drywall ghosting showing wall studs through sheetrock

Wall Ghosting: Why Do I See Studs Through Drywall?

Are you starting to see the studs through your drywall? If so, you’re experiencing a phenomenon called wall ghosting.

It happens when condensation interacts with trapped dust and can have a couple of different causes. It results in shadowy-looking lines on your walls or ceilings.

If you’ve been wondering, ‘why do I see studs through drywall?’ Let’s look at all the answers. 

What Causes Wall Ghosting?

Wall ghosting is a result of trapped dust, poor circulation, and poor insulation.

Here’s how it happens:

In poorly insulated walls, cold will come through, mainly at the studs. If the inside of the house is relatively warm, this causes the studs to collect moisture where they meet the drywall. This moisture then traps dirt and dust circulating throughout the air, resulting in wall ghosting.

When you see the shadowy lines, you’re actually seeing the trapped dust particles collecting in front of the studs. And unfortunately, since the dust is behind the wall, you can’t just wipe it away.

How Do You Stop Ghosting on Your Walls?

sheetrock wall ghosting

The biggest thing you can do to stop ghosting on your walls is to find and fix the sources of cold air. This can include sealing any holes in the exterior of your house, as well as sealing doors and windows. 

If ghosting results from poor or no insulation, having your walls insulated may be your best bet.

Other things you can do include replacing your furnace filters regularly, making sure any indoor stoves are adequately vented, and keeping indoor humidity low during cold months.

Once you’ve fixed the source of the problem, you can get rid of the dark shadow lines by allowing the drywall to completely dry out, cleaning it, and then using a high-quality primer and paint

If you don’t fix the source, the lines will eventually show through again, even if you prime and paint.

Ghosting FAQ

Is wall ghosting dangerous?

Wall ghosting isn’t dangerous but can be a sign of poor air quality, inadequate insulation, or a combination of the two. However, since ghosting results from dust build-up and not mold, it’s not usually a significant health risk.

How to clean ghosting on walls?

To clean ghosting on walls, you first have to identify and fix the problem. If you don’t, no cleaning method will work. However, if you have fixed the root cause of your wall ghosting, here’s what to do:

  • Wipe down the walls with an all-purpose cleaner to remove as much dirt as possible. Then, allow the wall to dry.
  • Prime the wall with a high-quality, high coverage primer.
  • Paint your walls.


Wall ghosting, also known as thermal cracking, results from dirt getting trapped in condensation on the wall’s studs. It shows up as shadowy-looking lines on the inside of your wall or ceilings.

To fix this, you need to find the root of the problem, which is often poor insulation or a cold air draft. Once you deal with this, you can clean and repaint your walls.