How to Repair Cracks in a Drywall Ceiling

Drywall finisher applying drywall tape to a ceiling crack.

Applying drywall tape to a ceiling crack.

The ceiling in my living room has a crack where two of the pieces of drywall meet. How should I go about repairing it? -Louise

Hi Louise,

Cracks in a drywall ceiling are caused by wood movement in the framing due to shrinkage of improperly dried lumber or seasonal changes in temperature and humidity.

The common approach is to fill the crack with spackling then paint over it, but this is at best a temporary fix, since the crack will usually come back as the seasons change.

A better solution is to apply drywall compound and tape over the crack to keep it from telegraphing through. Here’s how to go about it:

  1. Start by roughing up the painted surface with sandpaper, then wipe it down with a damp rag to remove any dust.
  2. If the drywall isn’t firmly attached, drive drywall screws into the framing on both sides of the crack.
  3. Next, apply a thin coat of drywall joint compound to the crack, using a 4”- 5” wide drywall knife, and embed a strip of paper drywall tape in the wet compound to bridge the crack.
  4. When dry, apply several additional coats of joint compound with a 10”- 12” wide drywall knife, feathering them out over a 12”-18” wide area.
  5. Lightly sand or sponge the dried drywall compound smooth and clean the surface with a damp rag.
  6. Finally, prime the area with a drywall primer, and repaint the ceiling.

Watch our video on How to Repair a Ceiling Crack to find out more.

Good luck with your project,



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10 Comments on “How to Repair Cracks in a Drywall Ceiling”

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  • Official Comment:

    Thomas Boni Says:
    March 15th, 2019 at 5:09 pm

    Hi, Donna!
    If the crack is opening and needs to be pulled up, there may be a foundation or framing issue that needs to be addressed.
    If you just want to add support behind the repair, add some wood framing between the rafters from the attic side.
    Good luck!

  • Donna Reese Says:
    March 7th, 2019 at 4:21 pm

    I have cracks in ceiling sheetrock between rafters and there is no place to put screws in to pull it up. What can I do ? thank you.

  • Tammi Says:
    February 5th, 2017 at 1:07 pm

    I love the video showing the repaired ceiling. However; in my case the crack has returned 2x’s. Screws were put in, new plaster put on and it comes back. This is the seam where the house was attached to the 2nd piece. It is a manufactured home and came in 2 sections. The only solution I can think of is a floating beam…. any suggestions???

  • Official Comment:

    Lindsay Hughes Says:
    February 8th, 2017 at 3:24 pm

    Chris, here’s a video on repairing ceilings with textured finishes:

  • chris Says:
    February 1st, 2017 at 12:10 pm

    my home had a leak in the roof and the previous owners replaced the roof and did a poor job themselves in patching the ceiling.. it is a textured finish.. and I dont know how to make the old fix blend in with the rest of the ceiling

  • Mary carrick Says:
    November 24th, 2015 at 4:43 am

    I have cracked ceilings in my kitchen, dining room, hall, and sitting room. They are very deep and all across the ceiling. My painter has filled the cracks several times for me, but they keep reoccurring. The house is forty years old and I am told this happened when someone walked in the attic and cracked the ceilings. I have been told that I should replace the ceilings, but I just cannot face the whole mess that this will create in my rooms. Is there an easier option for me that will last?
    Thank you

  • Graham Says:
    October 28th, 2015 at 4:20 pm

    We have a crack at the long edge seam of the drywall in the ceiling. The long edge is 19′ long. The back to front dimension is 30′ which means there are over 7 sheets of drywall. I installed the drywall in 2007 and the crack first appeared about 4 years ago. We live in Northern Ontario and we are absent from the house from November to April with minimal heating of 45 degrees. We run a dehumidifier and lower the humidity so water does not accumulate at the base of the windows. Will another application of tape over the crack keep it from reappearing or do I need to cut the drywall so it can expand with the wood and not cause the crack to reappear. What is your suggestion to repair this?

  • Sandra Schnellman Says:
    August 17th, 2015 at 6:33 pm

    I have a new crack in my drywall ceiling the house is almost 48 years old and has the popcorn coating. The crack showed up 2 weeks ago when the neighbor had this very large truck dump tree trunks my whole house shook. I checked the block foundation and no cracks have shown up. How do I repair the crack with out redoing the whole celing?

  • john domoe Says:
    April 3rd, 2015 at 5:58 pm

    I have a hair line crack in the ceiling, trvels from one end to the other …………got any ideas?

  • jodi Says:
    September 7th, 2013 at 3:05 pm

    I have a question. I have several areas in my living room and kitchen that need repair. I have sheetrock ceilings and they first got long cracks in them and now the sheetrock is actually starting to fall. Where the sheetrock crack is the sheetrock has dropped down about a inch from the ceiling. What do I do to fix this problem. I am afraid its going to keep dropping and pull the whole ceiling down.

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How to Repair Cracks in a Drywall Ceiling