Why Are My Drywall Seams Cracking? (And What to Do About it)

The two most common causes of drywall seams cracking are inadequate support behind the drywall and improper taping.

We’re going to dive into those two pesky reasons for drywall cracks, and how to fix them.

And a whole lot more.

Unfortunately, you’ll never know exactly why your drywall seams are cracking until you cut into the wall and see for yourself.

While cutting into your wall might seem like a terrifying thing to do, you won’t know how to fix drywall cracks until you tear into it.

So grab your drywall knife, a dropcloth, shop vac, and let’s fix that crack!

Reasons Why Drywall Seams Crack

There are several reasons why drywall seams crack, so let’s get every possibility out there in the open, so we can prepare ourselves for what we might encounter behind that drywall.

  1. Uneven, loose, and missing framing / no backing or missing screws at the drywall seam.
  2. Improper taping, missing joint compound under paper or mesh tape.
  3. High humidity, or drastic temperature changes.
  4. Water leaks behind drywall.
  5. Building shifting, natural settling, or foundation problems.

Don’t panic. This is a long list of possible issues, but you’ll never know until you dive in.

Let’s start with the easiest fix and move our way down the list to the most serious.

Hopefully, it’s just a missing screw or two – let’s find out.

How To Fix Cracks in Drywall

Drywall issues are always a crap shoot from the start.

Where almost any repair project can go from a 30-minute repair, or grow into a month-long drywall drama of titanic proportions.

Problem #1 – Uneven Framing, No Backing, or Missing Screws

Hopefully, this is your problem with drywall seams cracking.

It’s usually the easiest to fix. You’ll still need to cut away the cracked drywall seam, but after that, it’s usually a breeze.

Push each side of the drywall along the crack. If you see the drywall move in and out, or separating, you’ll need to fasten the drywall to solid framing.

  • Cut away the cracked drywall taping, and remove the old joint compound.
  • Add drywall screws along the joint and be sure the screws are going into solid backing.
  • Snug drywall screws so the screw head is just below the wall surface. Assure drywall joints are completely fastened and snug with no movement.
  • Add quick-set Durabond to the area that was cut away as a filling coat. Let dry completely.
  • Apply new joint compound or Durabond (depending on how large the seam crack is) and paper tape over the fill coat. Let dry completely.
  • Apply another coat of joint compound over the paper tape and let dry.
  • It might take yet another coat of compound. Once dry, lightly sand and paint patch.

Problem #2 – Improper Taping Under Joint Tape

Once you cut away the joint tape at a cracking drywall seam, you might find joint tape that was not properly bedded in the drywall compound.

Usually, this is marked by a bubble or air pocket, where the paper tape will stick out. Air pockets are also perfect places for cracks to appear at drywall seams.

To fix this common issue, you’ll need to cut away the drywall paper or mesh tape, and properly bed new tape at the entire seam.

While this is a fairly simple fix in one small area, I’ve seen instances where the paper tape was not bedded properly over huge areas of the project.

It’s almost easier to start over at this point. Regardless, you’ll need to cut away every bit of improperly bedded tape and apply filler mud, and of course, new tape that’s fully bedded to joint compound.

Problem #3 – High Humidity or Drastic Temperature Changes

We now know that temperature changes cause cracking in drywall under certain conditions. But humidity can be the real source of problems.

Several studies have concluded high humidity, and the change in humidity levels cause building materials to grow and shrink.

When wood framing behind the drywall expands and contracts, it causes cracking. The drywall sheets also expand and contract when humidity levels change.

You can reduce wood and drywall movement by acclimating building materials to the environment for at least 24 hours before installing them.

By pre-conditioning the interior temperature and humidity levels before hanging new drywall, you can reduce the risk of cracks appearing.

But the most effective way to reduce drywall seams cracking from humidity-induced expansion and contraction is to use resilient channel between the framing and drywall.

Causes of Drywall Cracks

Drywall cracks can be caused by hairline imperfections or the studs not being straight.

Improper drywall installation is another reason for cracking, as it can cause movement in the wall due to not being firmly secured to the studs.

Poor quality of drywall can also lead to hairline cracks due to weak bonding between the layers.

Also, vibrations from everyday items such as washing machines and vacuums can cause hairline cracks.

No matter what causes these hairline cracks, they tend to grow over time and must be addressed quickly.

How To Prevent Drywall Seam Cracking

One of the most common DIY drywall repairs is on small cracks along drywall seams, where the two sheets of drywall meet. If you want to prevent these small cracks, there are some steps you can take.

The first step is to use quality materials when installing or repairing drywall. Make sure that any screws or nails used for installation are the correct size and length. If nails are too short, they won’t hold the drywall securely, which can lead to nail pops or other problems.

Another way to prevent small drywall cracks is to use joint compound with mesh tape when finishing drywall seams.

drywall seam cracks
Mesh tape with joint compound can help avoid drywall cracks

The mesh tape will help keep the joint compound in place and provide a stronger bond between the drywall sheets. Additionally, use a wide putty knife when applying joint compound to ensure that the joint is sealed and smooth.

Finally, inspect your drywall regularly for any signs of small cracks or nail pops. If you spot any problems, address them quickly before they worsen. To fix small cracks and nail pops, simply fill them with joint compound and apply a second coat of compound before sanding the area.

By following these tips, you’ll be able to prevent small cracks and nail pops from forming in drywall seams. With some maintenance, you can keep your walls looking neat and tidy all year round.

How To Keep Cracks in Drywall From Coming Back

Do Drywall Cracks Mean Foundation Problems?

drywall seams cracking

Can New Homes Have Drywall Seams Cracking?

As new homes settle over time, homeowners may notice sheetrock cracks appearing on the walls. While this is a natural part of the settling process, it can be disconcerting when you first move into your new home and see these blemishes popping up.

If you do have drywall cracks in your new home, don’t panic! The cracks may be small and easy to ignore, or you can use a lightweight spackle to fill them in.

It is important to remember that these new homes are settling, and more cracks may appear over time. It’s not always foundation issues to blame. Therefore, it’s best to keep an eye on the walls for any new problems and repair them as needed.

drywall seams cracking

Can Leaks and Water Damage Cause Drywall Seams To Crack?

Will a Vacant Home Have Drywall Seams Cracking?

While a vacant home can have drywall seams cracking, several factors can cause this issue.

drywall seams cracking

Additional Resources –

Current Drywall Repair Pricing – Amazon

Current Drywall Repair Pricing – Home Depot

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