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vipbrj 08-01-2010 01:16 PM

Drywall Issues -- easy fix?
I purchased a home recently and have started noticing a lot of drywall issues that I didn't notice before.... (even though they were probably there)

I am not an excellent handy-lady but I can do minor repair work. In this situation I am more worried about the CAUSE. I don't want to cosmetically fix something that is just going to keep happening over and over again.

I am hoping this is just settling, or a lazy drywall crew, but I would be interested in seeing if any of you have other opinions.

p.s. sorry about the blurryness in some of the photos--the ceilings are a bit high and I had to use the zoom function.

Defect 1:
ceiling bulge near where it meets wall... this is along an interior wall. Is this the tape coming loose?

Defect 2:
to the left is the wall on the two-story stairwell, to the right is the doorway into a hallway. I am the most worried about this particular defect... as it protrudes the most from the ceiling. There are slight hairline cracks along the length of the bulge

Defect 3:
there are "lines" like this on a few ceilings in the room. This photo is the ceiling above the 2-story stairwell.

Also, I didn't snap photos of this, but in a few drywall corners (outside corners) the tape is bubbling/visible. Not sure if this is just crappy workmanship?

The house is approx 12 years old. There are no other signs of major movement in the house (no cracked floors, walls, garage floor, doors/windows that wont shut, etc) There were a few small cracks in the stucco exterior when we purchased the house, but the inspector didn't seem to think much of them.

The house is in an area that has had some foundation issues in the past---but that occurred to houses built AFTER this one and to homes built by another builder. I am hoping these defects are part of normal house settlement and it would be sufficient to cosmetically fix them and forget they were ever there? I think I might be a bit neurotic as this is my first home!

Nestor_Kelebay 08-01-2010 06:56 PM


Well, the reason why your walls are all textured is because texture helps hide minor defects in the drywalling. If the walls weren't textured, it would be easier to see what the underlying problem is. Often wall studs will twist and split as they dry out from a supposedly "kiln dried" condition, and these changes to the lumber as it dries may cause problems in trying to get the drywall nice and smooth and flat. And, if you can't get it smooth and flat, you can always apply texture over everything so that you can't see that it isn't smooth and flat.

However, if there was any damage going on from a roof leak, you'd see dark areas on the ceiling where it was wet, and I don't see anything like water damage on the ceiling anywhere.

What you should do is talk to the person who sold the house and ask if he or a contractor did the texturing. Find out how the texturing was done because the hardest thing to do when it comes to any wall or ceiling repairs is often matching the texture of the surrounding wall. You want to find out how it was done so that if you ever do any repairs, you'll know how to match the texture of the surrounding wall for an invisible repair.

I really can't see any bulges on the ceiling, but I presume that the existance of a shadow near the wall indicates that the ceiling isn't flat. I think much of that is simply due to the fact that the light source is close to the ceiling, and is perhaps exagerating the "unflatness" of the ceiling.

Those lines across the ceiling in the last photo look to me like cracks in the texture over joints between drywall panels that weren't taped. The whole idea behind drywall tape is to carry any tensile force across the joint so you don't get the joint compound breaking if there is any tension in a wall or ceiling. The tensile forces would come from the wall or ceiling bending a little. If you have someone slam a door so that the increase in air pressure inside the room applies over the whole wall and causes it to bend outward a bit, the convex side of the wall will have to stretch a little, and that's where the drywall tape come in to carry that tension so that the joint compound doesn't crack. Similariliy, on a ceiling, if someone is walking on the ceiling joists in the attic, then the bending of the joists can cause the ceiling to be in tension. The drywall tape at the drywall joists is meant to carry that tension across the joint so that the joint compound doesn't break.

I suspect that whomever did that drywalling simply didn't tape the joints where you see those straight cracks. You could repair that by using a paint scraper to scrape off the texture on either side of that crack for 2 inches (say), taping the joint, and then applying texture over the tape. However, to match the surrounding wall for an invisible repair, you'd have to know how they textured the wall so that you can make your texture look the same.

Personally, I don't see anything serious here, and if I were you, I'd learn to drywall and plaster with easier projects than these. From what I can see, these bulges and cracks aren't very serious and don't indicate any serious problems with the house; they're just cosmetic. The cracks in the ceiling may get longer and join up, but I don't see why any bulges would get bigger. So, if it were me, I would just leave them until you get enough experience drywalling that you feel confident in tackling these issues.

gnostic19 09-25-2010 08:48 PM

wish my cracks were like this. Whatever you may do might just draw more attention to the spot. I see nothing major here, either. But it ain't my house.

handyguys 09-27-2010 09:30 AM

the discoloration can be caused by improper insulation (if its an attic above). I cant tell from your pictures if thats your case. Those areas can get colder than the rest of the ceiling which then gets moist (like water on a cold beverage glass). The moisture attracts dust or can get a little bit of mold.

The fix would be an upgrade to the attic insulation and then a cleaning and possibly a re-paint.

if its not a moisture thing then I would leave it alone. Matching the texture is next to impossible to do well.

Albert_23 11-02-2010 01:40 AM

Only by looking at your room can we know for sure what's causing the discoloration. The best solution really is to have a professional take a look at it. You can probably ask an individual contractor to take a look at it without committing to having him repair it.

DrHicks 11-07-2010 01:49 PM

Looks to me like whoever did the taping & mudding of the drywall did a terrible job.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but this is probably not an easy or cheap fix. In fact, if the same person(s) did the whole house, you're probably just seeing the tip of the iceberg...

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