How to Fix Cracks in Plaster Walls
Cracks in plaster walls can be fixed well enough that they will seem to disappear. Whether you are working with a fine line crack, a nail hole with spider cracks surrounding it, or an ugly gash, you can patch it up, good as new, by following these simple steps.
You will need spackling compound, plaster patch, or joint compound. Any one of these amalgams will work fine and can be purchased at your local hardware store or building supply home center. For small jobs these products can be found in one pound containers, and for large jobs you can purchase up to a five gallon bucket.
The spackling compound, plaster patch, or joint compound should be applied with a putty knife. For fine cracks, small dents or holes, a two inch wide putty knife is perfect. For larger problem areas you need wider knives. And for a huge project where most of the wall needs repaired, an extra wide knife or trowel is necessary.
Use the appropriate sized putty knife and scoop the spackling compound from its container and spread it over the crack. Scrape the excess spackle with the putty knife over the cracked area forcing as much of the product into the crack as possible. Then smooth off the extras with your knife and deposit the leftover spackle back in its container. Allow the patching compound to dry and then sand smooth.
Each application must be allowed to dry before re-applying the patching compound. Drying time will vary depending on humidity and the size of the repair job. Surface cracks will dry quickly, 2 hours or so, deep gashes will require twelve to twenty-four hours of drying time. You can assist the drying process by running a fan or a dehumidifier in the room.
When the first application is dry, sand it smooth and then repeat the process of scooping, spreading, and scraping off excess spackle. Allow to dry, and then sand. On small problems two coats of spackle may be enough. On larger cracks or holes, keep applying coats of spackle building layer upon layer, waiting for each layer to dry, until there is no longer any indentation.
After the final application is completely dry you need to sand the entire area smooth. For this final sanding you may either dry sand or wet sand the area. To dry sand use a piece of very fine sandpaper wrapped around a small block of wood. The block of wood provides a hard flat surface and will help to efficiently sand the wall. When rubbed over the newly patched area it will give a perfectly smooth finish to your wall.
Now use a damp rag to clean the sanding dust from the area. Or you can avoid this dusty mess by wet sanding instead of dry sanding. To wet sand, take a clean sponge, dip it in water, wring slightly so it doesn’t drip, and wipe over the spackled area as if sanding. This will melt away the high spots and any excess compound on the wall. Allow drying. The final touch is to paint or wallpaper over your repaired area.
Small corner cracks that appear where the wall meets the ceiling, or where corner meets corner, are simpler to repair. For such cracks scoop a small amount of spackle on your finger and rub it along the crack. Wipe off excess with your finger or a small putty knife. Allow to dry and then repeat the process. After the second application wipes the ceiling and walls with a damp sponge. Voila, the spackle will not be noticeable enough to need painting in most cases.
So, put an end to fussing over nail holes in walls. If you decide to move the pictures you can patch the wall. If you bang into the plaster while rearranging furniture, don’t despair. It can be patched up â€“ good as new. And, if unsightly cracks appear in the winter time when the furnace is running and drying out the house, don’t sweat it. You can fix them yourself, quick as can be.