What causes a vertical crack in drywall?

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Thin hairline cracks sometimes occur at interior drywall anywhere from a few months up to a year after completion of construction. The wood wall framing moves slightly as it dries and adjusts to the loads applied to it, allowing cracks that are barely visible along the vertical butted edges of adjoining drywall. These cracks are not a structural problem and are often easily repaired with just a coat of paint.

    But larger cracks, like the one shown above, indicate a poor taping job at the joints or some movement under the wall—especially if the crack is wider at one end than the other. Upon inspection, we observed that this one had already been repaired once, and the crack had begun to reopen.

    Diagonal cracks, especially ones originating at the corner of a door or window, are more likely indicate a structural problem. But sometimes they can also be the result of seasonal wood movement in the wall. See our blog post How can I tell if a diagonal crack in drywall at the corner of a window or door indicates a structural problem? for more on this. 

    Truss uplift can also cause horizontal cracks where the ceiling and wall meet. See our blog post What causes cracks to open along the line between the ceiling and walls? for more on this.

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To learn more about exterior walls and structures, see these other blog posts:

What is the average lifespan of a house foundation?

What causes vertical cracks in fiber cement siding planks?

 • What causes raised white lines of residue on a block wall that are crusty and crumbling? 

What is the difference between soil subsidence, heave, creep, and settlement? 

How much ventilation is required for the under-floor crawl space of a home? 

How can I tell if a diagonal crack in drywall at the corner of a window or door indicates a structural problem?

What causes the surface of old bricks to erode away into sandy powder? 

What are the pros and cons of concrete block versus wood frame construction?

Should I buy a house with a crawl space? 

Why is my stucco cracking? 

What would cause long horizontal lines of brick mortar to fall out?

How do I recognize structural problems in a retaining wall? 

What is engineered wood siding?

Should I buy a house that has had foundation repair? 

What is a "continuous load path”?

Should I buy a house with asbestos siding?   

How can I tell if cracks in the garage floor are a problem or not? 

What do you look for when inspecting vinyl siding?

Why is housewrap installed on exterior walls under the siding? 

Why did so many concrete block homes collapse in Mexico Beach during Hurricane Michael? 

How can I tell if the concrete block walls of my house have vertical steel and concrete reinforcement?

Should I buy a house with structural problems? 

What are those powdery white areas on my brick walls?

What causes cracks in the walls and floors of a house?

How can I tell if the exterior walls of a house are concrete block (CBS) or wood or brick?

What are the common problems of different types of house foundations? 

• What are the warning signs of a dangerous deck?

    Visit our EXTERIOR WALLS AND STRUCTURE page for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles. 

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