Sometimes the thought of repairing damage to walls can seem like an intimidating job, especially when faced with a number of cracks and chips on your plaster walls but there is really no need to worry. There are an increasingly good number of DIY products on the market to help you obtain excellent results in no time.
Types of Cracks
Most people face the task of repairing minor cracks, hairline cracks, chips, holes and gouges in their interior walls when getting set for painting and decorating. Plaster walls – especially in older properties – often have cracks due to minor settlement in the foundations. This affects a majority of older properties and is rarely anything to worry about. Most other damage to walls is caused by general wear and tear, moving furniture, etc. and can be easily repaired.
What You Need
- Filling products
- Curved tool for scraping (an old screwdriver or knife will do)
- Filler knife or plaster trowel
- Cleaning cloths
- You may also need a cover for wood floors or furniture. Cotton is better, as unlike plastic, it absorbs dirt, plaster, paint etc.
Step By Step
- It is preferable to repair an entire wall prior to painting but you can also patch up areas on an existing paint job and achieve good results
- Remove loose plaster in order to provide a good base for the filler. Widen hairline cracks if necessary. For longer cracks, remove a bit of plaster at intervals. This will help the filler to hold.
- Clean out dust and loose plaster thoroughly with a damp towel before filling.
- Fill the crack with your choice of filler using your knife. Try and fill the gaps completely and overlap the existing plaster.
- Allow to dry (check your product) and then check again for any spaces. Add another layer of filler if necessary.
- The next day, apply a joint compound or resin to the surface of the filled area. Spread it just over the edges. When this has dried, apply another coat if necessary. This product should be flexible and will prevent the cracks from re-opening. There are many good skimming products like this which are easy to apply.
- Evenly sand the wall with a light sandpaper and paint as required. Always use a good primer before adding your matt and gloss coats.
There are a number of good filler products on the market available at most DIY stores. Heavier fillers can be used to fill larger holes. After drying these can be sanded down with fine sandpaper to leave a smooth finish. Wipe off any dust before decorating.
There are also some excellent skimming products which can cover the whole surface, filling minor hairline cracks with ease and leaving a smooth finish for painting. These can save you time and money. If you just have a few hairline cracks these can also be treated with ‘stick’ solutions. You rub the filler stick into the hairline cracks and then use a dry cloth to smooth over. In many cases you won’t even need to sand before painting.
- You can always use a heavy lining paper before wallpapering or painting if you want to avoid repairing walls with minor damage.
- When working on large areas always cover carpets and furniture.
- By moistening bare plaster this can extend the working time of your filling product
- For finishing always wet your trowel or skimmer with a little water to create a smooth finish.
- To fill difficult cracks in the corners of your walls or along cornicing you can achieve excellent results by using specialist lightweight fillers which often do not require sanding. You will be amazed by the results.
Bigger Plastering Jobs
For a larger damaged surface area you may need to plaster the wall. Remember though that plastering is a difficult DIY job which often takes years of practice to obtain an expert finish. Consider booking a skilled plasterer for an entire wall unless you are sufficiently confident. A smaller area should be ok to tackle for a novice. Say, a square metre. But always practice first on an old wall or hard wood surface. If you discover any major diagonal or vertical cracks, especially on external walls; and are concerned about structural damage, then you should always obtain advice from a suitably qualified engineer.