Recurring Drywall Cracks: Dangerous, Harmless + How To Repair

Recurring drywall cracks are frustrating and concerning. There are a laundry list of reasons for cracks to appear in your walls and ceiling, some benign and some serious. Before you freak out or cover up your blemished walls, get an idea of what’s happening in your building.

In this article, we’re going over causes of drywall cracks that keep coming back and how to repair them permanently:

Why do recurring drywall cracks happen?

Drywall cracks are common in both new and older homes. While they can be a symptom of a bad drywall job, more often, they are a result of natural ageing and settling.

Drywall cracks from settling

If your home is new, the cracks are likely due to initial settling of the structure. The materials used to frame walls dry out over the first few years and may move slightly in the process. In this situation, small cracks are likely to occur at tension points around doors and windows. It’s smart to give the framing components time to complete their drying process before attempting repairs or you’ll likely fall victim to recurring drywall cracks.

Drywall cracks from temperature fluctuations

Recurring drywall cracks also tend to plague summer homes and vacation rental properties. Because these dwellings fluctuate more in temperature and humidity, being inhabited only intermittently, the drywall falls victim to slight expansion and contraction.

To ward off the annual plague of failed drywall, there are a couple measures you can take:

  • Place dehumidifiers throughout the building to keep moisture levels moderate.

  • Increase insulation around doors and windows.

  • Keep the building heated to above freezing.

Seasonal drywall cracks

Similarly, cracks can often be seen when seasons change. As seasons transition, often levels of humidity and temperatures fluctuate as well. This can lead to cracks showing up like clock work each year in summer or winter. Large rooms are especially susceptible to drywall cracks, but expansion control joints are often a reliable solution to combat seasonal changes without cracking.

Problematic recurring drywall cracks

While many drywall problems have a simple fix. Sometimes these seemingly harmless nuisances are a canary in a coal mine for a much more serious issue.

Drywall cracks from foundation or structural problems

Beyond being an eyesore, cracks that are a result of foundation or structural issues are a serious concern. Generally numerous, large, and jagged, these cracks could mean that your building’s foundation or frame has shifted.

Frost heaving, termites, dry rot, soil washout,  tree roots, and drainage issues are among the many possible causes of foundation and structural issues that can cause serious recurring drywall cracks. To be sure your drywall damage isn’t a symptom of a more serious problem, get an evaluation from and engineer or building inspector.

Drywall cracks from leaks

When cracks have discoloration or if the drywall around it is spongy and damp, it’s a clear indication of excessive moisture. Before fixing the crack find and fix the source of the leak, or the damage will quickly recur. When you’re able to identify the source of the moisture, removing and replacing the damaged drywall is the simple fix. Leaks from windows and roofs are often more apparent after storms. Plumbing leaks can be slow or acute.

Drywall cracks from poor installation

Cracking, bulging, and buckling of drywall may be a symptom of a complex issue, but sometime the root is as simple as unskilled drywall installation. When mistakes are made (or shortcuts are taken) in the drywall installation process, it often becomes apparent in due time. Faulty taping, improper materials, insufficient fastening, or failure to allow for control joints can create unsightly blemishes on walls and ceilings.

If you’re seeing multiple issues without symptoms of leaks, structural issues, or seasonal effects, you may simply be victim to poorly installed drywall. While you don’t have the hassle of dealing with water damage or engineers, the only reliable long-term fix is to replace the drywall. If you need a reliable drywall contractor in greater Vancouver, contact Custom Drywall.

recurring drywall crack above door | Custom Drywall Repair

Types of drywall cracks

How can you tell if your recurring drywall cracks are a result of a more serious problem? The characteristics, length, and location of cracks can tell you a lot about how risky your issue is:

Low risk drywall cracks: Sunburst

Cracks that spread outwards from a centerpoint are commonly caused by normal building ageing and settling. Hairline cracks in this pattern are no big deal, but if the width grows to 1/16” or more, there’s likely a more significant problem to investigate.

Low risk drywall cracks: Perimeter

Normal settling or poor installation also commonly cause a few small separations along the edges of walls and ceilings. Keep track of any growth over time by measuring or marking their endpoint.

High risk drywall cracks: Multiplanar

Drywall cracks which stretch along the majority length of a wall or ceiling are a red flag. When these cracks continue from a wall to a ceiling along the same line, chances are high that there is an underlying structural issue.

What can you do to repair recurring drywall cracks in walls and ceilings?

There is a simple method to fix drywall cracks from settling for good. Don't just fill the crack with spackle and call it a day. To keep recurring cracks at bay, tape cracks to add reinforcement and coverage, then smooth them out with drywall compound.

Drywall crack repair materials list

  • Drywall Compound

  • Mesh Drywall Tape

  • 6” Drywall Knife

  • Sandpaper

Step by step: How to repair a drywall crack permanently

  1. First, remove any loose or damaged drywall, tape, or mud with a knife.

  2. Then, sand the surface smooth and apply a layer of drywall compound and new drywall tape.

  3. Once dry, sand it smooth and add another layer of compound, feathering the edges to create a smooth and gradual transition.

  4. Once completely dry, you’re ready to paint.  

Drywall Repair in Vancouver and Fraser Valley

If you have drywall cracks that need some attention and would like some expert assistance, Custom Drywall can help. For an assessment of your drywall issues and prompt repair, call 778-996-0249 today! With skilled staff, competitive rates, and a 1-year workmanship guarantee, we are the Lower Mainland’s more reliable drywall contractor.