To patch cracks in a drywall ceiling, you should:
- Use a scraper to clear debris away from the crack.
- Make sure the crack is small enough that it can be easily repaired.
- Use a putty knife to apply joint compound along the crack.
- Apply drywall tape onto the wet joint compound and add more joint compound over the tape.
- Sand the joint compound once it is dry.
- Add a second coat of joint compound.
- Sand with finer sandpaper to create a seamless patch.
- If desired, add texture to the ceiling with a sponge and joint compound.
- Prime the entire ceiling.
- Paint the ceiling.
This process will result in a clean finish that blends into your ceiling every time.
Are Cracks in a Drywall Ceiling Normal?
Drywall ceiling cracks are relatively normal and not usually a cause for alarm. Thin cracks can form due to a house settling over time, age, or moisture. If there is an attic space above the ceiling in question, working in the attic can stress or damage the drywall ceiling.
10 Steps to Fill Cracks in a Drywall Ceiling
Repairing a crack in a drywall ceiling is simple, quick, and effective with the right process. For this job, you will need the following tools:
- A ladder or step stool
- Putty knife
- Joint compound
- Drywall tape
- 150-grit sandpaper
- 220-grit sandpaper
- A texturing sponge (optional)
Now that you’ve got everything, let’s get started.
To begin, ascend your ladder and use a scraper to clear away any loose plaster, tape, or bits of drywall from around the crack. If your ceiling is textured, it is best to sand the area until it is smooth in the area along the crack and 2 inches (5 cm) on either side. This will give you a clean working surface for the next steps.
Assess the Size of the Crack
Take a close look at the crack in your ceiling. If it is ½-inch (13 mm) or thinner, then you can fill it using these steps. If the crack is wider than ½-inch, it is too big to be filled. You will have to patch the crack with a new piece of drywall. In this case, you can use our process for patching drywall with repair clips.
Apply Joint Compound
Scoop a small portion of joint compound out of the container with your putty knife. Then, spread it evenly over the crack. You do not need to apply a lot of compound and there is no need to try to fill the crack. Doing so will usually result in a messy patch that takes a long time to dry. Instead, simply apply a small portion along the crack. Then, reach for your drywall tape.
Add Drywall Tape
Cut a piece of drywall tape slightly longer than the length of the crack. Then, press it to the joint compound. Scoop more joint compound onto your putty knife and apply it on top of the drywall tape. Pull the joint compound along the tape to create a smooth, wrinkle-free tape job. Apply more joint compound until the edges of the tape are not visible and the crack is completely hidden.
Sand the Joint Compound
Allow 24 hours for the joint compound to dry. Then, sand it with 150-grit sandpaper. Remove any rough ridges with the sandpaper and continue until the joint compound is smooth. Do not sand until the drywall tape is exposed. Work slowly and focus on blending the edges of the patch with the surrounding ceiling.
Add More Joint Compound
After sanding, apply a second coat of joint compound with your putty knife. This second coat will help to smooth out the area and hide the edges of the tape. Since you are applying multiple coats of joint compound, add a little at a time. It is better to apply several thin coats of joint compound instead of one thick coat. This results in a better finish with fewer ridges.
Perform a Final Sanding
Following your second coat of joint compound, wait an additional 24 hours before sanding. This time, start with the 150-grit sandpaper to remove large blemishes. Then, switch to the 220-grit sandpaper to create a smooth, seamless finish. If the drywall tape is still visible after this step, repeat the previous steps—add more joint compound and sand until the finish is smooth and the edges of the tape are not visible.
If the surrounding ceiling has a texture, add texture to your patch with this texture sponge. To do this, dip a corner of the sponge in your joint compound. Then, dab the sponge on the ceiling to leave “peaks” of joint compound. Wait 15 to 30 minutes for the joint compound to partially dry, then gently scrape with a putty knife to knock off the sharp tips of the peaks and achieve a textured finish. Allow 24 hours for this texture to fully dry before moving on. For more details on this process, check out our article on how to repair drywall tape on a textured ceiling.
Prime Your Ceiling
Paint the entire ceiling with the primer of your choice. As we covered in our article on how to stop drywall patches from showing through paint, it’s essential to paint the entire wall or ceiling. This will result in a seamless finish. Painting only the area of the patch means the paint will not match. The patched area will stand out. So, after repairing the ceiling, it’s best to prime the ceiling in the whole room.
Paint the Ceiling
After priming, apply the ceiling paint of your choice. Paint the entire ceiling, allow 24 hours for it to dry, and then apply additional coats as desired. At the end of this process, your ceiling will be crack-free. In fact, you won’t be able to spot the patched areas at all.
How Do You Fix a Stress Crack in a Drywall Ceiling?
Repair a crack in a drywall ceiling by first scraping loose debris from the ceiling along the crack. Spread joint compound along the crack, press drywall tape onto the wet joint compound, and apply additional joint compound on top of the tape. Once the joint compound is dry, sand the patch until it is smooth. Repeat by alternating additional coats of joint compound with sanding until the patch is smooth and seamless. Then, use a texture sponge and joint compound to add ceiling texture. Finish off by priming and painting the ceiling.