Why is my wall cracking? How do I repair it?
Your wall is probably cracking because your home’s foundation is settling. A little settling over time is natural. You can repair those cracks without worrying too much more about them. But if you repair a crack and it comes back soon or gets worse, you might have studs in your wall or joists in your ceiling or floors that are damaged. That’s a structural problem and should be taken seriously.
For cracks, there are different processes for drywall and plaster. The vast majority of walls in modern homes are drywall (also called sheetrock). Drywall cracks require joint compound or spackling putty. Fill the crack and wait for the joint compound to dry. Sand it down with a very fine grit sandpaper, then put a second layer of compound on over the crack. Spread it evenly with the surface using a putty knife. This should blend the putty with your natural wall surface. Once it’s dry, sand that layer down to even out the surface and you’re ready to paint.
If you live in an older house that has plaster walls, the crack-filling process is a lot like sheetrock, but you may have to deal with securing a lathe board first. Lathe boards – what the plaster is spread over during initial construction of the walls – can separate from wall studs and make it seem as if you’re wall is warped. To reattach a lathe to a stud, simply hammer a few nails through the plaster and lathe. This may cause a few hairline cracks, but you’re there to fill cracks anyway. Once your lathe boards are secure again, use a putty knife to fill cracks with a small amount of plaster paste. You can find the paste in both powder and premixed forms at Westlake. Once your cracks are filled, sand and paint.
Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.