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Does your ceiling have cracks? The first step toward ceiling crack repair is to find out if the cause of the problem is simply cosmetic, or if there’s a structural issue that needs to be addressed immediately. A ceiling crack repair is especially difficult to tackle when you don’t know what might be wrong with it.
And, if you’re not an experienced DIYer when it comes to repairing cracks in the ceiling, it’s best to hire a professional to do the job.
Keep in mind that while ordinary cracks are a part of home settling, and can affect ceilings, walls, and even floors, you must keep a track of their size. When the spider web cracks (the most common types of cracks) in your ceiling are small, there isn’t much need to worry about. However, if the cracks grow more than 1/16 inch wide, you could be facing a larger structural problem at home.
Let’s explore some of the most common causes of ceiling cracks, why they occur, and how to repair them.
Common causes of ceiling cracks and simple DIY repair steps
Keep in mind that there are three main causes of ceiling cracks — natural settling as a result of the building aging, poor workmanship or installation, or the more serious structural damage. Here are some common types of cracks that may make regular appearances in your home.
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Fine straight ceiling crack
Probable reason: Result of a poorly taped joint
Verdict: If your drywall installation has not been properly done, or there was an insufficient amount of drywall mud used during the taping process, it can cause cracks to appear. Usually, in such a situation, the paper tape doesn’t adhere well to the joint. You can therefore see a straight crack along the edge of the loosened tape. Fortunately, it’s a superficial problem, not a structural or safety hazard.
Solution: You can take care of the crack by applying a small amount of thin drywall compound under the loose tape. Then, re-adhere it to the drywall.
Probable reason: Moisture problem or water damage
Verdict: Before looking at ways for ceiling crack repair, determine the cause of the leak and fix it immediately. Sometimes, there could be an overhead leak — causing the trickling water between your ceiling’s drywall panels to cause unsightly yellow or brown stains.
Solution: The best way to undo the damage is to scrape off the loose tape. Next, re-tape the joint — either with a drywall repair kit or paper tape and joint compound.
In case you have a textured ceiling or a popcorn ceiling, you’ll need to make use of special products available in local home improvement stores. However, dealing with a popcorn ceiling should only be left to the professionals.
While your drywall resists some moisture, long-term leaks can result in water damage — softening or swelling up your drywall. You may need a drywall replacement in such cases.
Read more: How much does popcorn ceiling removal cost?
Tiny spiderweb cracks
Probable reason: Thick application of drywall compound
Verdict: If the drywall compound used to create a textured ceiling is applied too thickly, it results in tiny cracks. These spiderweb cracks run in all directions as the compound shrinks as it dries.
Solution: Apply a thin layer of drywall compound over the existing texture; it will help you conceal the blemishes. Or, you could remove the existing texture by sanding and applying a new drywall compound.
Horizontal crack between an interior wall and ceiling
Probable reason: Roof truss uplift. This generally happens when a novice drywall installer attaches drywall panels to the trusses near the edge of a non-load-bearing wall.
Verdict: Roof trusses move a little in order to accommodate the expansion and contraction of wood members due to attic temperature and moisture fluctuations. As the roof truss pulls upward, it may lift the ceiling drywall — creating a crack between the wall and the ceiling.
Solution: If you want a thorough ceiling crack repair, the first step is to remove the nails or screws that secure the edge of the drywall panels to the trusses. Next, you’ll have to reattach them to clips or blocks on the top of the interior wall plates.
If you’re looking for a cosmetic solution, and simply want to camouflage the crack, it’s a good idea to install a dark-stained crown molding at the top — attached only to the framing members in the wall instead of the ceiling joists.
Hairline ceiling cracks with wall cracks
Probable reason: House settling or aging
Verdict: Most homes settle as they age naturally. This can create crevices in the walls and ceilings — usually above the doors and windows or at the corners.
Solution: You can generally re-tape these superficial hairline cracks. But, if the gaps are wider than 1/8-inch, it may be due to a structural problem. It’s best to consult a reputable home builder.
If you have plaster ceiling cracks, you can fill these common hairline cracks with new plaster and repaint the ceiling.
Large cracks and a sagging ceiling
Probable reason: Structural problem
Verdict: When a ceiling bows or sags, it needs immediate attention. Maybe you recently installed a heavy fixture — such as a hot tub or a pool table — on the floor above. Or, you’ve had an incorrect removal of a load-bearing wall.
Solution: Contact a structural engineer or a reputable builder at the earliest. They will examine the ceiling to determine the best way to tackle this serious problem.
How much does a ceiling crack repair cost?
You can expect to spend between $400 to $1,200 to repair a ceiling — excluding the cost of painting the ceiling after the repair.
Of course, the total cost depends on the extent of damage, type of repair, ceiling material (plaster and wood ceiling cost more to repair than drywall ceiling), ceiling height, and furniture removal if required (at an additional cost of $100 to $150).
Here are some common ceiling repairs with their approximate pricing:
- Hairline cracks: $150 to $300
- Larger cracks: $250 to $550
- Drywall repair/removal/replacement: $700 to $900 for a 200 sq.ft of ceiling drywall
- Plaster repair: $150 to $300 (more if the damaged ceiling plaster collapses)
- Water stains removal: $200 (to remove, patch, and repaint the area)
- A fresh coat of paint on the entire ceiling: $250 to $350
- Extensive structural damage or water damage: $3,000 to $8000
Keeping your ceiling in top shape will save you money on costly repairs and a lot of headaches. But, if your ceiling starts to crack or the paint chips off, you will need to deal with the problem right away. We hope this guide on ceiling crack repair will help you understand exactly what kind of problem you’re dealing with. And, get its solution.
Read more: Total coffered ceiling cost