Handyman | Bill Ruisinger on how to repair a wall crack

Updated: 2013-01-08T15:31:41Z


Special to The Star

Q. I have an 8-inch crack in the upper left corner over the bar in our finished basement that I have tried to fix with woven seam tape. It opened up again. We also have six nail pops in that side of the basement wall. I realize that means we have some movement in the foundation. We have buried our downspouts, brought in 10 yards of dirt, and tamped and sloped it away from the house on that wall. The crack hasn’t gotten any worse in the 11 years we’ve lived in this house but I’d like to fix it once and for all. I read online about a product called Magnum Flex-Joint Compound and wonder if it would be a permanent fix for my crack. I would appreciate any help you could give me.

A. A lot of people are experiencing similar problems. With the extremely dry summer we’ve had, foundations have moved more than they have in a long time. It sounds like you’ve taken all the necessary steps to take care of your problem. I counsel my customers to give their home as long as possible to stabilize before fixing a crack and 11 years is plenty of time. Whatever the solution you choose, there is no guarantee that your home won’t move again and cause the crack to come back.

I did some research on the Magnum Flex-Joint Compound. While I don’t have any personal experience with it, it looks to be a great product. It’s also locally made, which is a bonus.

When doing a repair like yours, the first thing you will want to do is to remove the old tape and clean out the crack and surrounding area. The Flex-Joint Compound is used for the first coat (or two) that goes over your tape. It should be top coated with a standard joint compound. You have to remember that this product was made for professionals who can apply the compound in a way where there is little sanding until the finish coat. If you’re a novice at drywall repair, this may not be the product to use since it may be difficult to sand. It is available in 4.5-gallon pails at most professional drywall supply companies.

Since your crack hasn’t moved in 11 years, you might be just fine with a standard drywall compound found at your local home center. The pre-mixed product will work fine — there’s no need to hand mix unless you need it to dry quickly. You’ll want to widen your coverage with each progressive coat to spread the repair over a large area to reduce the appearance of the repair. Sand everything smooth, then paint your walls. No matter what product or process, your home might move again and the crack might reappear.

Bill Ruisinger is owner of Paint Pro Inc. of Overland Park. Send questions to home@kcstar.com or Handyman, House + Home, FYI, The Kansas City Star, 1729 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, MO 64108.

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