Types of Ceiling Cracks (And How to Fix Them)

Ceiling cracks can be a major source of frustration and concern for homeowners.

This blog post will outline the most common types of ceiling cracks so read on if you’re unsure what kind of crack your ceiling has, how to repair it, or when to call in a professional.

Ceiling cracks come in different types, you may have superficial cracks on your ceiling due to errors during installation, or structural cracks due to major issues.

Below is a list of common ceiling cracks:

  1. Hairline cracks
  2. Yellow or brown cracks
  3. Cracks between the ceiling and wall
  4. Straight cracks
  5. Spiderweb cracks
  6. A bowed ceiling with large, deep cracks

Causes of Cracks in Ceilings

There are a number of different causes for ceiling cracks, but the most common ones are:

  • movement in the wall or roof
  • foundation settling
  • structural problems, such as a bowed wall
  • thermal expansion
  • water damage
  • contraction

6 Types of Ceiling Cracks and How to Fix Them

Types of cracks in the ceiling

1. Hairline Cracks

The most common type of ceiling crack, hairline cracks, appear to be very thin and typically don’t go all the way through the drywall.

They’re caused by stress on the drywall surface, such as from movement in the wall or roof.

They are usually just cosmetic and don’t pose any real danger to your home.

You can usually fix hairline cracks with a few simple repairs.

How to Repair Hairline Cracks

If you have a few hairline cracks in your ceiling, here’s how to repair them:

  • Use a screwdriver or putty knife to pry the crack open gently.
  • Apply a thin layer of drywall compound to the crack and smooth it out with a damp cloth.
  • Let the compound dry completely, then sand it down until it’s flush with the surface of the ceiling.
  • Paint over the compound to hide the repair.

If you have a lot of hairline cracks in your ceiling, it may be best to call a professional for help.

They’ll be able to fix the cracks properly and make sure they don’t come back.

2. Yellow or Brown Cracks

Yellow or brown cracks in your ceiling are a sign of water damage, and you should fix these cracks as soon as possible.

If left untreated, they can lead to even more severe problems, like mold growth.

How to Fix Yellow or Brown Cracks in Your Ceiling

If the crack is less than an inch wide, you may be able to fix it yourself.

To repair a brown or yellow crack, use a drywall compound to help seal the crack and prevent water from getting in.

The procedure is as follows:

  • Identify the source of the leak.
  • Dry out the area around the crack.
  • Apply a water-repellent sealant to the crack.
  • Let it dry.

If the crack is more than an inch wide, there’s a good chance that water has gotten behind the drywall and caused extensive damage.

In this case, you’ll need to call a professional for help.

3. Cracks Between the Wall and Ceiling

How to fix ceiling cracks

Cracks between the wall and ceiling are common, especially in older homes.

They’re usually caused by movement in the wall, most often due to settling, which puts stress on the drywall.

They can signify more significant problems, like structural damage, and should be fixed as soon as possible.

How to Fix Cracks Between the Wall and Ceiling

  • Sand the ceiling and wall in the affected areas.
  • Apply drywall tape to the affected area. Fiberglass tapes are highly recommended because they are easy to use.
  • Apply it across the cracks and then spackle on top. This gives it the strength to hold the two surfaces.

4. Straight Cracks

Straight cracks are usually caused by a structural problem, such as a bowed wall, a weak roof, or damaged support beams.

How to Repair Straight Ceiling Cracks

If the crack is less than an inch wide, you may be able to fix it yourself. 

  • Cover the open crack with mesh tape.
  • Once the crack is taped, apply a joint compound over it.
  • When it dries, smoothen the surface by sanding it down.
  • You can then proceed to paint your repaired wall.

If the crack is more than an inch wide, there’s a good chance that the wall has shifted and needs to be fixed. In this case, you’ll need to call a professional for help.

5. Spiderweb Cracks

Spiderweb cracks are caused by stress on the drywall, often from movement in the wall or roof.

They can be challenging to fix and may require the help of a professional.

How to Repair Spiderweb Cracks

  • Identify the source of the problem.
  • Check for any signs of damage to the roof.
  • Dry out the area around the crack.
  • Apply a water-repellent sealant to the crack.
  • If needed, reinforce the ceiling framing.
  • Apply joint compound over the taped crack.
  • Once the joint compound is dry, sand the ceiling smooth and prime, and paint it.

6. A Bowed Ceiling With Large, Deep Cracks

A bowed ceiling with large, deep cracks is a sign of severe structural damage and should be fixed by a professional.

Do not try to fix them yourself; there’s a good chance the house is in danger of collapsing.

What Are the Best Fillers for Ceiling Cracks?

Best Fillers for Ceiling Cracks

There are a number of different fillers you can use for ceiling cracks, but the best one will depend on the size and severity of the crack.

Here are a few common options:

  • Drywall compound
  • Crack tape
  • Caulk
  • Spackling paste
  • Patching plaster

Drywall compound

Drywall compound is a good option for small to medium-sized cracks. It’s easy to use, and it dries quickly.

Crack tape

Crack tape is a self-adhesive tape designed to seal cracks in drywall. It’s a good option for larger cracks.

Caulk

Caulk is a good option for cracks that are wider than ½ inch. It’s flexible to withstand movement in the wall or roof.

Spackling Paste

Spackling paste is a good option for small cracks. It’s easy to use, and it dries quickly.

Patching plaster

Patching plaster is a good option for large, deep cracks. It’s durable and can withstand a lot of stress.

Should I Be Worried About My Ceiling’s Cracks?

How to know if a ceiling crack is serious

Most ceiling cracks are nothing to worry about and can be fixed by a professional. However, some cracks may indicate more severe problems, such as structural or water damage.

If you notice any large, deep cracks in your ceiling, or if the crack is more than an inch wide, you should call in an expert for help.

How Do You Prevent Cracks From Reappearing on Your Ceiling?

The best way to prevent cracks from reappearing on your ceiling is by properly maintaining your home. Here are a few things you can do:

  • Make sure your roof is properly ventilated. This will help prevent moisture damage.
  • Make sure your attic is properly insulated. This will help keep your ceilings from expanding and contracting with the weather.
  • Keep an eye on your roof for any signs of damage, like missing or damaged shingles.
  • Fix any plumbing leaks as soon as you notice them. Leaks can cause water damage and lead to cracks in your ceiling.
  • Keep an eye on your ceilings for any signs of movement or sagging. This could be a sign of structural damage.

Who to Call For Ceiling Cracks

If you’re not sure what’s causing your ceiling cracks, it’s best to call a professional. They’ll be able to identify the problem and fix it properly.

Serious structural damage should always be fixed by an expert. Some of these professionals include;

  • Ceiling Repair Company
  • Carpenter
  • Roofer
  • Structural Engineer
  • Home Inspector

You may also want to consider having them check for other potential issues, such as water damage. Water damage can cause a lot of damage over time and should be fixed as soon as possible.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Can You Spot Serious Cracks?

Well, that depends on the size and shape of the crack and its location.

Generally speaking, if a crack is more than ½ inch wide, or if it’s in a high-traffic area, it’s best to have it checked out by a professional. 

Should I Be Worried About Cracks in My Ceiling?

It depends. Hairline cracks are usually just cosmetic and don’t pose any real danger to your home. 

However, if you have yellow or brown cracks, water damage, or spiderweb cracks, you should definitely get them fixed as soon as possible.

Structural severe damage should always be fixed by a professional.

Can a House Collapse From Cracks?

It’s very rare for a house to collapse from cracks in the ceiling, but it is possible. If you have large, deep cracks, water damage, or spiderweb cracks, you should definitely get them fixed by a professional. 

Always keep an eye on them and address any problems as they arise.

Final Thoughts

There are many different types of ceiling cracks, and they can all mean something different.

It is essential to know what type you have in your home because it will help determine the best way to fix it or handle it from a structural standpoint. 

We hope that by arming yourself with knowledge about what to look for, these tips will help you identify any problematic areas before they become more significant problems down the road.