Drywall Taping and Finishing

How to Retape Drywall that is Cracked on a Joint

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If you live in a climate like I do, with temps that vary from -35 Deg F to +100 Deg F, you may have had your drywall joints crack above or below a window or door as shown here.
This happens because there is a joint at this location which also happens to be an area of high stress due to temperature variation associated with the door or window.  There is a way to avoid this: Install your drywall (also known as sheetrock) so that there is not a joint directly above or below the window or door as shown here.

What if you don't wish to totally redo all your sheetrock but want to repair the crack?  Here is a method I use given step by step:

Step 0 - Quickly review this graphic that covers all the steps first. Then the steps below will be easier to follow.

Step 1 - Score the drywall 1/2" to 1" on each side of the width of the tape as shown below.

drywall crack repair

Step 2 - Use a putty knife or an old wide chisel (that you don't mind dulling a bit more) to lift off the old tape. Once you get it started, it peels up in a nice continuous sheet as shown here.

drywall joint repair

Step 3 - Use the chisel of putty knife to remove the surface mud out to the score marks.  You want a little more width than the tape so you can properly imbed the tape. Get as close to the original paper surface as you can.  If you take off a little of the original drywall paper this is not a problem. A photo of the recessed area after it has been cleaned out is shown below.

fix joint

Step 4 - Cut a piece of tape for the new joint that is about 1/8" shorter than the joint. Place some mud in a clean mud pan and thin it slightly.  To thin it, wet the 4 inch knife down in water and mix it into the mud.  Do not pour water directly into the mud.  Place a layer of mud on the entire recessed area as shown below. Run your tape strip through a bucket of water or under a running faucet briefly. Shake excess water off the strip.  Place the strip onto the mud - it should adhere firmly without any air gaps. Use a 4 inch knife to press down firmly on the tape, squeezing the mud out the sides.  You may need to hold the tape at the top with one hand. In the picture below on the right, you can see that the tape is tight to the wall and most of the mud is pressed out the sides and removed. When this tape dries, it will be well below the painted surface of you wall and can be coated and finished level with the wall.

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NEW! Strait Flex now offers a composite tape that is 10 times stronger than paper tape and may be used in place of the paper tape in Steps 4 and 5 - read about this crack repair tape in my drywall blog.

Step 5 - After the tape of step 4 is thoroughly dry, use a taping knife to knock off any ridges that may be present that will prevent you from smoothly drawing off the mud in the next coat. Then use a wide knife to place a coat over the top that overlaps the previous coat and skim off, as shown below. This will just about fill the recess completely, but more coats are needed! Do NOT sand at this point at all.

retape a drywall joint

Step 6 - When the previous coat is thoroughly dry, scrape off any high spots or bumps of drywall with your taping knife as shown here. (Don't SAND!) Then  add another coat that overlaps the recess by an inch or so on each side. Scrape after it is dry and add another thin coat if needed. Your wide taping knife edge should lie perfectly flat over the joint with no gap under.

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Step 7 - After all coats are on, again knock off any tiny bumps or ridges. Then sand very lightly with 220 grit on a 3.5" by 8" block as needed, taking care to not create a depression - merely touch up the surface. Prime and paint this section of the wall - for best results paint up to a corner.

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