What You Need to Know about Wall Cracks

As professional painters, we’ve been asked by clients why they have wall cracks. While cracks might look serious, they can be relatively common in new and older homes, including here in Northern Virginia. They are usually caused by normal house settling. However, there are some instances when settling is not the cause and indicate a bigger problem.

Causes of Wall Cracks:

New homes & lumber: New homes can develop hairline cracks in the drywall as the house settles. New lumber will move slightly as it dries out, leading to small wall cracks in a newly built home. This is not unusual, and it’s a pretty straightforward repair. Most builders and paint contractors will recommend waiting a year after the house is built to repair cracks. This gives the wood time to dry and the house time to settle before cracks are repaired.Window & door cracks: It’s not unusual to see cracks develop around new or old windows and doors, including at the edges of the joints. Most hairline cracks across walls and doorways do not indicate a structural problem (we address those below in this post). These cracks typically indicate a slight shifting of the building, which is normal.Thin straight cracks: A thin straight crack could mean that the drywall taping wasn’t done correctly. The seams between drywall panels are covered with drywall mud and paper tape. If there wasn’t sufficient mud applied, the tape won’t properly adhere to it and will begin to pull away from the wall. A thin, straight line can indicate that the tape is lifting. If there are multiple cracks in one area, it might be necessary to retape all of the seams in that area.Temperature fluctuations: Fluctuations in interior temperature and humidity levels can cause a building’s framing and drywall to expand and contract, resulting in cracking. These can usually be repaired with proper taping and repainting.Discoloration:  A crack with discoloration is usually the sign of a leak. This can be from a nearby window or roof. Rather than just repairing the drywall crack, it means you will need to fix the leak, dry out the area, and, probably, replace the drywall.Jagged, wide/large, or diagonal cracks: Any of these could signal a serious structural problem with the foundation or framing that needs to be addressed as soon as possible. When the foundation or the building structure shifts more than what is deemed safe, cracks will appear more dramatic in scope. You will need to consult with a reputable contractor or structural engineer to determine the cause and extent of the issue. Drywall repairs can be made once the structural problem is resolved.We hope you found our post helpful regarding any drywall cracks in your home. If you’d like a free estimate to repair these cracks, please contact us at our Northern Virginia office to schedule an appointment.

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