Back Button

How to Repair a Ceiling Stress Crack

Isaiah David

Ceiling stress cracks can be alarming to look at, but they're a perfectly normal part of the life of your house. As a building settles, the walls and ceiling can move slightly, causing small cracks to appear. These cracks do not indicate that anything is wrong with the structure of the house.

Repairing the cracks will simply make the room look better — and possibly make you feel better as well.

  1. Set up a stepladder under the stress crack so you can easily reach it.

  2. Cut into the sides of a crack with a utility knife so that it forms a smooth, even V-shape. Scrape any drywall dust or debris out of the crack. The exact width of the crack doesn't matter, as long as it is fairly uniform and free of debris.

  3. Spread joint compound inside the crack with a putty knife so the joint compound completely fills and slightly overfills the crack. Smooth the excess joint compound down over the surrounding area of the ceiling so it forms a paper-thin layer for about 2 inches in every direction surrounding the crack. Leave the joint compound to dry for the amount of time specified on the instructions included with the compound.

  4. Scrape over the joint compound with a drywall knife to remove any high bumps in the compound.

  5. Tape the crack with a strip of fiberglass tape. Center the tape over the crack.

  6. Apply a second thin layer of joint compound over the tape. Feather the edges a few inches farther to the side to disguise the slight bump where you patched the ceiling. Leave the compound to dry.

  7. Sand the area with fine drywall sandpaper to smooth it. Do not sand down to the tape.

  8. Prime and paint the area to match the rest of your ceiling. If your ceiling has not been painted in several years, repaint the whole ceiling to get a better color match.