How To Fix Ceiling Cracks [Causes & What You’ll Need]

Blog, Walls & Ceilings

The ceiling, though not the strongest building material, is one of the most important parts of protecting the home from the elements. While it can be alarming to look up at the ceiling and notice a crack in it, you do not need to worry just yet. Cracks in the ceiling are sort of a normal occurrence, and not all cracks on the ceiling indicate there is a serious problem. In most cases, the effect is more aesthetic than structural.

This article will discuss what causes cracks in ceilings, how to know if the crack is serious or not, and most importantly, how to fix ceiling cracks. So, before you go about getting a handyman to fix or replace your ceiling, you might want to read this article first.

What causes ceiling cracks?

Before we find out how to fix ceiling cracks, you should first be appraised of the causes of them. Some of the most common causes are;

1. The damage is caused from above

Ceilings have two sides; the first side is the one where you notice this crack, and the other side is above the attic. Up in the attic, the ceiling is not all that protected since it’s just loose-fill or fiberglass insulation over the ceiling. The crack on the ceiling could have been due to heavy foot traffic or something heavy was dropped on the ceiling.

2. Improper taping joints

The cracks in the ceiling may also have been a result of improper taping joints. You should know if this is the cause if you notice a long and straight crack following the direction of the joists. The tape probably was not applied well before it was covered up with the additional joint compound.

3. Water damage

Cracks are often caused by water damage as well. Water from the roof or vent may leak down onto the ceiling. Once this starts happening, you will eventually notice yellow or brown stains on the ceiling, and eventually, the cracks start to appear.

4. Structural damage

Ceiling cracks can also occur as a result of structural damage within the building itself. The damage can begin from the foundation and move through to the basement, joist, and beams. Eventually, the damage works upwards, affecting the window, doors, walls, and, eventually, the ceiling.

How do you know if a ceiling crack is serious?

Now you know the major causes of ceiling cracks, let’s see how to know if a ceiling crack is serious.

As I have mentioned earlier in this article, ceiling cracks are a normal occurrence. In most cases, they are not serious and can be fixed by a handyman or by yourself if you are a DIY enthusiast. That said, a ceiling crack is serious if the crack runs continuously, especially those that match up with wall cracks.

This often indicates a foundation problem and is a very serious problem, with the ceiling crack being a minor effect or sign. Other signs include doors and windows that are sticky or hard to open and close. In some cases, there are even exterior signs, like gaps developing between the house and masonry staircases or patios.

How to fix ceiling cracks

If the ceiling in your home has developed cracks, you can fix it easily without contacting a handyman. You will need the following;

  • A utility knife
  • Drywall knife
  • Drywall joint compound
  • Primer
  • Paint
  • Paint roller
  • Plastic sheets
  • An A-frame ladder
  • Sandpaper

Step 1: Put the plastic sheet on the floor

Place the plastic sheet on the floor facing the cracked ceiling directly. Since you will be working on the crack, you do not want debris on the flooring of your home. You can also remove furniture that might be affected from the room as well. After that, go ahead and place your ladder on the ground and climb up.

Step 2: Scrape away loosed debris

Using the drywall knife, scrape away the loose material or debris from the ceiling, making it as smooth as possible.  Additionally, use the utility knife to clear the ceiling crack. Remember not to apply too much pressure so the crack does not tear further.

Step 3: Spread the joint compound

After cleaning the ceiling crack and removing any debris, it’s time to fix the ceiling. Firstly, with the drywall knife, spread the joint compound on the crack. Ensure you spread this thinly and wide enough; about 8 inches wide should do the trick.

Step 4: Apply tape

Immediately after spreading the joint compound on the crack, apply tape to the crack. You want to make sure that the crack is on the center of the tape applied. Afterward, press the tape with the drywall knife so the tape can sit properly on the crack.

Step 5: Apply the joint compound again

Yes, you read that right. After you have applied the tape, you must apply another thin layer of joint compound. Ensure the compound covers the tape completely; you do not want the edge of the tape to protrude, as you might undo all the hard work.

Step 6: Touch up the joint compound

After the joint compound has dried, use the sandpaper to sand off the surface. Touch up any surface that is not smooth or equal to the surface of the ceiling. This step may require you to sand the ceiling for a lengthy period of time.

Step 7: Prime and paint the area

Once the surface is dry, it’s time to apply the finishing. Firstly, prime the area; afterward, use the paint roller to roll on ceiling paint to match the existing ceiling color.


Can you just paint over the cracks in the ceiling?

Yes, you can. However, painting over the ceiling crack does not fix it, and the crack might grow bigger or extend further.

Can water cause cracks in ceilings?

Yes, it can. Water leakage from the roof or vent can also cause cracks in ceilings.

Summary – How to fix ceiling cracks

Ceiling cracks are sort of normal and are caused by different factors. Common causes include water damage, heavy load or foot traffic on the attic, improper taping joints, and structural damage. Fixing these cracks should be hassle-free if you follow the steps highlighted in this article.

That said, if you notice that this crack reoccurs or continues to extend even after you fix the crack, it is a clear indicator that the crack is serious. Calling in a professional would be the best course of action at this point in time.

I hope you found this article helpful. You might also like this article on how to clean indoor or outdoor carpet that is glued down.

Thanks for reading.

About Samkins

Samkins Construction Inc specializes in custom home building, general contracting, design-build, architectural design, construction management, and real estate services.


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