Are ceiling cracks serious?

Are ceiling cracks serious?

If you notice ceiling cracks in your home, you need to work out if they are a problem or not.  If you are not sure, it is always best to consult an expert before fixing the crack or repainting the ceiling.

Cosmetic cracks

Cosmetic cracks will appear on the ceiling in any room of the house over time (generally the older the house, the more likely it is to have cracks) and they are not an issue. Usually they will be along the edges of the ceiling.  They can be caused by the house settling.

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Hairline or spiderweb cracks can be caused by painting; when coats of paint are applied over each other, the lower layers can get brittle.  Over time, they will expand and contract with temperature and moisture changes.  This causes cracks, which then work their way up to the top layer and then are visible.

These type of cracks can also be caused by an issue with drywall compound; when it is applied too thickly it can shrink as it dries.  If too much water was added to the drywall compound to thin it, it can cause small hairline cracks. Cracks may also appear where drywall joint tape was used, these will be very straight down the the edge of the tape.

How to fix cosmetic cracks

If you are sure the cracks on your ceiling are cosmetic, you can fix them with some tools from any DIY store.  Remove any crumbling plaster or any other material from the crack, then sand it and wipe away any dust and debris.  Then apply a layer of either grout or drywall compound, followed by plasterer’s tape and then another layer of drywall compound.  Once it has dried thoroughly, sand again and then it is ready to be painted.

You will also need drywall screws if the crack is between drywall sheet along the ceiling joists.  These will ensure the sheets of plasterboard are held in place and level.

Or if you want to save yourself the time and hassle, call in the experts to do it for you.

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Structural damage

If you have what looks like a crack with yellow or brown discolouration, there is most likely a leak somewhere.  You need to find the cause of the leak and fix it before dealing with the ceiling damage.

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Larger or multiple cracks, more than 1/16″ wide are indicators of structural damage and will need to be dealt with.    Similarly, if you have a crack that goes across the ceiling and down a wall this is a sign of a structural issue like a weak wall stud.

A saggy or bowed ceiling is another cause for concern.  If you have recently installed something like a bath on the ceiling above this may have caused the sag, or it could be due to the removal of a load bearing wall.

As a general rule, you should get professional advice from a structural engineer about cracks on the ceiling above the middle of the room and on large, wide and multiple cracks.  It is always better to be sure, and to deal with any issues promptly than to leave them.

Herts Decorators provide high quality and professional decorating services to our clients across Hertfordshire, book a free estimate with our team today!

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George Ryland