How to Repair a Drywall Crack

Updated: Sep. 08, 2023

Make unsightly flaws in your walls disappear.

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Eventually even the best-built houses develop a few cracks due to settling, usually around doors and windows. Learn how to fix them the right way, so they don't come back.

Tools Required

  • Dust mask
  • Mud pan
  • Taping knife
  • Utility knife

Materials Required

  • Painter's tape
  • Paper drywall tape
  • Pre-mixed joint compound
  • Setting type compound

Project step-by-step (3)

Step 1

Cut a notch

Cut a V-notch through the full length of the crack in the drywall, 1/8 to 1/4-in. deep, removing all loose wall material. Protect woodwork with masking tape.

crackfamily handyman

Step 2

Embed drywall tape

Embed paper tape in joint compound using a 6-in. taping blade. To avoid trapping air bubbles under the tape, moisten the paper tape with water, lay it over the crack and squeeze excess compound and air from underneath with the blade. Apply an additional thin layer of compound and feather it off 2 in. on both sides of the tape. Then let it dry.

tapefamily handyman

Step 3

Apply joint compound

Apply a second (and third, if necessary) coat of compound, smoothing it out 6 to 7 in. on both sides of the joint. Smooth the compound to a thin, even coat using long, continuous strokes with a 12-in. taping blade. Allow the repair to dry thoroughly, sand it smooth (avoid exposing the tape) and paint it.

As homes settle, cracks may radiate from the corners of doors and windows. Whether your walls are made of plaster or drywall, you can repair the cracks in two steps over a day or two—and get the area ready to sand and paint. Use paper tape; it’s stronger than fiberglass tape for wall repairs. For cracks more than 1/4 in. deep, clean out the loose material and use a quick-setting crack filler like Durabond to build up the area level with the wall. Then use the steps shown in Photos 2 and 3 to fix it.

family handyman