Monday, April 1, 2013

Crack is Whack!

I know I should have named this post something proper like "How to Repair a Crack in Plaster Walls", but 1) that wouldn't have been half as much fun and 2) that would imply that I have some sort of expert knowledge, and we all know that's not true! ;)  So please forgive my lame-ness, continue reading my post.  K, thanks. :)

For more months than I want to admit, we’ve had tape bubbling off of our wall like this.


The underlying crack had been there since the day we looked at the listing...and while we were going through the major renovations of our main floor, we added the task of repairing the cracks in the plaster to our contractor's punch list.  Unfortunately, the repair didn’t last very long and the tape bubbled after a few months {like you see above}.

I recently contacted a couple pros from Angie’s List for estimates to repair this.  They were between $200 and $300 to repair that crack (plus another one in the hallway ceiling that was missed all together by our contractor).  Much of the expense was due to the fact that they would eat into at least half a day to apply all the coats of mud they needed for the job.  One pro told me what steps he’d take to repair things, and he led me to believe it wouldn’t be too hard for a homeowner to do themselves.

After hearing from him, I decided to give it the old college try.

I started by exposing the entire crack.  {The other patches you see are from electrical work we just had done.I used a box cutter to slice out the tape that was bubbling.  I just ran it along the edge where the tape seemed to be.  After I got through the paint and a little of the old mud that was applied, the area just seemed to peel right off.  Easy peasy.




Once the whole crack was exposed, I worked my way along the crack gouging it out {forming a little “v” notch in the wall}, and removing anything that seemed loose.  A small screw driver worked best for me, but I’m sure there is a “proper” tool that probably does this a little better.

Here is the top of the crack, how it looked after the tape came off, before I removed any loose plaster...


And here it is after.


{Let's take a minute to stop and enjoy the yellowy-flesh tone paint that used to be on every square inch of the house...eeeeek!}

Once that was done, I used an old paintbrush to brush out the crack and loosen up anything I might have missed.  Then I vacuumed out the crack, and wiped everything down with a damp paper towel.

After things were dry, I applied some caulk to the entire crack, working it into the crevices and getting any air bubbles out.  I left that to dry over night.


The next day, I used some fiber glass mesh tape and taped over all of my cracks.  I cut the tape into several pieces to do this because I made sure the crack was in the middle of the tape at all times.  Our crack is clearly not one straight line, so there are a couple areas of tape slightly overlapping.


Then I used a putty knife and applied the first layer of joint compound. 


I made sure to work this product into the crack as well, so no air pockets would end up behind it.  I used a smaller putty knife that I already had, as well as a much wider one from my neighbor.  I left that to dry overnight.


The next day I used the putty knives to scrape off any high points, and then used a drywall sanding block {also from my neighbor...thanks Taylor!!}, and sanded the edges of things down.  Luckily, since I was conscious of it when I applied the first layer, there wasn’t too much to sand off.  After things were sanded, I wiped the wall down again, and applied my second layer of compound.


This coat was much lighter than the first one.  I let it dry overnight.

The next day I sanded things down again, and then wiped the wall down one more time.  I didn’t need too much more mud, so a light coat here and there is all I applied. 


I let it dry overnight again, and then sanded the following day.

To make sure things were smooth and ready to be primed, I closed my eyes and traced my fingers over the wall.  Because the color of the wall and the mud differed, my eyes would sometimes play tricks on me.  It'd look as though there were several areas I needed to sand or even mud again to get a smooth surface, but when I'd close my eyes and just feel with my fingers...I'd "see" there were no bumps or ridges and I was really good to go.  Finally it was time to prime!

We had plenty of primer left over in a big 5 gallon bucket from when we were priming things after our reno.


I grabbed one of the buckets we had left and put a coat on the wall, including the areas the electricians patched up.  I put two coats of primer over everything...

One coat.

Two coats.

...and then two coats of wall paint.  Luckily, we had plenty of that left over in the basement as well.

One coat, still wet.

Two coats.

I have to say, I was pretty nervous how this would turn out with me tackling it...but I’m glad I gave it a shot!  I was able to save us some money, and learned a new skill in the process.  Plus, when this crack pops up again {like the pros said it will continue to do over and over...ughhh}, I will tackle it head on, with confidence! :)

PS-I am in no way, shape or form an expert on this type of repair {obviously}.  This is just how I fixed ours, and I wanted to share it with my friends...especially those who asked for a tutorial!

65 comments:

  1. it looks SOOO good! and by the way if you have not yet, go to gizoogle.net and type in your blog and then click on it. that is some whack crack- just trust me on this one. :)

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    1. Thanks Cassie!! And that is hilarious!!!! Bahahaha...thanks for sharing! ;)

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    2. It is and fun to trick your friends and husband with it too!

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    3. Haha...I showed it to my husband this morning. He was dying laughing!

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    4. I did this to my husband, who then proceeded to forward it to my MIL, who could not believe I wrote such a dirty blog.....too funny!

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  2. you are brave because I would be tooo nerv! looks perfect!

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    1. Believe me, I was pretty nervous about it! I just knew if I screwed it up, I'd have to have a professional come and fix it...so I might as well give it a shot haha. Thanks! :)

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  3. That looks great! I'll have to remember this if we buy a house with plaster walls. Our apartment has them and whoever did the work on the walls before we moved in did a crappy job.

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  4. Awesome, you would never even know you had a crack there, you should definitely give yourself more credit!

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  5. Ummm, I was goign to comment on your post but Cassie distracted me. I'm totally changing my blog name to Decor and Da Dawg.

    Anywho, back to your crack. Holy crack you are patient. I'm super impressed!!

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    1. Bahaha...you should. I think it definitely fits your personality much more than Decor and The Dog. ;)

      Thanks!! :)

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  6. Nice job! Here's to hoping it never comes back!

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    1. Thanks so much, Crystal! Definitely...fingers crossed! And thanks for stopping by! :)

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  7. I wish I had seen your post a year and a half ago when I started on this project http://a-can-do-attitude.blogspot.com/2011/12/living-room-wall-update.html?m=1.
    Spoiler alert, here is the finished product http://a-can-do-attitude.blogspot.com/2011/11/so-i-am-little-crazy.html?m=1

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    1. Wow, I can't believe how a few cracks turned into the whole wall being uncovered! It looks amazing after the skim coat went on! Thanks for sharing, Emily! :)

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  8. This really is a case for making it look worse to make it look better. I think I would've had some serious heart palpitations during the slicing into the wall with a boxcutter step! But it looks great now! Oh and I'm really glad your room is no longer that lovely flesh tone.
    Sarah

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    1. Haha, don't worry...I was quite nervous and may have been sweating, just a bit! I couldn't believe how much worse I made things before I turned the corner haha. Yea, I'm glad that color is gone too. It was nauseating haha.

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  9. Great job girl! It looks fantastic!

    I also admire your patience. I hate sanding and spackling walls. It's one of the worst DIY jobs ever.

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    1. Thanks Ashley! :)

      Yea, it's definitely not a fun job. I was happy when it was over and I could clean up. Luckily it wasn't too big of a spot. I still have to tackle the hallway ceiling crack. I just don't. want. to. do. it. HA! ;)

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  10. You are a total boss. I would be way too scared to try!

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  11. Crack IS whack. Came out perfect. I love this post title too, btw. Lisa and I say this all the time... Whitney Houston said it a few times on YouTube I think. Best phrase ever.

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  12. You totally owned that crack. Hope it doesn't come back again soon :)

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  13. I quite enjoyed the crackie title. I appreciate a dash of inappropriate every now and then.

    It's little things like that that um, fall through the cracks (no pun intended) when you buy a house. Tackle the major stuff first, then the details that drive you insane.

    OMG! Gizoogle! lol! This deserves it's own blog post. Like for realllls. My blog came up with F*bomb after F*bomb lol!

    -opening line
    I wasn't a big a$$ Eastside hustla as a kid y'all know dat $hizzle.

    AH. MAY. ZING.

    I'm cry-laughing, Cassie!

    Good work. I am jealous of your fireplace. That's all :)

    Mindy

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    1. Phew, glad I'm not the only one. ;)

      Yup, definitely. The crack was small potatoes compared to everything else so it was on the back burner until everything was finished and then all I could see was the stupid popped tape!

      And how amazing is Gizoogle! I showed my husband this morning and he was dying laughing! I'm so glad Cassie let us in on that little secret haha.

      Aw, thanks Mindy! :)

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  14. Nicely done! Way better than spending a few hundred bucks just to have someone else do it.

    Also...isn't plaster the flippin' worst?!

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    1. Definitely!

      It's such a double-edge sword...the walls are so nice and smooth....but then they are also so prone to crack. Ughhhh!

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  15. You tackled it like a pro!! It looks perfect!!

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  16. YOU GO GIRL!! ;)

    I am super impressed. I was hoping that this DIY would be a success for you. It looks amazing and you must feel accomplished! Kudos!

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    1. Thanks Erika!! I do feel pretty accomplished after finishing it up! :)

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  17. Great job Gabbi! I hate spackling and sanding. It's the worst!

    That gizoogle thing is killing me! ahhahahaha!

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    1. Thanks Christine! It really is...bleh!

      Too funny! I'm so glad Cassie clued me into it! :)

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  18. Good job! Kevin repaired some massive cracks in our plaster, but I'm not sure how he did it. Way to tackle this yourself!
    Handy and a fabulous dresser! You go!

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  19. This is super impressive! It looks so much better and totally worth the DIY for the savings.

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    1. Thank you, Kim! Definitely happy about the savings...means I can feel less guilty when I splurge at Target. ;)

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  20. I have a couple of spots like this in my house. I can't wait to try this out! I guess that's what comes with the old house charm.

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    1. Good luck Jenn Leigh!! Let me know how it goes. Definitely...and I think it's worth it. ;)

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  21. I saw your comment on Work Your Wardrobe, and I clicked on the link just because of your title: "Crack is Whack." Glad I did!

    Thanks for the advice--it will help me get over my fear of tackling the two holes my son (and a few doorknobs) managed to put in the walls in our first six months in the house.

    Your newest follower (via Blog Lovin),

    Lisa @ http://mysuperbia.blogspot.com/

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    1. You're welcome!! If I can do it, so can you! Let me know how it goes!

      So happy you found me and stopped by, Lisa! :) Heading to check out your blog now!

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  22. You know, a project like that is a project that nobody ever appreciates except the person who did it....because nobody else knows it was ever different! The before to after picture is magical. I would have made my husband do it, making you a better wife than I am. ;) (And the yellow flesh-toned walls ARE scary. Every single paint choice the previous owners made in our own house was hideous according to me.)

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    1. Haha...so true! Thank you so much, Erin!! :) Agreed...I don't know what they were thinking in this house either...eeeeeek!

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  23. Girl, I am impressed!! We have some cracks in our 84 year old walls that should probably be dealt with someday but I'm somewhat terrified to try. Thanks for posting your success story!! Also, you are far more patient than I am. I'm terrible at the leave-to-dry-overnight thing.

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    1. Thank you so much, Cindy!! :) I don't blame you for being terrified because I definitely was too. I knew either way they'd need to be fixed...either by a pro, or me. So if I screwed something up, I'd need someone to come in anyway, so why not try it first haha.

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  24. I would love to know how your repair has held up.

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    1. Hi Nichole! Looks as good today as the day I finished it!! :)

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  25. This is helpful! We are currently looking into a house with plaster walls which can sound daunting to repair. Agree with Nichole - has the repair held up?

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    1. Hi Corbin! Yes, the repair has held up perfectly!! It looks as good as the day I finished it. :)

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  26. Thank you so much for posting this! I was so nervous to fix the plaster cracks in my house but I am definitely going to use your tips and try this weekend!

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    1. You're welcome! I hope it works for you. Our wall is still looking good! :)

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  27. Hopefully it will hold! We did this and at about year 5, it cracked again. Was told you can't use drywall mud/tape for plaster so I'm doing it again! Boo! Using plaster washers this time with screen and fifty thousand skim coats. Good luck!

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