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how to fix wall joint crack

4265 Views 3 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  bjbatlanta
just bought a 5-year old house and there is a long vertical crack locating at stairs where two walls joints, almost up to ceiling, according to the homeinspectorm this could be a settlement crack. 3/16'' width for some areas.

I am coming up with several options to fix this: the first is to use some latex caulk to fill the gap and smooth the corner. the second one is to use joint compound to fill in, embeding tape may be an additional step. Please advise.
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If you tape and smooth it, and the wall is still moving (settlement), then it will continue to crack. If you caulk it, the caulking will move with the settlement for limited amount of movement. Caulking is easier, quicker, and if done right will look just fine. Use Dap 230.

The best thing would be to find out what is causing the movement and fix it. Obviously this is more costly. I've seen these movements open up to over an inch and then the repair is really costly.

What he said. Completely fill the crack, use your finger to smooth the edge. The caulk never really hardens and will breath with the joint. Use a good siliconized latex or a paintable silicone caulk. Paint after it is surface dry.
Could be a "settlement crack" as your inspector says. Could be the drywall wasn't nailed correctly in the corner when it was hung. A 3/16" crack is pretty severe for "normal" settling, but not uncommon. You're going to have to paint anyway, so fix it correctly and tear out the old tape , re-nail (or screw) as needed, and tape/finish. After 5 years,your house SHOULD be done settling (or you've got bigger problems). The caulk WILL work for a while and you could likely get away with touching up the paint (if you have a bit of the original). "Open" areas where there is more lumber movement (stairwells, open foyers, large vaulted ceilings...) WILL have more problems with tape joints and corner bead than regularly framed walls, even on the back side of the area.
If you figure a 2 story house with a basement, the stairway is an open area from basement to the second floor. If each level (story) of framing lumber "shrinks" maybe 1/8" as it naturally dries out (plus the floor joists). And it could possibly be more if the lumber sat on the "yard" in the rain for a week, the house was framed during a rainy/cold month, etc.
Either way is no guarantee........
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