7 Steps to Preventing Cracks in Drywall Finish

Drywall may crack or appear cracked on the surface as time goes on, which can occur for a variety of reasons. Here's what you can do to prevent it.

1/2 inch DrywallConstruction Pro Tips

As it tends to happen, drywall may crack or appear cracked on the surface as time goes on, which can occur for a variety of reasons. Moisture intrusion, humidity and temperature changes, a quickened drying period for the finishing compound, or minor errors when applying finish can lead to big problems in the long run and result in an unsatisfactory appearance.

While hanging drywall can be a systematic process, applying drywall finish is a skill that takes time and attention to detail for a truly exemplary look.

To prevent cracks in drywall finish, here are a few helpful tips:

  1. Always remove excess dirt, sand or materials from the drywall’s surface before applying any compound. A dirty board when applying compound can result in a weaker bond.
  2. When weather is hot and dry, do not add excess water to finishing compounds to extend working time. Adding extra water can increase shrinkage, which can result in cracks or tears.
  3. Keep the compound in a normal, room temperature setting – avoid storing compound outside, as direct sunlight can compromise the compound’s makeup. If the weather is wet and cold during open-air construction, use a central heating system or electric heating units.
  4. Properly mix the compound at an appropriate speed. Mixing too fast can lead to air being introduced in the mix, which will cause craters and pinholes in the finish.
  5. Use clean, drinkable water and clean tools when mixing compound. Dirtier water or tools can shorten the compound’s set time.
  6. Always wait for 24 hours between embedding tape and applying the fill coat.
  7. Use high-quality, reliable products when applying compound. Cheaper products are more likely to crack.

Drywall cracking can and does happen for a number of reasons, but taking careful measures when mixing and applying compound can help lower the likelihood that cracking will eventually occur.

About the Author

Mitchell Schittler is a Technical Marketing Manager for CertainTeed, a North American manufacturer of building products headquartered in Malvern, Pennsylvania. Mitchell has been in the building materials industry for 17 years, 8 of which have been at CertainTeed. In his role, Mitchell is responsible for handling technical inquiries related to gypsum and finishing products, which includes fire safety, acoustics and moisture management. Mitchell is also a LEED® AP with BD+C Specialty.