits on gets compacted and shifts under the home’s weight. It can also change due to excessive rain and other weather conditions. As the ground moves slightly, so does the house, and tiny cracks begin to form.
- Green lumber. If your home is new, it is likely that the lumber used to build it still contained quite a bit of moisture during construction. Over the first year or so that you live in your home, this wood begins to dry out completely, and the slight difference that makes in the structure can cause your walls to crack.
- Water damage. As you inspect your walls, you want to be sure to look for discoloration around cracks (or anywhere on the walls and ceilings). This indicates that you may have a small leak in your roof that you need to patch, or possibly a leak in your internal plumbing that you should check out. It is vital to have any type of leak fixed before it causes bigger, more expensive issues.
- Climate Control. Climatic factors can also cause your walls to crack. Heating and cooling your home as the seasons change, and changes in outdoor humidity and temperature can be the culprit in some cases. If you live in an area that is hot and dry most of the time, or wet and rainy, this can also affect your drywall. The wooden structure within your home absorbs moisture during humid times, and then dries out during dry periods, which causes it to expand and contract.
- Poor taping. When contractors install drywall panels, they hide the seams by filling them with mud and covering that with paper tape. If you see a long straight crack running down your wall, it probably means that there was not enough mud for the tape to stick to, and it is pulling away from the wall.
There are, unfortunately, some circumstances in which you should worry. Small cracks are usually no big deal, but if you have large cracks in your walls over a quarter of an inch wide, you should call in a professional contractor before doing anything. It may not always be the case, but cracks this large may indicate that you have foundation damage, which can be a large, costly project to fix. If your cracks are minor, and you are ready to proceed, follow these steps to repair your cracks before painting.
Gather Your Tools and Supplies
Before you begin any home improvement project, it is essential to get all your materials together, so that you’re not running out to buy things you need as you work. To repair cracks in your drywall, be sure you have the following supplies:
- Step ladder
- Sanding sponge
- Drywall taping knives
- Joint compoundv
- Drywall joint tape/mesh
- Drop cloth
- Five-in-one painter’s tool
Once you have these simple tools, you are ready to fix your stress cracks and start on your painting job.
Step-By-Step Instructions to Fix Cracks
- If you plan to paint right away, it is best to get the furniture out of the room, take artwork and fixtures off the walls, and lay down your drop cloth to protect your floors.
- Get your step ladder set up and get to work with your five-in-one tool. You will want to open the crack and rake it out a bit to remove any loose bits of drywall debris.
- Once you are ready to fix the crack, you will first cover the crack with your joint tape, and then apply the joint compound in a thin coat with your drywall taping knives.
- Allow the first coat to dry, and then apply two more coats. Be sure to allow each coat to dry fully before applying the next. As you apply each coat, make sure you spread it out a bit further on the surface of the ceiling or wall than the previous coat.
- When you are sure that all three coats of the joint compound are completely dry, use your sanding sponge to sand your patch job smooth and even with the wall.
- Prime your fresh joint compound to get it ready for painting, and allow the primer to dry.
- Once the above steps are complete, you should be ready to get to the fun part—painting your room!
For additional information check out this Redfin article we were featured in: How to Spot and Repair Drywall Damage in Your Home
When you take the time to repair cracks and small damages like scratches in your walls before painting them, it really comes through in the final product. The paint job will look more professional and attractive. If you don’t want to take on the job yourself, you can hand it all over experienced Austin painters by calling PaintPro at (512) 862-7699. We are always available to help you out with any interior painting projects in the Austin area.