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Drywall Cracks: Cosmetic or Structural?

Posted on March 30, 2024

As your home settles over time, cracks in the drywall become more common. These cracks are usually considered cosmetic, and all you need to conceal is a fresh coat of paint. But how do you know when they are a result of structural damage? There are various types of drywall cracks and their causes. It also delves into the areas where you can expect to find these cracks, among other things.

Causes of Drywall Cracks

The predominant cause of drywall cracks is foundation settlement or movement. This is when your home’s foundation settles or shifts due to poor construction, soil movement, or environmental conditions. The movement stresses your building structure, resulting in cracks in the drywall. Unfortunately, foundation movement is a common issue in many areas in the United States where the soil shrinks and expands with weather changes. Other causes of drywall cracks include:

  • Changes in Temperature and Humidity
  • Improper drywall installation
  • Excessive loading of the structure
  • Water damage due to leakages
  • Vibrations from construction activities nearby. Traffic etc
  • Pest damage
  • Defective drywall material

Types of Drywall Cracks

Knowing the various types of cracks is vital in establishing whether they are just cosmetic or indicate a severe underlying issue. For example, it is expected to see hairline cracks in both new and old homes, and they shouldn’t be cause for alarm. These thin cracks are usually brought about by minor shifts in the foundation or slight changes in humidity and temperature.

However, if you see larger cracks, especially the jagged ones or those accompanied by sagging or bulging, you should be concerned as they could indicate major structural problems. These cracks may indicate water damage, structural instability, or problems with the foundation.

Where Drywall Cracks Can Form

You can witness drywall cracks at the junction of two drywall pieces, known as a drywall joint. This is because the joints are susceptible to seasonal movements of the ceiling and walls. However, cracks can also form on the upper corners of doors and the top or bottom corners of windows.

When to Be Worried

As discussed in this post, thin cracks are usually just cosmetic, but wider cracks should raise the alarm as they could indicate structural issues. They may not be dangerous, but vigilance is essential to rule out any potential structural problems.Ā 

In assessing the damage, keep your eyes open for the following:

  • Cracks running across ceilings and walls
  • Stair-step cracks result from the foundation sinking into wet clay soil, which no longer can support your home’s weight.
  • Bowing walls
  • A sagging roof
  • Sagging ceilings
  • Cracks in the foundation
  • A buckling drywall
  • Poor or absence of lateral bracing on shear walls
  • Multiple doors that cannot close properly.

Experts in foundation Repair

Are you noticing cracks in your drywall? You must deal with the issue at hand as soon as possible. However, we understand that sometimes it can be hard to tell whether the crack is cosmetic or structural. This is where a foundation expert comes in. Foundation Repairmen can look at the cracks and assess their potential damages before providing the right solutions. Depending on your home’s specific needs, especially the type of foundation you have, your foundation expert can tailor a solution specifically for you. Call Atlantic FoundationĀ for a free homeowner’s consultation in Eastern North Carolina.Ā 






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