Why Does Drywall Crack

Why Does Drywall Crack?

If you’ve noticed tiny cracks in your drywall, you’re not alone.

These cracks are very common and are most often the result of settling, a change in humidity levels, or stress to the home or framing. While these cracks are harmless most of the time, they sometimes indicate structural problems with the house.

Here’s what you should know.

Is It Normal For Drywall To Crack?

Drywall Cracks

Drywall cracks are entirely normal and are cosmetic most of the time. Contractors often refer to these as “hairline” cracks since they are so small.

As long as the crack isn’t the result of structural damage, you can easily repair it by applying drywall tape and joint compound over it before repainting your walls.

Top Causes Of Drywall Cracks

If you’re not sure what’s causing the cracks in your walls, these are the top causes.

The Framing Warps

Behind your drywall is wood framing. Over time, if the wood experiences a lot of temperature fluctuations or low humidity, it can dry out and warp.

If the wood framing distorts even a little bit, it can cause cracks in the drywall.

Changes In Humidity

Changes in humidity is one of the main reasons you’ll see drywall crack. When a house is very humid, moisture can collect.

If moisture collects behind the drywall, which often happens near doors and windows, it can cause cracking.

On the flip side, when the humidity gets too low, it has a drying effect that can negatively affect your walls.

Movement Of Structure

Any movement of the structure can cause hairline cracks. Possible movements include normal settling of the house, storms, earthquakes, and extreme wet or dry seasons.

Bad Workmanship

An often-overlooked reason drywall cracks is shoddy workmanship. For example, if the drywall installer didn’t correctly tape and mud, the wall can develop cracks, and in some cases, the tape will even bubble.

Plus, if drywall panels didn’t get properly secured to the studs, they can sag. Sagging will almost always cause cracks.

Popcorn Ceiling Removal

If you had popcorn ceilings and had the texture scraped off, that is likely the reason you’re seeing cracks in your ceiling. 

Where Do Drywall Cracks Most Often Show Up?

You’ll most often see drywall cracks around doors and windows. This happens because there is more stress and temperature fluctuations around these areas.

It’s also common to see drywall cracks in corners and where two pieces of drywall butt up to each other.

When Should I Worry About Drywall Cracks?

cracked outside drywall corner in a house caused by settling

If you notice that your floors are no longer level or your door frames or windows are sagging, it could be a sign that your drywall cracks are caused by foundation issues. As a homeowner, you’ll need to find a contractor or structural engineer to inspect the situation as soon as possible.

Another sign your drywall cracks are serious is that they’re more than ⅛ inch wide and recurrent. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Drywall Cracks

Why do some drywall cracks reappear?

If you’ve repaired a drywall crack and it came back, there’s a good chance the area is experiencing large temperature swings. Other causes include the improper installation of the drywall or excess moisture behind the wall.

Why does drywall crack around the windows?

One of the most common places for drywall to crack is around windows and doors – these areas not only receive high stress but often deal with temperature variations.

Why does drywall crack on the ceiling?

Common causes of ceiling cracks include settling of the house or improper drywall installation. For example, if the drywall installers didn’t secure the drywall panels to the joists, they can sag and cause cracking.

Ceiling drywall is also susceptible to moisture damage and temperature changes, just like walls are. 

How do you fix drywall cracks?

If you have small drywall cracks less than ⅛ inch, you can fill them joint compound – simply use a small putty knife to smooth the mud over the drywall cracks. If your crack is more significant than ⅛ of an inch, use fiberglass mesh tape before applying the mud.

Once the drywall mud is dry (about 24 hours), lightly sand it with 120 grit sandpaper. If needed, add a second layer of drywall compound, allow it to dry, and then resand.


Most drywall cracks are entirely normal – especially around windows and doors. They are often the result of normal settling of a home or changes in the temperature and humidity levels.

 However, if you’ve noticed a crack larger than ⅛ of an inch or other signs of structural damage, you should have your house inspected as soon as possible.